Would-be holiday-makers are being warned about bogus holiday clubs during a day of action in airports in the UK and Spain. Almost 400,000 UK consumers fall victim to bogus holiday clubs every year, at a cost of more than £1billion.
During Scamnesty 2011, the Office of Fair Trading wants to raise awareness about holiday club scams while families flock to airports for the half term holidays.
They will be copying the tactics used by bogus holiday club touts by handing out fake holiday club scratchcards at airports including Bristol, Dundee, Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay and Stansted. The fake scratchcards ask ‘Have you won a luxury holiday?’ but when scratched warn consumers about a lengthy sales presentation and high costs for membership to a bogus holiday club.
What are bogus holiday clubs?
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 promise far more than they deliver. For instance, although membership can cost thousands of pounds, what people may be buying is purely access to a booking service such as a website or phone number.
In some cases people will pay for membership of a holiday club, or buy a holiday, only to find that neither the holiday nor company exists.
New holiday club consumer rights in Europe
The warning comes as consumers' rights across Europe are increased from 23 February 2011 to give people new protections if they do purchase membership to a holiday club. The new protections include:
- a 14 day cooling off period during which the buyer can withdraw from the contract without any penalty
- the seller cannot ask for, or accept, any money from the consumer during the cooling off period
- written information in the consumer's preferred language setting out information about the holiday club
- written notice of the right to cancel the contract and a cancellation form
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