Are you looking to exit your timeshare agreement? Be vigilant for cold callers.

When it comes to leaving your timeshare contract, it is crucial you are aware of the association of cold callers with fraudsters. On too many occasions, innocent people have been conned out of thousands by these malicious fraudsters posing as salespeople from timeshare exit and compensation companies.

Trading Standards are wary of dealing with timeshare exit and compensation companies who cold-call potential clients and, consequently, warn against these encounters. To ensure you are not the next victim of these fraudsters, make certain you have familiarised yourself with your rights under the Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010, especially if you are considering reselling, exchanging or leaving your timeshare. Then once you understand your entitlements, you can start obtaining as much information about the seller or timeshare exit and compensation company as possible.

Please note, if you are looking to exit your timeshare agreement, you can find your authenticated route out with Athena Law. Our specialist timeshare solicitors are on hand to offer high-quality legal advice on timeshare disputes and litigation. We provide a free, initial consultation with our experts to understand your particular case better and advise on whether you have a viable claim. Keep reading to find out more about your rights before agreeing to a timeshare agreement.

Should timeshare contracts be avoided?

No, not necessarily. Timeshare contracts are merely unfortunate in the ‘bad press’ that they have become associated with; however, this does not take away from the happy memories they have helped produce for many families. The key is to be vigilant and triple check the company and the contract you are considering.

Timeshares allow many families to share a holiday home for a period of time, allowing them as much access as is allowed my the other owners. For those who cannot afford the expense of owning their own holiday home, a timeshare contract enables them to be able to visit their shared property home multiple times during the length of their contract. These agreements provide the illusion you have a second home without costing you so much. 

A timeshare contract is drawn between a consumer and a trader; the agreement sets out the costs of overnight use of the accommodation over a set duration. These contracts must last for one year, and then they usually come with the option to renew or extend after this period is over.

There are additional product options when it comes to timeshare agreements; you can also be offered a long-term holiday product contract, a resale contract, and an exchange contract. A long-term holiday product contract is similar to a timeshare agreement; however, in these instances, the consumer is also entitled to an additional discount and benefits in relation to the holiday property. Memberships to holiday clubs are a good example of these contracts. 

Resale and exchange contracts are additional agreements you can enter when you already have a timeshare agreement. A resale contract sees you entering into another deal with a trader to buy or sell a timeshare or long-term holiday product, and an exchange contract sees you entering a trader’s timeshare exchange scheme for a fee. 

Are you looking to enter a timeshare contract? Here’s what you need to know.

Before you sign up for a timeshare or holiday club membership, there are certain things you should look out for before you commit. Similarly, the problem timeshare cold callers, and why many are seen as fraudulent, is the fact that all this information is difficult to obtain and process in the space on a phone call.

Prior to signing a contract, it is crucial to get your hands on as much information about your potential deal. With most timeshare agreements, a trader will invite you to a sales event. The nature of this sales event is to make clear the commercial purpose and nature of the timeshare and remove any doubt that you are being misled.

The regulations of the deal must be provided in detail and in good time before the contract’s finalities are drawn up. All honest traders will allow you the time to choose whether or not the timeshare deal is the right one for you, without any harassment or pressure from a phone call. There is no cost associated with any of these details; all information must be accessible, accurate and, importantly, given in writing. 

In short, find out how long the timeshare contract lasts, whether the agreement states if you own the timeshare permanently, what the maintenance fees are, and the arrangements proposed to pay them.

Are you looking to withdraw from a timeshare contract?

If you sign any timeshare contract, you are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period. To clarify, regardless of which timeshare contract you signed, no matter what company, you have two weeks to change your mind and withdraw. This period starts when the contract is concluded, or the day you receive your paper-copy of the agreement. All agreed finance for the purchase is automatically terminated in these situations. 

Remember: “the Regulations state that the contract should be in writing and include specific information, such as your right to withdraw from the contract. If the trader does not comply with the requirement to provide the standard withdrawal form or the key information, the withdrawal period can be extended. You should give written notice of withdrawal to the trader. You can use the form included in the contract for this, although you are not obliged to. You are not responsible for any costs or charges if you decide to withdraw” (Lancashire Country Council).

Whether you temporarily agree to a timeshare or a long-term holiday product, the 14-day cooling-off period is the same. For a long-term holiday product, this period begins when you receive a request to pay another instalment, in addition to the first payment. 

Have you been misled or misguided regarding a timeshare?

Unfortunately, as we have said, timeshare agreements stir up the interest of malicious fraudster and dishonest salespeople. When a timeshare cold-caller contacts you, it can be extremely difficult to understand what you are signing up for, and many are enticed to attend a sales event by the lure of a ‘free’ holiday. Once at these events, these ‘free’ holidays are not as ‘free’ as they first seemed. 

These salespeople mislead and confuse consumers with their tactics, and it is only at the last minute that it becomes clear these ‘free’ holidays are instead expensive add-ons to your agreement. A tactic you should watch out for is the ‘winning scratch card’ scam. The prize of this scratch often has to be collected personally from a timeshare sales event where, more often than not, people are pressured into signing a contract.

The sales events will often subject you to the hard sell, only later to find out the small print does not match up to the too-good-to-be-true pitch you were sold. “If a trader misled you, had an aggressive sales technique or undertook any trading practice that was unfair, they may have breached the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. To report an unfair trading practice, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for a referral to trading standards” (Lancashire Country Council).

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 provides you with the rights to redress “the right to unwind the contract, the right to a discount and the right to damages.” This legislation is in addition to the rights that are clearly stated in the Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010. 

Whether your timeshare agreement stemmed from a fraudulent cold caller or not, if you have been misled with your timeshare agreement or long-term holiday product contract, let us help release you from an inherently unfair and unenforceable agreement. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation, ring us on 0161 839 8847 or simply fill in our contact form on our website. 

Stephen Boyd - Timeshare Lawyer

Stephen Boyd, Partner