/ 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.

michael says:
21 July 2015

Is ITRA a safe company to deal with

HI is that the timeshare release company as we were wondering the same?

Jose Carlos says:
19 August 2015

We have just returned from Lanzarote and feel really foolish, we were duped by the scratchcard scam, winning a weeks worldwide holiday and a bottle of champagne, after being told we would have to sit through a 90 min presentation in which time a contract was drawn up, we were asked to pay a deposit of £500 with a visa debit card, being handed over to Karen and promised a week in Tenerife and 5 weeks to any where in the world. whilst signing the contracts we became suspicious the last page was on plain paper, we said we no longer wanted to go ahead , i made Karen draw 2 lines through each page to void the contracts but she wouldn’t let me have a copy, She couldn’t get rid of us fast enough, I came straight back to our hotel and cancelled my debit card no money had been taken, I returned home and phoned the police who put me through to the Action Fraud, They took a report and would be really pleased to hear from anybody else who has been duped by Karen , Richard or John so as they can build a case.

Sandra says:
3 November 2015

My husband and I ‘won a prize’ on a scratch card too that was given out by ‘Nicky’. We listened for 2.5 hours (but it felt more like we were being held captive) by Barry and his manager Richard who were giving us the hard sell. We explained our debit and credit cards were back at the hotel we were staying at. No problem they said, they could give us a lift to our hotel to retrieve them so we could leave a deposit of over £700! We left shortly after clutching our prize of a bottle of ‘champagne’.

M de neuvu0ille says:
7 June 2016

Thid our 1st week here before we have to sign out travel passport after reading various posts n waking up im not signing, anykne kniw what position im in.

I was sold a timeshare some 8 years ago, I was promised fees would only go up by around £15 a year and we could use the timeshare at other locations, these are now none existent, and the fees have done up by over 100%, I don’t know what to do.

We saw advertised on the internet a company called Timeshare release which stated that they are able to release people from timeshare within 6 weeks, as anyone had dealings with this company?

If they are linked with Eze Group dònt do it we went to an appointment we thought was with a Lawyer from Eze Legal after 5 hours with a representative and he tried to charge us £5908 to get out of the contracts! We told them we thought he thought we came down in the last rain shower!

Try Stephen Boyd Althena Law

The best advice is NEVER buying a timeshare anywhere. It is a scam and the so-called timeshare you buy is sold over and over again to other people. It is very difficult to sell your timeshare now and renting isn’t in the deal. It will cost you more to buy a timeshare and maintenance fee than to rent a hotel room or a full ownership of a condo. Don’t do it. There is good information about timeshare scams.

Is the purchase of accommodation vouchers for 7 days with a long term use by date paid by credit card in timeshare complexes covered by the legislation?
No cooling off period was mentioned .

The applicable legislation will probably be that of the jurisdiction in which the contract was made.

Nearly got duped today. Visiting Tenerife, was told I’d won a holiday and stupidly followed the person to the flamingo resort hotel…it was so genuine they gave us drinks and showed us around an apartment. Luckily my wife saw through the scam when they wouldn’t show us paperwork nor give us a few hours to think about it..I went back in this afternoon and took photos of four of the people involved and also warned a couple just about to part with their money 🙁 I’m thankful I we didn’t go through with it but feel bitter about the time wasted

I avoided being conned myself just last week, thanks largely to these comments,

Most people, understandably, are so eager to recover their money that they lose sight of another aspect: warning others.

I believe that there is action we can take to warn others. My idea, for what it is worth is as follows, but others may well have better ideas.

Essentially, we write a narrative that assembles our combined experiences. A composite narrative that includes the range of tricks, cons, illusions, etc. to which we have been subjected. A narrative that takes us from that first contact with the ever-so friendly fellow with the scratch-card through to ‘signing along the dotted line’, making payment and zero recourse.

To avoid any possibility of libel issues, no names should be used. I suggest that we avoid any mention of companies or organisations. If we could mention countries and towns, all the better, but a lawyer’s input here would be welcome!

If you agree with me that “something needs to be done”, would a recent victim (one who has actually made payment) please start. Do try to remember every little detail. In what circumstances did the scratch-card tout approach you? For example, in my case he was very clever. We had driven back to our holiday flat in xxxx and as we waiting for the sliding gate to open to let us into the parking area, a scooter drew up to my side. A native of the country where I live and speaking the language, the rider said that he recognized our foreign licence plate and that he came from a town in the same general area. What a surprise! After a few seconds chat, I asked the obvious (and in hindsight, regretable) question, “Do you live here?” (meaning, “do you live in this block of flats”), to which he replied affirmatively. In one fell swoop he had become our ‘neighbour’ (and we trust our neighbours, don’t we?).

I am unsure if we have a claim. We were mid sold a week on a U.K. Canal barge in 1999. Does anyone know if can pursue a claim and if so how do we go about it.

