Many people bought a timeshare to stay in 'exclusive' resorts, so they are not happy about the fact that many resorts are now available to the general public on sites like Booking.com and Expedia.
Timeshare can seem quite odd to the modern-day traveller. However, they were very popular when they first appeared a few decades ago.
The main reason was that they helped holidaymakers to avoid holidays from hell. It was quite common back then for people to spot a lovely hotel in Spain at the travel agent, only to turn up and find it was nothing more than something resembling a building site.
There was very little they could do, and so they often decided to put up with it and spend most of their time on the beach. But it could easily ruin a holiday, and as such, these tourists were the prime targets for expensive timeshare deals.
In the 1980s and 1990s, timeshare touts would regularly target tourists in order to pressure them into purchasing timeshare so they would no longer have to worry about nightmare holidays.
And many tourists were happy to pay up. They got the guarantee that their accommodation would be exactly what they expected, and if they went elsewhere, they could always expect the same high quality.
Timeshare was expensive, but many people were happy to pay thousands of pounds and an expensive annual fee to be able to enjoy peace of mind.
These memberships worked well for a while, and people on the whole were happy with them. But then the travel industry suddenly changed, and its standards went up, which meant timeshare became less relevant.
The arrival of websites such as TripAdvisor had a big impact on the travel industry. Suddenly, people could leave reviews about hotels and attractions, and holidaymakers could get a real insight before they made a booking.
Real customers who were not promoting anything were more honest about what to expect, and there was much less risk of ending up booking a nightmare holiday.
However, this also meant that timeshare memberships became less popular as people no longer wanted to spend a lot of money and the annual fee on top. And this created a problem for many timeshare resorts.
With lots of inventory and not enough sales, they started to rent out their accommodation. And this meant that the exclusivity factor went too. As a result, nowadays, most timeshare resorts can be booked by people without timeshare memberships.
"This was the last straw for most owners," says 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 rid themselves of these dated and constrictive membership contracts."
For anyone who bought timeshare after 1999, there may be another option: "Spain enacted laws to protect consumers from high-pressure timeshare sales in January of that year," Cooper says. "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."
During the Timeshare sales boom of the 80s & 90s, potential buyers were lured in by the promise of affordable exotic holidays, flexible exchange programmes and the impression that Timeshare would be a valuable "investment".
In an industry with little or no regulation, high pressure sales tactics were rife and contract smallprint was often glossed over and explained away by sharp salespeople.
Many Timeshare buyers were therefore unaware that they were actually making significant, long term financial commitments on behalf of themselves and their families.
To find out how you can escape the Timeshare Trap please complete the short Timeshare Release Wizard now.
For many Timeshare owners, annual maintenance fees were barely considered token amounts in the early "honeymoon period" of ownership.
However, year-on-year increases imposed by the resorts over time now mean that the maintenance fees have risen to become substantial sums.
Owners are also facing the prospect of ongoing yearly fee increases and realising that they (and their families) are often committed to long term contracts for generations to come.
Please try our Future Fees Calculator to estimate your liabilities over the term of your Timeshare contract, based on an annual increase of 7.5%.
If you're concerned about rising fees and how to escape the Timeshare Trap, please contact us today.
Recent comments from RCI Timeshare owners who have come to us for help with contract cancellation:
“We 'swapped ‘another place in Tenerife for this in order to move to the points system. Since then, getting exchanges to desirable resorts proves almost impossible, irrespective of in-season or off-season.”
“I purchased my timeshare in 1999 and have been a timeshare member ever since. More often than not, I have not be able to go where I wanted and have ended up giving a few weeks to Friends, etc to book somewhere they wanted in order not to lose the weeks. I have then stayed in a hotel!! I am desperately trying to get rid of the timeshare and am now paying Timeshare Shop in Manchester to get rid of it for me.”