What is a Holiday Club?
Also known as

–  ‘Vacation Club’

–   ‘Travel Club’

–  ‘Travel Discount Club’

Almost all ‘Holiday Clubs’ should be given special consideration as there are countless examples of consumers having problems with them.

Holiday clubs, in short, are booking systems for which you pay a large joining fee to enable you to book holidays. Prior to the signing to the contractual obligations, the consumer waivers a right to rely upon the promotional statements of the salesman.

The promises that salesmen make, in short, are just statements plucked out of thin air in respect to the promised availability, quality and prices of the holidays are seldom realised in practice. Experience tells us, it is generally cheaper to book holidays off the internet or in the high street.

COOLING OFF PERIOD – Consumers are advised to take note that it is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE for a trader to take any payment during the 14 day cooling off period.

The enticement to acquire timeshare products may be offered to you when you are at home or when you are on holiday. Sometimes, the object of the seller is to take you out of your comfort zone as to the normal cautions a person has when dealing with contractual obligations. These can include the following:-

  • a scratch card on the street – usually whilst you are on holiday;
  • a telephone call offering to buy your Timeshare – ending with “you need to come
    to our offices etc“;
  • a telephone call offering low cost holidays, and;
  • a telephone call, possibly claiming to be from RCI, inviting themselves into your home under some pretext.

Key reasons for avoiding membership of a holiday club:

  • lack of certainty that you will get anything, let alone what is promised. If the club goes ‘bust’ tomorrow, you have lost everything;
  • the falsehoods stated by exhuberent salesmen to get their commission;
  • the lack of any ‘club’ structure to enable members to influence how the club is run;
  • the inability to check what the club can offer until after all the money has been paid (the Scots phrase ‘buying a pig in a poke’);
  • there is unlikely to be a ‘second hand’ market to enable you to recover some of the capital sum when you need to exit;
  • the cost of taking holidays in this type of club is generally more expensive than in the open market (teletext, internet or high street) – the membership fee is therefore worthless, and;
  • many purchase agreements appear to lack legal standing.

The introduction of the Consumer Protection Regulations on 26 May 2008 and the Timeshare Regulations 2010 implemented on the 23 February 2011 – ensures most of the UK based sellers in the holiday club industry will be forced to cease trading. If you are caught by a holiday club sales team then you should report this to your own local trading standards officer who will be able to use the Consumer Protection Regulations to stop their activities.

Holiday clubs come in three streams, recognising which stream you are involved with is almost impossible:

Brigadoon
These holiday clubs, in short, don’t exist, have no structure, no administration service and no delivery service for arranging holidays. They are fraught with unsavoury characters that have a tendency to disappear leaving consumers bewildered, angry at the deceit that has befallen them.

Francium
Francium as in the periodic table, is unstable and has a very short life. As with Francium, these holiday clubs do have a formal structure, are established with limited liability and an administration service. However, don’t last very long as soon as the complaints pour in from the consumers. They fold and leave the holiday club owners in the lurch with little or no hope of recouping the expense those consumers have incurred.

Established
Where a legal structure exists, an administration service is in place, and members do get holidays, but generally not where, when or at the price promised by the salesman. Although very poor value for money, they may survive for a number of years.

An increasing number of holiday clubs are internet based. Booking of holidays can only be done using a website. These internet clubs are no more reliable than their “land based” cousins.

The truth about holiday club salesmen:
These salesmen are generally commission based. It is their job to extract a sale from the consumer. Unregulated, these salesmen will in essence, say anything to create the illusion that what they are selling will immensely benefit the buyer. Their get out is that when the contract is placed before the consumer, invariably, within the terms of that contract, are clauses which the consumer acknowledges that they were not influenced in making their decision by anything that the salesman said in the run up to the contract.

Any and all consumers are strongly advised to search the contract for any term which removes the consumers right to rely upon the pre-contractual statements of the salesman. If such exists within the contract, then consumers should revisit what the salesman said and write in the contract a rider so as to incorporate within the contract the expectations given to the consumer by the salesman. In the event the seller refuses to incorporate the rider, the sales pitch can only be treated as unreliable and untruthful.

The holiday clubs that DO provide some holidays usually operate by renting surplus to requirement timeshare or hotel accommodation. These holiday clubs find it difficult to rent periods in high season (i.e. school holidays when most holiday makers want to go away).

Holiday clubs who claim they are members of ABTA or IATA

Even if the claim is true does the consumer enjoy good comfort, as the joining and the membership fee are not covered by a bonding scheme. The joining and membership fees run by the above respected organizations are separate.

Holiday clubs that do provide holidays either:
pay a full rental fee (which they pass onto you with an uplift), which is exactly what you could do for yourself using the internet or teletext, and/or they book timeshare weeks with the obligation that you attend a timeshare presentation, (approximately 6 hours) from which they receive a commission if you buy.

Timeshare Consumer Association Advice in respect to holiday clubs
Holiday clubs, as previously expressed, are fraught with problems. In the event that you are not given a 14 day cooling off period after the presentation and this is not expressed to a consumer by the salesman, the consumer should walk away. In the event that the consumer is asked for money during this cooling off period, again, they should walk away.

When presented with the Purchase Agreement offered to the consumer by the salesman, the consumer should read thoroughly, that purchase agreement and fully understand the commitment they are about to undertake. If the salesman denies the consumer the opportunity to read fully this contract, or in any way attempts to speed up the consumers deliberation, they should walk away and not revisit the purported opportunity the salesman is offering.

If the salesman has given promises (including expectations), those promises should be wrote down and contained within the purchase agreement, as ‘truthful statements and reasonable expectations proffered’. If the salesman refuses to endorse his promises, then it is likely that those promises are untrue. The consumer should be given written detailed examples of places, times and prices that are available to the consumer and again if these are not given and bonded into the purchase agreement, the consumer should walk away.

If, at any stage, the consumer is not sure and not fully satisfied, the consumer should talk to one of the “The Timeshare Consumer Associations” or your own solicitors.


Last modified: March 11, 2016