/ 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

Isn’t it a sad fact of life that you only get to hear of the scams after you’ve paid out good money!
Some time ago (1999) we “invested” in Club Greece membership which was transferred to Club La Costa points scheme. When we tried to get rid of the points due to their fees becoming nothing short of extortionate we were conned into purchasing a membership with Club Class Concierge through a “resale” organisation called Runways Travel/TravelWest based in Exeter. We paid £9.950 with the promise of a cash back scheme through CashBack Europe paying £18,000 covering the cost for membership of CCC plus what we had paid to Club La Costa. Guess what – after our 3 years no money has been forthcoming from CashBack Europe as they say we did not register our on-line claim successfully. On the brighter side, we did manage to secure a refund through our credit card company on the basis that CCC membership was mis-sold but we are still out of pocket to the tune of around £8,000 in interest fees for bank loan and Club La Costa membership never refunded. I see from other websites that (not before time) the High Court is attempting to shut some of these firms down but I fear we shall never see our money again. Any hints would be gratefully received.

GERRY says:
28 March 2012

Hi, we signed agreement with Heritage Resorts on 13th March 2012, and cancelled our aggreement on return from our holiday on 20th March, we were told we have no chance of getting our £1250 back as it doesn’t fall under the agreements signed. I received a phone call today saying we will not be returned our deposit. What happens now.

I think I’ve been missold timeshare by Club Heritage. They told me a pack of lies to get me to sign up. I am currently in correspondence with the finanical ombudman. Please contact me if you are in a similar situation as I believe the more of us, the stronger the case we have. I have returned the deeds and am now being threatened with court proceeding for non payment of management fees.

[Hi Lynn, we’ve removed your contact details from your comment as this breaks our T&Cs. Thanks, mods]

Michael says:
3 March 2013

Though not Heritage – we are trying to make a claim using Resolved Claims, Milton Keynes

frankie says:
1 April 2013

hi there, i bought a timeshare from heritage resorts 2yrs ago by trading in my old timeshare but think it is a scam, please looking for advice, thanks

robin says:
18 April 2013

Don.t pay any monies to heritage i have been in dispute with them since the first day of purchase same as yourself we were miss sold we tied to cancel on same day they have threatened court action which i believe can only be done in spain where the contract was made as the company in I.O. man say it,s club heritage in spain i have to deal with we have tried recorded delivery letters they don,t reply so i will not pay any fees hope this info helps

viopluscom says:
6 July 2013

Hi Robin,
Could you please give me more information about how far you went with the procedures with fighting Heritage as I am in a similar situation and would like to return the deeds and tell them that I am not paying maintenance anymore. I might be able to do a little bit more as I am now living in Spain, where I have bought an apartment. I ask the admin to allow me to post my contact details, despite the T&C.
Cheers

[This comment has been edited. We don’t contact details on Which? Convo. Thanks, mods.]

sue jenks says:
7 July 2013

Heritage have taken us to court for non payment of maintenance, and the judgement went their way, and now we have debt collectors chasing us, we will have to pay as it will cost too much to fight it. They ignore all letters and e-mails as we have also tried to give them the timeshare back.

sue says:
7 July 2013

We upgraded our timeshare by trading in another timeshare and got a signed letter to say they would pay all maintenance from that date. We had solicitors letters for non payment, debt collectors wrote to us, we contacted Heritage and asked for proof that they had registered the change of ownership but they have never replied to us or sent any proof.

We have been down the route of the ombudsman. We were turned down because they use a 3rd party – fntc Resort Management International – to collect the money.

I also believe we were told a pack of lies to get us to sign.

I tried Resolved Claims in Milton Keyenes – all they will do is try for Consumer Credit act – you can do this yourself.

It would be good if as many people get together as it would strengthen case.

I am currently in contact with The European Comsumer Centre. However one comment they made – other peoples experience is not evidence of misselling – I would disagree with this.

Would be good to hear from others so we can coordinate the complaints and especially what sales people told us to get the sale.

Forgot to say – we are trying to claim all our manoey back – they promised an exit policy where we would get at least our money back if we decided to leave.

