Tour Operators and Travel Agents

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Sunterra is a holiday club with some sort of points scheme - so essentially a new take on the old timeshare system. Someone I work with is a member and has had a few good holidays with them so far.
thanks corinne,had a letter from them offering a weeks free hoilday,if i go to a presentation, i am a bit wary, so anymore info would be grateful

thanks fizzxx
Hi Fizz

I've spoken to her about them a bit more. Her view was that you would probably get the free holiday, even if you didn't want to make a purchase as a result of the presentation, but it would only be a 'bog-standard' holiday and there would be certain restrictions. If you did decide to buy, you would probably be offered a better holiday. She and her husband had already decided that they did want to buy before they went to the presentation, so the free holiday (to the Costa del Sol) was a nice bonus.

So if you are interested in this type of scheme, it would be worth you going along to see what they have to say, but if you're just after a free holiday, it probably wouldn't be. You might also want to put a post in the 'Timeshare' section of HT to see if other members can offer further advice.

hi corinne, thats for asking your friend for me, but i cant see that i would be interested, i want to go away when and where i want to and by the time i had paid for the kids flights i wont be much better off.

thanks again fizzxx
corinne, after just reading the time share forum i think that there is alot of these companys about, so i will give it a miss

thanks briarskeg, i wont be parting with any money dont worry
theres no such thing as a free holiday :lol: i wish :lol:

I've been a structural engineer for ten years, working on short term contracts in Europe and the Gulf States. For the last two years, I have been assigned to the UK and I
miss being abroad, particularly the trips I used to take when my family came out to visit me.

I got a call from LCI Travel in November 2005, offering me a "free" holiday, free car hire, and two flights which was a sticking point because I have three children. I was reassured that LCI was not selling timeshare units, nor was there any obligation to buy holidays through them. I suspected that I would have to buy additional flights through them at inflated prices or that the terms and conditions of my holiday would involve me buying a la carte meals at an exorbitant price.
Not so, we went to a presentation in Rotherham., I wasn't pressurized into buying anything and I did walk away with my holiday as promised. There appear to be both negative and positive comments on the internet about LCI/Sunterra, but I personally would recommend both companies. When I brought this up with their manager he explained that it is a perennial problem when it is so easy for the competition to post negative comments on the internet. I will use Sunterra for my future holidays as having talked to members I believe that they offer better value for money than high street travel agents. When they explain their business model compared to the high street it is not difficult to see why!!

*Edit to restore normal font. Pippy.*
I can only go on my own experience. LCI Travel with offices in Wakefield, Rotherham and Long Eaton are not a travel company.

They are a sales and marketing company. What they sell are points to an organisation called Club Sunterra. They do not sell anything else. They take on young students to do cold calling by telephone and then sack them after a few weeks. I know my son was one.

They will tell you they are ABTA and ATOL. They aren't. They operate under the licence of Canaryroute Ltd. ATOL 4160 which shares an address at Citrus House, Lancaster with Club Sunterra and all the various other branches of the Sunterra Empire.

The "free" holiday you are offered requires you to book flights with them. The "free car hire" is a group A car suitable for one dwarf and there are extras to pay like Collision Damage Waiver and local taxes. Upgrades which you will need cost a bomb.

Despite their claims to get massive discounts they don't and you could book flights and car hire much less expensively by yourself and using the internet. So the low cost holiday they offer isn't really a low cost offer and it certainly isn't free.

If you accept the invitation and go to their Rotherham Office you will be shown a presentation about the various advantages of Club Sunterra and then subjected to a hard sell actually lasting in total for about two hours.

If you get past this and then go on the holiday you will be subjected to another hard sell this time lasting longer. People have been known to sign up just to get rid of the constant hassle from the sales staff.

Just ask yourself why they need to do this if the product is a good one?

When you buy a package tour you go to the Travel agent and take away a selection of brochures. Then you go back to the travel agent and tell them which holiday you want. LCI Travel will not let you do this. You have to sign on the spot.

Ask if you can take the contract away so your solicitor can view it - you can't.

They will insist on telling you it isn't timeshare - but timeshare is subject to (not very effective) regulations. Holiday clubs have no regulations at all. One of the packages they sell is called "Explorer" - a trial membership for three years. This isn't subject to any regulations because it is for (just less than) three years.

In fact Euroconsumer is European wide say the biggest complaints they receive are about holiday clubs and the high pressure sales tactics they employ.

Some final thoughts.

Sunterra is an international company based in the USA and has just been taken over by a company called Diamond Resorts. Its European operation based at Citrus House had to pay huge sums to European tax authorities for taking tax off its employees and then not passing it on to the authorities. Total liabilities came to $9.8 million. Their accountants Grant Thornton refused to sign the accounts and resigned.

No-one knows what the future will bring after the takeover. To continue to sell Club Sunterra under these circumstances is immoral. But morality and holiday clubs are words that do not sit easily together.

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