Blog post -
Has COVID sealed the fate of the timeshare industry?
Coronavirus conditions highlighting flaws in the timeshare industry
Timeshare membership has rules: You buy into a club or system, you commit to taking holidays and paying an annual fee to do so. This annual fee is usually about the cost that non-members would pay to stay in the resort at which you own at the same time.
There are exchange possibilities: You can take a holiday elsewhere by 'banking' your week(s)/points. There is a fee for this, and you have to give a mandated amount of notice. You can also 'bank' your time and save it for a year or two, and in some instances borrow time from the future to have an extra holiday this year, again with specified time-frames and notice requirements.
Navigate the procedures correctly and you get an impressive choice of vacation, but get things wrong and you can lose your holiday altogether.
Regardless of whether you holiday or not, you are committed to paying your annual fee.
Timeshare owners learn the subtleties of their system and often report great user experiences, but the average US timeshare owner is now over 55, and in Europe older than this.
Regimented procedures and commitment hold no appeal with young, modern holidaymakers, even without the uncertainty of the new COVID landscape. The 2020's consumer wants what they want, when they want it and without a complex set of rules.
Daniel Keating from the Timeshare Consumer Association explains: "Our organisation has been assisting timeshare consumers for 23 years and the nature of enquiries has changed noticeably during this time. In the past people wanted to discuss bad service, or maybe ask for an impartial review of a club they'd just joined. They had spent a lot of money, but were not usually in doubt that they had bought themselves a better class of holiday.
"Now 95% of our requests for help are from people wanting to get escape the commitment of their memberships.
"The rest of the holiday industry doesn't require up front investment, annual financial commitments, or learning a system of notice periods, exchange requests and fees, in order for consumers to get the holiday they want.
Analogue holidays in a digital world
"Modern holidays are flexible and fluid, always evolving to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of travellers. Most importantly, if you don´t fancy a holiday this year, you don´t have to pay a penny.
"Many timeshare owners now see their memberships as dated; analogue holidays in a digital world.
"The pandemic has highlighted timeshare flaws even to loyal owners. They might have tolerated the inflexibility because it was familiar, but asking them to keep paying annual fees for holidays they can´t use is a step too far.
"In 2020, and maybe for the next couple of years, timeshare owners have to pay full price for something they won´t get because they committed to a system that is unable to adapt to the unusual COVID situation.
"We now have timeshare owners who are jealous of the people who holiday through regular booking methods. The situation was covered recently on Radio 4's You and Yours consumer program.
Maintenance fees out of control
"With a lack of new owners signing up, many resorts are also seeking to recoup funds through increased annual fees. In the short term this might fill a revenue hole for them, but this tests the owner base´s patience still further. Regular holiday makers can stay in the same resort the timeshare owner paid tens of thousands of pounds to be a member of, for often less than the owner pays in annual fees.
"It´s little wonder that the timeshare owner wants out and this has given rise to a whole new industry of 'exit companies' offering to help owners escape their timeshare commitments. Predictably many of these firms are scam operators who will take the member's money and then do nothing to help.
"Timeshare owners are advised to contact an independent consumer organisation like ourselves before paying a timeshare lawyer/exit firm, or to get an appraisal of a firm they have already retained.
"At the Timeshare Consumer Association we maintain a knowledge-base on all aspects of the timeshare industry, including the "exit companies".
"Our advice is free, impartial and up to date. We are staffed by volunteers: Owners, ex owners and even ex timeshare industry workers. Call or email for counsel on any aspect of your timeshare.
"As our founder Sandy Grey was fond of saying: 'There are no silly questions, they are only silly if you don't ask them.'
Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: firstname.lastname@example.org (Address to Daniel).
WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055
TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations – We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.
An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.
We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff. We know our way around the timeshare business
We are a proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition
- European Consumer Claims Limited
- European Consumer Claims Reviews
- Timeshare reclaims
- Timeshare compensation claims
- ECC Timeshare
- ECC reviews
- ECC Limited
- Timeshare refund claims
- Timeshare Consumer Association
- European Consumer Claims
- ECC European Consumer Claims
- Timeshare refund
- Daniel Keating