Paul says:
3 August 2014

Hi Gerry,

I got a call from my parents 2 days ago informing me that they had just paid £1250 for a deposit with Heritage Resorts. They immediately regretted it and believed that as well as being intimidated into signing that they were also mis-sold. As they had paid by credit card I immediately asked them to cancel the card and seek advice from their bank. They did but the payment had gone through. Having talked to them some more it became clear that they were heavily pressured into signing and paying a deposit and they were blatantly lied to. They have requested a refund well within the 14 day cooling off period but I am unsure if they will get their money back as its “A Holiday Club Membership” they do this 11 months agreement and a 3 year agreement. Clearly trying to circumvent the Timeshare regulations by renaming and changing certain time frames

They targeted my parents and got them to go to a 90 minute talk, after a scratch card prize thing (believe me when I say my parents are not gullible people, so these guys are well seasoned professionals at their scams). They transported them in a taxi to the outskirts of the town and they were there on their own for 4 and a half hours. The sale people initially told them that the prize had to be claimed in the morning as they didn’t really work past lunch. This was around 10.30 just after they left the hotel. My parents thought an hour and a half of their time was worth checking this out, as they would have their day back by 12.00. They were confronted by four sales people all talking at them and they had no way of getting back to their hotel without the sales people organising it for them. They were made to feel intimidated, pressured and even feared for their safety not knowing where they were in relation to their hotel or how to get back.

They took their card to the customer care person for processing which made my mother very concerned, but these are all seasoned con artists who can make people feel very at ease all talking at the same time and engaging with their interests etc.

I would like some advice if anyone has any to offer. They have asked for their money back sending a recorded letter and contacted their bank, it is evident from their story and them having looked closer at the literature they were given that they have been mis-sold. I am going to contact the European Consumer Centre tomorrow as well as send a follow up email to the contact person who dealt with their payment and from what they have told me was the boss of the operation.

If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it.

Regards

Paul

GERRY says:
28 March 2012

any comments regarding heritage resorts would be welcome and we will still endeavour to get the deposit back. thanks

Hi,

we have also been chasing a miselling claim against Heritage Resorts through the financial ombudsman.
They have rejected our claim because the money was not paid to heritage, but through FNTC in the Isle of Man. The claim was rejected since it cannot be proved the companies are associates.

Does anyone have any experience in this area?

Anthony Smith says:
16 July 2013

Oh Yes!!

Club la costa use sales reps who are not employed direct by the company, so they are not miss selling as they haven’t sold anything directly themselves

Thayer offices are hired out rooms or buildings so its not a rear sales office

The money provided by the finance company are delivered by a third party which you know nothing about at the time so they cant be done by association

So really your in limbo as body has provided money for a miss sold product nor has the company in question miss sold you a product as the sales reps are either outsourced or self employed

more importantly you will find it hard to prove a verbal conversation as they will insist that they told you everything correctly while you and I know that is not the case

I had a call two weeks ago wanting to make an appointment to see me in my own home. At the Beginning of this week they two woman arrived and said that they were working in collaboration with RCI and their was P, V, Associates. We listened to their information but they had information on the Diamond Club that I already ready belong to and wanted to get out as the Maintenance fees are astronomical and my contract with them stated that they could raise the charges to what ever amount they wished (they forgot to point that out in the contract).
Anyway back to thickening plot.
The sales rep supposedly called called DRI and said to us that we would have to pay in the region of £4000.00 to leave Diamond Europe which we could pay off to them P, V. Associates.
The reps went through the contract with us we signed as the management fee was substantially lower for the year with them than the escalation of management fees I was already paying. they asked for £250.00 either in cash or a bankers order. My Father and Carer gave them cash.
they took a copy of the agreement on my pc scanner. Signed at the bottom for receipt of £250.00
and a list of phone numbers and a mobile of the Rep. I have tried to contact their HQ to ask personnel if the 2 Women were on their pay roll and are known to them, I could not get through to either of the numbers only their mobile.
My question is, have I been scammed?

Karen says:
15 May 2012

Hi Jonathan-

I hope you are doing well. This article mentions that this legislation is in effect in EU. Would you know if there is a similar legislation in the United States? Sadly, I have been a victim of this scam. I was offered a 3-yr renewable trial timeshare membership. I was specifically told that the membership can be cancelled/ or renewed every year so if i decided that i no longer want it- I can cancel it anytime. Now, they are insisting that i have to finish the 3-year term and quoting this paragraph in the contract which i find vague “Your membership entitles you to the equivalent of three (3) interval vacations during season 3 which must be used prior to the expiration of three (3) years (the “TERM”) subject to the reservation procedures contained in paragraph 5 on the reverse side of this Agreement.” The word used was entitled which means i have a right to the 3 year membership but not locked to it. I have stopped payment to them but they keep on calling and harassing me. Would you have any advice on what i should do?

Thank you in advance!

