RDO advises how to spot a fake company
In spite of the high satisfaction rate reported by owners, timeshare has been tarnished by disreputable companies that are not part of the legitimate industry and in particular the “holiday clubs” that spring up in popular destinations, mainly in the Canary Islands, the Costa del Sol and Spain’s other popular Costas.
So what are these dubious holiday clubs? Essentially, they are selling holidays at resorts that they don’t own, or worse still, don’t even exist and it’s these stories that often end up in the media.
With high summer on the horizon, the industry's trade association, RDO, has suggested the following tips on how can you spot the difference between a reputable timeshare operator or developer and rogue salesmen.
1. Holiday clubs “contract in” their holidays and do not own or manage the resorts although they will probably try to persuade consumers that they have been established for many years and are one of the specialists in the industry.
2. Have a good look at the website. If it looks “generic”, there’s no real address, local phone number, contact name or email or company registration details, chances are it’s a fake, and a front for fraudulent operators. Is there a head office or a resort office?
3. Resale companies who “guarantee” to sell your timeshare on their website, quickly and easily, are a red flag.
4. Google the company name next to the word “mindtimeshare”. Many bogus companies are listed on www.mindtimeshare.me which is a reliable source of the latest news about fraudulent companies and current scams. Mindtimeshare also reports on the corrupt companies that have been closed down by the police and authorities.
5. Check to see if the company trying to sell you something is a member of the official European trade boy for timeshare, which is RDO www.RDO.org. The majority of active European timeshare developers are members and have signed up to a code of conduct and will also adhere to the new European Timeshare Directive (February 2011). You can search for companies on the RDO website.
6. The timeshare consumer organisation TATOC www.timeshareassociation.org can also offer advice if you’re in doubt about a specific company.
7. Finally, it’s worth remembering that Holiday Clubs are now regulated and must offer you a cooling off period and cannot take a deposit. However, if you are approached by one, or thinking of buying into a holiday club, you should still be very cautious. You should check before signing anything and if you do pay any deposit, the company is probably bogus, and it may be very hard to get it back.
Most of the world’s top hotel groups run successful timeshare divisions – Hilton, Wyndham, Marriott, Pestana, Ritz Carlton just to name a few. So if you are approached by a timeshare/resale company you have never heard of – and even if the company claims to be a law practice – make sure you are 100% certain that the company is bona fide.
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