Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Did we have a lucky escape from a timeshare scam?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 12 August 2013
Q We recently fell for an old scam to attend a presentation by a company selling a “holiday club” deal in Tenerife. Fortunately we decided to do our due diligence rather than sign on the day. We asked for a business card and some telephone numbers of existing clients as well as an email documenting what we had been told. None of this was forthcoming. Did we have a lucky escape?
A Well, some would say your mistake was to get involved at all with the touts who prey on holidaymakers in the Canary Islands and other popular destinations. They no longer sell “real” timeshare, since this industry is now tightly regulated. What instead they mostly deal with are “holiday clubs” where you are promised all manner of benefits in return for several thousand pounds.
The hard sell is done very skilfully, with nothing written down – just inflated promises of access to illusory hidden deals. The firms involved generally secure a deposit, and a signature from the buyer, and then pursue the balance – with no “cooling-off” period allowed.
You certainly took the right precautions in postponing a decision. If only everyone was as sensible as you in performing due diligence during these presentations, there would be far fewer sad stories about people squandering a fortune on worthless products.
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