/ Travel & Leisure

The end of shameful timeshare pressure-selling?

'Timeshare' written in sand

A welcome change in the law this week gives us more protection against rogue companies who use dubious means to coax us into buying a holiday club or trial membership to a timeshare. But will it make them stop?

This Wednesday, some much-needed protection against holiday scams quietly slipped into EU and British legislation. In principle, this is great news for holidaymakers.

The new law closes loopholes in previous timeshare legislation that have allowed unscrupulous firms to take money from people on the spot after using heavy sales tactics. These could be for trials for timeshare that they don’t really want, or for holiday clubs offering a lifetime of discounted holidays that may not even materialise.

It could happen to you

It’s surprisingly easy to be charmed into signing on the dotted line for a long-term holiday product. On my first day on the Costa del Sol in 2008, a scratchcard tout duped me into attending a timeshare presentation – I went to pick up a prize.

Over a wearying five-hour period, the persuasive sales rep became my ‘friend’, sharing ‘inside knowledge’ with me. He gave me a glowing account of his 34-month timeshare trial, but emphasised that this special deal was only available if I signed a contract there and then.

Luckily, I went along as part of an undercover investigation for Which?, so I didn’t actually hand over any money.

Why a trial for 34 months? Well, until this week, the law stating that companies couldn’t take any upfront payment for timeshare products only applied to timeshares running for at least three years.

The new legal protections

Now the consumer protection applies to timeshare products lasting more than one year, as well as other long-term holiday contracts where the consumer gains access to accommodation benefits or discounts.

We’ve lobbied for these new rights, so we’re really pleased that many of our recommendations have been adopted, including a cooling-off period during which the buyer can withdraw from the contract without any penalty.

It would have been even better if the cooling-off period had been extended from 14 days to a month. If you get targeted on the first day of a 14-day holiday, you’d have to cancel before you got home.

But my main concern is how, and whether, these laws are actually going to be enforced. Won’t rogue companies just continue their slippery, heavy-selling ways if they know they’ll be able to get away with it? Or will they simply find new creative ways to get around the rules with some new product or trial?

We’d like to monitor whether companies will flout these new laws. So let us know if you end up at a presentation where they still insist on taking payment upfront with no cancellation rights or a 14-day cooling-off period.

Comments
Dave says:
4 August 2011

I have recently recieved a phone call from company called Owners Solutions (08442 641644) who are offering to claim money back for overcharged maintenance fees under new legislation about to be passed. They will off course retain a large chunk of this – 17% I think. This will be set in motion following a one to one consultation. All sounds very suspicious to me and my timeshare management company confirm the same. BEWARE

Gareth Coombes says:
29 August 2011

We have just returned from a holiday in Tenerife and like many posts above been subject to the presentation by Club Class to sign up to membership. We were asked to pay so much on a credit card and take out a loan for £8000.00 with an incentive of a cashback sum after 5 years.

We have not paid anything, and not given them any bank details whatsoever. However we have signed the contract as this seemed the only way they would let us leave. Any advice on what to do next. They phoned this morning for our details which I refused to give them.

Thanks

My husband and I were in very much the same position last March (see my entries on this page for March 22nd & 23rd.).By law,you should have been given 14 days cooling off period.If it’s still within the 14 days,email the company,telling them you don’t want their product.I have given details of your rights above.I hope this helps.
Joy

Gareth Coombes says:
2 September 2011

Thanks for your comments.I have sent recorded delivery cancdlation for what it may be worth, and been advised by UK ECC that the things you mention have not be implemented by Spain as yet so we would be still bound by the agreement.

Been advised not to speak to them on the phone and wait for letters, Club Clas have said they will hold us to the outstanding monies and will pass it onto thier legal department to recover these costs.

Any further advice or information would be appreciated. At least we have not lost any money and are victims in that sense.

Thanks Gareth

jpgrfinch says:
29 August 2011

Hello
I read with alarm that “TATOC has launched a joint venture and partnership with Which? Travel”.

http://www.sharetimemagazine.com/Sharetime-6.pdf

This company’s CEO (Harry Taylor) was a member director for Diamond Resorts International and was party to the company’s unilateral alterations of club rules which left the ordinary members at a huge disadvantage regarding their rights.

