Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards warn holidaymakers that Timeshare scams haven’t gone away as thousands of people head abroad this year to enjoy the summer break.
(CTSI) Chartered Trading Standards Institute are warning holidaymakers not to let their guard down.
Andy Crump of Warwickshire County Councillor said: “Trading Standards are concerned that holidaymakers are still being approached whilst abroad and enticed by offers of further holiday accommodation opportunities to encourage them to attend ‘presentations’ selling timeshare, holiday ownership or discount holiday clubs.”
CTSI and Trading Standards advise consumers to be on their guard when attending such presentations, as many use high pressured sales tactics which in some cases leads consumers into parting with large sums of money.
Many of these presentations never go into the detail of the ‘other’ costs which are involved, mainly the monthly maintenance fees, which as the norm usually increase significantly over time.
The European Union has detailed legislation covering the sale of timeshare and other holiday products, and there are firm rules about the way in which the sales can be carried out. These include the obligation to give consumers key information and cancellation rights, and the prohibition of any upfront deposits being taken.
Sylvia Rook, lead Officer at CTSI, added: “It is easy to get caught up in the dream of potentially ‘owning’ part of a beautiful resort, or accessing cheap holidays, but if you are asked to part with a large sum of money, it is always important to check the details of the offer carefully and seek legal advice before signing anything. Sleep on it before making any important financial decisions, which may tie you into monthly, or annual, fees for many years to come.”
Even though consumers are becoming more and more aware of timeshare ‘scams’, there is an increasing area of concern to the so-called businesses offering assistance on how to get out of timeshare contracts, the scammers have jumped on the bandwagon and this type of scam is becoming more popular. There are many consumers who now wish to exit their timeshare contracts, for one reason or another, it could be they are no longer able to travel abroad or afford the maintenance fees, they do not want to burden their family with the potential problem of disposal in the future.
There are many timeshare companies out there which have now rebranded themselves as a company which will assist consumers in exiting their timeshare. CTSI is advising consumers to do their research before committing to any exiting firm. Anyone asking for upfront fees should be avoided, all the horror stories are out there are of companies asking for fees upfront and sadly 9/10 of these companies are fake, once you have transferred your fees they will disappear into a puff of smoke.
In addition, never accept that a company with the name ‘lawyers’ in it means that they are actual lawyers, as the term has no legal definition. Many companies do use the term, and those that are not official lawyers and have no hidden agenda will usually state somewhere that they are not ‘legal lawyers’. Consumers can also do research for themselves if a firm is claiming to be a lawyer simply checking the Law Society website. And finally, as always, we at the TCA remind all consumers to make sure they know and understand exactly what they are signing for and agreeing to pay before you enter into the contract.
Trading standards received over 800 complaints in the last 12 months. They are more than aware of the growing number of complaints concerning timeshare, mostly in relation to timeshare resale, holiday clubs, and exit companies, sadly involving considerable amounts of money.
Andy Allen, CTSI Director of Operations, says “Despite the falling popularity of traditional timeshare products the UK European Consumer Centre service continues to be contacted by large numbers of consumers who have lost significant amounts of money to timeshare related scams. Rogue companies have continually evolved their products in an attempt to evade the protection offered by consumer protection legislation, and they have also been very clever at developing a variety of guises, the specialist claims ‘lawyer’ being one of them, in order to further target timeshare owners’.
Timeshare consumer Association have found that consumers are approached in the UK too, offering them ‘investment opportunities’ the same timeshare laws apply in the UK, but always remember you too can carry out your own research, and unquestionably do not make any substantial investment for a percentage share in such a property without taking independent legal advice.
See our recent post regarding paying to attend a sales presentation.
Posted on: August 6, 2018
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