I’ve been conned into a year agrelement and been told I can’t have a cooling off period

Marie says:
27 February 2017

Hi. We were on the same situation as you all are . Just signed a contract as well from Heritage resorts and then decided a day after that we couldn’t do it in a long run. Spoke to the manager who was present that time about our dilemna but he can’t answer us and still refer us to Mr Anderson as he knows all about the finance. Mr Anderson on the other kept telling us that we can still reconsider it after we get back in UK. Told him we have to do it while we’re still in Spain but nope he didn’t agree with it. Told us that we have signed a paper stating that no refund for the down payment we made. So thats how they scam us through all the downpayment we pay on that day especially if you just gonna lose it and not continue with the membership. All of them are scammers and to think all of the reps are from England and scamming their own fellow men..

I’ve just returned from Lanzarote and parted with £1000 on a credit card at destinations direct , part of Mtas . I thought I could get some holiday deals for my family but now realise how niave I was . They told me there was no cooling of period . But I now believe from what I have read in Which that it is illegal to take the money with out a cooling off period ? Does anyone know if this is right ?

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Hi Polly, sorry to hear that. Do you have the Terms and Conditions of the agreement? It would be worth taking a look through them to see what it says. There may be ways for you to recover your money, if you’re a Which? member then you might wish to speak to Which? Legal – https://legalservice.which.co.uk/ . Alternatively, we have some advice available on our Consumer Rights site: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/

We were pressurized to sign up in 2016 for a 3 year trial plan for 5 holiday trips within the 3 years. The stipulation we made at the time of contract is that our 1 week holiday twice each year would be required as a block booking. We have now tried to book October 2017 holiday months ahead many times and have been informed there is no availability for any week plans. The head office and Pamela told us to take it up with the booking representative in London, which we have done. They have advised us that only Turkey is available to us and they cannot help unless there is cancellation. It seems no one wants to take responsibility for what we were promised at the time of sale that we will go on holiday in any of there resorts we like at any time we want to go. No one told us at the point of the long pressurised sale that these holidays are subject to availability. Can you please advise if there is a way we can get our money back as we are still paying close to £200 per month to Barclays for the £4000 loan secured for us by CLC at the point of sale or at least percentage of the money back for our unused weeks.” Thanks

There’s just way too much of this Mis-selling in the past and now we face the task of trying to get some of our money back and possibly some compensation.

I have found a company on Google and have seen some comments where people have got their money refunded. I have spoken with them and they have a strong track record of helping people who have been scammed.

Hopefully others who are in this position will also be able to get their money back too.

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I have got a trial membership “contract” with CLC world travel which I can’t use due to my illness. How can I terminate this?

Well we’ve just been done . Heritage in Spain
Scratch card . One of the Top prizes . Had my doubts right from the start but got whisked up by taxi to there resort . Breakfast . The hard sell for 4 hours . I wanted to walk but they had my other half convinced . Then they offered me the 1000 euro prize and put it to the holiday club which brought the 3 year deal down to £3095 . I would be mad not to take it . They had my other half convinced so I reluctantly went along and signed it all . 14 day cooling of period but the £1295 deposit that had to be paid on the day is none refundable .no credit card on us but George ran us back to hotel then phoned the details through . He’s picking us up tomorrow to take us up for the receipt . I came on this holiday to relax I didn’t want this . Even when I got the winning scratch card, the Dutch boy that gave it to me was jumping about and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t extatic about it . I should have knowen better but food salesmen are charming and know what there doing

stephen boyd says:
17 January 2018

These laws, and reported cases before the Courts, have resulted in a boom for companies claiming compensation. Be wary who you deal with. Always use a regulated UK or Spanish Solicitor.

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I have recently used the Which template for making my own PPI claim with great success, (No, this is not an advert but I would recommend using it). I have never used any of the PPI Claims companies because they all want in excess of 30% of what they claim back for you. So I am now hoping that Which will come up with a Template Letter for Claiming Mis-sold Timeshares as I can see by the postings so far, there are very many out there! Over to you, Which?

I have signed a contract for a holiday club whilst in Tenerife, and there is no 14 day cooling off period. We paid 500 euros upfront, with the remaining 3000 euros to be paid before the end of June.
My partner and I have since got back after our holiday and have decided not to go ahead.
I understand the deposit may not be returned, but can we legally cancel even if the contract states no cooling off period ?

Heritage resorts are still mis-selling.
Similar story of a 3 year trial membership, starting at first holiday with them which must be some months after initially signing. Promise of 3 holidays in total, 1 each year, with large amount of credit through “ICE”.
Activation of ICE membership a fortnight after that first holiday.
Am I right in that, as I received no cancellation form with my contract, that my cancellation rights are 1 year and 14 days?