Timeshare ownership is well established in Spain with many respected companies, agents and resorts operating legally and fairly. However, there are also many unscrupulous companies, some of which claim to provide various incentives (including stock market investments and discounts on airfares and accommodation) when exchanging existing time-share ownership or taking out membership of holiday clubs.
Such inducements do not always materialise once a deal has been completed. If you are approached by agents operating such schemes, treat them with caution.
You may find it useful to read the timeshare fraud advice from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, run by the National Fraud Authority.
Advice to help protect yourself against timeshare fraud:
Be very wary of letters, phone calls or emails from companies you don’t know offering you business deals out of the blue
If you are contacted by phone, don't continue the conversation
Don’t pass on confidential information to people or companies who say you’ve been chosen especially, or that you’ve won something
Never make investments without thorough research. Research the company and ask for several references
However much pressure the sales people put you under, never agree to anything on the spot. Refuse to sign anything then and there. Take the documentation home with you and sleep on it
Make sure an independent lawyer reads the contract before you sign it. Make a note of all the verbal promises you were given, and ensure they're in the contract. If they're not, refuse to sign
Ask about your cancellation rights and get them in writing. Remember that EU legislation gives consumers buying timeshare within the EU a 14 day cooling off period during which they can withdraw from the contract without any penalty. During the cooling off period, the seller cannot ask for, or accept, any money from the consumer
Remember, you can always walk out of the presentation. No one can make you stay, no matter what the salespeople may try and tell you
Think of buying a timeshare in the same way you'd consider buying any other investment property - is it worth the money? Research the market and discover the property values.
If you already own a timeshare, beware of resale scams where you may be cold called by someone claiming that they can market your timeshare for a fixed fee and, if it doesn't sell, they will buy it from you, or they will offer to buy the timeshare if you agree to buy another one. You could end up losing money by making upfront payments or with a second timeshare that you do not want.
You can find out more about timeshares and your rights if you join a timeshare scheme in the European Economic Area (EEA) or sign the contract in the UK on the Citizens Advice Bureau's Self Help website.
There are also several associations dedicated to timeshare issues in the UK and Spain, which provide help and specialist advice to consumers and information on regulation of timeshare companies in the EU.
Resort Development Association (RDO):
The RDO (Resort Development Organisation) is the trade association for vacation ownership across Europe. As well as promoting vacation ownership to the media and other opinion formers, RDO works with governments and consumer associations around Europe to ensure that the interests of the industry and those of timeshare owners are safeguarded when new laws are introduced. One of its key priorities is to help protect owners targeted by fraudsters operating on the fringes of the industry – usually bogus resale companies, holiday clubs or even self styled ‘class action’ schemes. The organisation can also investigate complaints from consumers about its members.
Address: Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 9BB
Timeshare Association (TATOC):
Manchester House, 84-86 Princess St, Manchester M1 6NG
Tel: 0845 230 2430
Timeshare Consumers Association:
TCA, Nornay, Blyth, NOTTS, S81 8HG, ENGLAND
Tel: 01909 591 100
Fax: 01909 591 338
C/ Sancha de Lara, nº 7, 2º -A. 29015-Malaga (Spain)
Tel: +34 952215859
You may also find it useful to read the advice on timeshare, holiday clubs and timeshare resale on the UK’s European Consumer Centre website.