Trading Standards pre-warned holidaymakers that timeshare scams haven’t gone away as thousands of people fled abroad this year to enjoy the summer break in the hope that more unsuspecting consumers would not be fooled by the tricksters out there awaiting to pounce.

(CTSI) Chartered Trading Standards Institute had warned holidaymakers not to let their guard down.

Warwickshire County Councillor, Andy Crump said: “Trading Standards are concerned that holidaymakers are still being approached whilst abroad and enticed by offers of further holiday accommodation opportunities to encourage them to attend ‘presentations’ selling timeshare, holiday ownership or discount holiday clubs.”

Trading Standards and CTSI advised consumers to be on their guard when attending such presentations, as many use high pressured sales tactics which in some cases can lead to consumers parting with large sums of money, as we all know we switch off from reality whilst on holiday and drop our ‘cautious’ guard. Don’t, there are warnings out there, stay on your guard.
And bear in mind clever sales people never go into great details with regards to ‘other’ costs which are usually involved, these mainly being the monthly maintenance and annual council fees, which as the norm typically increase significantly over time.

The European Union has a comprehensive legislation covering the sale of timeshare and other holiday products, and there are strong rules about the way in which the sales can be carried out. These include the responsibility to give consumers key information and their cancellation rights, and the prohibition of any upfront deposits being taken.

lead Officer at CTSI, Sylvia Rook, added: “It is easy to get caught up in the dream of potentially ‘owning’ part of a beautiful resort, or accessing cheap holidays, but if you are asked to part with a large sum of money, it is always important to check the details of the offer carefully and seek legal advice before signing anything. Sleep on it before making any important financial decisions, which may tie you into monthly, or annual, fees for many years to come.”

These days even though consumers are becoming more and more aware of timeshare ‘scams’, another growing concern in the industry are these so-called businesses offering to help owners get out of timeshare contracts, this scam is becoming as common as the unofficial timeshare hawkers out there. Times are changing and unfortunately for some consumers they are no longer able to keep their timeshare and now wish to exit their contract. Reasons vary, it could be they are no longer able to travel abroad or afford the maintenance fees or they do not want to burden their family with the potential problem of disposal in the future.

The way forward for these charlatans is to ‘re-invent’ themselves as a new company, who will assist consumers in exiting their timeshare. CTSI is advising consumers to do their research before committing to any exiting company. Anyone that asks for upfront fees should be avoided, all the horror stories are out there are of companies asking for fees upfront and sadly nine out of ten of these companies are fake, once you have transferred your fees they will disappear, and all contact will cease.

Just because a company uses the word ‘lawyer’ in the company name, doesn’t mean to say they are actual lawyers, any business can call themselves what they wish, the term ‘lawyers’ has no legal definition. Many companies do use the term, and those that are not official lawyers would have no hidden agenda and will usually state somewhere that they are not ‘legal lawyers’. Consumers can research a firm with the name lawyer in the title by simply checking the Law Society website.

Trading standards have reported to have received over 800 complaints in the last 12 months. They are more than aware of the growing number of complaints concerning timeshare, mostly in relation to timeshare resale, holiday clubs, and exit companies, sadly involving considerable amounts of money.

CTSI Director of Operations, Andy Allen, says “Despite the falling popularity of traditional timeshare products the UK European Consumer Centre service continues to be contacted by large numbers of consumers who have lost significant amounts of money to timeshare related scams. Rogue companies have continually evolved their products in an attempt to evade the protection offered by consumer protection legislation, and they have also been very clever at developing a variety of guises, the specialist claims ‘lawyer’ being one of them, in order to further target timeshare owners’.

See a recent blog post regarding your timeshare rights.