By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker
November 27, 2016
Across the oceanic great divide, there is an alphabet soup of timeshare political lobby organizations. Are they on the side of the timeshare owner or on the side of the developer?
First off, who are they and what are they:
The RDO, or Resorts Development Organisation, is the trade association for the timeshare industry in Europe, its function is to ensure standards within the industry are maintained and that members abide by a code of conduct. These members fund the organisation with annual subscriptions, they also provide the board of directors, it is a self policing organisation, funded and controlled by the people who make their money selling the products.
The RDO says that it helps to protect the consumer, but as we know, it is their own members who have breached the timeshare laws, just look at the many cases being brought in Spain. The only protection they appear to offer consumers is constantly attacking any company offering a service who is not one of their members. They say you should only deal with RDO “accredited” companies, any other company who is not a member is likely to be a scam.
The press has highlighted in the past, many transgressions RDO members have perpetrated, MacDonald Resorts is just one. This company was the subject of several articles by the Award Winning Journalist Tony Hetherington, one was titled “The timeshare contract that even death will not save you from”. It followed the story of one owner who could not get out of her contract on the death of her husband. What did the RDO do, nothing.
They state one of their missions is to “Educate” journalists as they are ill informed on the subject, that the industry has been the victim of poorly researched articles. Yet these articles are highlighting the plight of their own members customers!
Another partner of the RDO is TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, as the name suggests they represent the owners committees, but how can they represent owners when they are also funded by the industry?
The current CEO, Harry Taylor is no stranger to the Industry, between 14 June 2007 and 18 June 2013, he was listed as a director with Diamond Resorts European Collection Ltd. The strange thing is he is also listed as being appointed director of TATOC at the same time, 23 January 2007. (See Company House PDF).
TATOC should be representing your rights, but we have seen on many occasions they have backed the plans of the resorts / developers themselves, again a case in point is MacDonald Resorts. There has been a move by this company to remove all fixed week owners into their points system, this has been resisted by many owners and is the subject of ongoing battles. Yet the advice from TATOC is to change to the points system, saying it will be better for them, backing MacDonald Resorts to the hilt at the expense of the people they say they represent.
It has been stated by Inside Timeshare many times, there does need to be dialogue between owners, resorts and developers, but the owners should be a separate voice, not one funded (run) by the industry. (See following link on trade associations inc, Tony Hetherington articles)
As for the “voluntary contributions” added to maintenance bills, this does not appear to be the case in Europe, so far we have not seen this and it is possible it would be highly contested if it were to be introduced.
ARDA and ARDA ROC
Timeshare owners worldwide who own a timeshare in the US may pay more attention to ARDA ROC’S “Voluntary” donation this year. Depending on the developer, the fee can range from $3 to $10. Owners must call their resort accounting department to have the charge removed unless it is an “opt-in” request.
One reason timeshare owners are taking a closer look is because legislation passed in Florida last year outraged timeshare owners and timeshare advocacy groups. The legislation went into effect July 1, 2015.
One clause, simply put, “Currently, if there are errors in the contract, then a buyer has a right under Florida law to cancel that contract after 10 days. Under the new bill, errors or omissions that are “nonmaterial” would NOT allow a buyer to cancel after 10 days.” (Deanna from Winning the Timeshare Game)
RedWeek also weighed in:
“I know the time-share industry wants to make it harder for buyers to cancel contracts. But I had a tough time believing regular citizens felt the same”.
He’s the CEO of a South Carolina-based time-share management company … and a director of the time-share group lobbying for this bill.
According to ARDA ROC:
ARDA-ROC’s resources ensure that a powerful advocacy arm exists and is equipped to fight the next legislative battle. Our owners understand the effectiveness of uniting collectively as one voice to support policies that ensure consumer protections are in place and that positive changes in our industry and for the members we represent are preserved.
ARDA ROC Mission Statement
The ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is a non-profit program sponsored by the American Resort Development Association, dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing vacation ownership. ARDA-ROC is an alliance of owners, developers and managers who are committed to advocating for local, state and federal policies that enable the vacation ownership industry to thrive.
The ARDA-Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is the first line of defense against legislation that may negatively impact timeshare owners and their well-being. Through ARDA-ROC, owners can be part of an effective grassroots lobbying coalition of timeshare unit owners dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing vacation ownership.
The ARDA-ROC government affairs team has a strong record of successfully advocating on behalf of policies allowing for the vitality of the industry while protecting the vacation ownership experience. ARDA-ROC works with legislators and regulators at all levels of government to educate policy makers and ensure fair treatment across the broad range of issues that impact timeshare owners.
We welcome an ARDA response to this article because the 2015 timeshare laws were not one shared voice uniting collectively. Timeshare has become a minefield of controversy with timeshare owners pitted against developers. Real dialogue needs to take place in order to reform and improve an industry that has become a battlefield between developers and owners.
Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her collaboration on this article, for those in Europe who own timeshare in the US, this will be a little of shock that part of the bill is to fund an industry that wants to regulate it in their favour, rather than you the member / consumer.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this subject, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. We also welcome any comments or information on subjects not covered, if you have been in contact with any company and want to know if they are genuine, we will help you to find out.