How to cancel timeshare, the purchase of a timeshare or holiday club and get your money back
If you signed:-
Before 23 February 2011
OR in an EU country that had NOT implemented the new Timeshare Directive on the date that you bought.
OR in a country outside the EU
Continue reading the following advice because you are protected by the Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010 and their equivalents in other EU countries.
|A quick guideYou are entitled to cancel the purchase of a timeshare or holiday club within 14 days of signing. If you are cancelling a purchase which included a “linked” loan then it is ESSENTIAL that you also separately cancel the loan with the bank.The cancellation MUST be :-
- In writing. A Recorded Delivery letter is strongly recommended although an Email will suffice. Do not attempt to hand deliver the cancellation
- put in the post not later than day 14 – Day 1 is the day that you signed
You do not need to give a reason for the cancellation. Simply saying “We are cancelling agreement number xxxxx signed on xxxx date” is sufficient.
Alternatively you can use the pro-forma cancellation notice (that the law required you be given) but this MUST be sent by Recorded Delivery.
If you have not been given a pro-forma cancellation notice then the cancellation period extends to one year and 14 days.
If you paid any money (which is illegal!) then you should demand that this be returned to you “forthwith”.
If you have any doubts about WHAT you have bought please read a full summary of the Timeshare Regulations.
Please read ALL of this page before taking action – many situations are complex.
1. Your rights
1a. Other Rights under UK laws
In addition to the right that you have under the Timeshare Regulations 2010 described above you may also have other rights under UK laws.
If the sale took place away from business premises (i.e.. in a hotel, leisure centre, golf club etc. or your own home) then you have a 7 day cooling off period granted by the ‘Doorstep Selling Regulations’ (amended 1 October 2008). See also here. If so, you must be given written notice of this right (and a pro-forma cancellation) – failure to give this notice renders the agreement null and void. This right also applies to consumers who are enticed off the street to a sales presentation on business premises in all Spanish countries.
Distance selling regulations
If the sale took place on the telephone you are entitled to a 7 working day cancellation period under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 for contracts before 13th June 2014. And, if you paid any money, it should be returned to you if you write (recorded delivery) to cancel.
For contracts entered into after 13th June 2014 The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation, and Additional Charges) 2013 supersedes the above two Doorstep and Distance Selling Regulations.
Trade Body “Code of Ethics”
The trade body, Resort Development Organisation (RDO) require all their members (and agents of their members) to comply with a code of ethics which includes requirements to:
- Comply with all relevant laws.
- Disclose in a prominent manner on the purchase agreement that the purchaser has a minimum of a 15 day cooling off period.
- Conduct their business “with integrity and propriety and in a manner that will uphold the credibility, positive reputation and goodwill of the timeshare industry and the RDO“.
Because many RDO members fail to disclose their membership, or trade under a different name than that registered with RDO, it is often impossible to establish whether or not a trader is a member of RDO. However, the three leading trustees are members as are RCI so any purchase agreement involving a trustee and/or RCI would be covered by the RDO Code of Ethics. Our advice is to therefore register your complaint with RDO in every case. If RDO admit that the complained of trader is a member.
1b. Purchase in non-EU countries
Each non-EU country has different laws, but those seeking to join the EU generally comply with the law for purchases in EU countries. Ask TCA about any updated information.
1c. Rights under contract
In addition to whatever rights of cancellation that you have under statue law, you may also be given some rights by the seller in the contract. However you should be absolutely certain that these rights are in writing and totally unambiguous. If you have any doubt about the wording check with a solicitor (or with TCA).
How to cancel outside a cooling off period
In law, you may not have a right to cancel an agreement after the end of a cooling off period (if a cooling off period existed). The seller may be entitled to take you to court to force you to complete the contract.
The main defences to a court action are:
- The contract is invalid in law. You will need to show the Agreement to a solicitor to establish whether the contract is valid or not.
- You were given information which was false and which, if you had known the truth, you would not have signed the agreement – ‘misrepresentation‘. But there are often cases when you do not find out until after the end of a cooling off period that you were lied to, to get you to sign the agreement.
If you do decide to cancel, and believe that you were told lies in order to get you to sign, and then say that the reason for cancellation is due to ‘misrepresentation’.
