Nobody involved in the timeshare industry wants to become acquainted with scammers or unscrupulous types looking to fleece you of your cash. Yet how can you tell if you are being ripped off, and at what point do alarm bells start to ring? Many people are lured to timeshare presentations, where amenable hosts may tempt you with gifts and offers that sound very appealing. Before you know it, eager sales representatives may have persuaded you to sign up to a timeshare or holiday club agreement.

If high-pressure sales tactics were employed to make you sign an agreement, it can be really hard to say no in such situations. If you signed up and feel unhappy or uncomfortable afterwards, how do you know if the company was operating legitimately, and is there anything you can do if you find yourself in this situation?

Fortunately, there are rules and laws governing the buying and selling of timeshare and holiday club agreements. If these have not been followed, then a company may have broken the law.

If it was not made clear at any timeshare presentation that this was a commercial event, then the company was not operating legally. Equally, if the company told you that the timeshare or holiday club agreement was an investment, or used false or misleading information, in order to get you to sign up, then it was not following the stipulated rules and regulations. Most importantly, if you felt pressurised to sign up, then the company may have broken the law.

What can you do then if you find yourself in this situation? A lot depends on where you signed your agreement. If this took place in the UK, you could take action against the company under the Consumer Protection Act from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. If you signed in another European country, you can report the company to the European Consumer Centre.

When you sign an agreement that is covered by timeshare regulations, you are given a cooling-off period, usually of about 14 days, which means that you are legally entitled to cancel it within this period if you change your mind. In some instances, a cooling-off period can be extended if you were not given adequate information or informed about your right to cancel.

If you signed an agreement that is now outside the cooling-off period, but you still think the company misled you, you may still be able to get out of the agreement.

In such circumstances, it is crucial to speak to an expert organisation who can offer advice about how best to handle the situation going forward. Whether you are looking to invest in timeshare for the first time, or have decided ‘now is the time to sell my timeshare’, understanding your rights and entitlements within the governing laws and regulations will ensure the process is carried out as smoothly as possible.