How many times have we in this industry thought this I wonder? Are we about to experience one such moment next week? What on earth am I going on about (I do wonder myself).
Over the last few months, we have watched claims companies here in the UK and also in Spain, as PPI business here in the UK winds down, look for other sources of business and have turned their attention to timeshare as a possible source of income. The Claims Working Group has pulled together remarkably well as Eugene Miskelly said at the conference, reacting rapidly to changing tactics by the companies and issuing guidance to members on how to deal with them. We all know on that Group – as do those handling the claims for developers, that most of these cases are not about misrepresentation at the time of purchase etc. but about timeshare owners who having enjoyed their use of the product – often over many years – but now need to exit the product and perceiving and I emphasise that word “perceiving” – that they have no way of getting out.
Members know this is not the case and that already we have requirements in place allowing exit in cases where age, infirmity, death and bankruptcy are involved. We also know that the likes of ITRA, Eze Group and the so-called TCA, prey on the fact that many owners remain unaware of this or that they only have to contact their developer to discuss the situation to achieve a surrender of their week, let alone go to an RDO member resale company to re-sell their week for value.
So clearly we need to do more, and at the meeting on 7th November, the Board will consider the proposals of the Exit Working Group for new more relaxed exit conditions to be adopted by all RDO members. The Working Group, under the chairmanship of David Clarke from Seasons, has been beavering away since late spring on this issue and come up with some very practical and workable (we believe) recommendations. These will be considered next week and we hope, approved. It was however heartening at the Conference to hear no voices rose against the proposal to make exit easier.
Whilst RDO does not represent the whole timeshare industry in the EU, it does represent the vast majority of current sales of timeshare in this region and it is inevitable that once RDO members adopt these recommendations, it is going to become increasingly difficult for others to resist.
That is not to say that RDO should turn its back on those owner-run resorts who will struggle to take back weeks. We need to and will continue to work closely with TATOC in this area to help find solutions to those resorts that have an ageing demographic and no or little new owners coming in, so there is much still to be done.
Are things about to change? I believe so – we have a long way to go and how we publicise these new guidelines once approved, is still to be decided. What is important though is that we will have emphatically started to change things and that will also mean that the ambulance chasers and fraudsters will start to see all their potential profit opportunities disappear – back to the drawing board boys!