One of the changes being you can no longer sell your points to anyone. Consequently, the points have virtually none, if any, value. This in turn, has led to a large number of members (many past retirement age) being unable to afford ever increasing management fees and no way to get rid of their points.

Tatoc still enjoys proclaiming about its close ties to the timeshare companies.

As you are a consumers association and have the ability to lodge a “super-complaint” do you feel this partnership with tatoc will in any compromise your impartiality?

regards

Pree says:
31 August 2011

Hi Anne Marie

We too were duped by Club Class (in 2005) after attending a ‘slick’ presentation and parted with just less than £6k for something we never used. It left a bitter taste and i put it down to experience. Now, every so often, i get calls inviting me to part with yet more money by dubious companies offering to sell the garbage we pucrhased in the first place.
I recently received an email from Club Class asking for back payments of the maintenance fees, stating similarly – that i would accrue interest and couldn’t cancel membership unless i first cleared any outstanding payments. Naturally – i haven’t parted with any more cash but would be interested to hear from anyone else in a similar position & what action they have taken.
Pree

The Marines says:
1 September 2011

TATOC calls itself a Timeshare Association. However it does not really represent those individuals who own points or a timeshare week but is run for and by those commercial companies that own and sell resort accommodation. For example more than 30% of the resorts it claims to represent are owned by the American Company Diamond Resorts International Ltd. Harry Taylor who is a director of one of DRI’s subsidiaries, has run the ‘association’ from its inception until the present day.

Dicko says:
3 September 2011

Diamond Resorts Points are a complete con and then we are advised to gain representation from TATOC which has just under half of its board on DRI’s books. Has consumer protection in this country gone mad!

cebow says:
4 September 2011

As a long time member of Diamond resorts I have had numerous changes to rules and club format unillaterally imposed,excessive management fee rises,private clubs open at lower cost to the public,and withdrawl of access to local UK sites without any say and retrospective application.
Does that mean that the new 14 day renewal of membership as posted on this site will apply to long term members or will they be discriminated against,surely a company cannot cherry pick which parts of its 50 page contract it retrospectively applies,having been forced to change it due to legislation.

The advice pages of the Department for Business Innovation & Skills have some questions and answers. I was searching for an answer to the same question after a posting on the DRIP website. Sadly I discovered that even though Statutory Instrument 2960 (the new timeshare etc regs) has repealed and revoked previous legislation, the old law still applies to contracts made before 23rd February 2011 – ie no annual 14 day space for a get out letter. Some DRIP members have though sought and obtained an exit.

Annette says:
9 September 2011

Hi, my husband and I have a contract with Anfi which we have been paying since August 2007 in Feb of this year we were persuaded to upgrade our contract. We are now in a position that I am under threat of redundancy and we are no longer able to afford the monthly fee and certainly not the annual manintenance fees. We emailed Anfi asking to cancel but they’ve told us we have to get a loan??? to pay or continue paying. We cannot afford to continue paying and are quite prepared to accept that we will not get any of the money we have so far paid back but we want to walk away. Can you please advise.

Thought your readers may interested in another of Club Heritage International’s scams.
You enter a free holiday competition and after being vetted for age & income surprise, surprise you win, but have to pay travel & admin costs.
After 6 hours of being shown luxury apartments by Heritage Resorts & Hotels (AKA Club Heritage International & Heritage Premium Club) inc lunch and drinks you sign up to this wonderful offer, and pay a deposit of £1500.00. We now know that they cannot take a deposit for a holiday club (timeshare) upfront, they disguise this in a second form allegedly for Spanish VAT reasons. It is however a club membership agreement that cannot be cancelled, because it falls outside recent legislation.
We are a mature couple but after a marathon sales session, lunch & drinks, false promises and untruths, reams of paper we were duped into signing and now regret going to Branston Hall and taking up the “free holiday” offer.
We have emailed & written to them cancelling 2 days after we signed but Heritage Hotels & Resorts are stating we cannot have a refund and when threatened with legal action are smug enough to say others have tried & failed.

