/ 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
DRIpping Toast says:
27 August 2012

it’s undoubtedly a scam.
After 2017 you will find that they will quote you from the Limitations Act 1980 that a claim against a Company has to be made within six years of a contract being agreed, by which time they will probably lock you into continue paying annual maintenance fees and you can say goodbye to your 6000 Euros.

The USA five times as many timeshare owners than Europe despite having a smaller population. Why ?

Answer see http://www.timesharereport.info

[Edited by moderators: For your own safety, we do not allow users to give out or solicit any kind of personal contact information or anything that would enable another forum user to find out who/where you are]

Hi

12 months ago in mainland spain myself and then partner signed a 1 year contact with Eli travel a holiday club. No money was given although at the time they asked for a deposit. 3 days later I e-mailed Eli travel and stated I wanted to cancel the contract I then e-mailed and stated I wanted to withdraw from the contact. I was lead to believe it was a British company. They stated that they required the money and if we didnt pay they would refer us to a debt collector. This has now happened and we are being told if we dont pay we will be taken to court for breach of contract.
Please advise

Save y says:
16 September 2012

If you cancelled contract within 14 days of signing and have proof of cancellation you should be ok .get in touch with your local trading standards for help or a Internet site called mindtimeshare they helped me cancell and get full refund back

Asothie says:
26 October 2012

Hi
My case is exactly the one you were fortunate to escape from.My husband and I went to this Club LA Costa presentation and left buying the 5 trial membership .Since making this purchase , in May 2010, and painfully trying to book holidays from then.We both are teachers and brought this to their attention at the presentation about being on holiday at high and peak seasons but was assured that , if we give them three options , guaranteed we will get one of our options.
This never materialised ever.Every time we tried to book a holiday we never got any and these options.
We have paid our deposit by card of £200 and opened an account with Club la Costa Uk, financed by Barclays partner finance. We have paid diligently every month and have to contiinue until 34 months may 2013 , when it expires, literally everything expires, £4850. We will have no money or any holiday memory for that amount of money.
We were not even given the free holiday with flights as promised to us , because it could not be given to us when we were on holiday , school holidays, was considered peak time and unavailable, so this had to be forfeited as well.
We have tried to at least benefit one holiday but have not been successful.
I have been trying to contact them on telephone but no replies , stating number does not exist.
I will appreciate your help to direct us as to how we can get back something from this nasty deal which I know we were so foolish to have got into .
To complicate matters even more we almost fell into the deep ocean and almost drown by visiting the resort in SPain , complimentary holiday, and fortunate enough to opt out.that could have set us back by £35000 ,Thankfully, sensibility , knocked on our door and we stayed clear amidst their persuasion.
Help is so welcome.
Jonathan, I will really appreciate any help to get get

salesman says:
27 October 2012

If you have brought timeshare in Spain and you want your money back the best thing to do is hire a spanish lawyer, you will get it back, never give it to be resold. On the up side if you know how to use your timeshare properly you can see the world really cheaply and comfortably

ROBERT CAMPBELL says:
11 November 2012

Bought timeshare in June 2009 heritage matchroom spain on same day tried to cancel they conned us into believing after 45 days we would get money back can anyone suggest how we can get monies back without being scamed

I am in a similar situation. I am currently trying to get my money back through the finanical ombudsman.

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

How did you get on with the Financial Ombudsman?

They rejected my claim – I am now in contact with the European Consumer centre. Heritage have received a letter from them. Norman Andrson from Heritage wants to talk to me before he replies….

I would love to get as many people who have had problems with Heritage to get together, but don’t know how to get folk together as we cannot put contact details on this site.

Any ideas how we can all get together?

Hi Lynn, your comments look like advertising which is not allowed on Which? Conversation, so I’m afraid we’ve removed them.

Lynn says:
4 October 2013

Hi Patrick

No, I am not advertising anything!

thanks Lynn

Lynn says:
4 October 2013

Hi Kevin

How far did you get with the Finanical Ombudsman? Did the adjudicator over turn your case or did it go to an ombudsman?
Do you ever visit the shark alley forum at timeshare talk? there is a tread on there regarding Heritage. I have posted in The Mis-Selling of Club Heritage, my user name is Catherine. I have treid to contact the other users through there private message option!

