Canal/Narrow Boats, Houseboats, Cruisers and Yachts
Many companies selling timeshare in boats promote the sale on the benefits of the exchange system whereby not using the boat itself. This maybe very misleading with regards to consumer expectation.

The three independent canal boat operators in the UK are:-

  • Canaltime Ltd Stratford Court Cruisers (latterly known as Ethos Narrowboats Ltd Closed 1 December 2008).
  • Shakespeare Classic Line Ltd (“Narrow Boats at Barton Turns Marina” & “Houseboats at Barton Turns Marina” Classic Cruisers, Bray and Dames de la Mer, Turkey). Barton Turns boats moved to Mercia Marina early 2009

Each company uses a range of ‘agents’ to sell on their behalf.

Timeshare on boats in the UK attracts its own difficulties when timeshare companies try to sell them. The difficulty is in low season, as low season weeks are difficult to exchange. Consumers rightfully fear the activities of ice breaking and walking along dry canals. To overcome this, consumers may find timeshare salesmen become over exuberant and exaggerate the benefits of owning one of these weeks.

Up until 23 February 2011 the purchase of boat timeshares was probably covered by the UK Timeshare Act 1992, and the 10 day voluntary code operated by credit card companies does apply.

But from 23 February 2011 the purchase was certainly covered by the Timeshare Regulations 2010.

Purchasers who have been subject to misrepresentations may have to take legal action to get out of the timeshare contract.

Points to bear in mind when buying into a winter week (RCI ‘blue’ season):
Canal cruising in winter is only for the hardy and particular consideration should be given to the winter weather whilst holidaying in a boat on a canal:

Cold, wet (although boats have central heating) and short days limit cruising.
Perhaps ice breaking!

Canals are often closed for periods in winter (October – March) for maintenance. These weeks are called “non cruising weeks”. See the Canal & River Trust (England & Wales) and Scottish Canals.

But you might be planning on swapping your week with an exchange company.

Remember, exchange companies need to find someone to use your week if they are to keep their system functioning smoothly. 
What do you think their prospects of finding someone to exchange if it’s cold, wet and closed? The RCI points valuation of winter weeks is one tenth the valuation of a peak summer week.

You may be limited to using only one exchange company- which limits your choice and may cost you more than is necessary.

Additional points for Timeshare in boats/vessels/barges:
Winter weeks in the above are difficult to dispose of and/or exchange. In short, consumers shy away from spending vacation time on a boat in the winter.

Sales representatives tend to or may claim large rental incomes which after consideration, the rentals declared are actually based on boats of a much superior specification.

Consumers are advised to consider mooring aspects of the contract as the operator may have the option to change the mooring position. If the operator is permitted to do this under contract, you may find (at a later stage), your boat is not located in a convenient place for your holiday.

TCA advice:
If you are considering preparing your own list of misrepresentations, (perhaps for a claim under the Consumer Credit Act 1974) then:

Do not copy any list of misrepresentations, because they may not apply to you. Consider a list of misrepresentations so as to understand what a misrepresentation is. Any misrepresentations you claim you have been subject to, must at all times relate to your individual case. To blatantly copy the claims of others may land you foul of the law.

Ensure when providing a list of misrepresentations you include the promise made to you and the reality you have experienced.

When misrepresentations are being heard by a court, the consumer is at an advantage in that the person who made the representations has to attend the court and in a lot of cases, the actual salesman who made the representations has moved on. In the event they do not attend trial, the timeshare companies are at a disadvantage as it is only the consumers evidence which can be heard by any judge.

In many cases of misrepresentation, the ones listed above are also breaches of the Consumer Protection Regulations. Therefore, the consumer should report the matter to his or her local Trading Standards Office as a criminal act.

Last modified: September 7, 2015