How resorts use the timeshare exchange system to keep owners on the hook for future purchases.
The advent of points-based memberships (more on those here) gave timeshare reps another trick to use in their presentations: the global timeshare exchange system. Rather than buying a share of an apartment to use at a certain time, you instead purchase a quantity of points that can be traded for a stay at your home resort. So, for example, buying 10000 points will get you a week in a one bedroom apartment in June.
It is then explained that pretty much all resorts around the world use the same system. So, you can use your points for a timeshare exchange to a stay in resorts everywhere, rather than being tethered to your home resort. Just find something within your points total & off you go!
You are then bombarded with images & videos of glamorous resorts around the world. Imagine having the freedom to book into any of these with the click of a button! The amount of points needed isn’t shown, but of course, you’ve already been convinced of the marvelous quality of the (usually Spanish) resort that you are touring. Who wouldn’t want to stay in such luxurious surroundings? Your points must have a fantastic exchange value! Sold!
When the time comes to book your next holiday, you excitedly log onto your timeshare exchange provider’s website, dreaming of a week in Disney World or Hawaii. What follows next is a sharp reality check. Pretty much everything you like the look of costs far more points than you own. Turns out that your membership isn’t *quite* as valuable as the salesperson implied…
Disappointed, you settle for another week in Tenerife instead. During your stay, the resort’s in-house sales rep suggests meeting for a catch-up over breakfast. You agree, because you want to ask them if there has been some sort of mistake. Surely your five star resort can’t have less value than a dated-looking four star in Orlando, right? Plus, there’s a free fry-up in it for you.
And here’s where it starts…
Over bacon and eggs, the salesperson runs through the points system with you again, explaining that, as you were clearly told when you purchased your membership, all resorts have a fixed points value. You didn’t seriously think that you can use your 10000 points to exchange for a 30000 point holiday, did you?
When you ask why your resort is worth so little, the rep explains that whilst there is no doubt as to the amazing standard of the resort, it is one amongst a great number of other resorts in the local area. Sadly, this means that your resort is worth fewer points, as there is always high availability in the region.
Luckily for you, the salesperson has a solution! If you buy another 20000 points, not only can you take that trip to Florida, but you can also use your fabulous home resort for a whole three weeks a year when you don’t want to exchange. What a bargain!
Of course, when next year rolls around and you’re finally set up with enough points to start jetting off around the world, you then discover that there is rarely any availability anywhere that you want to stay.
So, back to Tenerife, it is… And unsurprisingly, your rep has an idea! Why not buy another 10000 or so points? That ought to fix things, as you can book into the higher end resorts, or larger-sized apartments that other customers do not have enough points for. And don’t forget, you’ll have an extra week in sunny Tenerife!
This is a classic example of one of the longer cons in the timeshare industry. The sales rep obviously knew full well when they showed you all of those fabulous destinations that your initial points membership wouldn’t be getting you a timeshare exchange much further than the resort next door. And yes, they were almost certainly aware of the availability issues as well.
But if they’d told you how many points you were actually likely to need at the beginning, you’d never have been willing to be spend that amount of money in one go. Once you’re on the hook, it’s much easier to persuade you to spend more over time.
And now, with many countries still having travel restrictions still in place and a lot of people still reluctant to venture overseas, many owners are finding themselves paying ridiculous amounts of annual maintenance fees for points that they aren’t even using and are unable to give back to the resort, as they are tied into a long-term contract.
Are you stuck paying for timeshare exchange points that you can’t use?
As has been previously covered in our news section, timeshare points ownerships that are not linked to an actual property or specific week number within a resort have actually been illegal since January 1999, following a ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court. Furthermore, owners who have found themselves in situations like the one described above have an excellent case to claim compensation from their resorts, as the actual value of their timeshare exchange points was not made clear during the initial purchase, which means that they were mis-sold.
If you feel this applies to you, please contact our team professional Claims Advisors for a free consultation. Our experts will assess your contract and situation, so that you know exactly where you stand. Alternatively, you can also use our compensation calculator on the link below to check how much you may be entitled to.