The timeshare industry has had plenty of attention throughout the European Union, and has not gone unnoticed in Spain, where many resorts are located. Much press coverage has focused on the negative cases in the industry, stories of swindling and high pressure sales, but the stories might not end on an entirely sour note.
Because of the many consumer complaints associated with the industry, the European Union has improved regulations.
OTE (Organisation for Timeshare in Europe) changed its name to Resort Development Organisation (RDO) in 2009, it is a voluntary association of companies that agree to abide by a certain standard of ethics. .
In Andalucía, particularly on the Costa del Sol, there are both respected and highly "questionable" companies offering a variety of products. If you are considering a purchase in this sector, be advised of your rights under EU legislation, which has been incorporated by member states:
- After signing a contract, you have up to 10 days to "cool off", read over all materials and change your mind if you so choose. Should you change you mind, however, be sure you alert the company via fax and registered letter and save copies of every transaction. If you are in doubt of the true headquarters of the company, you may need help from a consumer specialist or lawyer in order to track down the proper address within the 10 day period.
- No deposit can be taken by the seller during the 10 day cooling off period.
- You might be required to pay the seller's legal fees if you change your mind during the 10 day cooling off period.
- The contract you sign must be written in the language of the EU member state in which you reside.
- Your contract must contain detailed information describing the property and explaining your rights.
- In the case that a contract that lacks the required information, you, the purchaser, have up to three months to revoke your decision.
- EU directives regulate products involving contracts of three or more years, so many "Holiday Packages" do not fall under this legislation and therefore, do not fall under the above guidelines.
If you are in doubt regarding a timeshare product, visit the RDO website to check the list of member companies, which must adhere to the organisation's code of ethics regardless of whether their products involve three year contracts or one week holiday packages.
As a final word of advice, don't make any hasty decisions regarding property purchase. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. You can be sure that a reputable firm will allow you to take your time, consult your lawyer and only sign when you are sure that everything is in order.