Why timeshare no longer works

Timeshare no longer works in the 21st century. The once market leader has refused to evolve, and the rest of the travel industry has long since left it behind

It did work

Timeshare did work, once. It was before the proliferation of the internet and when their resorts were exclusive, but it did work.

People who bought at quality resorts were arguably making smart decisions based on prevailing evidence and future expectations. They were guaranteeing themselves access to an exclusive, high quality resort every year, and when they chose to travel elsewhere they were taking the guesswork out of getting high standards in other destinations.

It doesn’t work now

In 2021, timeshare resorts are no longer exclusive. You can stay in pretty much any timeshare complex by booking through sites like Expedia or Booking.com, rendering it pointless to pay tens of thousands of pounds to join a club. In that sense, membership is redundant.

The other big selling point of guaranteeing standards elsewhere is outdated too. User generated review sites like TripAdvisor take the guesswork out of getting the standards you want.

The timeshare industry was once a cutting edge, innovating disruptor to the travel market. Sadly it stagnated and has become an outdated, and comparatively expensive way to vacation.

Flawed exchange system

Timeshare owners rely on an exchange system to visit other destinations. There are extra fees for this. On top of the regular annual fees (already usually the equivalent of the cost of a regular holiday) there is an additional annual fee for being a member of the exchange system.

There are also fees for each exchange made, fees for banking weeks (saving them for another time) or bringing weeks forward from future years. Plus there are fees for allowing another person to use your timeshare.

This means that doing anything other than what your original membership guarantees, comes with spiralling costs. The non timeshare owner pays only for the holiday they have. If a holiday costs £700 for a week in destination A or destination B, they will pay the same in either, there are no fees to exchange.

Also, like with all holidays, the popular destinations book up first. In the timeshare exchange system there are around 4000 resorts for a timeshare owner to choose from. If the choices in a particular destination at the preferred time are full, then the owner can’t exchange there through his timeshare.

For a regular holidaymaker there is a wider selection of choices. The non owner can choose to stay in a timeshare resort, but also can choose anywhere outside the timeshare system without incurring extra fees.

The timeshare owner has already paid for his holiday. If his preferred exchange destination has no availability, then he must pay for an entire extra holiday outside of his membership, as well as paying his own annual fees.

Complicated

For non timeshare owners, booking holidays is pretty straightforward. You go on the booking site, choose a hotel and dates, then pay for it.

For timeshare owners there are complex, systematic rules:

  • There are strict deadlines: Booking deadlines, exchange deadlines, and deadlines for paying maintenance. If you get anything wrong you can lose your holiday altogether (but still pay for it).
  • Ownerships usually come with mandated check in days. If it is a Monday changeover, for example, that is the day you need to arrive; regardless of whether that suits your other commitments
  • Similarly owners must usually book in blocks of a week. Regular holiday members choose their own lengths of stay from dropdown menus on the booking website
  • Even strict observance of the rules often doesn’t get you what you need. Points owners with a 12 month booking window describe having to dial at 1 second past 9:00am on the day that the window opens for their preferred week and still regularly not getting it
  • Timeshare owners generally have no say in maintenance fee increases unless they attend AGM meetings (impractical for most people). Many owners even report seeing their own resort available on Booking.com for less than they paid in maintenance for the same week. A non owner can vote with their feet and not choose a hotel that seems too pricey

The gift your kids don’t want

Lifetime memberships were sold as a wonderful thing you could do for your offspring. “When you are gone, they will have a pre-paid holiday every year, and every year they will think of you as they take that holiday,” was the seductive sales pitch.

Decades later people are more concerned with how to avoid inheriting the burden of timeshare ownership than looking forward to doing so.

“People don’t want to be tied into an expensive, dated holiday system,” explains Daniel Keating, media officer for the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA). “Why should they? It’s more convenient to book their holidays when and where they like. They can stay in timeshare resorts if they want to, or not go on holiday at all. During the pandemic when people could not go on holiday, timeshare owners still had to pay. Non members did not get a holiday either, but at least they didn’t have to pay for one.”

How to escape

New people are not buying timeshares, so the resorts are keeping a tight grip on their remaining income source: Maintenance fees.

There is no second hand market for timeshare resales, in fact the resorts won’t generally even allow a member to give the membership back for free.

There are two main ways to break free of an unwanted timeshare. Both require professional assistance:

  1. Relinquishment — straightforward quitting the membership and being legally released from the commitment of paying the annual fees
  2. Compensation claim — hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners in Spain were sold under illegal conditions. This means that they are entitled to considerable sums of compensation, which also frees them from their membership

Get advice

Claims companies are the people who handle both scenarios above, but before diving in to retain a firm you found on Google, be aware that there are a lot of criminals posing as genuine claims companies.

There are several ways to identify a genuine claims company, if you prefer to do your own research.

Or if you prefer, you can get in touch with our team here at the TCA, Monday to Friday during business hours, for free, independent, expert advice.

Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.org (Address to Daniel).

WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055

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

Timeshare Consumer Association Newsdesk here

Timeshare Consumer Association on YouTube here

Timeshare Consumer Association on Facebook here

Timeshare Consumer Association on Medium here

Timeshare Consumer Association on LinkedIn here

Timeshare Consumer Association on Quora here

Timeshare Consumer Association website here

We are a proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition

First published on MyNewsDesk 2021

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Timeshare Consumer Association

Timeshare Consumer Association

Friendly, impartial advice from timeshare experts: owners, ex timeshare owners, even ex timeshare industry insiders