Welcome to the final part looking at the RDO, the “self-appointed voice” of the industry, which has only 13 major developers in the whole of Europe as their members, hardly “representative”. An article is being prepared on this subject by another publication, (a link to it will be posted when published). In our first two articles, we looked at the RDO’s “Mission, Vision & Values” and in the second it was their “Code of Conduct”, both showed many flaws and contradictions which hardly give confidence to the consumer.
Today we introduce their “Media Pack” and how they attempt to influence the media and journalists with their “Smoke & Mirrors”. We say this because hidden in the “Why Join The RDO?”, they really show what they think of the press:
“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”
“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”
So, journalists such as Tony Hetherington who have highlighted many problems faced by consumers who purchased timeshare, some are horrific stories that if published on AIT would be labelled “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, are poorly researched they claim. So what have they done about these consumers’ problems, in a nutshell, nothing, nada, not a damn sausage, apart from saying that a distinguished journalist has poorly researched his subject.
Enter the Media Pack, this is a 12-page document that is available to download on the RDO website, a pdf copy is placed below. This is supposed to give journalists all the information they need, the table of contents is:
- RDO Background
- RDO Offices
- Timeshare past and present
- The positive effect of timeshare on local economies
- Timeshare legislation
- RDO and the consumer
- Annual maintenance fees
- Reasons to buy timeshare
It begins with when the RDO was formed in 1998, previously known as OTE (Organisation for Timeshare in Europe), it also states that it is the “sole trade association” across Europe for the industry, nothing about what percentage they actually represent. Its role is just what they have already stated elsewhere on its website, primarily they say to promote “ethical practices” and ensure there is business development and growth in the industry. Something we feel they have failed in miserably, developers and their sales companies going into liquidation due to losing in the Spanish courts. They have presided over a major downturn in sales across Europe, with all the major developers reducing or closing their sales offices. (This was also before Covid)
Have they addressed why these sales have diminished, we think not, if what we read across all the forums and publications such as AIT, the main reason is the total loss of trust consumers have in an industry that for many, is seen as rife with lies and deceit. It has also not addressed the fact that its own members have broken their own code of conduct in their sales practices.
The first paragraph gives a very brief description and history of timeshare, so brief in fact it is not worth reading, or writing about. The rest is also very vague and not helpful to anyone who has no knowledge or experience of timeshare.
Then the last part of this page, yes it is only 1 page, is just a load of statistics, which as we know can be manipulated to show whatever you want, so again not worth going into.
This is a point which on the whole is true, many economies received a boost with the development of timeshare, in Europe, the main places were Spain and Portugal. In the early days, it was the building of the resorts which boosted the economy and provided well-needed jobs.
Once built and ready to open, the resort then provided many jobs from reception to cleaners and maintenance staff. The resorts would also have their own bar and restaurant as well as those in the local vicinity. As timeshare resorts were self-catering, there was also a boost to the local shops, supermarkets and local markets, but there were some disasters.
In the early days, there were many developments that crashed with only just started or half-built resorts, turning local communities on their heads and also losing thousands of pounds to those who purchased off-plan. Hopefully, that is a thing of the past.
This section does have one paragraph about “all-inclusive”, yes we do agree there has been a considerable debate on the effect of this type of package on local economies and communities. In tourist resorts where almost all the hotels became all-inclusive, this was a considerable factor in the closing of bars and restaurants. But what they fail to address is the economics of all-inclusive v timeshare and what the majority of consumers want, cheap holidays without the ongoing commitment.
For an important subject, it doesn’t really say much, their examples of “local economies benefiting” are primarily in remote parts of the UK and these appeal to the more discerning clients in their older years who do not want the “family & kids” resorts.
Again for an important subject, it contains only 5 very short paragraphs, focusing mainly on EU Directives and the very basic regulations on the sale of timeshare. These are the establishment of a cooling-off period that allows a right of withdrawal, the banning of upfront deposits, and rules on contract documentation in the purchaser’s own language.
It is the paragraph on buyers from the UK which puzzled us, it refers to the withdrawal from the EU in 2020, and that they are fully protected by UK timeshare legislation. Forgive my ignorance here, but do they mean any timeshare sold in another country will come under UK Timeshare Legislation and jurisdiction?
This area is also very vague, it makes no mention of enforcing its own code of conduct on members, lumping them all together as bogus, deceptive and damaging to the industry. We agree that there are many of these companies preying on the desperation of owners looking for a way out and they should be identified, but at the same time, they are also targeting legitimate companies.
This was first done under the auspices of Alberto Garcia Head of RDO Enforcement and Director of Mindtimeshare. He was funded by the RDO and his job was to protect the industry from the rogues, so far so good. Unfortunately, this also included smears against lawyers and law firms taking the first cases to the Spanish courts.
This reached unprecedented heights when he used his position and influence to target one law firm in particular, not because they posed a threat to the industry, but for personal revenge, all under the banner of the RDO Enforcement program.
Garcia was eventually discredited, being forced to step down from his positions and he seems to have faded into obscurity.
His creation was replaced with the Timeshare Task Force and is managed by Kwikchex, the public face of the RDO for consumers. This company is run by Chris Emmins, who, if you do a search online about his previous directorships paints a rather disturbing image.
Once again, the setup is to distract the consumer, focusing on the “bogus” operators who are not members of the illustrious organisation the RDO, rather than address their concerns regarding their own member’s misdeeds. They may not be directly implicating the genuine law firms anymore, but as lawyers are not able to market directly, their marketing contractors are targets for smear campaigns and half-truths.
Pages 9 and 10 are not worth going into as we have already covered this previous as it is the RDO and the Consumer.
Page 11 is just a brief explanation about maintenance fees and to be honest, any owner will probably laugh at this page.
The last page is all about, Reasons to Buy Timeshare, this is broken down into 9 points, each with a very brief explanation.
- More than just a hotel room
- The world’s your oyster
- It’s family orientated
- It’s hassle free
- It’s personal
It certainly begins to paint a picture of owning a timeshare, until you speak with those who do, it is very different from the proposed picture. We cannot argue about quality, although over the years some resorts have become rather run-down, as for the other points, there are a few issues, one is obviously PRICE, it is not cheap and is an ongoing commitment, even if you don’t use it.
That is the RDO, a “Trade Body” with very little body, representing only a fraction of the whole timeshare industry in Europe, yet it seems to have a very big voice, but not for the consumer. An organisation that is built on “Smoke & Mirrors”, their own website, Code of Conduct and Media Pack clearly shows this. It contradicts itself on many levels and until the authorities see it for what it really is, consumers will be subject to a grand illusion using “Smoke & Mirrors”.
RDO Media Pack
We hope you had a great weekend, Baby Dog certainly did, poor thing he’s exhausted.