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Holidaymakers Warned About Timeshare And Holiday Clubs – 01/08/2007

People have been warned to be careful when offered timeshare or membership of holiday clubs.

When people buy a timeshare, they are buying the right to use holiday accommodation for a set amount of time each year. Stephen Thompson, manager of Domain Scams, advised people about the dubious tactics sometimes used by timeshare companies to get people to sign up to deals:

“Some timeshare companies offer free gifts or prizes as incentives to attend a presentation, where people are then put under pressure to sign up to an agreement up on the spot, to later discover that the prize is bogus or worthless.

“If you sign a timeshare contract in the UK, you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days in which you can cancel the contract (and any related credit agreement) at no cost and be refunded any money you have paid. The seller must not seek or accept any money from you during the cooling off period.

“In many other countries, the cooling-off period is 10 days. If you are unsure of your position, don’t sign, wait until you get home and seek legal advice.”

Holiday clubs promise the opportunity to buy cheaper holidays over a long period of time, either in a particular resort or in different locations. They usually require a membership fee and annual subscription. Agreements to buy membership of a holiday club are not protected by the same laws as timeshare.

Holiday club operators often target people with savings, such as people who have taken early retirement or couples whose children have grown up, leaving them with more free income.

Stephen Thompson warned consumers about sales tactics used, saying: “Typically, you will be invited to a plush hotel for a presentation, where you will be offered great value, exciting holidays all over the world in top class accommodation and including activities you enjoy, such as golf or tennis. You may be promised your cash back after four years.

“Unfortunately the reality is often very different. Annual subscription charges must be paid regardless of whether you use the club, while similar discounts may be available on the high street. No dates or destinations are guaranteed and holidays are often unavailable when and where you want. You might end up going nowhere.

“Not all holiday clubs are bogus, but many are. With a reputable club you should be able to take a few days to consider the contract and reach a decision. You should have everything in writing, including cancellation rights.”

Domain Scams have warned people not to sign anything they don’t understand, no matter how much pressure they are under. Some companies may try to encourage people to sign up by offering a special discount valid for only that day, or may even separate couples so that they cannot discuss it.

Stephen Thompson advised: “Take time to think it over and if you are not sure – leave, and seek independent advice”.

Domain Scams have also warned against so-called “free holidays”, offered either by phone calls at home or scratch cards. These may mean you have to pay for extras, such as flights and other add-ons that make it more expensive than if you had booked it yourself. Stephen Thompson said: “Unlike the law covering timeshare arrangements, you are not necessarily given a chance to cancel if you have second thoughts.”

If you have any concerns, contact Domain Scams on 0845 600 6262.

1. For general consumer advice visit / or telephone Domain Scams on 0845 600 6262.

2. For media enquiries please contact Lesley Dempster in the DETI Press Office, telephone 028 9052 9297 or 07866 847919.

3. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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