The ombudsman rejected our claim. The money was collected by a third party -so ombudsman concluded that there was no evidnce of the necessary debtor-creditor-supplier relationship.

Personally I think using the 3rd party is a way to stop complaints down this route and done for this reason.

I have written to the European Consumer Centre in the UK. They have passed the complaint to the Spanish brabnch.

The Spanish branch have written to Heritage. Norman Anderson has been in contact via email asking to talk to me before he replies to the letter. I emailed back saying I did not want to talk about it, but rather I would like to hear from the European Consumer Centre about the written reply to their letter to Heritage.

Now awaiting reply……

Might be worth all writing to European Consumer Centre – if they are writing to Heritage then the more the merrier!!

Hi Patrick,

I managed to have a look at the website Lynn set up.

I feel it is not advertising but an attempt to set up a forum for heritage customers to share our experiences. I feel that if customers can get together like this can our case for mis-selling.

Hi Kevin, Lynn was sharing a different link to another website. If you’d like to join that timeshare forum, that’s fine with us: http://www.timesharetalk.co.uk/index.php?topic=12294.0

Thanks Patrick. However that wasn’t the site in one of her posts – it was a site she had set up personally.

Hi,

European Consumer Centre did not get a reply from Heritage and gave up. They say they have no power of enforcement.

My question is – WHO DOES?

Somewhere on this forum there was a comment from Which? that heritage were flaunting the laws. No wonder if nobody can enforce anything.

writing to my MEP to see if they can help.

Lynn says:
19 June 2014

The Ombudsman has found in our favour!!!!

Barclays Partner Finance, who provided the loan at the time of the con, have to repay the deposit paid on debit card, all repayments made towards the loan, the money paid to a resell company, as suggested by Norman Anderson, with 8% interest.. Also the outstanding balance of the loan which we refinanced and, take over the Club Heritage deeds at no cost to us!

I would have loved to see Norman Andersons face when he found out!!

Kevin, I will be in touch, sorry I haven’t been checking the website as nothing was happening in it.

peter edwards says:
14 November 2012

approx 8years ago i bought into clubclass holidays timeshare to which i have never been able to use,the a month ago a company called excaliber offered to sell it for me. i had to pay a retention fee of 1395 euros which i paid on my credit card and then they asked me for a further 800 pounds to be sent by moneygram to a james milner in spain which i became suspicious about and refused to pay. then 2weeks ago eclipse vacations rang me saying say could sell my holidasy for 13000 pounds but i had to pay 2200 legal fees for which i would get back.could you advise in any way if these are legitemate companies

Michael says:
14 November 2012

Have a look at:
http://mindtimeshare.me/2012/11/08/newsletter-october-2012/
Alberto can / will give advice even if it is too late as it was for me!

rachel mcgahan says:
10 December 2012

can anyone help me ! i got a time in florida in 2009, i have been and stayed in it in june this year while we were over there we were told that what we had was wrong and we were paying to much for one week every two years.So they changed it for us and cancelled the last one and we now have a new one 2 wks every 2 years we have a new contract to sign which they sent in the post but we strill have not signed or sent it back and now they are chasing me for money is there anything i can do !
fingers crossed Rachel

Keith Clark says:
25 January 2013

Last year I had a new kitchen installed by Premier (not without problems ) they passed my details onto a holiday company Club La Costa,who offered me four days “Free” holiday in their resort in Cornwall if I agreed to attend a sales semier they did not say exactly what was on offer but friends have told me it will almost certainly include a hard sell to take on a time share property or even buy a prooperty outright, Have any other Which readers attended this sort of thing? I would be interested in their experiences

Michael says:
26 January 2013

Enjoy the holiday but do not buy!

