Five common mistakes for unhappy timeshare owners to avoid

Timeshare Advice Centre
8 min readMay 15, 2023
Mistakes: We all make ‘em…

Disgruntled with your timeshare membership and wondering what to do about it? Don’t make these 5 intuitive, yet costly mistakes…

Happy? Or not?

Dissatisfied members?

Depending on who you believe, either 85% of timeshare owners are happy with their purchase, or 85% regret their decision.

A satisfaction survey commissioned by ARDA (eg paid for by a timeshare industry trade body) back in 1992 concluded that 85% of owners are happy with their ownerships.

The timeshare industry clings to this 31 year old ‘proof’ like Rose Dawson to that half-submerged door at the end of Titanic. As actual evidence, it is getting a little overburdened.

Conversely an independent, NON sponsored study carried out in 2014 by Dr Amy Gregory and a team of academics from the University of Central Florida concluded that 85% of timeshare owners regretted their decision to sign up.

Whichever data we choose to accept, it means an awful lot of unhappy owners.

If you find yourself in that particular club, take care to avoid these 5 seemingly intuitive (but ultimately flawed) strategies when deciding what to do about it.

1) Telling your resort you are unhappy

Make your feelings known?

Why on earth not? Normally when unhappy with a service provider we give them a chance to put things right. It is a potential flaw in their operation that they need to know about. Surely they will fix the issue? Perhaps even compensate us for the inconvenience.

This is the case with most modern businesses. Online retail giants Amazon, for example, won’t even consider a refund unless we have communicated the issue to the seller first. Neither will PayPal or Ebay.

Unfortunately the nature of the timeshare industry is more cynical. They don’t actually want you to be happy. If you are happy, you won’t need to spend any more money with them.

Historically, 80% of a typical timeshare sales operation’s revenue was generated from ‘In House sales’. An In House rep meets resort guests at the beginning of each holiday to offer a free breakfast or other incentive, ostensibly to give the clients updates about the resort. In fact they are looking for problems that the client is having with the membership, so that they can continuously upsell expensive solutions like upgrades.

It works too. On average throughout their ‘career’ a timeshare owner can end up spending an astounding five times the cost of their original membership on upgrades.

If you ask the resort for help, you will only set yourself up for a high pressure upsell pitch.

2) Resales companies

Resale. Does it work?

Most timeshare owners are savvy enough to realise that their membership will not increase in financial value, despite the intimations of certain unscrupulous sales reps.

The main reason people sign up with resales companies is because they want to get out of the ownership. If they secure any money at all from a buyer, they would generally count that as an unexpected bonus.

Many owners know from experience that advertising their ownerships on Ebay, even for £1, fails to attract a sale. The pitch from resales companies is that they have access to buyers that the rest of us don’t. They will often attempt to give the beleaguered timeshare owner the impression that there is currently a high demand for their particular resort, and that a sale is likely to happen quickly.

It isn’t.

Timeshare is an outdated concept. It is a commitment that people no longer want, even for free. There is no secret database of people willing to pay money for a restrictive, expensive holiday membership but hiding themselves from everyone except resale companies.

All a resale company actually guarantees is to advertise your membership on their website. This costs them nothing. But it will cost you several hundred wasted pounds.

3) Unilaterally stop paying your maintenance

Internet ‘advice’: harmful

The internet can be a dangerous place. For every problem there are uninformed ‘experts’ on forums or facebook groups ready to dispense cavalier and sometimes harmful advice. This particularly seems to be the case with timeshare difficulties.

“Just stop paying the fees,” proclaim the self appointed timeshare law experts. “They can’t legally do anything to you. And when you stop paying they will cancel your membership”

Wrong, unfortunately. If it was that easy, everyone would escape that way.

A timeshare membership is a legally binding contract. Resorts can and do use UK debt enforcement proceedings to make ‘delinquent’ owners pay. Up to and including enforced bankruptcy.

To reach this stage, an owner would have had to ignore a great deal of communication attempts from the resort and/or their solicitors. Urged on by a stranger with nothing personally to lose by the owner following the stranger’s perhaps firmly held, but ultimately baseless theories.

Going down this rabbit hole will cost you far more than paying the maintenance fees alone would have done, as you have to pay all of the resorts legal costs for chasing the debt. If they choose to take you through County Court proceedings it will hammer your credit rating too.

4) Unilaterally stop your finance payments

Credit companies: Serious

Most people know instinctively not to do this. But at European Consumer Claims we do hear of cases where (again) a client listened to someone on the internet who told them: “If you stop paying the finance, the resort is forced to take back the membership. Like when you don’t pay car payments.”

This urban myth becomes easier to digest with the added sweetener: “Think about it. The resort can sell that week again. Whatever money they have had from you is a bonus. They lose nothing so why should they care?”

As in the previous example, this is manifestly untrue. The difference is the timeshare company won’t be coming after you because they received all of their money already. It was paid to them by the credit company the day you signed up.

The people who will pursue you for the outstanding payments are a bank or credit company, with a ton of experience in ‘getting their bit.’

They won’t take the membership back in lieu of payments because unlike a car, which retains some (diminishing) value, the moment a timeshare is sold it becomes monetarily worthless. The credit providers don’t actually care what you spent the money on. It was an unsecured loan. You agreed to pay it back, and they will make you do that.

Ignoring them will only serve to rack up a fortune in legal costs.

You will ultimately end up paying much more than you originally owed, again with corresponding damage to your credit rating.

5) Cancel your membership directly with the resort

If only it was this easy…

This might seem like a repeat of item number 1 above. However the key difference is that here the client is not trying to fix a problem. They are right at the final stop of the dissatisfaction journey and their goal is clear. They want off the train.

Resorts make money from selling weeks (or points that translate into weeks). If a client has paid, in full, for their week and wants to cancel their membership, providing they are not asking the resort for any money, logic suggests that the resort would be glad to take the week back for free so that they can sell it again.

Unfortunately for the constrained owner, modern timeshare companies know they are unlikely to be able to resell your week.

People have pretty much stopped buying new timeshare memberships. Compared to other booking methods, they are expensive, restrictive and no longer present the best way to guarantee a high standard.

“Today’s holiday consumer has little interest in committing to paying an annual fee that costs at least as much as booking a regular hotel of equivalent standard,” explains Andrew Cooper, CEO of ECC:

These maintenance fees now represent the bulk of revenue for most resorts. They know that if they allow a member ‘off the hook’ regarding these fees, they are unlikely to be able to find a replacement.

They will not gamble the guaranteed annual maintenance fee payments against the slim chance of selling the membership again.

On the slim chance that an owner is able to cancel directly with their resort, they are likely to be pressured into signing a disclaimer that invalidates their rights to a potential compensation claim for tens of thousands of pounds.

So what do I do?

To understand your real options regarding a timeshare related problem, contact our team for a free, no obligation consultation.

We have been dealing with every kind of timeshare issue for the last 7 years.

We can help.

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ECC provides timeshare claims services, expert advice and help

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Andrew Cooper background article can be read here

Relevant websites for this article

www.m1legal.com

www.timeshareadvicecentre.co.uk

www.timeshare.lawyer

www.ecc-eu.com

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Timeshare Advice Centre

The team at Timeshare Advice Centre have a wealth of experience in all types of timeshare, points and "fractional" schemes