Many people are tempted by exclusivity and luxury accommodation when they sign up for timeshare. But are the expensive maintenance fees worth it anymore?
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a lot harder to find reliable information about holiday accommodation.
When you went to book a holiday, all the information you had to go on was contained within a glossy brochure.
Many people were sold on the amazing photos of luxury accommodation, only to be disappointed when they turned up and found their hotel to be a half-finished building site.
The papers regularly reported on holidays from hell and more and more holidaymakers became frustrated.
Timeshare was initially introduced as a solution to these nightmare holidays.
Aggressive sales tactics were used to tempt holidaymakers to pay a premium to purchase timeshare to guarantee a great holiday every year.
It was expensive with an upfront fee, and the maintenance fees were costly too, but for many, it seemed to be a price worth paying.
Timeshare maintenance fees have long been controversial.
They were always higher than the real maintenance costs of the apartments. However, in the beginning, the maintenance fees were less than the price of a regular hotel of a similar standard. Besides the initial joining fee, it seemed to be a sensible financial decision.
As timeshare resorts continued selling to customers across Europe, they had to maintain their standards. This was to make sure people saw the complex in a premium condition so they would be tempted to part with their cash.
Things have changed considerably over the last couple of decades.
Sales to new members have dried up or slowed down to trickle, and the maintenance fees often provide the only income for timeshare operations.
These fees have long been inflated, and they now compare with, and are often more expensive than regular holidays.
Because the timeshare companies are not actively selling timeshare, they have less motivation to keep standards high.
Cuts and reductions are constantly being made to the facilities, and apartments are dated.
Here’s an example from Playa Real, which is a timeshare resort in Marbella:
Drab: Playa Real apartment living room
Tired: Play Real apartment bathroom
Uninspired: Playa Real apartment bedroom
It’s now easy for holidaymakers to book a stay in a regular apartment that is either as good as or even better than a timeshare complex. And the price they pay is often less than the annual fees.
The Romana Playa complex for instance, is not far from the Playa Real timeshare complex, and it can be booked for £519 per week. This includes cleaning and access to the beach. Compared to nearby timeshare complexes, it’s arguably of a higher standard.
To make matters worse, most timeshare resorts are no longer exclusive. Non-members can book them on websites like Booking.com and stay without paying joining fees or maintenance fees.
Andrew Cooper, the CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC), explains that it is “straightforward ‘incentive economics’.”
Customers must pay “whatever the timeshare company decides,” but in return the resort has “no motivation to provide high standards.”
The timeshare company wants to “minimise expenditure wherever possible” to “maximise profits”.
They also increase annual charges to “the maximum they believe they can get away with.”
It may be a poor attitude to take, but as Mr Cooper states, “the European timeshare industry has never had a reputation for attracting altruistic businessmen.”
Every year, the travel industry is continually proving it is innovating and improving. At the same time, timeshare owners are “being left behind” and cannot enjoy the “standards, choice and flexibility enjoyed by regular holidaymakers.”
“Ironically,” Mr Cooper continues, “the expensive memberships that once shielded timeshare owners from ‘holidays from hell’ have trapped them in some of the least acceptable holiday conditions available in modern times.”
Contact the team at ECC for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your options regarding relinquishing your timeshare membership.
You may even be able to claim compensation.