Hi, I’m Andrew and I’m going to assume that if you are here reading this, you are probably a timeshare owner, wondering if you can get out of your ownership, or even claim compensation over being mis-sold.
Firstly let’s look at why anyone would need these services.
Most timeshare owners were sold what was unquestionably a superior product. In the past, we all bought our holidays from high street travel agents. Too often the hotel room we arrived at did not measure up to the pictures in the glossy brochure.
Then we attended a timeshare presentation and they offered the solution: A quality guarantee and exclusive resorts all over the world, for the rest of our lives. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. Our family vacations were upgraded forever, and who could put a price on those precious memories?
The trouble is, the rest of the travel industry adapted and innovated. Timeshare rested on its laurels and now many members see ownership as an expensive burden.
You no longer need a timeshare membership to guarantee your preferred quality. User reviews on sites like TripAdvisor have pretty much eradicated unpleasant shocks regarding accommodation standards.
Timeshare clubs are also rarely exclusive now: With new member sales almost non-existent, most resorts have taken the portentous decision to rent their empty inventory to non members through sites like Booking.com. This solves a cash flow problem in the short term, but it’s a slap in the face for a member who has paid sometimes tens of thousands of pounds to access an exclusive resort.
A non member (who never paid any money to join) can now stay there for often less than the member’s annual maintenance fee. Hardly fair…
The ‘rest of our lives’ part also turned out to be a poisoned chalice. As members are finding out during the Pandemic, membership doesn’t guarantee you a holiday every year, it only guarantees that you will pay for a holiday every year. Contrary to popular belief, the annual fees are not to ‘pay for a week of accommodation’ they are to maintain the resort.
Timeshare owners, once proudly living the best holiday lifestyle, are now coveting the flexibility, value and choice enjoyed by regular holidaymakers.
Easy in; not so easy out
Timeshare resorts now view annual fees as their primary revenue stream and they no longer even pretend that they are providing a much demanded service. Instead most of them refuse to allow members to leave.
To put it bluntly: they need your money or they will go out of business. And they’ll fight you for it (so to speak.)
If you stop paying maintenance, timeshare resorts can engage debt collectors and chase the money through the courts.
Instead of this being a mutually beneficial relationship it becomes one where the other side has a hold over you, and is forcing you to stay. An abusive relationship you might say…
If your resort is not letting you leave, you may be tempted to stop paying your fees and walk away, but unlike with car payments or a mortgage, the resort is unlikely to just take back the weeks and resell them.
A flat refusal is the general response to owners’ requests to leave their club. Meanwhile the outstanding amount builds up, piling pressure and stress onto the once proud owners.
If this sounds like you, you may benefit from professional help to extricate yourself from the contract.
Claims firms like us at ECC have many strategies to help captive timeshare owners escape. We do this via our associated firm of lawyers, M1 Legal, and while we can’t free everyone, it costs you nothing to contact us and find out.
For many owners there is one more potential route to getting free from an unwanted timeshare.
From 1999 onwards legislation was enacted in Spain to protect consumers from high pressure timeshare sales. Nearly all resorts ignored the new rules, believing that either they wouldn’t be enforced, or the individuals involved would be long gone by the time Spain’s creaking legal bureaucracy caught up with the infractions.
Claims firms like ECC, via M1 Legal, began taking these companies to court over the illegal contracts and hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation have already been awarded. In fact a lot of companies have been hit so hard financially that they have gone into liquidation. Many others are believed to be on the brink of insolvency.
Basically, if you bought after the 5th of January 1999 in Spain and you fit any of the following conditions you could be eligible for tens of thousands of pounds in compensation: If you paid a deposit either on the day, or within the cooling off period, if you bought weeks or points, or if your contract was for over 50 years, you are likely to qualify.
There are other reasons you could qualify for compensation. Again, get in touch with us if you feel you were mis-sold and we can tell you pretty quickly if you are able to claim.
For those owners who meet the criteria, this is a way to not only escape the burden of timeshare membership, but also to be compensated for the money lost over the years to their resort.
The average claim payout is around £20,000, so it’s not chump change. Most recipients tell us they would have been happy just to be out of the timeshare. The money was a real bonus.
Like anything to do with timeshare, unfortunately this space attracts a huge amount of fraudsters. In fact if you do a Google search on getting out of or claiming compensation for your timeshare, nearly every result that shows up are scam organisations. If you give them your money, you will lose it.
Like anything else these days, it pays to research before handing over your credit card details. There is a website: timesharetrust.co.uk which shows you how to spot the genuine companies.
If you know other owners who have successfully relinquished or claimed compensation, ask for feedback regarding the firm they used.
you are welcome to get in touch with the team here at ECC during business hours Monday to Friday for a free, confidential appraisal.