Karen from New Jersey

Dave y says:
25 May 2012

Went to Tenerife on7/5/12 and got stopped by tout from ora vacations I won a prize would have to spend 40mins looking round hotel then get prize this lasted 4 hours signed agreement for £5000 like mug paid 1200euros deposit went back to hotel and realised how stupid I had been so went back next day to cancel was told no cancellation period , after arguing for about a hour finally cancelled agreement but would not refund deposit offered 3 weeks hols instead ,came back home and sent international signed letter to make sure agreement was cancelled and ask again for deposit refund as by eu law must give 14day cancellation period and not take any deposit also got in touch with visa to get cash back under. Section 75 consumer protection visa company dealing with this now this company are totall con artists ,even took all agreement papers when cancelled agreement

shelly says:
27 May 2012

we have just come back from a week in tenerife did exactly what you did paid deposit but decided to make monthly payments for balance this is been processed at moment did you check this company out are they bogus if so i need to cancel and get fraud company onto getting my deposit back asap

Paula D says:
28 May 2012

We have a timeshare with Grand Holidays. We have just returned from the resort where we were told that there were new rules. We were told that we can have a new EU contract and a cancellation letter (we can’t use it until after 2017) but to do that we had to upgrade our membership for £4000. Is this right?

Dave y says:
4 June 2012

Check a site called mindtimeshare run by r.d.o enforcement team Alberto Garcia helped me with advice , and articles to help with claim every site I have been on say ora vactions bad news had phone call off them last week saying they are not holiday club but software sellers ,trying to get out of paying deposit back will do any and everything to get money back

David Thomson of www.thomsonandlaw.com says:
19 June 2013

We act by recommendation only disposal of Timeshare and Points we agree Alberto Garcia is a good man and has helped many owners we were badly blogged on his mindtimeshare site but he retracted the blog when I requested and informed him we only work by referral or recommendation or hits on our website. We hear many times over of financial scams on the Spanish and Canarian Islands keep up the good work Alberto.

Anon says:
7 June 2012

Hi, for all of you out there, there is hope, we fell foul of CHI last year in Spain.
After pestering them with emails and after receiving very few responses we pasted everything to our credit card company and obtained a full refund. perhaps we were lucky but at least there is hope.
Good luck to you all

Tracy says:
20 June 2012

Hi. We have just returned from Benalmadena where we were talked into parting with 1800 for 3 ‘free’ weeks holiday over next 3 years by RCI Experieces. (Unfortunately we paid with a debit card so don’t think we can persue with the bank) It states no refunds and no change of mind in the paperwork. I searched the internet for hours and found the new legislation that Spain agreed to in March this year that states they must give 14 day cooling off period and not take money upfront. Spain had not signed up when was initially setup in 2011 but thankfull the did agree to it in March this year. On the back of that i have emailed the company asking for a refund. I copy and pasted all the relevant legislation pages to show they had misold the holiday to us. It is a little odd that we yet to have a reply when they replied to a couple of polite previous emails witrh questions about the scheme with 12 hours. I have given them 2 days in my email to agree to it before i start legal advice. Fingers crossed that i hear from them in a positive manner by lunchtime tomorrow. Good to know we can fight this and win.

Dave y says:
20 June 2012

I have just getting refund off ora vactions Tenerife of 12000 euros with the help of Spanish local trading standards ,this company must give 14 days cancellation and are not allowed to take deposit by eu law as of 17/3/2012 you must send cancellation letter by international post and demand deposit back in this time period keep photo copy’s of everything even proof of postage they will try there best to get out of it but persist and you should get money back as I said before in post Alberto Garcia of mindtimeshare was great help in giving me advice , contact numbers and addresses hope you succeed in getting money back these places are disgrace and should be shut down once you inform local trading standards they will try and get money back as it is bad for resorts reputation to have these people scamming tourists

Tracy says:
19 July 2012

To date I have still had no word back from RCI Experiences even though i emailed and posted a cancellation letter. I have now forwarded all my emails and copies of the contracts to ECC in the hope they can make them see sense.

Tracy says:
21 July 2012

I have had word back from UKECC and they say the membership is only 364 days in the t&c so we cannot get our money back. We were sold this as a 3 year membership which is what it states in letter but they have managed to word it as a less than 1 year deal within the t&c’s so that’s that. I am still trying to get out of this as they gave us a 3 month extension to the first holiday so technically it’s 1 yr 3 months but i hold out little hope now. If UKEC take my point about the extension and the wording in the letter and manage to get our money back i will update you. If we can’t get out of it i’m not sure what kind of response we will get when we try to actually take the holidays now that i have been in a dispute with them. Oh well..