silvek says:
18 February 2013

We have just returned from a holiday in Lanzarote where we signed a contract with Grand Holidays ,
We paid £1000 deposit and were required to pay a further £2000. We were informed that we were required to take a holiday at the resort within 12 months where we would be given an activation passport for booking holidays. We were informed that we could not cancel the contract as it was not under EU law but Spanish Law and no cooling off period was applicable. The contact was for a total of 6 weeks holidays with 2 returned flights. The offer appeared to be good as accommodation shown at the resort was really nice. On our returning home we were contacted the same day asking if we had sorted our the balance of £2000, the balance was not due for a few more days which gave us warning bells, we decided to look into this further, shock and horror as we did research on the internet to find so many people had been duped by this company and had not received what was promised. We feel very foolish as the representatives appeared to be genuine.
We have cancelled our bank cards as they have our details and e mailed them to say we are sending no more money and want our deposit back.
As yet no reply to the mail. (surprise surprise)
Please post this to warn others to be very careful not to be taken in.

Save y says:
18 February 2013

Get in touch with Spanish local trading standards and eu trading standards if you paid with Visa card you can claim the money back under section 75 misrepresentation as most of these holidays can be found as cheap online send them regested letter so you have prove of cancellation eu law gives you 14 day cooling off period and they can’t take a deposit there and then also look at site called mindtimeshare they helped me with advice and addresses to get full refund when ora vacations in Tenerife did similar thing to me last year hope you get refund these people are total scam artist and Spanish authorities should do more to stop them

Keith Clark says:
18 February 2013

I brought a new kitchen from Premier kitchens and Bedrooms, and later recieved an offer from Costa Holidays co based in Spain and Cornwall offering me ,as a custumer of Premier ,a “Free” four day holiday in Cornwall in return for agreeing to attend a sales meeting about Costa Holidays, doing a bit of research I found they were a time share and property company and would subject me to a hard sell, on top of that the only free part of the holiday was the occomodation all meals, travell and extras would need to be paid for I estimated the total cost to me would be around £400 Needless to say I backed off

Hi

We were sold CLC holiday club points in 2010. We paid in full on our credit card. The presentation was full on in a very high pitched sales environment in Spain from 9.00-4.00 including ‘free breakfast’. Since trying to spend points, we have found that all the holidays at the times we want are already booked by ‘higher point members’ and have rarely found a holiday at the times we want, we have always compromised,. We were also not told about the yearly maintenance fees which increases every year. We also did not have a cooling off period of any time as we had to buy the points by the end of the presentation. Now our financial situtation has changed and we can no longer afford the fees/holidays. Where do we stand? I have tried to sell the points via the Travel and Leisure Group but am reluctant to pay out any more money to them.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

silvek says:
21 February 2013

Hi, Subject (Grandholidays/I|nterval International) Lanzarote

We paid the deposit by Visa Debit cards not credit card. The bank have said that because the terms were under Spanish Law their hand are tied and advised to complain to EU Trading Standards.

From what we can gather from reading about other people’s experiencies are that the “activation week” is basically to give you a membership to a site that you can use to book holidays , (not sure but think it is time share rentals) the “free weeks” are provided by promotional time share companies and are subject to booking fees and availability. So it would seem the £3000+ is for 2 weeks accommodation, the other 4 free weeks incur further booking costs and you are required to attend a promotiion!!!
We were told that we could take the 6 six weeks accommodation at the Lanzarote resort with no further cost . Dont trust what they said after reading about the lies told to others.

On another note they informed us that they were trying to help time share owners at the resort by offering to buy their unit to release them from the esculating cost of fees. They said to us “you wouldn’t want to give an enemy a time share”

Have e mailed mindtimeshare who have advised to complain to the RDO

Alba says:
17 April 2013

Hi Silvek,

Just wondering if you are any further forward with your situation?

Some family members have this week gotten themselves into an almost identical situation, and some information on what to do next, and if you’ve managed to get your money back would be very helpful.

Thanks

Silvek says:
18 April 2013

Hi Alba

Unfortunately we are no further forward and are coming to the conculsion that we have lost our money, you do not give details of your family’s situation so can only advise you to contact mindtimeshare who are really helpfull.

