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Your Location: Timeshare Users Group Advice: Timeshare Consumers Assoc. of the UK    |updated: 1/14/08

Timeshare Consumers Association of the U.K. (TCA)
Article submitted by:
Bruce Bailey

All too often these days we hear the phrase 'quality time' on radio or T.V., by which is meant the precious time you share with your nearest and dearest.

But there is another way of sharing time and that is by purchasing a timeshare flat, lodge, bungalow, narrow boat, whatever, which you share with 50 or so other families during the year.    The concept is now widely understood but the very word 'timeshare' makes the vast majority of the population shudder.  Visions of scantily clad youths pestering you to attend "short" presentations while you are on your well-earned annual holiday abroad are immediately brought to mind.   Or perhaps your particular 'hate' about the timeshare industry is the telephone call you receive when you have just settled down for the evening and a sweet young thing announces herself as 'Michelle' or 'Tracey'. She assures you she is just doing a short market survey, which in the end proves to be a pressing invitation to a timeshare presentation in a nearby hotel where you will be awarded a valuable prize just for attending - or so she promises.    It has been termed the 'unloved' industry, yet last year the
timeshare industry contributed 110 million to the U.K. economy and now employs some 6,000 people.

Happily legislation in both the U.K. and parts of Western Europe has done away with most of the bad practices which formerly dogged the purchase of timeshare. Along with the 300,000 or more British families who own at U.K. and continental resorts, one can now begin to get past the brash approaches of the past and appreciate the many benefits of owning timeshare.

Principal amongst these benefits must rank the undoubtedly luxurious standards of accommodation which timeshare offers. The timeshare resort may be situated in beautiful grounds, on the seashore or in a mountain region.  You arrive at your destination to find your suite or lodge cleaned and ready for occupation with beds made up with spotless linen, your refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher sparkling clean and ready for use, and everything supplied (except food), down to J-Cloths and washing up liquid. If you occupy the suite for the same week, year after year, you probably become friendly with other families who come for the same week

Should you get tired of going to the same place year after year, there are several exchange organisations, which will arrange holidays for you in most parts of the world at any time of the year.

Are there any drawbacks to this more favourable picture?

YES, there can be two major ones. The first is the Management Charge - that fee you pay annually to the Management Company to cover the outgoings of your resort and their own fee for that management. All too often these Management Agreements are on a 'cost-plus' basis which gives no incentive to the Management Company to keep those costs down. In theory the Committee of the Resort Owners' Club, if there is one, runs the resort in tandem with the Management Company, but in practice it is invariably the Management Company that holds the purse strings.

The second major area of concern is that which arises when, due to your personal circumstances - perhaps your children have grown up and no longer wish to join you on a family holiday or you have lost your job - you wish to sell your timeshare.  It is very difficult to sell your week or weeks to other people, particularly when the Developer still has weeks of his own to sell.

Because the homes of the timeshare owners are scattered throughout the U.K. or are in a different country altogether from the resort, it is often difficult to attend Annual General Meetings or to get in touch with fellow members. Frustration results when it is felt that Management Fees are too high or it is difficult to sell your week.

With all the above in mind the Timeshare Consumers' Association was set up in the U.K. in September 1997 to help these people and the general public understand the Timeshare Industry throughout Europe and to be the authoritative voice of timeshare owners living in the U.K.
The Association is completely independent of Developers and Management Companies, and is non-profit making.

With a high profile, active role on behalf of timeshare consumers, it aims to redress the imbalance in bargaining power between developers and owners and to promote and improve the public concept of timeshare. Giving owners more say in their resorts and helping turn the industry into the highly respected form of holidaying it has every right to be.

The TCA actively supports the interests of buyers and owners of timeshare living in the U.K. by: -

* Providing guidance on buying, owning and selling to enable Timesharers to get the maximum enjoyment from the holiday ownership. This guidance includes warnings about some of the less desirable aspects prevalent within the industry. Buyers can learn from the experiences of others and not to make the same mistakes.

* Obtaining publicity for the positive, beneficial aspects of timesharing. There is still a marked reluctance within the media to promote timesharing as a respectable industry and the TCA believes that the media will be more willing to listen to consumers rather than developers.

* Acting as a conduit between owners and legislators to ensure that owners are given all the help they need to pursue any problems.

To date the TCA has: -

* Published a Guide to Timeshare, a Code of Conduct for Committee Members and a Code of Conduct for Timeshare Resellers and has established contacts with Government Departments and also runs an Advice and Help Service for members which, currently, is mainly telephone and letter based..

* Produced a Code of Conduct for Trade organisations identifying the best practices for selling and management of resorts. Trade organisations may be affiliated members of the TCA and must adhere to this code.

* Generated links, where possible, with the U.K. media. Some members of the press are now recognising the contribution the TCA is giving to the consumer and the association is now mentioned among the travel pages as the authority to approach for expert advice

* Constructed a site on the Internet at  http://www.timeshare.org.uk

* Created the facility, free of charge, for resort clubs to have their own web pages so that they can more easily communicate with their members.

* Organised members' timeshare rental advertising service.

This is an organisation that has long been needed in the U.K. to look after the interests of the individual timeshare owner.

Membership is available for a fee of just 10 and a low annual subscription of 5  (Life Membership is available for the 10 membership fee plus 25). It could be money well spent for those timeshare owners living in the U.K., whether their "home resort" is in Britain or abroad.

Timeshare Consumers Association, Hodsock, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England. S81 OTF
Tel/Fax +44 1909 591100.  E-mail: tca@netcomuk.co.uk

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