We went to heritage resorts in Spain in June 2011 and attended on the Friday (the day before we left) attended the sales talk which lasted about 6 hours, we signed up paying by debit card a deposit of £2500. over the Saturday & Sunday We relised our mistake so Sunday evening we emailed canceling the agreement (confirming it by post first thing Monday morning) the contact name & address we had been given, a Norman Anderson, rang us up on the Monday, at first he was all frendly, triing to get us to reconsider but when we insisted that we were not continuing with the application he said there was no way we would get our deposit back.
We contacted the trading standards office but they could not help and suggested we try our bank, the bank could not help because it was paid by debit card, so suggested that we take them to small claims court. We then wrote to the FNT bank in the Isle-of-Man, to whom Heritage had paid the deposit, around the middle of September, requesting our deposit back and asking them to confirm whether it was FNT or Hertitage resort who we should take to the Small claims court if the return of the deposit was still refused, within 10 days we had our deposit repaid to our bank account.
All through our meeting it was stressed that the Heriage resorts was a British registered company and therefore subject to English Law, which implied that you had the 14 day cooling off period, and this 14 day cooling off period is stated in some of the document.
I don’t know if this is of any help to you or others, but thought we would let you know our story.
Good luck don’t give up trying.

Ross hughes says:
15 September 2011

hello
We have been looking at Malta deals and I stumbled upon Dream Holidays International (D.H.I) offering through Raddison Blu resort and Spa Golden sands malta a week for £249 payable to DHI, it looks like its a time share as we have to both attend a seminar in the morning or afternoon on one day of our stay to have a sales pitch. I’m obviously not going to sign a thing as my bank balance is rarely over a few quid, howvere my question is do you think this is a good idea or could we get these only to be asked for more money to stay in the hotel or other hidden charges?
As far as I can tell we are under no obligation to pay any extra money, however the hotel does reserve the right to additional charges?
i eagerly await your response.
Ross.

Hi
I have been approached by Travel Promotions (said I had visited their website at some point but perplexed as to how they got my telephone No !!!) said they could sell my timeshares at Hollywood Mirage to the Russians for decent money (sounds to good to be true so I take it as read ) I needed to purchase 2 open weeks to access free advertising through Holidaytimeshare
Has anyone sold through these channels or any other ???

Kind regards

Sue

My parents have als been approached by Travel Promotions and I’m not confident as they’ve been ripped off in the past. Any advice would be appreciated.

i need advise.

signed a contract for eli travel. a holiday club, whilst in mainland spain didnt pay any money at the time. got home and e-mailed them saying we had changed our minds within 7 days of signing the contract.

they said the contract cannot be cancelled and want the money and are referring our file to debt collection . what are my rights?

Mustbeanidiot says:
26 September 2011

We have just returned from Spain and fell into the trap with Club Heritage International. They tried to sell us full membership to CHI but when we refused they offered us a trial. We liked the idea of the trial and handed over £750 deposit knowing that we had the cooling off period and could look at it in more detail. However, under the pressure of signing documents, we realise that the £750 went was used to pay for an 11 month membership that has no cooling off period. So although we can cancel the short term membership (35 months) they have stated that we won’t get our deposit back. No mention was made to us about the 11 month agreeement and that our deposit was non-refundable. I understand that it was illegal for them to take a deposit at all. It is ten days after signing so any advice on how to resolve this quickly and get our money back would be appreciated.

Thanks

You can see,if you read my posts here on 22nd March(above),that my husband and I were in a very similar position with CHI.We did eventually get all of our money refunded,by a combination of the following: we immediately wroteby email to CHI to tell them that we wished to cancel.(We were within the 14 days cooling off period.)We also contacted the Spanish Police (by email), in Malaga in our case, to explain that CHI were not complying with the new legislation.CHI seems to be a UK company,so should fall under EEC jurisdiction,not Spanish. (I’m no legal expert here,though.)The police were very helpful and made enquiries after I had given them as much info.as possible. It might be worth you trying this,as the more people that complain,the more likely thery are to do something about it.

