We have elaborated a list of the most used reasons (TRICKS!) by different companies in order to not honor cooling off periods, the deposit taking and other reasons for refund requests.
The first Timeshare Directive was approved in 1998 and this helped a great deal in getting the industry organized and all singing from the same song book. The larger companies introduced successfully the new rules and consumers were given their rights upon point of purchase.
But of course, there are always companies and individuals that simply “cannot” work by the rules and they came up with different products in order to avoid the Directive. The creation of Discount Travel Membership Clubs was the main thing that came out of this, and it became clear very soon that the regulation failed in that area as well as in the resale area.
Due to the tremendous amount of fraud committed with the Discount Holiday Clubs, the Cashback schemes and the resale market, a New Directive had to be put in place to cover the main issues and avoid more damage to be done. This new directive was put in place on the 23rd of February 2011 in most European Countries and the others followed in the year after. With this new Directive the concept of holiday club was established as those memberships for longer than 12 months (before this was 3 years), a 14 day cooling off period was introduced without deposits of course, and no upfront fee payment for resale transaction.
But yet again, with the new Timeshare Directive approved now by all European Countries, the creativity of certain companies in order to avoid these new rules has been most interesting and most harming for consumers! So here is a list of the main tricks in the books at present!
1) Deposit payment on the day because it isn’t a “holiday product”. This we have seen with companies such as Eze Group and Ora Vacations. They claim to be selling a points based club not only related to Holidays or in the case of Ora Vacations the consumer buys a Software package to be able to book on selected websites, which Ora Vacations claims are only available to Travel Agents. Supposedly in both cases the consumers receive huge discounts on flights, accommodation and other products, but when consumers actually try this out the truth is very different. Most accommodation is available directly on the web for even more discounted rates, and the certain airlines are not included at all in the booking system as promised by the rep on the presentation day.
2) No right for a cooling off period because the membership is for 12 months or less. This one is mainly used by Club Class Services Sarl in Tenerife and Club Class Plc in Fuengirola. The consumer buys into the Prestige or VIP membership which on the contract is stated as a 12 month membership. The fact that most benefits such as the “cash Back Certificate” and the additional bonus-weeks are for a much longer period than 12 months, indicate that the member is supposed to be there for more than 12 months! A similar thing happens with Voyager Travel who goes as far as doing an entire pitch on this holiday club, but when the consumer signs the paperwork they are signing an agreement with Lifestyle Holidays which is a completely different club!
3) No upfront fee for resale’s, you are entering a pure marketing contract. This one is used by almost all dubious resale companies that we have mentioned on our blog. The consumer is cold called by these companies and offered a resale for their timeshare as there are buyers waiting. An upfront “security bond” or “liability insurance” is needed because the resale company does not want to take the risk the sale goes through but the timeshare owner refuses to send the deeds. Once this payment is made, the timeshare owner receives the paperwork and realizes that in the agreement there is no mention at all about the sale and he is actually signing an agreement to have the timeshare in a 1 year marketing program of this company. The sale never happens…
4) Payment to a third party Company that cannot be linked back to the one you (think) you are dealing with. This one has been used a lot by Club Class Services Sarl who actually takes the payment by credit card under the name of Imagen Synergica. So the consumer is buying from Club Class Services Sarl but the payment goes through under the name of Imagen Synergica, a Spanish company with apparently no link to Club Class at all! How can this be allowed? Do they think the consumers are stupid or what? The same has happened with the different resale companies such as United Online who charged money under the name Class Bus. To proof to the bank that 2 companies are linked is a difficult and time consuming task and of course this is the purpose of the companies using this very strange method for their charges!
5) Taxes, legal and Notary fees for disposal service. We work on a “no win no fee” basis, how many times have we heard this one? But then the consumer is taken to a Spanish Notary to sign a power of attorney and explained this will be charged to him together with the administration costs. Companies such as RIOCC go as far as charging £5000 where consumers have signed only the paperwork and do not realize that a power of attorney costs around the €75 in Spain!
6) Payment for the Courier who will pick up the paperwork. A new one used recently by Holiday Lettings and Sales. The consumer is cold called and offered a resale which is almost guaranteed as a buyer is waiting to get in. No need for an upfront fee. The only thing the timeshare owner needs to pay is the fee of the Courier from DHL who will pick up the deeds from home. The courier costs are £12,95 and to be paid by credit card. Once the payment is made the owner receives the bank statement and actually £1295,- has been taken. The courier never shows up at the house…the sale never takes place..
7) Purchase of Bonus weeks in order to be included on a resale list. Travel Promotions likes this one! They cold call the timeshare owner and give him the story about the Russian market and all the Russians buying timeshare. If the timeshare owner wants to sell quickly to a Russian buyer, he will have to buy though into the Holiday Scheme from Travel Promotions which consists of 5 weeks of accommodation for an amount of €1739. Once the timeshare owner has paid, he receives the accommodation vouchers and is notified his timeshare will be placed on the resale listing of the website: holidaytimeshare.ru. A sale completed in 4 to 6 weeks as promised in the first call is no longer mentioned and neither takes place..
There are of course so many other pitches (lies) used in order to get consumers paying. But the ones mentioned above are the main ones we have heard of from consumers and seem to be “invented” to make it very difficult for consumers to claim their rights and ask for a refund. Therefore we wanted to point these out and make sure consumers are aware of the “creative” angles these companies have found to deny a refund and make the consumer look like a “confused fool”
Links to articles published on the blog about above mentioned companies:
Eze Group http://wp.me/p1kmoi-42
Voyager Travel http://wp.me/p1kmoi-jK
Ora Vacations http://wp.me/p1kmoi-sH
Club Class Services http://wp.me/p1kmoi-oh
Holiday lettings & Sales http://wp.me/p1kmoi-od
Travel Promotions http://wp.me/p1kmoi-76