On the 23rd February 2011 the Member State European Directive 2008/122/EC was implemented, replacing the now outdated directive of 1994. The new Directive meant that consumers had far greater protection against the fraudulent timeshare scams they had been subjected to in the past – or did it?
This directive informed timeshare resorts to follow the new stipulations:
- Clients were entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period.
- That no monies could be taken within that cooling off period.
- Clients should be provided with full details of their purchase prior to signing: this information should include the price, description of the product and the exact time and length of stay it entitled them to, including details of any additional charges they could expect.
- This information should be provided in the consumers own language if they require it.
The timeshare industry is unfortunately rife with opportunists trying to take advantage of vulnerable individuals. Many of the timeshare companies are headed up by some very ingenious people, who have a predilection to finding a way round the rules to their advantage, rather than how to implement them in a professional manner.
However, there are many fraudsters operating under various guises, outside of the timeshare industry looking to make a quick deal and then disappear with your money.
This is a guide to help the consumer avoid some of the obvious and most common pitfalls and those ‘too good to be true’ schemes.
- Fraudulent Law Firms
There has been an ever-increasing number of new companies calling clients purporting to be legal firms. Many of these employ ex timeshare employees, with all the usual hard sell and slick patter. If they are in Spain or the Canaries, please check that their Company registration number (CIF) is genuine before signing any documents or paying for any services.
Timeshare is not an investment; you could say you are investing in a better standard of holiday, but it should never be considered as a financial investment. The only people to make money out of timeshare are the good sales people and the timeshare company owners. Most timeshare owners have now realised they cannot give away their ownerships, all over the internet on sites like eBay, timeshares are listed for sale from as little as £1 and still they don’t sell!
Remember – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
These scams fall into two main categories:
- Buying cheap weeks to sell at a profit
- Buying additional week(s) to assist in the sale of your existing week
- Buy/Sell – the purchase of another week and then listing the original week for sale to cover the cost of both
- Paying to have the timeshare ‘taken off your hands’ but no transfer took place
- Purchasing an exclusive membership to relinquish/trade in previous ownership. These memberships usually have very little in the way of consumer protection.
Nowadays there are very few times you would be asked for an upfront payment, however some genuine lawyers may ask for costs involved with getting a legal case going, important points to remember are beware if you are asked to send money abroad or if it is a particularly large amount.
If you have fallen for any of these scams do not despair, you are not alone, there are millions of timeshare owners, admittedly some happy but there are many in the same boat as you, who have sought & found a genuine timeshare advice centre to assist them in exiting their timeshare or at the very least not falling foul a second time.