As a result of complaints made by Kwikchex, which runs the Timeshare Task Force, an investigation by the DMC (Direct Marketing Commission) into Hollywood Marketing, which runs sellmytimeshare.tv and monster.travel.com has resulted in a recommendation that Hollywood Marketing’s membership of the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) is terminated.
DMC reported that sellmytimeshare.tv provides an initial valuation of a timeshare and invites consumers to a meeting at one of its advice centres. During the meeting, consumers are introduced to Monster Credits as part of the trade-in deal. These credits are presented as a discount on travel and accommodation.
Consumer vulnerability was seen by the DMC to be a key issue in its deliberations and the Commission noted that some of those looking to sell their timeshare were desperate to sell and some apparently needed loan financing to buy the credits.
Furthermore, the DMC noted that “already elderly and fearful consumers were being offered something of uncertain value and that required very considerable further spending… to utilise the alleged benefits offered”.
DMC had major concerns about switch selling timeshare owners looking to sell into buying travel credits, particularly when there was no certainty that their ownership of the timeshare ceased.
DMC concluded that sales techniques were high-pressure and that people attending the meetings had no prior notice of Monster credit purchases.
DMC questioned the value of the credits offered and was worried about the absence of any form of insurance or investment protection for consumers given the long-term nature of the product and the amount paid.
DMC’s investigation also took into account a report by Trading Standards.
The DMC upheld four rules in the DMA code: that members must not exploit the lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers and take care when dealing with vulnerable consumers; members must not engage in high-pressure selling; members must accept they are normally responsible for actions taken on their behalf by their staff, agents and others; members must act decently, fairly and reasonably at all times.
The recommendation is subject to appeal.