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Scam Alert

Consumers warned about bogus holiday clubs – 22/02/2011

As part of Scams Awareness Month, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service (TSS) is warning consumers to beware of bogus holiday clubs.

The warning comes as new laws are introduced giving consumers more protection when joining holiday clubs.

Holiday clubs promise access to discounted holidays anywhere in the world for a set period of time. While there are reputable holiday club businesses, some promise much more than is ever delivered.

A common approach is to hand out scratch cards to holiday makers telling them they have won a prize. The catch is that in order to claim the prize you have to attend a presentation, where you will be put under pressure by representatives for the holiday club to sign a contract there and then.

But it’s not just on holiday that you can be targeted. Kevin McNamara of the TSS said: “Many of the complaints to Domain Scams about holiday clubs come from consumers who have paid to join after receiving a telephone call offering membership. It is only once they have received the contract do they realise the deal is not what they thought it was.”

Now new regulations will give consumers more protection when joining a holiday club. The new protections include:

· a 14 day cooling off period during which the buyer can withdraw from the contract without any penalty;
· the seller cannot ask for, or accept, any money from the consumer during the cooling off period;
· written information in the consumer’s preferred language setting out information about the holiday club; and
· written notice of the right to cancel the contract and a cancellation form.

These laws apply if you join a holiday club anywhere in the European Economic Area.

The advice from TSS is not to be rushed into joining a holiday club.

Kevin McNamara added: “These new regulations provide a cooling off period, so consumers who are interested in joining should ask for a copy of the contract and take time to study the detail. Reputable companies should have no problem with this. Any attempts to apply pressure tactics should put you on your guard.”

Consumers who require further advice about holiday clubs should contact Domain Scams on 0300 123 6262 or log onto www.domainscams.co.uk.

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