Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE WON A FREE HOLIDAY


West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is warning consumers about bogus holiday clubs offering free holidays.


Anyone can be approached on the phone by someone telling them they have won a free holiday – all they have to do is attend an exclusive VIP presentation. Often people are then subjected to a long, high- pressure sales pitch and the free holiday rarely turns out to be free by the time non-refundable administration charges, supplements and taxes are added. You may also have to go somewhere you do not want to go to at a time that does not suit you.


Holiday clubs are marketed as a flexible alternative to timeshare, promising a lifetime of discounted luxury holidays anywhere in the world. Some are reputable businesses that trade in good faith. But others are promising far more than they deliver. At a cost of thousands of pounds, customers may only be buying access to a booking service such as a website or phone number.


It seems West Yorkshire residents are currently being targeted for a series of presentations at Leeds hotels. The warning from Trading Standards is to approach any offers with caution. Consumers can contact the Helpline on 0113 3848 848 if they have been invited to such a presentation or would like a leaflet with further information.
Unscrupulous clubs often only provide last minute, limited availability accommodation that is usually low star rather than luxury. With the addition of expensive flights, supplements and taxes, it could end up costing more than holidays booked through normal routes. By the time someone who signs up decides to book a holiday, the holiday club company could be out of business.


Timeshare law does not cover Holiday Clubs. This means there are no automatic cancellation rights for those who change their minds. Bogus holiday club companies exploit this by employing high-pressure sales techniques such as long presentations – lasting as long as six hours – to get customers to sign a binding contract. With promises of a once in a lifetime opportunity, dream holidays for life and, special one-day only offers or cashback, it can be tempting to sign up. But with no cooling-off period, people should always take the contract away to consider in the cool light of day before signing.


Councillor Graham Clarke, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said:

“Unscrupulous holiday club companies prey on people’s aspirations – cheap luxury holidays for life are a very attractive prospect. But they often don’t deliver what they promise and consumers are left thousands of pounds of out pocket. It is important that people are not pressurised into signing these contracts before they’ve had a chance to consider them properly”.


Martin Wood, West Yorkshire Chief Trading Standards Officer said, “There are respectable holiday club companies but unfortunately there are also many unscrupulous ones. It is important that consumers are aware some deals may be too good to be true.“
The OFT advice to consumers is:

· Don’t go to the presentation
· If you do go to the presentation – don’t sign anything there and then. If you can’t take the contract away to think about it walk away
· Check if the company is offering cancellation rights and that they are written down – if you’re not happy with the cancellation terms walk away.
· Check all verbal claims made in the presentation are included in the contract – if not walk away.

For further information please contact:

Paul Smith Principal Officer 0113 2898219
Derek Harding Trading Standards Officer 0113 2898278
Carol Hallett General Media Contact 0113 383 6431