Press release -
Timeshare owners' fury at "pandemic profiteering."
Timeshare members worldwide are up in arms at grasping resorts charging full membership fees despite being closed to guests.
Timeshare companies, closed during the COVID crisis, are set to make record profits this year while refusing even partial management fee refunds to members.
The timeshare business has long been regarded as the underbelly of the tourist industry. From scams and pressure sales, to money laundering for gangsters in the ´80s and ´90s, the business has struggled with an unsavoury reputation for decades.
in 2020 even loyal, long time customers are fuming at what is being seen as a monumental act of selfishness from "greedy" timeshare bosses.
As far as we at the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) know, all of the four thousand plus timeshare resorts in the world, with the exception of a tiny number of independent resorts, are charging their members full management fees for this year despite having their doors closed and not providing the holiday accommodation their clients have paid for.
"Its clearly not right" says 20 year Marriott Vacation Club owner John House (70). "Yes, there´s a pandemic so we understand that they can´t open for safety reasons. But demanding full annual fees is profiteering pure and simple. Everyone is supposed to be pulling together in these difficult times. Airline companies, hotels, they are all doing the right thing and refunding when they can´t provide the services people have paid for. Times are tough for everyone. Nobody can afford to pay for things they don´t get.
"There is no other way to see it, Marriott´s are taking advantage of this pandemic to line their pockets. It´s sharp practice"
The House family´s maintenance fees are about £1000 a year, a figure they know they could otherwise use to buy a similarly high quality holiday elsewhere if they weren´t committed to Marriott Vacation Club.
Linda House with grandson Ryder at Marriott´s Marbella Vacation Club
"Marriott are taking a thousand pounds from us this year, just like every year," continues John, "but they are not providing our holiday because of COVID 19. We understand why they closed, and that the resort still has to be maintained, but without actual guests to service it doesn´t cost anything like £50,000 a year per apartment to maintain the resort, even if you factor in the grounds. Most of this money is just extra profit to the Marriott Vacation Club. Totally against the spirit every other business is showing of all pulling together in this international emergency."
"If we don´t pay the maintenance fees on time and in full, we get invoiced again next year with interest added on," adds John´s wife Linda, (71) "and if we don´t pay after 2 years, we lose our membership completely, with zero compensation. So there is no way around it, we have to pay for something we won´t get. This is very nice for the timeshare companies, but a total kick in the teeth for us members."
Marriott, like most other timeshare companies, are offering double holidays to their clients next year, instead of a refund on their maintenance fees this year.
"Obviously they can´t deliver on that," explains John. "How can every member have double their holidays next year? Even if the companies had enough inventory to accommodate this, which they don´t, most people own the amount of weeks they can use. They can´t just double their holidays from work, or other commitments. And this is all assuming that the resorts are even open next year."
This act of greed during the pandemic has made the Leicester couple evaluate the wisdom of their decision to become timeshare members.
John and Linda bought their timeshare with Marriott Vacation Club 20 years ago, at the Marbella Beach Club resort. John is a retired project manager and at the time he joined, he was a self described workaholic. "Buying the timeshare felt like it suited us," John says. "It would commit us to going on holiday once a year at least, and I owed that to myself and my family. It was a two bedroom so our daughter Melissa and grandson Ryder could come too. We liked the standard, and we were sold on the idea of exchanges to similar quality resorts. My brother was a member, so I already had his perspective that the program was a good one.
"Linda and I paid £20,000 back in 2000. Plus the maintenance fee every year. The fees go up all the time and the standard drops little by little. Financially it hasn´t really made sense, but that was no problem while we got quality holidays every year and time together in what was an excellent resort.
"This grubby behaviour from Marriott has made us reflect on the fact we pay £1000 a year in maintenance and we could get a good holiday for that without being limited to Marriott.
"When you factor in the £20,000 joining fee, it´s actually been costing £2,000 a year.
"Over the years we have noticed the standard deteriorate. For example we were supposed to be able to book 12 months in advance but I called for the week we want on the stroke of the lines being open, no more than 1 minute later, and was told there is no availability. Yet if I go on Bookings.com I can get that same week through them.
"We were cruising along, taking our vacation without complaining, but them demanding full maintenance fees this year for no holidays, maybe even again next year if this COVID situation doesn´t clear up, is the straw that broke the camel´s back.
"We feel like they are taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets. That must mean a record of year of profit for Marriott. A quick cash grab at a time when everyone else is struggling and trying to help each other out."
Robert Salmon, a well regarded expert on timeshare malpractice with European Consumer Claims (ECC), reports that the 2020 "maintenance heist" is making many timeshare owners reflect on the effectiveness and logic of their ownerships.
"The fact is that Marriott, like all the other timeshare resort developers do not need to ask for full maintenance payment this year. With no guests to service, they could easily reduce the fees.
"Additionally the resort staff are generally being paid furlough by the government, meaning even less expense for the timeshare companies. So charging members the full amount can only be interpreted as an act of greed.
"Unlike most other businesses, the timeshare companies will have better profits than usual in 2020 because they receive the same money but provide less in return.
"John and Linda, like 14 million other timeshare owning households around the world are waking up to the fact they could have had holidays every year in the Marriott (or equivalent resort) for the cost of their maintenance fees without the commitment of paying a huge joining price. And if they hadn´t been members they could have chosen not to holiday this year with no obligation to pay these fees.
"We are seeing a mass exodus from timeshare users anyway and decisions like this from the resorts could well bring about the end of the industry altogether."
Daniel Keating from the TCA adds, "Timeshare companies around the world pull in around £8 billion in management fees, almost £2 billion of that figure goes to resorts in Europe.
"We call on the timeshare industry to do the right thing by their members and offer a realistic reduction in this year´s membership fees. Most of our calls at the TCA are currently from owners asking how to either get out of their memberships or to claim compensation from the timeshare resorts, so a gesture of goodwill towards the members would be a smart idea right now."
Marriott International has been contacted for comment, which has not been received at time of going to press.
- Timeshare compensation claims
- Timeshare refund
- ECC Limited
- ECC Timeshare
- European Consumer Claims Limited
- ECC reviews
- Marriott International
- European Consumer Claims
- Timeshare refund claims
- Club La Costa
- ECC European Consumer Claims
- European Consumer Claims Reviews
- Timeshare Consumer Association
- Timeshare reclaims
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Marbella Beach Club
- COVID 19
- Timeshare maintenance fees
- Maintenance fees
- Corona Virus
- Timeshare advice
- Robert Salmon
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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.
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