Consumer body warns sun seekers of holiday club fraudsters

SUNSEEKERS jetting off on holidays are being warned at airports about the dangers of bogus holiday clubs which have already ripped off Irish tourists to the tune of €525,000 this year.

Holiday-makers are now being directly targeted by the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in a bid to prevent more people being caught out by fraudsters promising exotic trips to the sun at a fraction of the cost.

People travelling from Cork and Dublin airports to Spain and Portugal will be able to pick up a leaflet warning them to steer clear of all holiday club promotions and offers while they are on their break.

Holiday clubs offer luxury holidays at knockdown prices to club members. In theory, club members can enjoy trips around the world at rock bottom prices and even get their money back when their contract ends. According to the ECC, however, the reality is consumers just get ripped off.

Since January of this year the ECC has received 326 queries from worried consumers about holiday clubs, with losses in excess of €525,000.

Most people lose an average of 7,000, but one person who complained to the ECC lost a massive €38,000 “Our reason for visiting Cork airport is to tell holiday-makers that holiday clubs are scams,” ECC manager Tina Leonard said. “You will only lose money and probably give yourself heartache if you sign up.”

Spain and Portugal in particular are destinations where holiday club representatives scout for business.

Ms Leonard is advising people that if someone approaches them in the resort with a scratch card and this reveals a prize, they should walk away. No holiday club will give you value for money as they are not covered by the EU Timeshare Directives. If you sign up to a holiday club the chance of getting your money back is very slim. If we can stop holiday-makers from signing in the first place we can save them money,” Ms Leonard said.

“Our advice is simple: stay away from all holiday clubs. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.” There are currently 75 cases being investigated by the consumers’ rights organisation of Irish people, usually couples, who have been ripped off by holiday clubs The number of cases under investigation is more than double last year’s total of 30 The ECC can be contacted at 01 8090600 or at www.ecic.ie.

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