Tracy says:
21 June 2012

Thanks Dave y for your post. It gives me hope. I have a cancellation letter ready and waiting to go. I’m going to scan and email it to them aswell as post it. That will be happening tomorrow if i get no reply from them by end of today. I found it very difficult to find information to back up my want to cancel. With the full knowledge we should be able to by law and your clear sucesss we need to spread the word and make it easier for people to find this information using google. I think information regarding the law on holiday clubs and timeshare should be part of the welcome meeting at resorts too.

Will post any further developments in my case……

dave y says:
24 June 2012

just had another phone call off ora vactions .i put post on mindtimeshare to help someone in same situation as me with same company also said i had received refund from ora and that visa company had also taken money off my account until it was sorted ,i have informed visa of this but for some reas on ora seem to think it as something to do with them .also told them i am passing on information to local tourist board in santa cruz and local police as been adviced they can be fined for the way they handled this but yet again they seem to think they know better just like when told no chance of getting deposit back but they were wrong then will see if they are again

Dave y says:
26 June 2012

Mindtimeshare site have wrote full story on there site about ora vacations and need as many people as possible to leave comment and join blog so we can let people know how bad this and similar company’s like this are they also give great advice and were only reason I got a full refund from this company

Dave y says:
26 June 2012

Forgot to say that ora vacations read mind timeshare site as I made comment about how bad they were and they phoned me next day to ask about it so this your chance to let them know what you think of them

val says:
27 June 2012

we have recently been contacted by a timeshare resale company Holiday Marketing Solutions based in switzerland as we had filled in a brief form giving details of the timeshare we would like to sell on their web site.They called to say they had a buyer who was a business man who bought timeshare from them quite often to utilise for his business.They forwarded a really good offer and went on to tell us the next step was he would deposit a 30% deposit to guarantee the sle and in return we had to give our credit card details so the sum of £1200.00 could be taken to guarantee the release of our deeds once his full payment for the timeshare had been cleared in our bank account.And then the £1200.00 would be refunded straight away once the courier is in receipt of our deeds.We are reluctant to part with our CC details as we have been told that we should under no circumstances have to pay any money upfront to seal a deal can anyone advise

Dave y says:
27 June 2012

Never give money or card details up front if this company have guaranteed. Sale then surely they could put this money up till sale goes through my advice be very wary of this and make checks on Internet about company as there are a lot of con artists out there who will take money and run try mindtimeshare for advice or a Internet site called Tca who have 24/7 Internet and phone advice most of list of reputable dealers and list of scam artists

sue k says:
28 June 2012

Club Class sarl now selling one year contract with no cancellation and so claim not to be subject to the new directive.At the end of the year they offer another annual contract directly with club class plc for £95.00. I think this could be considered a tacit renewal as in article 2 paragraph 2. The deposit is now known as a registration fee. We have sent two cancellation letters and were then offered revised terms for another £1500.00 ! The TCA advise that it is timeshare so subject to the directive and we should ignore all communication with them. The phone is now on permanent answerphone. we don’t know what to say on the form to be filled out for the credit card company.Any advice?

Dave y says:
28 June 2012

As long as you have sent cancellation letter by international post and kept copy you have a write to cancel and claim back money under section 75 visa clawback cash scheme if you can prove you can find hols on line as cheap as they have offered it is misrepresentation and them refusing to cancel agreement is breach of contract on a site called mindtimeshare they gave me advice to claim full refund with addresses to get I touch with Spanish local trading standards who finally got my refund for me

Babs says:
2 July 2012

Hi Jonathan
My husband and I have just returned from Heritage Club in Mebessa Spain and we were also sold a holiday package. We already own timeshares, 1 week in Radisson in Malta, 4 weeks in Atlantic Gardens in Feuterventura and RCI points and want to sell them all. We have been trying to sell them for a while but to no avail. We already pay maintenence for Raddsion and are due to pay for Atlantic Gardens in the next two years. The offer that was made to buy them is reasonable and would relieve us of the headache of maintence in the future. Their holiday package also seems reasonable and we could get out money back if we decided to cancell at any time. The offer they made (the figures are rounded up for ease of reference) to buy timeshares is £30,000, we pay £11,500 (£3500 is for membership into Heritage, £8500 is investment to build more resorts) and get back £41,500 when we terminate. We get no more or less then £41,500. any profit made when we sell they keep.They pay first 5 years maintenence and then it will be £398 per annum. which would be saving 5 weeks maintenence over the next 5 years (£2000 p.a x 5 =£10000) if we kept the timeshares as they could not be sold. My husband and I have discussed this at length and it seems a way out of timeshare and all the hassle that goes with it although we are still a bit unsure. Heritage have requested the deeds of transfer certificates. Do we send them? We have upto 11/7/12 (14 days) to change our minds, but I am going away again on the 6/7/12 so need to decide by then.
Any comments of advise as to whether we are doing the right thing would be appreciated.
Babs