Its sad that so many people are duped by these ‘sharks’ ( don’t know how they sleep at night)

Hope your family gets a good result

Let me know how you get on.

Thanks

Dave y says:
19 April 2013

Please give more details there is ways to get money back if you can find Spanish local trading standards address get in touch with them they will apply pressure to get your money back also a site called mindtimeshare gave me great advice last year when ora vacations in Tenerife tried to rip me of deposit got full refund thanks to them and there advice

May adair says:
4 May 2013

Got caught with the scratch cards yesterday with a company called agentes canarios sl with grand holidays in Feurteventura sat throught the presentation with the salesman who we thought sounded plausible and honest signed up for there deal and paid 300 euros up front with them setting us up with a credit agreement on returning to our apartment i realised that i just bought into something i didnt really need or want is there anything we can do

Dave y says:
5 May 2013

Cancel agreement straight away if your still there get copy of cancellation documents if your back in uk send a regested letter cancelling agreement keep all receipts and proof of posting they will say no cancellation agreement but under eu law they must give 14 days cooling off period and are not allowed to use ticket touts or take a deposit .if you paid by credit card you can claim deposit back under section 75 consumers credit act ,also check sight called mindtimeshare they give great help and advice try to get in touch with the local Spanish trading standards they will help ,they will try and get out of this but persist had done same thing to me last year and after a lot of hassle and lies by ora vacations managed to eventually get money back and cancel credit agreement

Anthony Smith says:
5 May 2013

Help, this has been going on for a while now and I’m no nearer to getting it sorted

In brief

I’m still in a pickle

I went on a CLC holiday trial, I like the place I stayed.

We signed up for a package with CLC in their head office in Malaga.

We signed the CLC letter headed paper work

GE money provided the money = over 14K

We went home and that was that, then our fees shot up to more than double before we could use the holiday we bought.

We got told that most of the places that we wanted needed to be booked over a year in advance.(Which we was not told in the first place) But if we upgraded then we could guarantee better priority

The apartments available you could get for around 80 quid a week on the internet and were not what we expected and so on..

So we said enough we went to the OFT as nothing was measuring up to what we had been sold and they investigated back in 2010

Their results were that (Off the record) we were in-fact miss sold, but they could not do anything about it? (on the record) they (CLC) had done nothing wrong in fact they haven’t sold us anything?

Although we were at their “head office” staffed by CLC staff they were in fact not CLC staff but sellers? or agents not directly employed by CLC so CLC did not in fact miss sell us a product.

GE money couldn’t be done by association as they didn’t provide the cash even though we owe them over 14K?

There was someone else involved which we knew nothing about!!!

Although we signed a credit agreement with the agents (Not CLC) for GE Money to provide the funds. GE Money provided the funds to a holding company who sat quietly in the middle. The holding company then provide the funds to CLC and not the agent so in practice CLC haven’t miss sold me anything at all and GE Money are not liable by association because neither GE Money or CLC have any direct contact………. “Are you keeping up”

Everything we were told from start to finish about the membership was false and angered me, no mention of a 14 day cooling off period or anything. To be honest when mentioned their response was along the lines of “what would be the point of mentioning the cooling off period? if you weren’t sure at the time of purchase then you shouldn’t have signed the paperwork, you would have been wasting me time”

When ever we spoke to CLC most of the time it was, “Thats not correct” or “they shouldn’t have mentioned that” and “if you upgrade to the points scheme then you can have what your after” something about being on the program we were signed to wasn’t going to have me treated in the same was a someone who spent tens of thousands on a point scheme. Bottom of the pecking order I think they mentioned

CLC are not bothered chasing me as they have my money and are happy and GE Money have sold the credit on (for less than halve the value) to another company which has destroyed my perfect credit rating with a default

There you have it, I have no way of being able to rectify this and have suffered ever since. I have always been so careful and would love some help dealing with this. If I have to pay then I will but what happened to me and other like me is just plain wrong

