The timeshare point system is under some scrutiny at the moment. The ‘points’ system in timeshare basically means that you become a member of an exclusive ‘club’. This can be a fractional ownership club or a standard ‘points club’, however they are engineered by Trust Companies and are created for timeshare developers and not the consumer.
You will pay an up-front fee (possibly a large amount) and then you will be required to make further payments as fees. When these fees are paid, you will be credited more points to your account. With these points, you can ask to ‘spend’ them to purchase holiday accommodation. However, there is a catch. It is only if what you are requesting is available. There is no guarantee that what you ask for will be available or in some cases even exists.
The holiday availability is controlled by the resorts and the sellers of the timeshare and if they decide not to make certain weeks or resorts available, you as the consumer could be at risk of not getting what you thought you had paid for. This therefore could be classed as an unlawful contract.
The ‘Points’ system and it’s unclear, convoluted terms and conditions are currently receiving a backlash. In the USA ‘Diamond Resorts’ affiliated with TATOC have been severely punished and has agreed to pay a judgement of $800,000. In South Africa, the National Consumer Commission have released details of a report that they have authored and called those points systems ‘a scam’. In Europe, the EU has suggested that the consumers should challenge the ‘product’.
There is a significant number of timeshare consumers that are unhappy with the ‘points’ system and the product they have bought. These consumers believe that they have been misled and haven’t actually bought anything other than the option/chance to book a holiday, which in reality they already had. It is suggested that there is in fact very little or no benefit to a timeshare consumer who has paid for a ‘points’ system.
The good news is a public inquiry is about to be launched into the vacation-ownership industry and it will take place over a period of 6 months. There will be a panel of experts and the chairman will be a retired judge.
There is also a conference regarding the subject being launched in April 2017 by the JLCA lawyers in Spain. Countries from all over the world will be a part of the conference and the hope is that the conclusion will set the stage for reflective consideration.
The question really is – do these ‘points’ have any actual value. Different timeshare companies have been asked to provide the proof that they do, however no such proof has yet come to light. In the case of ‘Diamond Resorts’ they have been fined however were not asked whether what they had sold retained any value, they settled the case before it was delivered to the courts.
It seems that the greatest concern of the customer is that they are being mis-sold to and that the contracts are not clear enough for them to have made a reasonable informed decision on what they were purchasing. The Consumer Protection Regulations prohibits suppliers from using selling techniques that can mislead customers and have stated that if a customer has been misled the resulting contract could be void.
Posted on: March 1, 2017
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk