Since January 1999, when Law 42/98 came into force, many timeshare companies continued to sell their product as they had before, this all change when these laws were challenged and the Supreme Court ruled on the definitive interpretation. This interpretation made many contracts illegal, especially on two main points, the duration of the contract was limited, allowing only for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years, the Supreme Court also ruled that floating weeks and points systems were also illegal as they lacked any substance or a tangible product.
The unfortunate thing is that many timeshare companies still sell floating weeks and points, one company Anfi, has added a week number and apartment number in an effort to get around this, but the courts still rule that it is floating as the contract actually states that. Others are using another ploy to get around Spain’s strict timeshare laws.
Inside Timeshare has received from one of our German readers a new contract that Marriott tried to get him to sign in May, to replace his existing contract for Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program.
This would not be a problem if it were to comply with the law as it applies to Spain, but as we explain it is not designed to do this, it is purely a way to circumvent the strict laws on duration, points and floating weeks.
What Marriott have done has already been tried with contracts sold by Diamond Resorts and Club la Costa, in the past these two companies have used UK, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands or other offshore havens and registered as Limited Companies. The contracts also have a clause which states that the laws of the United Kingdom and the Jurisdiction of UK courts applies. Even if the contract was sold, signed and paid for in Spain.
With the case of Marriott, they now use a United States Florida address on the contract, 6649 Westwood Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, 32821-6090. They have also included in the terms and conditions a very unfair clause, this relates to the possibility of taking any legal action against them. This clause is placed in section 8 on page 5 of the contract we have seen, below is a translation from the German contract.
“By joining this program, you waive your right, under applicable law, to go to court for any legal action or lawsuits that may be brought by or against MVCEC or its affiliates in any way as to its interpretation, design, validity, enforceability, or instruments, related to the program (including replacement procedures)”.
The original in German.
So what does this mean?
You as a purchaser will no longer have any recourse to take legal action against Marriott, when you find out that your contract is illegal in Spain and would be declared null and void in a Spanish Court.
This is obviously a blatant attempt to surpass the laws of Spain, which have been put into place to protect consumers from unfair contracts and purchases.
Points which are the basis of many timeshare contracts are illegal in Spain, but they are still legal elsewhere, the duration of the contract is limited to a maximum 50 years in Spain but perpetuity is still allowed elsewhere. By using this method to bypass the laws of the country where the purchase is made, does not protect the consumer. It goes back to lock them into never ending contracts and a points system that most find are unusable due to no availability.
This can be born out by many comments on various forums, below are just a couple found on Tripadvisor; (spelling mistakes are from the originals).
“Unless you live in the US, forget about investing in a Marriott timeshare. I have bought one weeks ownership in in the resort in Phuket. The resort as such is beautiful and it seems well managed. However if you dont want to go to your home-resort every year exchanging it through Interval becomes extremely difficult especially if you are looking at resorts outside the US. Interval has very few properties of similar standing in Europe or Asia, even the Marriott property in Marbella Spain is almost impossible to obtain in exchange.
I am so frustrated with the investment that iI am considering selling the ownership. Marriott offered my app. 15% of what I originally paid inspite of the fact that property prices in Thailand have gone up considerably. I can only say that buying ownershi at Marriott Vacation in Phuket was the worst investment I have ever made in my life.”
“It is difficult to give feedback on the use of it when the places you want to go are never available unless you book 13 months in advance. That is ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who books their vacations that far in advance. So, I’ve only used it once in Florida (Panama City Beach) which is on the bay side. It was nice, but not convenient being I wanted to be on the beach. I agree with the others, it’s not worth the money. I can stay in places just as nice for the $ and book closer to the date which is convenient for me.”
So for those who have in the past purchased in Spain, if your old contract shows that it was signed in Spain and indeed comes under Spanish law, you have a right to claim the purchase price back and have your contract declared null and void in a Spanish Court. If you sign the new contract you will lose this right, if you are a new purchaser, then the advice is don’t bother as you will have no consumer rights at all.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject or wish to know if your contract is illegal under Spanish law, then use our contact page and get in touch, we will get back to you as soon as possible.
In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot we publish yet another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this highlights their Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many such stories from Veterans, serving members of the military and law enforcement officers, some of these have been published others have just related their stories and asked for help. The author of tomorrow’s story has requested anonymity we have complied with their request. So join us again tomorrow.