Timeshare owners regularly receive calls from companies saying they are entitled to a hefty compensation payout. The caller wants to help, but for a fee. What’s the real story? An industry expert sheds some light:
“Timeshare resorts in Spain have been ignoring regulations enacted from 1999 onwards to protect consumers from unfair high pressure sales tactics,” says Jack Dawson, an industry expert with European Consumer Claims (ECC). “Timeshare companies rely on an ’emotional sale’ to entice people to sign up on the day and most companies, believing that business would be impossible under the new rules, chose to ignore them and carry on as before.
“People who bought timeshare memberships from those resorts who ignored the rules are entitled to compensation.”
“In Spain bureaucracy is rarely straightforward,” explains ECC’s Dawson. “Most timeshare owners from outside the country with a less than perfect understanding of Spanish law and language don’t have the time or energy to devote to pursuing a claim. This has led to the rise of the timeshare claims industry. Firms offering to help claim compensation for victims have sprung up in their hundreds, maybe thousands. Timeshare owners can sometimes feel bombarded with all the offers of ‘help.'”
Who can claim?
“For compensation claims against Spanish timeshare resorts, generally the following 3 conditions mean you are eligible for compensation,” advises Jack:
- If you bought in Spain
- If you bought in or after 1999
- If you bought under any illegal conditions, such as: A contract for over 50 years. Paying a deposit on the day (or within 14 days of signing the contract). Or if the membership was floating weeks or points
“Those are the most common indicators that you are due a financial award. There are others, so it’s worth seeking advice from a reputable claims firm or consumer association.”
Targeted by criminals
Like a lot of timeshare related peripheral businesses, the claims industry is a magnet for criminal enterprises. “Making a legitimate, successful claim against a timeshare company requires work, legal knowledge and patience,” continues Jack Dawson. “Many of the firms contacting victims and offering compensation help have no intention of doing all that work. They just want to charge the fee and then disappear.”
For the average timeshare victim, discerning between the few genuine firms and fraudsters can be daunting. “It puts people off from claiming money they might be entitled too, which is a shame,” says Jack. “Fortunately there are independent organisations happy to advise people who can they can trust in this regard.”
“For owners who want to know if they are due any money, or even if they just want to relinquish their ownership without making a claim, they are advised to seek advice before speaking to a claims firm, and especially before handing over any money.
“There are resources available on the Timeshare Trust website to help you do your own research.
“Alternatively there are independent timeshare consumer associations who will advise free of charge as to which firms can be trusted, and whether you are entitled to compensation.”
Right thing to do
Andrew Cooper, the CEO of ECC believes that timeshare companies who ignored the protective legislation deserve the punitive compensation awards against them. “They deliberately ignored legislation put in place to protect ordinary consumers, people like you and me, “ says Cooper. “The rules were to prevent people being manipulated into rash, expensive decisions, and they decided to just ignore those rules.
“The resorts made a lot of money by doing so. Why should they get away with it?
“People should claim every penny they are owed. Timeshare companies have been taking money from people who couldn’t afford it with impunity. It’s only right that they should pay.”