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UK European Consumer Centre

Surge in complaints about leisure credit schemes

UKECC place to staysays consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre

 

UK consumers are being urged to be aware of the growth in complaints about leisure credit schemes which fall outside the recently revised timeshare and holiday products legislation.

 

This emerging trend came to light as the consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) looked at new products and schemes that have been developed by some traders in the two years since the implementation of the EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) in 2011.

 

Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) Director, said: “This new product of a leisure credit scheme falls outside the revised legislation. The product tends to proliferate in popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Malta.

 

"We want to draw consumers' attention to the fact that this product is not covered by the EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) and that consumers need to be aware that they do not have the protection given by this legislation if they enter into contracts for this type of product. Consumers should understand that they will have no cancellation rights, cooling-off period, deposits or consumer information rights under this legislation."

 

Complaints to the UK European Consumer Centre about leisure credit schemes rose by 140% in the year to the end of March 2013 compared to the previous year (year to the end of March 2012). There were 60 complaints in the year to the end of March 2013, compared to 25 complaints in the year to the end of March 2012.

 

In leisure credit schemes, credits are sometimes bought outright or represent a product discount. Normally one-off purchases, the credits can cost consumers up to £15,000 and can then be exchanged for leisure products such as holiday accommodation, spa days and theatre trips. Hallmarks of these schemes can include:

·        being verbally sold as a way of offloading or trading-in a timeshare or holiday club membership,

·        when consumers have second thoughts they can find themselves unable to cancel their contracts.

 

Mr Allen added: "The Directive is intended to give the best protection in the modern holiday market and give all consumers across Europe equal protection. Whilst the legislation extended consumer protection throughout the EU in the field of timeshares and holiday clubs by giving minimum standards in more areas, there are now new loopholes and weaknesses and we are seeing complaints about these coming through. Consumers need to be aware of these restrictions; that's why we want to highlight this."

 

The UK European Consumer Centre has just produced a leaflet called 'Timeshares and holiday products – what you should know', published on the UK ECC website.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

 

Leisure credit schemes

 

Credits are sometimes bought outright or represent a product discount. Normally one-off purchases, the credits can cost consumers up to £15,000 and can then be exchanged for leisure products such as holiday accommodation, spa days and theatre trips. Hallmarks of these schemes can include: being verbally sold as a way of offloading or trading-in a timeshare or holiday club membership, when consumers have second thoughts they can find themselves unable to cancel their contracts.

 

Complaints about leisure credit schemes rose by 140% in the year to the end of March 2013 compared to the previous year (the year to the end of March 2012). There were 25 complaints in the year to the end of March 2012 compared to 60 in the year to the end of March 2013.

 

 

One-year holiday club contracts

 

One-year holiday club contracts have also emerged as a growing product since the since the implementation of the EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) in 2011. With high front-loaded costs, these contracts are renewable on an annual basis (effectively making them a longer product) and therefore fall outside the revised EU Timeshare Directive legislation. Consumers who fail to renew can lose their higher initial cost.

 

 

EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC)

 

The EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) was introduced (implemented in 2011) to give minimum standards for consumer protection throughout the EU in four separate timeshare and holiday products areas not previously covered by the 1994 timeshare legislation: specific timeshare products, longer-term products such as holiday clubs, resale of timeshare or holiday club memberships, and also exchange services. The Directive applies to contracts where a consumer pays for a service concluded in an EU state, or related to any accommodation in an EU state, or entered into by a trader who conducts business in an EU state. It aims to prevent “pressure selling” by allowing a 14-day cooling-off period where withdrawal is possible and money deposits are not allowed. The rules apply to all forms of holiday accommodation, including boats and other moveable property such as cruise ships, canal boats and caravans.

 

For further information please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 08456 08 96 06.

 

 

·        UK European Consumer Centre consumer complaint line – 08456 04 05 03

 

The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres covering Europe, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

 

UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.

 

UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the European Commission.

 

The UK ECC service is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute (www.tsi.org.uk)

 

Media queries should sent to ecc@tsi.org.uk or by phone on 08456 08 96 06.

 

·        The UK ECC provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK and will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

 

·        Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.

 

·        If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for pre-purchasing advice: www.ukecc-services.net



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