As the summer holiday season comes around again, the thought of a permanent arrangement for discounted holidays in the sun could seem attractive, but take care! The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that there are many bogus ‘holiday clubs’ being marketed.
Holiday clubs are marketed as a more flexible and often lower cost alternative to timeshare ownership, offering worldwide holidays at attractive prices for life. However, warns the OFT, many of these offer little or no real benefit.
The OFT’s advice for avoiding being scammed is to beware any ‘cold call’ over the telephone or being approached whilst on holiday. Typically, a holiday resort tout will offer a free scratch card (all of which will be ‘winners’). To collect the prize, a presentation must be attended at which high-pressure sales tactics may well be used, or you may be lured by the ‘exclusivity’ of the offer.
Techniques used by bogus holiday clubs include:
- presentations that last so long that you are tempted to sign up just because you are desperate to leave;
- making sure you are not left alone to discuss anything with your partner and giving you a very limited time to view the contract; and
- telling you that they have made you a special discounted offer which is only valid for that day, placing you under pressure to sign on the spot.
In practice, many of the holidays that can be obtained after paying thousands of pounds for membership are the same as those which could be booked elsewhere without the need to belong to a holiday club.