What do your timeshare maintenance fees actually pay for?
Exclusivity and superior standards of luxury. These are the most common reasons given by timeshare owners for why they signed up with their resorts. But do those justifications still ring true now that the ‘golden age’ of timeshare in Europe is over?
Holidays from hell
In the 1980s and 1990s, accurate information was a lot harder to come by than it is today. Holidays, for example were sold on the basis of a physical brochure and the glossy photos therein.
Naturally the holiday complexes published the most flattering photos they could produce in order to attract the British Holiday pound. Tired travellers were regularly turning up to complexes that were somehow smaller, shabbier and more run down than the sunlit images had seductively promised.
Brits were upset.
Tabloid media highlighted the issue and the phrase ‘holidays from hell’ was coined.
Timeshare offers a solution
Nature abhors a vacuum. So does a free market economy.
Disappointed holidaymakers were targeted by aggressive sales and marketing operations touting top quality accommodation in exclusive 5 star resorts. It was more expensive than regular holidays through a travel agent, but why wouldn’t it be?
Like anything else of good quality, Brits knew there would be a cost.
To become a timeshare member, the ‘sign up’ price was many thousands of pounds. Then there were annual ‘maintenance fees’, ostensibly to keep the complex in pristine condition.
Maintenance fee greed
These fees were always controversial. They were clearly greater than the cost of maintaining the apartment, but members could generally agree that in the early days the annual maintenance charges were less expensive than booking a regular hotel of the same standard. They therefore made tenuous financial sense (provided you didn’t factor in the initial joining fee).
While timeshare resorts were still squeezing out the last few sales in Europe, resort standards were maintained. For any onsite sales team, the complex and facilities had to be kept in premium condition. They were the shop front. The sales display. The product on show…
Fast forward to 2022: Most resorts’ new member sales have either dried up completely or slowed to a drip. Maintenance fees are the last remaining income stream for floundering timeshare operations. They have been inflated beyond all reason, and are now at least comparable if not more expensive than regular holiday accommodation.
However now that they are no longer actively selling, resorts do not have the financial motivation to preserve their once superior standards.
Members are complaining that facilities are being cut or minimised, and the apartments are looking increasingly lacklustre and dated. Take the following example from Marbella located timeshare resort, Playa Real.
Nowadays, for the same as, or less money than the timeshare owners have to pay in fees every year, regular apartments can be booked that equal or outdo the timeshare complexes in terms of luxury.
Take the below example, just up the road from the Playa Real timeshare complex is the Romana Playa complex. Available for from £519 per week, including cleaning and with direct access to the beach. Arguably a higher standard that most current timeshare complexes in the area.
Nearly every timeshare resort is now available on sites like Booking.com to non members, who have paid no money in joining fees and are not obliged to pay any money to the resort unless they choose to take a holiday there.
“It is straightforward ‘incentive economics’,” says Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC). “The customers are contractually obliged to pay whatever the timeshare company decides. The resort has no motivation to provide high standards in return.
“To maximise profits, a timeshare company’s logical course is to minimise expenditure wherever possible on resort standards. And to increase the annual charges the maximum they believe they can get away with. It is a poor attitude, but the European timeshare industry has never had a reputation for attracting altruistic businessmen.
“While the rest of the travel industry is being constantly innovated and improved by competition, timeshare owners are being left behind, without the standards, choice and flexibility enjoyed by regular holidaymakers.
“Ironically the expensive memberships that once shielded timeshare owners from ‘holidays from hell’ have trapped them in some of the least acceptable holiday conditions available in modern times.”
I want to break free
If the above sounds familiar, or describes your situation, get in touch with the experts at ECC to discuss your options regarding relinquishing your timeshare membership. If you fit certain conditions you may even be entitled to compensation from your resort.
- Feet in the desert. Timeshare industry giants disappearing into history
- European Consumer Claims
- ECC contact page
- Do you qualify for timeshare compensation? A quick guide:
- Is timeshare good value?
- Timeshare manipulation tactics. How people are influenced to buy on the day
- Out of control timeshare maintenance fee hikes: A case study interview
- Is timeshare a thing of the past?
- Timeshare owners running out of options as cost of living crisis worsens
- Book your timeshare holiday…. on Booking.com
- Timeshare claims. Is the reward worth the effort, money and time?
- Timeshare resorts slashing services and facilities as they cease sales operations
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
First published on MyNewsDesk December 2022