Buying European Timeshare Getting Safer than Ever
Saturday, November 29, 2008
For starters, the timeshare industry is very important in Europe, representing an approximately $14 billion (US dollars) industry that employs some 40,000 people. And while timeshare laws were in place, aspects of timeshare regulation in Europe did not adequately protect consumers.
In summary, the new European Union timeshare regulations will:
- Cover all vacation ownership properties, including holiday clubs (see yesterday’s The Timeshare Authority to learn more about the problems of holiday clubs).
- Provide consumers comprehensive pre-contractual information enabling them to make informed choices.
- Cover moveable property like canal boats and caravans, and long-term products such as access to websites that offer big discounts on flights, hotels, and rental cars.
- Bans deposits or advance payments of any type, and …
- Create a unified 14-day cooling off or rescission period throughout Europe, in which a timeshare buyer will be able to withdraw from the contract without incurring costs.
Meglena Kuneva, the EU’s consumer commissioner says, “The new rules will ensure that the best possible protection is in place for consumers in the modern holiday market and that rogue operators will no longer be able to exploit loopholes in the law.”
As with any legislation, there are always critics. Sandy Grey, speaking for one timeshare association said, “These con merchants can spot the white knees and red faces of tourists a mile off – and for those holidaymakers that leave their brains at home, two weeks’ grace might not be much use. If they sign up in the first few days of their holiday it could be too late by the time they’re home and have a chance to think about it.”
National governments throughout Europe now have a maximum of two years to ensure the directive is incorporated into law. Until that then, and even when the new legislation is fully enforced, your best protection against timeshare fraud, scams, and misrepresentation is to take your time in making decisions, and never sign a contract that you do not fully understand.