It is common for a seller to threaten legal action if you cancel outside a cooling off period. But the TCA have no knowledge of any action being taken by non-UK based companies and of very few actions having been taken by UK based companies against purchasers who cancelled outside a cooling off period.
TCA advice is to totally ignore any correspondence from the seller – and certainly do not talk to them on the telephone – and only seek legal advice should you receive correspondence on a lawyer’s / solicitor’s or debt collector’s letterhead.
It is a good idea to make comprehensive notes of everything that you were told at the presentation in case you need to justify your claim of misrepresentation.
If you bought from an RDO member who did not provide (or disclose) a 14 day cooling off period.
2. Getting your money back
2a. Under the card companies voluntary “charge back” code
Irrespective of your statutory rights of cancellation, card companies operating VISA or Mastercard will charge back your deposit in the following circumstances:
- If you signed an agreement to buy a timeshare or holiday or travel club membership – in any country
- and you paid by a personal card (Mastercard, or VISA)
- and you can provide evidence of sending a written cancellation within 14 days of signing the agreement. (You are recommended to make a demand for a full refund from the seller before contacting your card company)
- and you make your claim within 60 days (120 days for VISA) of signing
Write to your card issuer, briefly explaining the facts, enclosing:
- A copy (not original) of the Purchase Agreement
- A copy of the cancellation letter and
- A copy of the proof of posting of the cancellation letter
- A letter asking them to “chargeback” the money paid.
Some card companies/banks are more helpful than others. Some are especially unhelpful. If your card company denies responsibility, tell them that they have an obligation to claw back and, if they fail to do so, write to the Financial Ombudsman Service “FOS” asking them to resolve the dispute. The card company is obliged to tell you how to contact the FOS. Their service is free.
PERSISTENCE may be needed! People who refuse to take “No” for an answer often succeed at the second or third attempt. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help you write the claim letter.
BUT please remember that recovering your money does not ‘get you out of the contract’ and the seller may have the right to take you to court.
If you paid by Bank Transfer; Cheque; PayPal, Ukash; Western Union; Money Gram; cash etc. there is no chance of getting any money back.
2b. Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974
If you have paid the full amount on the agreement, and paid by personal credit card issued in the UK or with a “linked” loan, then you may have rights under Section 75 the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
2c. From the seller
Your chances of getting any money back from the seller are remote. But, if you can show that they broke a statute law, for example by taking a deposit when that is unlawful, then you might be able to persuade them to pay up.
Never pay any money to anyone – except a solicitor – to help you with any of the above problems.
If you have cancelled, do NOT talk or correspond with the operator (marketing company) – you could weaken you position.
If the salesman pesters or harasses you on the telephone when you have cancelled, then report the matter to the police as harassment.
If it is too late to cancel, or you have not paid by credit card, then consider negotiating with the operator for a reduced payment for a reduced service – perhaps foregoing a cash back scheme.
If you do make further payments, ensure that these are by credit card to provide you with added security under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
If you need help from a solicitor a list has been provided for you. If you are concerned about the cost of using solicitors, check whether your home insurance policy provides funds – many do.
Reporting to the relevant enforcement authorities
If you consider that you have been misled into a purchase then one of the government enforcement authorities may be able to help you.
In the UK, Trading Standards officers are responsible for traders complying with a number of consumer laws including the Timeshare Regulations, the Consumer Protection regulations, the Advertising Regulations (which also cover “oral” advertising), the “Doorstep” Regulations etc.. Trading Standards offices can also accept complaints about purchases made in any EU country – for handling by the Office of Fair Trading.
The UK office of the European Consumer Centres may be able to help resolve a problem. Their web site is www.ukecc.net and you can send them a message off their web site
You should write to or telephone your local Trading Standards office (the address will usually be under your Local Authority) explaining what happened and why you think a law may have been broken. The local Trading Standards officer will contact their counterpart in the area of the trader concerned if the trader is based outside his area.
If the Trading Standards officer considers that the police should be involved then he can advise you how to make a report to the police. You can report what you consider to be a fraud, carried out anywhere in Europe, to your local Fraud Squad.
If you have read all the way down to here and are still not sure what to do about cancelling, please contact us.
For free information and consumer assistance register with Timeshare Talk.
Last modified: March 11, 2016