Press releases

Don’t get burned in the winter sun by holiday clubs

UK Consumers, enjoying a spot of sun in Europe away from the dull British winter, are being advised to be extra cautious when approached by street touts offering scratchcards.

Consumers may believe that they have won a holiday, cash or high value item and are enticed into attending a small presentation or awards ceremony in order to claim their prize. Very often, this presentation may be nothing more than a high-pressure sales pitch designed to part you from your cash and draw you into a long-running and possibly expensive holiday club agreement.

Although the agreement may sound tempting, the same deals in your local trusted high street travel agent can often be found for the same price. You may not realise the mistake until you get home.

The UK European Consumer Centre, co-funded by BERR (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) and the European Commission has this advice for you when travelling abroad:

  • If it's too good to be true it probably is! Be cautious when you are told that you have won a holiday or cash, after all you have to question what is in it for the company and why are they appearing to be so generous?
  • Be wary of anything that involves you having to attend a presentation, especially if you are told to bring a partner along.
  • Don't get taken in by the sales pitch and sign up as a method of getting away from the presentation. Although the law is on your side, in practise, cancelling the agreement can be quite difficult.
  • Remember that holiday clubs are different from timeshares, although they appear to be quite similar. Timeshares currently have their own regulations, which are a lot clearer and guarantee a cooling off period.

If you have already been coerced into a holiday club agreement that has left you with a bad feeling then the UK ECC has this advice:

  • As soon as possible send a recorded delivery letter to all known addresses for the trader stating that you were not given cooling off rights (assuming that your contract did not include these) and ask for the contract to be cancelled within a fixed period of time (i.e. 14 days)
  • If a credit card was used, even as just a deposit then contact your credit card company as soon as possible as the Consumer Credit Act 1974 applies, this states that you can hold the credit card company equally liable for any breaches of the contract.
  • Contact the UK ECC for help, advice and support.
For advice on the issues above or if you have had a problem with any cross-border purchase then visit the UK European Consumer Centre website UK ECC  and for further advice email, call us on 08456 04 05 03 or fax 08456 089 600.

Notes to Editors

UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC)

The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) was officially launched as part of the Trading Standards Institute, during National Consumer Week, 14 November, to help resolve complaints about traders and businesses based on the Continent, particularly linked to online shopping, Internet auctions, flights and holidays.

The service is one of 27 across Europe coordinated by the European Commission to help resolve 'cross-border disputes', while also helping raise awareness about consumer rights and the potential risks involved in buying from abroad.

The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) is co-funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the European Commission.

The address is European Consumer Centre, Trading Standards Institute, 1 Sylvan Court, Sylvan Way, Basildon, Essex, SS15 6TH

UK ECC is contactable by email:, Phone 08456 04 05 03, Fax 08456 08 96 00 or through an online form on their website which includes information on consumer's rights.

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

Consumer Direct - 08454 04 05 06

Consumer Direct is a Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service which works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services. Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.

Calls cost a maximum of 4 pence per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. The advice and information given is free.