Why the timeshare industry should follow Marriott’s lead if they want to survive
As Marriott Vacation Club receives praise for addressing timeshare’s problematic past, Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) asks: Could the industry have unwittingly stumbled upon the one thing that could save them?
Decades of wrongdoing
In the 1980s and 1990s, timeshare was a serious problem in Spain and other European hotspots. Flip flop clad armies of touts relentlessly corralled tourists into brutal, high pressure sales operations manned by ex double glazing and Kirby vacuum salesmen. To protect tourists, Spain enacted laws from 1999 onwards.
It was no longer legal to take any money during the Cooling Off Period, to sell floating weeks or points, or to write contracts that last more than 50 years.
Most timeshare companies in Spain ignored these laws, believing that the notorious Spanish bureaucracy would shield them from legal consequences.
Claims firms to the rescue
Claims firms incorporated to battle said bureaucracy on behalf of victims, and sue timeshare companies over illegal contracts.
The first success came against Anfi in Gran Canaria in 2016. Since then the rearguard legal defences and scattergun delaying tactics used by timeshare companies have been consistently defeated. Timeshare companies have been forced to pay so many millions of pounds in compensation that many of the biggest names in Europe have had to end their operations. Giants like Anfi, Club La Costa, Azure, Diamond Resorts Europe and Silverpoint have ceased sales, filed for bankruptcy, gone into administration or declared insolvency.
With their traditional strategies for avoiding legal obligations no longer working, the remaining timeshare companies may be changing tack.
If they do, we postulate, they might just restore some of the reputation damage incurred by their disregard for both the law and the wishes of clients who want to quit their membership.
As reported elsewhere, Marriot Vacations Worldwide have taken a completely new approach, both publicly admitting wrongdoing and also making speedy payments of compensation awarded against them.
The Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation annual report told of how past decisions left them vulnerable to judgement and settlement payments. It also told that owners in Spain have more ability to escape unwanted timeshare commitments.
Several recent awards against them were also paid within weeks, in a seemingly new strategy welcomed by victims and industry observers alike.
“Timeshare has a terrible reputation,” says Daniel Keating, Information Officer for the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA). “Up until these unexpected moves by Marriott, most experts really couldn’t see a future for the industry. The system is dated, expensive and constrictive compared to modern ways of booking holidays.
“What Marriott may be able to influence with audacious moves like this is the way people view the resorts.
“People know timeshare companies have behaved badly in the past. Admitting the wrongdoings then making up for it is a bold and potentially expensive strategy, but with nothing left to lose, this kind of big gamble might just pay off.”
Ray of hope for a dying business
“The world famous ’12 step program’ for addicts mentions accepting one’s faults, working to improve them and finally making amends to those whom one’s negative actions have affected,” observes Daniel.
“That seems to be the tack that Marriott is taking here, and these actions will certainly be welcomed not only by members who want to free themselves from the company, but also those who were sold with illegal contracts and are therefore owed compensation.
Keating believes that this about face by Marriott could be a ray of hope for victims of other timeshare operations. “Other resorts will be watching this with interest,” he says.
“If the third biggest timeshare company in the world has decided it is time to do admit their failures and face up to their obligations, you can bet the decision was thoroughly researched before being implemented.
“TCA reserves judgement as to whether the bean counters at Marriott will decide that the more profitable course of action is to end the pointless legal defences, and pay the compensation awarded against them.
“If it does prove financial sense for Marriott, then those economics could well translate across the rest of the industry. Who knows, we might see admissions of responsibility from other resorts.
“Interestingly this could be the thing that saves the timeshare industry.
For free help and expert advice on timeshare related issues, contact our team at TCA
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- Blaggers: Adventures in the Spanish timeshare industry in the 1980s and 1990s
- Spanish timeshare compensation claims. Fact vs fiction
- Timeshare Consumer Association
- The timeshare exit minefield. Can you safely escape an unwanted membership?
- A guide to the timeshare claims process
- Timeshare companies pointlessly delaying compensation payouts
- Mis-sold Marriott timeshare owners enjoying swift compensation awards
- TCA contact page
- What timeshare owners bought, vs what they got
- (VIDEO) What timeshare promised, vs what it delivered
- Why claiming timeshare compensation is the right thing to do
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TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations — We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.
An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.
We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff. We know our way around the timeshare business
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First published on MyNewsDesk May 2022