The summer holidays are nearly here but for timeshare owners, this means having to compete for the very limited availability in their chosen resorts.
There once was a time where timeshare owners could always enjoy a guarantee of staying in the same apartment at the same time of year, as long as they paid a large annual fee.
As time went on, members wanted more flexibility so they could go on holiday at different times of year, and even stay at different resorts. As such, systems were introduced to accommodate their needs.
The problem? The systems just don't work.
Floating time and points-based memberships gave timeshare owners this element of flexibility of where and when they went on holiday.
But, as expected, everyone wants to stay in the peak season. Once these are booked, other members must take what they can get.
It became clear that you could either have certainty or flexibility with timeshare, never both. Points and floating time were sold as high-cost upgrades, and people bought them on the premise that it would give them this freedom. That being, the assurance of a holiday in peak season or being able to swap for another time of year.
The problem is that when the members want to book the resort in the high season, they are informed that it is was full.
So, the challenge faced by timeshare owners is either they go on holiday at a time that is inconvenient for them or purchase a separate holiday. Of course, booking a separate holiday means they still bear the costs of their high annual fee for their timeshare. In essence, paying for two holidays but only getting one.
People have complained to their resorts about this, only to be told that they have up to two years to book. The reality is that no one wants to commit to a specific holiday week up to two years in advance.
And even those who try to book as soon as the booking lines open are told they are too late.
New member sales have dried-up all-over Europe, leaving timeshare companies seeking new income sources. They have found this by renting their accommodation on sites like Expedia and booking.com to non-members.
This seems unfair, seeing as memberships were sold as exclusive. But with the introduction of flexible memberships, resorts were able to rent out weeks elsewhere.
We regularly speak to timeshare owners who complain they are unable to book the weeks they want with their timeshare memberships. But they then find lots of availability when they search on Booking.com.
This is completely unfair, seeing as the members already paid, but now the resort wants to sell it again to non-members.
When the COVID pandemic struck in 2020, most resorts were closed. Industry critics spoke out in support of timeshare owners as the timeshare companies failied to cut annual fees, even though guests could not travel.
Andrew Cooper, CEO of ECC, states that "clearly timeshare resorts' overheads were reduced to almost nothing. There was no electricity or water to pay, no staff wages (they were furloughed) and a large number of other expenses were minimised.
"Resorts basically made a significant profit during the pandemic because they charged the same fees with significantly less outgoings", Mr Cooper continues.
There were no full or even partial refunds. They were simply told they would get double accommodation the next year.
Most realised that was impossible. After all, where would they get the extra inventory?
The problem with inventory was made worse in 2021 when most resorts continued to remain closed. Once more, members paid full maintenance and were promised they could use their weeks in 2022.
That meant resorts had to now provide three times the number of holidays in 2022. If they couldn't even provide enough holidays before the pandemic struck, things are not looking good.
The problem with the timeshare model is that it is outdated and out of touch.
These days, holidaymakers want to choose their destinations nearer the time. They also need more flexibility to try new destinations. Or even stay at home. Life and circumstances change, and timeshare doesn't allow for this. Timeshare owners are committed to paying rising annual fees regardless.
While many timeshare owners think they are stuck and cannot get out of the contract, this is not usually the case.
If you want to escape from your timeshare, the best solution is to contact an experienced claims firm for their advice.
Start by getting a free and confidential consultation and find out whether you can also claim compensation Timeshare Advice centre.