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As timeshare resorts wind down their sales operations, facilities and services are being unfairly slashed

Big players like Anfi, Diamond Resorts Europe and Club La Costa are some of the resorts being criticised for failing to provide services and amenities that members have paid for

Costly memberships

Many people paid significant amounts of money for their timeshare memberships, and part of the reason for this was that they wanted to enjoy higher standards than those provided by standard travel agents. They enjoyed the exclusivity of the clubs, and they expected to be able to enjoy the same high standards for the lengths of their memberships.

Timeshare owners have to stump up a large joining fee as well as pay high annual fees that are sometimes more than the cost of a standard holiday. These fees are paid every year, even if they don't want to go on holiday or are unable to do so.

Timeshare companies in trouble

As the years have passed, timeshare has been overtaken by the rest of the travel industry. All holidaymakers have to do now is visit a review site like TripAdvisor to find out about the standards they can expect from their holiday accommodation.

On top of that, many timeshare complexes do not provide exclusivity to their members because non-members can now book them on regular booking sites. The price is often about the same as an annual fee for a member, meaning there is very little advantage to being a timeshare owner. As a result, people are not buying anymore.

One by one, the large timeshare companies in Europe are fading away. Giants of the industry like Diamond, Anfi, Azure, Club La Costa, and Silverpoint have either stopped selling to new customers, ceased doing business or gone into administration.

Some may still be just about going, but the fact is that consumers today are not keen to become tied to an annual payment for something they can rent whenever they want for the same price.

Sales to new members are drying up drastically, hitting the revenue streams of the companies. As a result, it looks like the resorts are now getting rid of many facilities and services that they promised to their members when they sold the timeshare deals.

Cutting costs

"The fact is that these companies have had to cut costs," says Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC). "We speak to angry timeshare members all the time. They are disappointed that facilities and services like the kid's club and onsite entertainment are missing from their resorts now. There is often no welcome pack in people's rooms or welcome meeting when they arrive. Concierge services have been cancelled and restaurants are closed.

"Many of these people signed up and paid a lot of money based on a sales presentation that promised all of these little touches whenever members came to their 'home from home'.

"Even when it became indisputable that timeshare no longer made financial sense many resort members didn't kick up much of a fuss. They continued using the system they had become accustomed to.

"Firstly, they were used to their resort and that familiarity made them feel at home on their holidays, despite declining standards.

"Secondly (and this is why a lot of people tell us they convinced themselves of the first reason) they didn't know it was possible to escape from the contract."

Cutting corners

There is a simple reason why standards are dropping, according to industry experts. Now that active sales operations are stopping, it's too expensive to maintain the high-quality services once provided.

"Most people bought timeshare during a presentation on the resort itself," says Cooper. "Because of this, the resorts needed to appear amazing. Facilities and services had to be demonstrably plentiful and high quality. The people staying on-site had to be happy. That way when a salesperson is showing a prospect around, they see the kind of resort they would like to join.

"The high standards and great facilities were never for the existing members. They were to impress potential new members.

"The 'welcome breakfasts' for example were only subsidised so that inhouse sales staff could spend time with clients and attempt to upgrade them into ever more expensive memberships.

"Now that sales are suspended or ceased altogether at many resorts, the need to impress has evaporated. The remaining revenue stream is annual fees and members are contractually obligated to pay whatever the resort demands every year, whether they are happy with standards or not.

"Once new member sales slow down or stop, that's when people start noticing towels being changed less often, rooms not being made up every day, painting and pool maintenance becoming less frequent and so on. In short, the financial model becomes that of any budget hotel. They minimise expenses by cutting corners."

Members escape from contracts

With the downsides of high costs and lack of flexibility outweighing the benefits, more timeshare owners are looking for ways to get out of their contracts.

"It isn't easy to escape," says Andrew Cooper. "For timeshare companies, the annual fees are their only remaining revenue source. They don't care if members want to leave, they are forcing them to stay and to keep paying as long as the contract can be legally enforced."

"It's a sad fact of life that people will agree to things more easily when they are in a good mood," says Cooper. "People signed these long, detailed contracts while they were surrounded by sea, palm trees and Spanish sunshine. Decades later, seemingly small details are still costing them hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year."

So, is there any way to escape? "Yes, usually it is possible to get free from a timeshare contract," Cooper says, "but in most cases, unless you have enough legal understanding to navigate the process (and plenty of free time), you will need expert help.

"The good news for anyone who bought in Spain on or after the 5th January 1999, is that there is a strong chance your contract is illegal. If so, you can not only escape, but you will be in a position to claim significant compensation."

Contact the advisory team at Timeshare Advice Centre today for a confidential chat with no obligations to find out what options you have for your timeshare membership.

As timeshare resorts wind down their sales operations, facilities and services are being unfairly slashed
As timeshare resorts wind down their sales operations, facilities and services are being unfairly slashed

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