|Rutland County Council’s Trading Standards is supporting the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) campaign to warn consumers about the dangers of bogus holiday clubs. |
The campaign launched by OFT on Friday aims to draw attention to unscrupulous holiday clubs that deliberately deceive consumers and pressurise them into membership.
Holiday clubs are marketed as a flexible alternative to timeshare, promising a lifetime of discounted luxury holidays anywhere in the world. Some are reputable businesses that trade in good faith. But others are promising far more than they deliver. At a cost of thousands of pounds what customers may be buying is access to a booking service such as a website or phone number and the reality does not live up to the promise.
Unscrupulous clubs often only provide last minute, limited availability accommodation that is usually low star rather than luxury. With the addition of expensive flights, supplements and taxes, it could end up costing more than holidays booked through normal routes. And by the time someone who signs up decides to book a holiday, the holiday club company could be out of business.
Holiday clubs are not covered by timeshare law. This means there are no automatic cancellation rights for those who change their minds. Bogus holiday club companies exploit this by employing high-pressure sales techniques such as long presentations – lasting as long as six hours – to get customers to sign a binding contract. With promises of a once in a lifetime opportunity, dream holidays for life, special one-day only offers or cashback on the scheme, it can be tempting to sign up. But with no cooling-off period, people should always take the contract away to consider at your leisure before signing.
It is not just holidaymakers who are at risk. Anyone can be approached at home by phone by someone telling them they have won a free holiday – all they have to do is attend an exclusive VIP presentation. But they are then subjected to a long high pressure sales pitch and the free holiday rarely turns out to be free by the time non-refundable administration charges, supplements and taxes are added.
There are reputable holiday club companies but there are also many unscrupulous ones. The OFT has published a consumer leaflet to help prevent people being caught out by the bogus holiday club hard sell.
Advice to consumers from both OFT and Rutland Trading Standards is:
don’t go to the presentation
if you do go to the presentation – don’t sign anything there and then. If you can’t take the contract away to think about it walk away
check if the company is offering cancellation rights and that they are written down – if you’re not happy with the cancellation terms walk away
check all verbal claims made in the presentation are included in the contract – if not walk away.
start: Thursday 10 April 2003