Mustbeanidiot says:
26 September 2011

Hi Joy

Thanks, have already emailed them and yes they did start to get agressive once they realised they couldn’t get us to change our mind about cancelling. I will contact the police, I don’t suppose you have contact details? It sounds like you were staying close to where we were. We were in Club Playa Real.

Yes,we were in Dona Lola,at Calahonda (east of Marbella).I no longer have the details you ask for,but,if I remember rightly, found them by searching for Marbella Police(is it ‘policia’ in Spanish?) on the internet-they appear to come under the Malaga Police Dept..

Phillip Wing says:
25 October 2011

I have been trying to cancel my timeshare with heritage; norman anderson is very nasty when you ask;the reason why i want to cancel is through misselling ie I was not told at the time nor was given any paperwork to inform me that if i wanted to cancel i would have to resell my week,if i had known this i would not have gone through with it what can i do?

jennifer cadenhead says:
29 October 2011

Hi
My partner and I brought a timeshare with club la costa around four years ago, we started with a trial membership but by the next year we had brought the full membership which we paid off in full aroung £15000. Two years aago we purchased more points for the total of £13000. We have now broken up and I want out of this and he cannot afford to pay the maintenance fees on his own and the 200 per month for the extra points. Can we sell it all back so that i can clear up this loan that i took out and get some of the money back from the original purchase. if yes what are the best companies to approach?

Malcolm Mac Donald says:
9 November 2011

An E Petition has been raised to try and gain sufficient signatures to have Unwanted Timeshare Issues debated in Parliament.

It is Titled – Rescinding Timeshare Contracts and Exhorbitant Maintenance Fees

It is now on the Government website at https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20588/signature/new

Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

Timeshare ownership is now an unwanted item in many peoples eyes and the ever increasing cost of maintenance fees in the present economic climate is becoming a burden that people can no longer manage. Timeshare clubs and management companies are becoming more aggressive in the way they attempt to collect un-paid fees, resorting to threats of County Court actions and utilisation of Debt Collectors, some of whom do not hold a licence. In some cases, maintenance fees have risen so much that they are no longer viable for an owner to maintain and the rise is often far in excess of the rate of inflation. Most contracts are held in perpetuity, meaning that liability for maintenance fee payment is FOREVER, resulting in the debt being passed down the line to your children. The law must be reviewed to annul the perpetuity clause and allow fair arbitration in endeavours to cancel the ownership contract that exists.

You don’t necessarily have to own a Timeshare to sign up to the petition, so get all your friends and family members to sign up along with you as we need as many signatures as possible to have this brought to the attention of those who CAN do something about this disgraceful Industry.

Golden Sands unhappy says:
25 November 2011

We bought a timeshare at Radissons Golden Sands in Malta. We are unable to have foreign holidays anymore and have tried to sell it and even give it back to the Golden Sands people. We have had no luck. We have even spoken to a law firm who said that we would have to pay them to deal with it, even thought it said no win no fee. We have also been told under Spanish law we would be able to get rid of it. If we stop paying will it end up in court. They keep giving us the same message we are still selling and have no resale. We have been told that Golden Sands is one of the worst because people are unable to get rid of what looked like a bad idea but as we get older becomes a weight around our necks that we cannot afford. I am at my wits end. The did offer to rent it, but with no promises. Any advice is welcome.

Malcolm Mac Donald says:
25 November 2011

First of all, if you have not visited the Timeshare Consumers Association website, then please do so. It can be found on http://www.timeshare.org.uk/index.html and in particular, for the basics related to trying to get out of your timeshare agreement, then visit the section “Getting Out” on http://www.timeshare.org.uk/getout.html

This organisation has helped a lot of Timeshare Owners with issues over units they have with Petchey Leisure and have links with a legal practice who represented them successfully against claims for restitution of non paid maintenance fees.

I hope you have signed the E Petition that I have raised, and if not, please do so as soon as possible along with all of your friends and family who understand the situation that you are faced with.

It is only by getting as many signatures as possible on the E Petition, that we could ever hope to achieve something that will help you to free yourself and those many more who are faced with this situation.