Many consumers regret signing timeshare contracts


Think twice before you accept an offer to buy into a timeshare or holiday club. That is the common message from the ECC offices in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) have yearly contact with hundreds of Nordic consumers who regret the contract they signed during their resort vacation – a contract that later turns out to be more or less impossible to get out off.

– A common feature to the inquiries we receive about timeshare is that the contracts are vague and difficult to understand. Sometimes not even the consumer knows what type of shared accommodations they have bought, and in some cases several different companies are involved in the documentation, says Jolanda Girzl who is head of the Swedish ECC offices.

Most problems is located to Spain

More than a thousand consumers have contacted the ECC offices in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in the past three years because of problems with different types of holiday accommodation. Just in Sweden the number of cases sums up to more than 500. On average, consumers have paid 3500 euros for their membership, and some as much as 8000 euros.

The consumers who contact the ECC are often wealthy and middle-aged, and a overwhelming majority have experienced their problems in Spain. Many of the companies that market timeshare uses Scandinavian speaking staff, which adds credibility but also can make it more difficult to be critical as a consumer.

Difficulties getting your money back

While you legally have the opportunity to cancel a timeshare membership within 14 days, it may in fact prove to be very difficult. Some companies simply refuse to respond to requests, others refuse to refund the deposit and sometimes it happens that companies lie and claim that you can not repent at all.

– According to the timeshare directive, it is forbidden to demand payment within the withdrawal period of 14 days. If you as a consumer still was made to pay – and if the company you are dealing with is not cooperating – you can turn to your bank to get money back given that the payment was made by credit card, says Jolanda Girzl.

If you have experienced problems regarding timeshare in the EU, Norway or Iceland, please feel free to contact the European Consumer Centre, who can provide help and advice via the ECC office in the country where you concluded the contract.