If you're thinking of buying a timeshare
Some people are very happy with their timeshare and feel it gives them access to high quality accommodation. However, some people regret having signed timeshare agreements.
Here are some things to bear in mind when you’re deciding whether to buy a timeshare:
- a timeshare is not a property investment so it's very unlikely to hold its value. If salespeople tell you a timeshare agreement is an investment they are committing a criminal offence
- you're unlikely to be able to sell your timeshare for anything like what you paid for it
- think about whether you will want this type of holiday every year
- think about whether you will want this type of holiday in five or ten years time
- some timeshare agreements are in perpetuity. This means they last forever. Check how long any agreement lasts before you sign
- you will have to pay your maintenance fees every year for the length of the agreement. Think about whether you will still be able do this if you retire or are made redundant
- some countries haven’t put the European regulations that protect timeshare owners into force. If you sign in one of these countries you’ll have much less protection
At the timeshare presentation
Timeshare presentations can be very high pressure situations. You need to be on your guard against being talked into signing up for something you later regret. Watch out especially for the following situations:
- the presentation has lasted so long you are tempted to sign just because you’re desperate to leave
- they’ve made you a special discounted offer valid for that day only
- you are not left alone to discuss anything with your partner. You may also be kept separate from other couples and even discouraged from taking notes
- you can always walk out of the presentation. No one can make you stay, no matter what the salespeople may try and tell you. If anyone tries to make you stay at a presentation they are committing a criminal offence
- however much pressure the sales people put you under, never agree to anything on the spot. Refuse to sign anything then and there. Take the documentation home with you and sleep on it
- don't take your credit card or debit card with you to timeshare presentations
Before you sign an agreement
When you buy a timeshare, you sign a binding agreementwith the timeshare company that can be hard to escape. Remember:
- do lots of research before signing an agreement. Research the company and ask for several references
- make sure an independent lawyer reads the contract before you sign it. Make a note of everything you were promised, and make sure it's in the contract. If it isn't, refuse to sign
- ask about your cancellation rights and get them in writing. If you’re signing in an European Economic Area (EEA) country, remember that timeshare regulations give you 14 days to change your mind
- it’s a criminal offence for companies to request or take money from you during the 14 day cooling off period
Timeshare agreements signed in a European Economic Area (EEA) country are protected by The Timeshare Regulations.
For more advice on timeshare agreements signed in Europe outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre (ECC). They will help you try and sort out your problem with the timeshare company and can give you legal advice. You can call their consumer helpline on: 08456 04 05 03.
Watch out for timeshare scams
There are many legitimate companies who run timeshares but, unfortunately, there are also lots of dishonest traders operating scams and frauds:
- be very wary of letters, phone calls or emails from companies you don’t know offering you business deals out of the blue
- if you don’t want to discuss timeshares over the phone, you can end the conversation at any time
- be suspicious of people or companies who say you’ve been chosen especially, or that you’ve won something
- never give confidential personal information to cold callers
- if you already own a timeshare, beware of resale scams. This is where you may be cold called by someone claiming they can market your timeshare for a fixed fee and, if it doesn't sell, they will buy it from you, or they will offer to buy the timeshare if you agree to buy another one. You could end up losing money by making upfront payments or with a second timeshare that you don’t want
Resort Development Organisation (RDO)
As a trade association that represents its members' interests, RDO also provides a free consumer service, which aims to resolve valid complaints against member companies.
Read more about RDO consumer services.
You can find out if a company is an RDO member by searching the RDO members directory.
For more help with queries about timeshares outside Europe, go to www.arda.org