CaroS says:
15 May 2013

I’m in a similar situation! We bought our points from Sunterra, now owned by Diamond Resorts, the first lot in 2005 and more so we could get the accommodation we needed in 2006. The Finance in total £15,000 was provided by GE Money and to be paid back over 10 years which we didnt really think about at the time – more fool us but I know now we are not the only ones. The Management fees have doubled and I havent paid them for the last 2 years. However, I have continued to pay GE Money and have paid all back but now have another 3 years to go so that will be the interest. I’ve had enough and have no intention of paying anymore. Its been such a stressful burden knowing that i fell for this con and having to pay £200 a month half of it is interest! So are you still paying the finance off? I have read many forums where people have said they are no longer going to pay but they are comments made in 2008/9 and there were no comments saying what happened when they stopped paying. This forum has the most recent comments and although you are dealing with different Timeshare companies you still got the finance from GE Money, interesting!!

FelicityFP says:
16 July 2013

We bought a one year Holiday Club Membership from Discover Access (they also operate under Access 2 Leisure) in Sliema, Malta at Preluna Hotel. They took £1200 from us before we saw the contract. Then they sweet-talked us into signing an `immediately binding non-cancellable contract` plus we had to initial a whole list of questions which seem to totally stitch us up legally. But we had no choice really – they had our money.
The presentation was verbal using brochures and claiming wide choice worldwide including the UK in 4* & 5* accommodation. The product is web-based and we didn’t see that until we got home. There is very little choice e.g. in the whole of the UK there were only 3 holidays all on canal boats.
We asked to be released from the contract. They refused.
Our Bank did a chargeback. Their Bank did a chargeback. Our Bank did another chargeback.
Now we have received a letter from a Debt Collector ‘Daniels Silverman’ saying we have to pay (now nearly £1500) to them within 7 days or they will take us to Court, send in the Baliffs and that we won’t ever get credit again.
According to our Bank they should not be contacting us at all. But they have ignored that.
Everyone seems to say – don’t pay. But it might be the cheapest option to pay.
If it went to court and we lost, it seems it could cost us £5000+
Has anyone else been in this situation and got out of it by not paying these con artists?
Or has anyone got any helpful advice?

Livings hope says:
25 August 2013

Are you being chased for debt fo non payment of fees yet?

Alba says:
8 May 2013

Hi

As my family immediately realised their mistake (with Grand Holidays) they went the next day to the tourist information office who gave them a name an address of someone in the local council/trading offices. They were very helpful and spent a long time on the phone with the company. They eventually managed to get the company to agree to refund the monies paid and cancel the contract.

After another long meeting with the company director (I think) they got the initial deposit refunded onto their credit card and the remainder contract cancelled.

I hope this helps, and anyone in a similar situation can hopefully get help asap.

sheila(from manchester) says:
15 July 2013

hi my mum and dad bought their timeshare back in 1991, in cypress point, up til they changed to sunterra in 1997 they they always seemed to pay for the changes. they changed from cypress point to pine lake. after my dad died my mum despartly wanted to get rid.
only to be offered a ho;iday membership through intcentive leisure and a cash back after 5 years. my mum paid the deposit with my brothers credit card. the rest she paid by bankers draft totaling £10.800. she is constantly being bombarded by the no win fee people who want 30% of what we recieve. if my mum does not win will she have to pay court costs.

i hope someone will help she is now in her 70’s and having people constantly calling her and wanting to promise a return of her money.

kind regards

sheila and family

Roger Freeman says:
16 July 2013

its all good and well to change legislation on time shares today
but nobody gives you a legitimate company that can dispose of a time share under an old contract, the internet is full of con artist wanting money up front your bank details so they can transfer the sale money, we are told not to pay any money up front. time share companies are now charging up front fees for the paper work if you manage to find a buyer, unfortunately their are thousands in this country that have hit hard times like myself who are stuck with a time they got when the good wages were there.

Livings hope says:
25 August 2013

We all desperately want to hear from ANYONE who successfully extracted themselves from GVC/sunterra/ Diamond Resortsnplease