Timeshare owners pay an annual fee towards the maintenance of their resort, irrespective of whether they choose to holiday at their ‘home’ resort or use the exchange system to holiday elsewhere. The fee typically covers cleaning, maintenance, staff salaries, taxes, insurance, energy supplies and the operation of any common facilities eg swimming pools, spas, children’s play areas, tennis courts, golf courses, restaurants and cafes. A portion of the management fee is set aside to build up reserves to pay for non-recurring costs such as furniture and appliances.
At this stage it is too early to assess the impact of the pandemic on maintenance fees and whether adjustments can be made in 2021 to reflect the actual costs incurred for 2020. Whilst many resort staff were put on furlough during lockdown and operations wound down, core functions still had to be maintained and taxes and bills paid. Resorts also had to invest in new equipment and extensive staff training to ensure they were Covid-secure and in line with strict government protocols when they reopened.
Customer satisfaction is paramount and RDO members have made it their priority to look after owners who have been unable to take their timeshare holidays during lockdown, offering them alternative holiday options. This is administratively complicated and time consuming but our members are rising to the challenge.
We are additionally concerned at reports from owners of unsolicited contact by people purporting to be representatives of ‘consumer organisations’ and are advising them to report such approaches to Citizens Advice so that checks can be made and, where appropriate, actions can be taken.
Subject to certain conditions under the Code of Conduct, owners may surrender their timeshare at any time. All RDO members sign up to the Code, as well as an independent mediation and arbitration scheme, both of which provide customers with levels of protection over and above those required by law.