Leisure Credit Schemes

 

As per European Consumer Assistants, TESS Paralegal Service Ltd, The Timeshare Association, The Citizens Advice Bureaux, The Consumer Association and many others...

UK consumers are being urged to be aware of the growth in complaints regarding the infamous Leisure Credit schemes, which are likely to fall outside the recently revised Timeshare and Holiday Products Legislation.

This emerging trend came to light as the consumer advice organisation ‘UK European Consumer Centre’ (UK ECC) looked at new products and schemes that have been developed by some timeshare traders in the two years since the implementation of the EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) in 2011.

Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) Director, stated:

“This new product of a Leisure Credit scheme falls outside the revised legislation. The product tends to proliferate in popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Malta”.

"We want to draw consumers' attention to the fact that this product is not covered by the EU Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) and that consumers need to be aware that they do not have the protection given by this legislation if they enter into contracts for this type of product. Consumers should understand that they will have no cancellation rights, cooling-off period, deposits or consumer information rights under this legislation."

Complaints about Leisure Credit schemes rose by 140% in the year to the end of March 2013 compared to the previous year (year to the end of March 2012) and today two major operators have or are in the process of being taking taken to court over aggressive sales practise, cohesion and mis-selling. There were thousands of complainants in the year to the end of March 2016, compared to hundreds in 2013/14.

In Leisure Credit schemes, credits are sometimes bought outright or represent a product discount. Normally one-off purchases, the credits can cost consumers up to £15,000 and can then be exchanged for leisure products such as holiday accommodation, spa days and theatre trips. Hallmarks of these schemes can include:

  • Credits being verbally sold as a way of offloading a timeshare re-sale or holiday club membership
  • When consumers have second thoughts, they can find themselves unable to cancel their contracts or re-sell the credits

The Directive was intended to give the best protection in the modern holiday market and give all consumers across Europe equal protection. Whilst the legislation extended consumer protection throughout the EU in the field of timeshares and holiday clubs by giving minimum standards in more areas, there are now new loopholes and weaknesses and we are seeing complaints about these coming through.