Do you have a timeshare you want to sell? If so, don’t fall into the trap of being scammed to the tune of thousands of pounds by unscrupulous resale companies.
Hundreds of timeshare owners are targeted every week by resale companies promising to take their timeshare off their hands. Typically, the companies request large sums of money upfront in order to secure a sale.
We’ve heard from numerous Which? members who have been duped into handing over large sums of money. Once they’d handed over the money however, they never heard from the company again – welcome to the world of the timeshare resale.
Although it might seem obvious not to hand over any money, these companies can be extremely convincing and are adept at delivering the ‘hard sell’. And, because owners are often desperate to sell, they’re more likely to fall for an attractive sales pitch – even if it sounds too good to be true.
Don’t fall for the cold call
Take the case of Geoff Faulkner. Over the years, desperate to sell his three timeshare products, Geoff has paid out thousands of pounds in the hope that one of the companies would deliver on its promise.
None ever has and although he has managed to recover his losses through his credit card company, he is still in possession of timeshares he doesn’t want, paying annual maintenance fees on properties he doesn’t use.
Judging by the letters and emails we’ve received, Geoff is far from being alone. And, with more than half a million British and Irish citizens owning timeshares across 1,300 European resorts, the potential for unscrupulous resale companies to deceive owners is vast.
How to spot a scam
Here are some of the techniques used to part you from your cash:
1. You’re told there’s a buyer ready to buy your timeshare, but first you have to pay a large fee to secure the sale. After this is paid, you never hear from the company again.
2. You receive a call inviting you to attend a presentation under the pretence that the company will sell your timeshare or that you will meet potential buyers. Typically, the presentation turns into a high-pressure sales pitch in which the company tries to sell you one of its own timeshare products.
3. You’re invited to a presentation by a timeshare company and told that if you buy their timeshare you’ll receive a cash-back certificate where you’ll be able to get all your money back. Needless to say, it’s rare you’ll ever get your money back.
Future proofing timeshares
There is some good news on the horizon. New legislation governing the sale of timeshares, resale, timeshare exchange and long-term holiday products comes into force in February 2011. It outlaws the practice of taking payments upfront and states that money should only be exchanged after a sale has taken place.
The legislation means that any company or individual that takes money upfront can be prosecuted. Hopefully this will deter unscrupulous companies and give timeshare owners more power if they do fall for their scams.