Many so-called 'exclusive' timeshare resorts are being booked by the general public on sites like Booking.com and Expedia, and timeshare owners are not happy about it.
Timeshare may sometimes seem a bit old fashioned to modern travellers. But the fact is that there was a genuine need for them when they first appeared a few decades ago.
Many of us have heard about the nightmare holidays experienced by holidaymakers because these were regularly reported in the news. These often consisted of families travelling to a popular destination in Spain or other European countries expecting to find a lovely hotel to stay in. But when they arrived, it turned out to be completely different from the picture they had seen in the brochure.
These experiences were disappointing for holidaymakers, and they often simply had to put up with it and try to spend as much time on the beach as possible.
As the problem persisted, these holidaymakers were targeted into costly timeshare deals.
It was a common sight to see tourists hounded by timeshare touts back in the 1980s and 1990s, who would put pressure on them to purchase a timeshare to avoid the holiday from hell episode.
It was a compelling proposition. Tourists would know that they would always stay in amazing accommodation and that when they went somewhere else the quality would be the same.
And while it was certainly expensive, costing thousands of dollars, with an annual fee on top, many tourists were happy with the peace of mind it provided.
For a while, the memberships worked, and people were happy with the arrangement. But in the early 2000s, things started to change, and the travel industry improved its standards. As a result, timeshare began to become less popular.
Sites like TripAdvisor brought about a big change for the industry. People could suddenly go online and find out what a hotel was like from other tourists without having to rely on marketing material.
Because the previous customers were not promoting the businesses, their reviews were more genuine. As a result, it became a lot easier to avoid nightmare holidays.
But that also meant there was less need for expensive timeshare memberships and this created a dilemma for timeshare resorts.
Timeshare resorts had a lot of inventory making no revenue, so they rented it out instead. And this meant the resorts were suddenly not as exclusive as they should have been.
These days, nearly all the timeshare resorts can be booked by anyone on travel booking sites.
"This was the last straw for most owners," Andrew Cooper, the CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC), states. "We get calls from timeshare members whose resort is telling them there is no availability, when they can see the same week available on Booking.com. Often it costs less for a non-member to book online than the member pays in maintenance.
"There is no remaining justification for a timeshare owner to have paid tens of thousands of dollars for a membership when they have no benefits that are not available to the casual renter. This isn't what people paid all that money for. Their resorts are effectively changing the deal without offering any compensation in return.
"Booking through the online sites as a non-member is clearly preferable, because they can come and go as they please. They are not contractually obliged to pay every year for something they may not want to use, unlike the timeshare owners."
"Luckily, since 2016 ECC, together with their associated firm of timeshare lawyers M1 Legal, have been helping people to escape these dated and constrictive membership contracts."
When timeshare has been bought after 1999, another option may be available: "Spain enacted laws to protect consumers from high-pressure timeshare sales in January of that year," Cooper says. "Arrogantly, the large majority of resorts ignored those laws, and as a result all the contracts they wrote after that were illegal. Right now, courts are awarding significant amounts of compensation to owners who were mis-sold with those illegal contracts."