Press release -
Timeshare owners despair as holiday firms say "No refunds for amber destinations"
Most British timeshare holidaymakers own in Spain. Still more own in Greece. Both countries are on the UK's amber list, meaning the government advice is not to travel for leisure. Travel agents are refusing to refund or even issue credit notes to people wanting to follow the government's direction.
Travel restrictions eased but warnings remain
The UK government's traffic light system has left holidaymakers like Sandra Norman unwilling to fly to amber list countries. Sandra explained in an interview with the BBC that she booked an important family trip to Greece a year ago with the expectation that if travel was disallowed she would be able to move or cancel the holiday. She tried to move the booking to 2022, but says the travel agent refused. The Normans can either risk going to an amber list country or lose the £5000 they paid.
Avoiding amber list countries is not a legal requirement, meaning companies are within their rights to refuse refunds or date changes.
Work and school
Even if the Normans brave the 'risky' destination, the other factor that makes the amber country holiday impossible for Sandra's family is that a ten day quarantine is obligatory on return, as well as expensive PCR tests.
Sandra's husband and son have a plumbing business. Taking an extra ten days off is 'not an option' for them. It would also mean extra time off work for Sandra, and off school for her grandsons.
Timeshare owners committed
The Norman family are among the unlucky ones who booked in advance, hoping things would be back to normal by now. Regular holiday makers can generally opt to avoid amber list countries and stay close to home during these uncertain times. But what if, like over 650,000 Brits, you own a timeshare? What if, like over 76% of those owners, your timeshare is in amber list Spain or Greece?
"It's a huge problem," says Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC). "TImeshare owners have to pay for their accommodation whether they use it or not. They are stuck with the difficult choice of either writing off their annual fees (around the same as the cost of regular accommodation) or paying thousands extra for PCR tests, risking travel against government advice to an amber list country, and having a legally mandated extra ten days quarantine upon return."
For many timeshare owners this disappointment is nothing new. "Timeshare used to be a groundbreaking way to holiday," says Andrew Cooper. "However, the rest of the travel business has caught up and overtaken it in terms of flexibility and value. Timeshare in 2021 is little more than an expensive, restrictive commitment that most members wish they could get rid of."
The good news for Spanish timeshare owners is that many of them can either escape or even claim compensation, with professional help.
"For many years since 1999 timeshare companies in Spain have been ignoring laws enacted to protect consumers from high pressure sales," says Cooper "And many of those affected are not only able to escape the contracts, but also claim sizable amounts of compensation."
"Even owners who are not eligible for compensation can often be helped out of their contracts, and the accompanying burden of annual maintenance fees."
Cooper adds a note of caution. "Be careful who you retain for relinquishment or compensation claims," he warns. "Sadly the majority of firms offering these services are fraudsters. They will take your money, but then disappear.
"If you know other owners who have successfully retained a claims firm, then seek their guidance. Otherwise there are several timeshare consumer associations who will advise you for free, and a website called timesharetrust.co.uk which provides resources to help you do your own research.
"Or you can get in touch with us at ECC, for a free, confidential chat."
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- Timeshare compensation: Fact vs fiction
- Black list, grey list, white list. Which claims firms can be trusted?
- Review of Timeshare Trust website
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- Panic and uncertainty over travel for timeshare owners
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Andrew Cooper background article can be read here