Timeshare contracts give you the right to use an accomodation for a minimum period of three years and for a fixed time period within the year. The accomodation is often an apartment, a hotel room or a cabin on a cruise ship. During the remainder of the year, other people can use this same accomodation. The Holiday Clubs offer similar contracts but they last less than 36 months.
The main difference between these two types of contracts is the legal protection for contractors. Contracts of less than 36 months with no fixed vacation weeks don’t allow you to invoke EU Directive 94/47/EC of 26 October 1994 regulating timeshare contracts. You will therefore not have a right to retract.
Methods of sale
Even if there are serious professionals, vendors of timeshare contracts are often singled out for their misleading and aggressive sales methods.
The pattern is usually always the same: on their holiday destination, tourists (preferably northern middle-aged European couples) are invited to participate in a lottery. Needless to say, they will win the big prize. The lucky winners are invited to attend a reception in a beautiful resort where they will be exposed for several hours to real pressure in order to sign a timeshare contract.
Exchange and resale
Many owners of timeshare contracts want to resell or to exchange their contracts because of the related costs and the sometimes disappointing service quality.
If you are in such a situation, be very careful. There is no resale market for timeshare contracts and very few opportunities for exchange exist. Some fraudulent companies contact timeshare owners in order to resell the contract. The owners have to pay a certain sum of money for fees etc. Most of the time, the company pockets those fees but never resells the contract!
A new European directive
The European Union revised Directive 94/47/EC of 26 October 1994 on the protection of purchasers in respect of certain aspects of contracts relating to the purchase of the right to use immovable properties on a timeshare basis and adopted the new Directive 2008/122/EC which has been implemented by 23 February 2011 in the national laws of member countries of the European Union. These new directives intend to regulate the “new practices” that circumvent the existing rules on timeshare contracts.