Holiday Complaints Soar While Timeshares Plummet

By: Club La Costa

While complaints from holidaymakers have trebled this year, according to the UK consumer watchdog HolidayTravelWatch, those for timeshare have dramatically decreased.

HolidayTravelWatch issued a warning about the rise in complaints received, many regarding poor health and hygiene standards at holiday hotels and resorts.

During the crucial 10-week summer holiday period, HolidayTravelWatch provided 22 'Call to Arms' on its website (a facility which helps complaining holidaymakers promote their claim or band with other complainants). This compares to the more normal six to eight occurring in a similar period.

Timeshare, with 1.45 million owners in Europe, now attracts very few complaints. European Consumer Centres reported only 20 in total for the whole of the first half of 2006, according to the industry body the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE).

The fall has been dramatic over the last five years and is 61 per cent lower than in 2002 when VOICE, a joint venture between OTE and the Association of Timeshare Owners Committees (TATOC) was formed. As a result, VOICE will now close as of 31st December. Conversely, Frank Brehany, managing director of HolidayTravelWatch, said: 'This has to be one of the worst summers we have dealt with since the mid 1990s... So much for cheap holidays abroad!'

Among the issues reported to his organisation were electric shocks, acid burns and even rats in hotel swimming pools, health & hygiene issues, being put in unfinished accommodation and even complainants being dealt with in sinister fashion, such as being followed by security staff.

Leading timeshare company Club La Costa, with over 50,000 member families and 22 owned and managed resorts in mainland Spain, Tenerife, Austria and the UK, receives complaints from fewer than 1 per cent of its membership and prides itself on its quality management. 'In a perfect world we would prefer no complaints but inevitably there are occasions when something goes wrong and we work to put it right. We encourage member feedback to ensure we continue to improve our services,' said Guy Mantel, Director of Club Operations and Travel. Branded product, highly maintained resorts and service reliability are cited as key reasons for its success.

An on-line survey of European timeshare owners by OTE*, with more than 30,000 respondents, found 96 per cent rated timeshare over other self catering holidays and 97 per cent said it was as good as or better than hotels. Some 83 per cent were completely happy about their purchase and cited guarantee of quality, destination choices and range of facilities and services as among their reasons for buying.

While many timeshare companies continue to sell timeshares based on ownership of weeks at specific resorts, points-based products, such as Club La Costa's Vacation Club, which allows owners enhanced flexibility - such as choice of dates, resorts and upgrades - are rapidly rising in popularity.

OTE is clear to distinguish legitimate and regulated timeshare, such as that sold by its members, from fraudulent holiday clubs, which attract many complaints.

OTE is the pan-European trade association representing the timeshare industry throughout Europe. It promotes best practice in the industry for the benefit of both consumers and the industry. All members are bound by a code of ethics that ensures the protection of consumers' rights. OTE provides information and advice to consumers and offers a free conciliation service to consumers dealing with its members.

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