Mustbeanidiot says:
2 July 2012

I would be very wary of this. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it. Heritage tried a similar thing with us. Great offer to but our existing timeshare and you can cash in at anytime they said and we just keep the profit. What they don’t tell you is that you have to sell your 41.5K share in order to get your money back, you can’t just cash it in any time you like. Obviously no one is going to buy it so you are never able to release the money you think they have paid you for your existing timeshares and more importantly the additional money (11.5K) you have put in to join their holiday club. We fell into this trap and only got our deposit back when we complained to their finance company that our deposit was paid to. Stay very well clear of this if I was you. Hope that helps.

Babs says:
2 July 2012

Hi Mustbeanidiot
Thanks for the comment. I did not mention it before but in fairness Heritage did advise us that the shares would have to be sold before we would get our £41.5 K back. This could take upto 90 days but should get the money back. However after your comments we will certainly have a re-think. Is there any one out there that has actually taken Heritage up on their offer and sold them their timeshares, then after a while asked to cash in on the deal and have got back the amount they were promised.
Babs

Hi Babs

Did you go ahead with this? Club Heritage made us all sorts of promises some years agp – all turned out to be completely unture. I have returned the deeds to them and am trying to get my money back through the financial ombudsman. Heritage continue to charge me mangement fees even though I have returned the deeds. They are now threatening me with court proceedings. I am trying to contact anyone else who thinks they have been missold timeshare by Club Heritage.

[Hi Lynn, we’ve removed your contact details from your comment as it breaks our T&Cs. Thanks, mods]

Dave y says:
22 July 2012

Got full refund off ora vacations with help off Spanish trading standards so cancelled section 75 with visa company had ora on phone twice this week saying visa are taking money out of there bank and might have to get police involved and can I help them sort visa out why would anyone help a group of scam artist who tried to rip them off and only paid deposit back when Spanish authorities got involved can’t believe they would think I would help fools

isthisgenuine? says:
27 August 2012

My wife and have a timeshare with Grand Holidays at Flamingo Club Tenerife . We have just returned from the resort where we were told that there were new rules covering the sale of timeshares. All “owners”were asked to attend the usual meeting where we informed that if we wanted out of the original “in perpertuity” contracts we can have a new EU contract and a cancellation letter (we can’t use it until after 2017) but to do that we had to upgrade our membership for 6000 Euros and pay the annual maintenance fees until the date on the letter.Short term this is a lot of money but long term if it relinquishes us from the contracts it is a better deal Is this genuine or another scam.

isthisgenuine2 says:
19 November 2012

Further to my original posting, I returned the contract within the 14 day “cooling off period ” by recorded mail and by email instructing them to cancel the contract with immeadiate effect as the new contract did not mention anywhere that it replaced the original “In Perpetuety” contract that it was supposed to do, in fact it appeared to be reselling me the timeshare that I already own and paid for years ago!!. I have noticed that this seems to be a common con that has come up at various times in the Mail on Sunday. I have not paid the 6000 euros and I have not heard anything further from my resort, other than the invoice for next years maintenance as usual, so hopefully it is the end of my problem, except that I still have the timeshare that I could do with getting rid of.

Ashol says:
6 January 2013

We “own” timeshare at Flamingo but were told 5 years ago by Grand Holidays that we didn’t own it anymore and couldn’t sell it and that if we wanted to continue paying maintenance then “out of the goodness of their hearts” they would let us continue using it. Obviously we stopped paying and didn’t receive anymore invoices. Then in 2010 we received a call out of the blue saying we owed 2 years maintenance and yes we did still own it. After much communication threatening us with legal action nothing happened. Still no invoice for 2012 so we thought matter done with. Now a Debt Recovery company in England have sent us notification that we owe 4 years maintnenace plus their costs. We are going to Tenerife next week and was going to call in to discuss but in view of your comments are now very cautious. Any advice

postie says:
19 June 2014

WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME

postie says:
19 June 2014

HOW DID THIS END UP