Timeshare like many other products is not cheap, as with buying a new car, we don’t tend to have those large amounts handy and spare, so we revert to some kind of finance. Easy, we now have our new car, but that is where the similarity ends with timeshare.
That new car you so wanted, you searched around for the dealerships to get the best deal, you had time to think about it, you even probably arranged finance yourself with your bank manager. You know what you want to buy, you know you can afford it and you have made your decision.
Not so with a timeshare.
It is very rare to find someone who actually went out to buy a timeshare when they had, it was probably on the second-hand market for a fraction of the price. They actively searched for what they wanted, they found the right resort, the price was right and so they made the purchase.
Most, however, were picked up from the street while on holiday, approached by the ubiquitous ticket touts known as OPC’s. “Handed” three “Scratch Cards” and one is always the “Star Prize”. You are then taken in a taxi to collect your “Prizes” but you have to attend a presentation first.
Others received a phone call out of the blue, it may be that you are a winner in a “Prize Draw” and you have won a “Wonderful” holiday for you and the family. It may even just be an offer of a “free” week “to get away” from it all. But, and there is always a but, there is an admin fee to process the booking, it may only be £99, so you go for it.
In the small print on the “Terms and Conditions” you receive, will be a condition that you attend a 90-minute presentation. It does not specify what it is about and the inference from the “conditions” are that if you do not attend, or refuse to attend for any reason, then you will be “invoiced” for the full amount of the accommodation or removed from the site.
These appear in all the terms and conditions of these cheap deals, they are purely marketing tools for the timeshare industry, the common name given is “Flybuy”.
Once in the presentation, all of you are now prey to the wiles of the sales “rep” and their managers. Their mission is to sell you a timeshare, whether you want it or not, they believe you “don’t know you want it until you’ve got it”. They just have to convince you of that.
You will have been bombarded with wonderful holiday scenarios, beautiful resorts in places you have only “dreamed” about. Your resolve is beginning to wane.
The “benefits” of being an “owner” are explained, not in detail, only the good bits. It all looks great and you are tempted, but there is one thing on your mind, how much is it?
It has to be out of your reach, after all the “rep” did show you prices of a week stay at similar resorts. He knows you are itching to find out and springs his trap.
The “rep” cannot price you, that is for his manager, known as the T.O. He is the one who will close you down and get you to sign, emptying your wallet in the process.
You go through the motions with him, you explain that even though the price is good value it is not affordable at the moment. Well, he has a solution to that, he can arrange a finance agreement that will pay for the timeshare at an affordable monthly rate. It is guaranteed that you will be approved.
After some more pressure you chat with your partner and go for it.
While all the paperwork is being prepared for you to sign, out comes the bottle of bubbly and a party atmosphere is created by your “rep” and the others around with their “clients”. You are being toasted as “new members” of the club.
You eventually sign all the documentation and the loan application/agreement, returning to your holiday. Most will never have read in full what they have been given, they may have just glanced at it and decided to leave it until they got back home, let’s get back to enjoying the holiday.
Once you return home the documentation is forgotten, unpacked and tossed aside, then the letter arrives welcoming you to whichever finance company was being brokered. Your loan has been accepted, your timeshare has been paid for and you now owe the finance company more than double the cost of the timeshare.
You check the paperwork for some way to get out, but you find that you have passed the statutory cooling-off period, you are now locked into a timeshare and loan repayments.
That is the difference between purchasing timeshare with finance than any other major purchase, there was no intention to purchase, you had to make a decision on the day after several gruelling hours of “high pressure” sales. We also know that you will have been told many untruths about what you purchased.
This is only the beginning, only too many have fallen for the “upgrade” and the “investment” pitches and purchased more along with finance agreements brokered by the timeshare sales staff. One theme which has been common to all the “investment sales”, has been the promise of rental income and profit from an eventual sale, which would ultimately cover the cost of the loan.
This aspect will be covered in the next article which will focus on the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service. Which we all believe exist to regulate the finance industry but ultimately to protect the consumer from at the very least malpractice, a task in which we believe they have failed.
In this article, we will see how the FCA took the side of a major finance company without thought for the thousands of consumers affected. Or the total ineptitude of the FOS in matters relating to timeshare and finance. All the information is direct from consumers and much of it is in the public domain, it will show the hurdles, consumers, with complaints have to go through, many dealing with “investigators” that haven’t a clue but state they do because it is what they have been told by the finance company and the timeshare.
To the many timeshare consumers who have had dealings with these “bodies”, it does appear that they side with the big money!
Comments are welcome, either post on the article or email us using our contact page, it is through your experiences that we can help to answer questions for others.