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Timeshare directive offers holidaymakers greater protection

British consumers will get greater protection when they buy and resell timeshare holidays when a new set of regulations are introduced across Europe.
The EU timeshare directive will shortly be implemented to enhance consumer protection regarding timeshares and holiday products, preventing rogue traders from exploiting loopholes in the existing law.
In the UK, the Timeshare, holiday products, resale and exchange contracts regulations are being introduced from 23 February. Laws implementing the directive have already been introduced in France, while Sweden, Slovakia, Finland, Austria and Germany are expected to comply this month. A number of other countries have yet to announce the date the directive will become law.
EU member states are obliged to implement the directive, including a 14-day cooling off period with an absolute ban on processing payments during this time. The regulations will also cover:
• Long-term holiday products, ie holiday clubs.
• Shorter-term contracts – all purchases for a period of one year or more including tacit renewal of shorter periods.
• All forms of holiday accommodation, including boats and other mobile property such as caravans or cruise ships.
• Resale of timeshare or holiday club memberships by consumers.
• Exchange services, whereby timeshare owners pay an extra fee to join an exchange club to, for example, swap their week in the Canaries for a week in Rome.
The move follows a 27% increase in complaints about timeshare and related products to the UK European Consumer Centre last year.
Paul Carter, managing director of timeshare group RCI in Europe, said: “[We] fully support the introduction of common rules across Europe and increased protection for the consumer.
“This will ensure the conditions for fair trading throughout the industry and potential purchasers will be safe in the knowledge that they are being offered similar levels of protection wherever and whatever shared ownership product they buy in Europe.”
However Amanda Diamond, assistant editor of Which? Travel, said: “In principle the new directive looks great, and is good news for anyone looking at investing in in a holiday club or timeshare. The outlawing of taking payment upfront for these products and the stronger regulation of resale services are particularly welcome.
“During a recent undercover investigation our researchers experienced high pressure sales techniques used by some timeshare reps to get unsuspecting holidaymakers to part with their money, and hopefully this new legislation will see an end to this.
“But, for this directive to work rigorous enforcement is needed. As each EU member state will be responsible for policing this in its own country, we may find that this enforcement is pretty hit and miss.”

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