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Expensive handshake:  Timeshare membership can be a succession of disappointments
Expensive handshake: Timeshare membership can be a succession of disappointments

Press release -

What timeshare owners bought, vs what they got

How does timeshare membership measure up to the dewy eyed promises it was sold with?  Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) looks at the most cited reasons owners joined 'holiday ownership' systems, comparing bullish sales pitch to jarring reality... 

Exclusivity.  The idea:

Many timeshare resorts were purpose built, exclusively for members who paid an expensive joining fee.  If you weren't a member, you couldn't access this luxurious private club.  So people paid to join and accepted the expense.  They knew they had moved their family up to a level of vacation quality not available to mere mortals holidaying through regular travel agents.

The reality:

Since the heyday of timeshare in the last century's final decades, new member sales have dropped considerably, leaving vast holes in the annual revenue streams of beleaguered clubs.  Present day timeshare companies just can't afford to preserve the 'exclusivity' promise by leaving unsold inventory empty.  Instead they rent it out to non members via sites like Expedia or Booking.com.  While this does solve a short term financial problem for the resorts, it is obviously a slap in the face to members who have paid sometimes tens of thousands of pounds to join when they didn't need to.

Quality guarantee.  The idea:

Timeshare complexes were usually a high standard.  The late 80s and early 90s were a dark period for regular travel agents, and this was when the tabloid press coined the phrase 'holidays from hell.'  Floods of holidaymakers arrived at rooms that were nowhere near as sumptuous as they had appeared in the glossy brochures.  Buying a timeshare not only gave you access to the luxury resort you bought into, but also guaranteed that when you went anywhere else in the world you could exchange your week for one of equal quality in the other destination.  It was the only way to be certain of getting high standards when you holidayed. 

The reality:

Yes, at the time it was a huge step forward and this quality guarantee was worth the money to many people.  However the rest of the travel industry has evolved and solved this problem in a way that doesn't require spending tens of thousands of pounds.  There are now user-generated review sites like TripAdvisor, which give you the complete picture of any resort before you book it.  

Nobody will tell you more quickly about a deceptively advertised resort standard than a disappointed previous customer.

It will make you take a holiday.  The idea:

Many a hard working parent has been sold on the idea that owning a timeshare week or two will force them to take a holiday every year.  They deserve a break.  They don't want to miss these fleeting holidays with their kids before they grow up.  Let's face it:  Someone telling you to do something pleasant is always easy to 'obey'.  

The reality:

During the last two years, the truth has been driven home to even the most diehard timeshare aficionado.  It doesn't force you to take a holiday every year.  It only forces you to pay for a holiday every year.  Whether you had a holiday or not.

Resorts around the world have come under heavy fire for charging annual fees in full throughout the pandemic.  Timeshare owners have watched in envy as regular holidaymakers who couldn't holiday, didn't have to pay for accommodation that they didn't use.  

It was now indisputable that timeshare was inflexible, outdated and constricting compared to the rest of the travel industry

It is a great gift to leave your kids.  The idea:

Many a parent bought timeshare in very long term contracts, even in perpetuity, because the salesperson presented it as paying once, for all your holidays in advance.  Including for your children and grandchildren who would inherit it when you pass away.  "Imagine:  When you're gone, every year they will have a 'free' holiday and they'll remember that they have you to thank..."

The reality:

In fact the annual fees are around the same as a regular holidaymaker would pay through booking sites like Expedia.  So the joining fee can not be considered as paying for all your holidays in advance.  It's more of an entry fee.  You still have to pay every year, and just as much as any other holidaymaker is paying.

People's kids don't want to inherit the commitment of a timeshare membership.  Why should they?  Most people equate it to paying a huge lump sum to a hotel for the pleasure of committing yourself to paying to stay there every year (even if you can't get there sometimes).

Possible escape?

Daniel Keating, media officer for the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) has the following advice for 'trapped' timeshare owners:  "Timeshare contracts are notoriously difficult to get out of, and they are holding members to those contracts because annual maintenance fees are now the resorts' main source of revenue.  They don't care if a member is no longer happy.  If someone is late paying their maintenance fees, debt collectors are often the next people they find themselves speaking to.

"For most members, professional help is necessary to get their contract relinquished.  There is a cost
to this, but when the alternative is neverending maintenance fees for something they no longer want, most owners would rather pay the experts to be free

For some owners, there is even better news.  Keating explains: "From 1999 onwards timeshare companies have largely been ignoring laws enacted to protect consumers from high pressure sales.  This means that anyone who bought a timeshare in Spain from 5th January 1999 onwards may not only be able to escape their contract, but could also be entitled to compensation due to their contracts being illegal."

Don't rush in

Daniel adds a note of caution.  "Don't simply pick a firm at random for timeshare relinquishments or compensation claims," he warns.  "Most websites offering this service are outright fraudsters who will steal your money but never perform the service for you.

"There is a website, timesharetrust.co.uk, that shows you how to do your own research on who to deal with for this type of work.

"Or you can get in contact us here at the TCA, business hours Monday to Friday, for free, confidential, expert advice on current whitelist firms who can be trusted."

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Timeshare Consumer Association.  Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.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

Timeshare Consumer Association Newsdesk here

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Timeshare Consumer Association website here

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    Daniel Keating

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    Free, expert, impartial timeshare advice since 1997

    Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.org (Address to Daniel).
    WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055

    The Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) was started in 1997 by Sandy Grey, a timeshare owner himself, who became sick of what he saw as repugnant sales practises in the timeshare industry.
    Sandy ran the website diligently from his home in Blythe, gaining a reputation for integrity and fearlessness at a time when some timeshare companies skirted with criminal behaviour and employed unsavoury characters.
    Sandy was gradually joined by other volunteers, disaffected owners and even former timeshare sales staff, sick of the “dishonesty” in the industry as a whole.
    Over the years, Sandy and his band of volunteers built up a huge volume of consumer testimony and knowledge. TCA became the number one source of impartial, expert advice regarding the latest scams as well as organisations that actually can be trusted.
    Sandy sadly passed away in 2013, but he had started a movement that could not be stopped. Consumers continuously contact us to both ask for and give advice, sharing their experiences to help others stay ahead of the industry scams and pitfalls.
    The information is moderated, assessed and categorised under the watchful eye of director Keith Dewhurst. With Keith at the helm, TCA has become the number one timeshare consumer organisation in the world.
    Whilst there are paid employees, the TCA operates on a shoestring budget, relying on volunteers and donations, though these are never accepted from sources that could compromise the organisation´s integrity.
    With your help, we will continue to hold the timeshare industry to account.
    While there is timeshare we need the Timeshare Consumer Association watching.

    Timeshare Consumer Association provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for both the media and the public. – 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.

    A proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition

    Timeshare Consumer Association
    Artemis House, 4a Bramley Road, Mount Farm
    MK1 1PT Milton Keynes
    Milton Keynes