In 2009 the new Directive on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts replaced the old Timeshare Directive with clearer and simpler rules. On 16 December 2015 the Commission adopted a Report with a first assessment of the Timeshare Directive's application.
Under the new Directive, traders must provide detailed information to consumers in good time before the consumer is bound by any contract, including information regarding the price to be paid, a description of the product and the exact period and length of stay that the consumer is entitled to under the contract. This information should be provided in the consumer's own language if they so choose.
The Directive also ensures that consumers may withdraw from a contract within a "cooling-off" period of 14 calendar days and that traders can never ask them for any form of advance payments or deposits during that period. Before the conclusion of the contract, the trader is required to explicitly draw the consumer’s attention to the existence of the right of withdrawal, the length of the withdrawal period and the ban on advance payments during the withdrawal period.
Protection by the Directive now also covers some new products on the market and contracts which had been developed so as to avoid the application of the previous Timeshare Directive. For instance, the new Directive applies also to timeshare contracts lasting less than three years and to products where the consumer is allowed to use, for accommodation purposes, different kinds of movable property (such as cruise boats, caravans or canal boats). Re-sale contracts and long-term holiday products are now also regulated by the Directive.
Member States are obliged to inform consumers of the national law transposing the Directive and provide for appropriate penalties against traders who fail to comply with these rules. Member State must also encourage the development of adequate and effective out-of-court complaints and redress procedures for the settlement of consumer disputes.
According to the report, the Directive has consistently helped reducing consumer problems with timeshare and other holiday products.
At the same time, there are still problems regarding aspects outside the scope of the Directive, e.g. termination of timeshare contracts or disproportionate increases of maintenance fees. The Commission's analysis shows that these aspects can be successfully tackled at national level, for instance through targeted enforcement actions against unfair clauses on the basis of the Unfair Contract Terms Directive.
The Report also concludes that more comprehensive awareness raising strategies at national level would ensure that consumers are aware of potential scams.
The ECC-Net already carried out a web-based campaign to raise awareness among consumers, authorities and other stakeholders, of problems related to timeshare-like products.