In the world of business, it is common and good practice to consult with consumer representatives. The timeshare industry in Europe claims that they listen to consumers through TATOC (Timeshare Association for Timeshare Owners and Committees), however TATOC and its helplines are funded by the Timeshare industry via the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) itself and therefore it could be claimed that they support the industry that pays them rather than the consumer.
TATOC supported MacDonalds Resorts (which is not part of the RDO) however they do sponsor TATOC independently. TATOC praised MacDonalds Resorts and they were then successful in removing the right to fixed weeks from their consumers and putting them into a points system. The majority of these consumers were happy with their timeshare purchase as it was and did not want to be moved into a points system. They were advised that if they didn’t want the points system they could pay more in the ‘land-grab’ costing up to £2,200 per week! In TATOC’s support of this action, many thought that they had sold their soul for the ‘cash’.
It seems that for a small amount of cash the association between two came to light and it was no shock to some that TATOC seemed to be under the control of the industry.
In one instance TATOC outright lied to the timeshare public and are now in the process of progressing High Court proceedings for defamation. Again the company has been brought into disrepute.
RDO now seems to have its act together and is advising consumers to seek advice from them and not TATOC.
There are some issues in the timeshare industry, unlawful contracts, mis-selling and supporting poorly formed consumer associations however it is not all bad!
A lot of consumers love their timeshare products and are very happy with what they have purchased and how much they have paid.
On the other side of that coin are the people who want to get out. So can these people be treated fairly and get out?
There should always be a consideration for treating people fairly and morally. The industry states that customer’s should pay substantial damages should they wish to exit their agreement, however as they have already paid thousands and thousands of pounds to join the timeshare it is speculated that many would just walk away if they could, without paying the fees but not receiving a refund.
On the other hand many consumer complaints are regarding being mis-sold products and they want to be let out of their contracts, refunded and compensated. The difficulty with this is the consumer may then be in a vulnerable position; they could lose their case and end up paying more in legal costs.
The issues surrounding this means that consumer seeks advice and this could mean that they are inadvertently seeking advice from a consumer agency that is actually funded by the timeshare industry. This could mean that the guidance received is incorrect or untrue.
Here at the TCA we would strongly advice, you always know who you are speaking to. Look into their credentials and take the time to understand exactly who you are dealing with, are they legitimately in the business of helping, guiding and giving advice? A consumer association is there to help you as the customer, to give fair and reasonable advice and to try to ensure that issues and complaints are resolved effectively.
Posted on: March 3, 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