How timeshare worked out for two buyers

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The Independent Online
Graham Wild, 53, a retired accountant from Southport, regularly holidays with his family at the Windermere Marina Village in the Lake District

"There were many reasons why we decided to go with this development. We've had a life-long love of the Lake District, and know the area well, and there was no pressure from over-enthusiastic sales staff when we made enquiries. The staff were helpful, well-informed and courteous - and would discuss any concerns we brought up.

It is important to look at our timeshare as a long-term investment in leisure - one shouldn't lay too much emphasis on future capital value - and to make sure the investment is protected by good management. There is an excellent management committee at Windermere, which endeavours to improve standards of service and accommodation, and the views of owners can be discussed face-to-face with them.

The appeal of timeshare for me was the idea of a planned holiday every year until 2040: you know it's always there if you haven't time to make plans in advance. The accommodation and furnishing are of a very high standard, and you've no responsibility for maintaining property or security thanks to the on-site management. For families in particular, it's a very nice way - while the children are growing up - of keeping everyone together. My children, who are 19 and 24, still want to come with me and my wife."

Susan Portch, 44, who handles airline reservations at Heathrow Airport, has owned a timeshare in Malta for nine years. Last year she tried to sell it in order to buy a new timeshare in Lanzarote.

"We'd exchanged weeks quite often during the past, and last August we went to a beach club in Lanzarote. While we were there, we were courted by a salesman who said that a new complex was going to be built adjacent to the existing one, in which units were already for sale. We went to a promotional talk, at which special pre-construction prices were offered to whet our appetites, and we made an appointment to meet with the sales people.

We said that we wanted to sell our timeshare in Malta, and the sales team valued the existing property at pounds 5,300 a week, if we wanted a sale within six months. We were promised that if our timeshare wasn't sold in that time, the money we had put down as a deposit on new weeks in Lanzarote would be returned. We were quoted pounds 15,000 as a price for the new timeshare, and paid a deposit of pounds 5,500 on two credit cards.

I picked up on a clause in the contract which stated that 'completion of purchase made today is not conditional upon the resale of any other holiday property we own', but we were reassured that we would get our money back even if the resale of our Malta timeshare didn't go through.

On further examination of the contract it transpired that we would, indeed, only get our deposit back when the beach club weeks we would have bought were sold on. The next day I worried the whole thing was a scam, and tried to cancel the credit card payments, but we had to honour them. We'd put around pounds 500 on one card, which we've lost for good, and pounds 5,000 on the other, which is currently in a credit card dispute system - this is a battle I'm still fighting.

Timeshare has been cleaned up a lot, but obviously this kind of problem continues. My advice is that if you want to do a resale, find out what the timeshare is worth from the home resort, or through a reputable resale company. We eventually found that the true value of our Malta timeshare was pounds 1,900 a week, as opposed to pounds 5,300 - the sales people in Lanzarote had given us an exaggerated value in order to make us think we were getting a good deal."

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