Timeshare owners furious at their ‘exclusive’ resorts being made available to non members on regular bookings sites like Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com
— Andrew Cooper, CEO of ECC.
LONDON, OXFORDSHIRE, UK, April 27, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — Timeshare owners furious at their ‘exclusive’ resorts being made available to non members on regular bookings sites like Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com
Grim holiday complexes
Timeshare may seem archaic to holidaymakers today, but in the 1980s and 1990s, the concept solved genuine problems. ‘Holidays from hell’ was a popular phrase in the tabloid media, referring to hotels and apartment complexes that looked amazing in the brochure, but disappointed in real life.
Families would turn up after travelling all day to find tired looking apartments, in shoddy complexes that had been skilfully photographed to look far bigger and better in the glossy brochure. Yes, it was all paper in those days. And usually an in-person visit to a travel agent to actually book the holiday.
Disappointed Brits would sigh and commit to making the best of it. “It’s only a roof over our head. We’ll be out most of the time anyway…” was a refrain heard chorusing from many a crumbling aparthotel on the Spanish Costas and Canary Islands.
Despite their good natured stoicism, these people were perfect targets for expensive timeshare schemes.
Many European hotspots towards the end of the last century were overrun by touts, driving holidaymakers to high pressure sales presentations. But all the pressure in the world doesn’t work without promising what the beleaguered prospects yearned for: High accommodation quality guaranteed, in an exclusive complex, and the same standards whenever they travelled elsewhere.
It was expensive, costing tens of thousands of pounds to join – and a yearly fee of usually more than the cost of a regular holiday. But for a whole generation of customers, their peace of mind was worth the price.
For years, timeshare memberships delivered on this promise. Holidays were no longer a gamble and the one or two weeks of annual family time were spent in the luxury expected.
By the early 2000s however, the rest of the travel industry got its act together, and timeshare resorts got left behind.
The first big change was the rise of user-generated-content review websites like TripAdvisor. With the expansion of business onto the internet, you no longer relied on a brochure, you booked online. And before you did, you could read what other customers had to say about their own experiences with the hotel.
Former guests are not (generally) being paid to promote the accommodation. They will tell you exactly what they thought. If a place is reviewed by a lot of guests you will know precisely what to expect for your money, good or bad. The days of being surprised, or tricked by fancy photography are over.
With this major selling point gone, people were no longer motivated to pay ten, twenty, thirty thousand pounds or more for a timeshare membership. Especially when the annual fee is around the cost of the equivalent standard holiday.
This left the resorts with a dilemma. All the unsold inventory was sitting empty, neither generating revenue through timeshare sales and fees, nor being rented out. Renting out that inventory could potentially fill some of the financial hole left by lack of new member sales, but what would the members say about their exclusive resort being available to the general public?
Finally the timeshare companies caved.
In 2022, nearly every timeshare resort is available to non members via regular booking sites like Booking.com
End of the line
“This was the last straw for most owners,” explains Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC). “We get calls from timeshare members whose resort is telling them there is no availability, when they can see the same week available on Booking.com. Often it costs less for a non member to book online than the member pays in maintenance.
“There is no remaining justification for a timeshare owner to have paid tens of thousands of pounds for a membership when they have no benefits that are not available to the casual renter. This isn’t what people paid all that money for. Their resorts are effectively changing the deal without offering any compensation in return.
“Booking through the online sites as a non member is clearly preferable, because they can come and go as they please. They are not contractually obliged to pay every year for something they may not want to use, unlike the timeshare owners.”
“Luckily, since 2016 ECC, together with their associated firm of timeshare lawyers M1 Legal, have been helping people to escape these dated and constrictive membership contracts.”
For people who bought after 1999, there is potentially another path to freedom: “Spain enacted laws to protect consumers from high pressure timeshare sales in January of that year,” confirms Cooper. “Arrogantly, the large majority of resorts ignored those laws, and as a result all the contracts they wrote after that were illegal. Right now, courts are awarding significant amounts of compensation to owners who were mis-sold with those illegal contracts.”
To discuss your options regarding escaping a timeshare contract, or to find out if you qualify for compensation, contact ECC for a free, confidential consultation.
+44 800 610 1512
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