This section contains advice on what steps consumers can take if they have paid monies or entered into a contract with a business, and are concerned that they may be dishonest, fraudulent or that there has been a breach of contract or failure to carry out work as promised.
In many cases, you will be able to take immediate steps. The information available below covers most elements of the types of action you are able to take, and includes possibilities concerning legal & claims services and timeshare itself.
Write (recorded delivery is recommended) to the business at the address given on the contract / agreement, and outline your complaint and ask for an urgent response.
Submit a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the business. This legally compels them to provide you with all the information they have regarding what they have actually done on your behalf.
Is the business you are concerned about regulated or accredited by a recognised authority / organisation? Check with the business to verify this.
Ask the business for details of their complaints process and in the first instance, write to them setting out your reasons for concern. Where the business is regulated, or accredited, and you are not satisfied with their response to your complaint / concerns, you can ask the business to provide you with the details of the regulator or accreditation organisation for the purpose of making a formal complaint.
If the business has promised legal, claims and /or relinquishment services regarding your timeshare, check with your timeshare company whether they have received any correspondence from the business. Note – do not be intimidated by clauses in contracts that say you are prohibited from contacting your timeshare company. If you have such concerns, this is reasonable on your part and to deny you the right to carry out such checks is likely to be a breach of Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs).
Note that there are a number of businesses that have been misleading consumers regarding claims and relinquishment. In particular, some of these may use the following tactics:
If you have been told any of the above to persuade you to pay the business, we recommend that you also ask them to clarify such statements within their written response to your complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the response or do not receive a response, you have the following options.
if the initial payment was made by credit card we would strongly recommend contacting your bank. A Section 75 claim can be made for the initial payment and any other balance payments (even if these weren’t paid using the credit card).
f you paid via PayPal – even if you used a credit card, contact PayPal and raise a dispute via their Resolution Centre resources. Advise them of the circumstances.
If you paid by other means than a credit card, such as a debit card or bank transfer, you can file a claim through the UK courts. The most convenient way to do this is via the Money Claim Online (MCOL) service. This does involve paying fees and most likely appearing in court. You can represent yourself or consult / appoint a solicitor. We would advise that there is of course always a risk in pursuing a court claim – and that this also includes the possibility that the business could be wound up / made insolvent and / or have accounts and assets frozen.
It is worth checking your insurance policies to see whether you are insured against fraud, theft and/or dishonesty. This may be through a stand-alone policy – for example, for card protection (individuals) or employee dishonesty/fidelity (businesses) – or as part of a wider insurance product such as home contents, travel, or legal expenses.
Timeshare products are subject to strict laws in many countries. If you feel you have been misled, you should first contact your timeshare company in writing and tell them why you believe this to be the case.
In general terms, when you purchased your timeshare, you should have been provided with a cooling off withdrawal period and should not have paid any monies during that period.
The timeshare seller should have followed compliance procedures and ensured that you understood your rights and the nature of the product and asked you to confirm by signing documents that this has been carried out.
Advice on current laws within the EU can be found on this link –https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/holidays/timeshare/index_en.htm If you believe that the seller did not comply with these laws, we advise you to first check your documentation and if you still feel the sale was not legally compliant, explain this to your timeshare company and ask for an urgent response.
Note also that the laws do include a range of timeshare and related products, including timeshare resale and what are referred to as long-term holiday products.
Prior to the current laws, other laws did apply and these may vary from country to country, even if the countries are now a part of the EU. Other laws may also apply in non-EU countries.
In particular, one element of Spanish law has been noteworthy in recent times. A Spanish Supreme Court ruling dictated that timeshares sold in Spain from 7th January 1999 and up until the current EU laws took effect could not have a term longer then 50 years. Sales made during this period of Spanish timeshares may therefore have the possibility of being declared null & void by a court if they do exceed 50 years. There are some complexities and other elements regarding the ruling, including, (for example) with regard to the specific identification of the property within the contract and whether your rights, including a cooling off period were properly and compliantly explained to you.
A significant number of court cases have taken place, based on the Supreme Court ruling and in many cases, compensation has also been awarded to owners. Regrettably, there have been many rogue businesses taking advantage of the precedent and it is essential that owners carry out exceptional due diligence and use only genuine, qualified and expert businesses. We recommend that you use a comprehensive questionnaire process that will help you to check the most important elements, including previous histories of businesses – click here to view and download an example questionnaire.
You can also use the Checking and Decision making section on this website to examine information on businesses.
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from your timeshare company
If they are a member of the Resort Development Organisation (RDO),you can take your complaint to RDO. You can find details of members and the services provided to consumers related to members on this link – http://rdo.org/
You can contact Citizens Advice
If you require further assistance, please contact us