Hotel, vacation rental or camping, to avoid unpleasant surprises when booking your accommodation you will find in this section what you should consider.
Choose your accommodation with care
More and more private individuals rent out their apartments via the Internet. It should be noted that the provisions of consumer law do not apply if you rent the apartment from a private person who does not rent for commercial purposes.
Of course, there are reputable providers, however, it happens again and again that it turns out, after the down payment, that the booked accommodation does not correspond to the description or does not exist at all. Especially with private online bookings, where there has been only e-mail contact before, you should be careful.
- Before you arrange the first down payment, ask to have the complete address of offerer and offer (including tax number and turnover tax ID) and not only e-mail and cell phone number. Do not arrange a payment when you have doubt about the identity of the offerer.
- There are several possibilities to verify the truthfulness of the offer like to check the address and geographical situation with existing search engine (e.g. near to beach, shopping facilities or restaurants etc..). Forums and other websites with reviews on the accommodation may also help you to get strong indications.
- Make sure to get a detailed description of the accommodation that indicates the total size, the number of rooms, beds, location, distance to the beach etc.. The offer and booking confirmation should be saved on the computer or printed out.
- You should also confirm the final price from the renter considering additional costs. The largely advertised weekly price may not be the final one. In addition, there is a deposit, final cleaning, electricity and heating according to consumption, visitor's tax, insurance, pet fee and parking fee. Even water, gas and electricity are often charged separately. It is important to specify the amount of the deposit and the costs in case of cancellation.
- The renter may require a rental insurance that covers you in case of fire, explosion or water damage. Any other damage that you may cause (broken furniture, damaged or lost objects) remains your responsibility. Ask your private liability insurance about a possible extension of coverage to a vacation home. Also consult the guarantees linked to your bank card if you pay for your accommodation by card.
If you decide to book via travel agency or online platforms be aware that they are only intermediaries between you and a renter or hotelier. As intermediaries they are, basically, are not liable for any issues that may occur with the accommodation. The most frequently encountered disputes concern either the rental itself (non-conformity or misleading advertising) or financial disputes (non-return of the deposit, non-reimbursement of the deposit etc.). In the event of any defects in the rented vacation home or disputes about the return of the deposit paid, you must therefore contact the landlord directly.
The timeshare contract grants you the right to use a dwelling for a minimum of three years and for a specific period of the year. The property is often a vacation home, a hotel room or a room on a cruise ship. During the rest of the year, other people may use the same property.
Holiday Clubs offer similar contracts, but for less than 36 months. The main difference between these two types of contracts is the legal protection of the contracting parties.
Contracts shorter than 36 months and without fixed vacation weeks do not allow you to invoke the provisions under European Directive 94/47/EC of October 26, 1994 regulating timeshare contracts. For these reasons, you will not be able to withdraw from the contract.
Even if there are serious professionals, timeshare sellers are often pointed out for their deceptive and aggressive sales methods.
The pattern is usually the same: tourists (preferably older, married Northern Europeans) are approached at their vacation destination with the aim of getting them to take part in a lottery, of which they will obviously be the winners. The lucky winners are then invited to attend a reception in a magnificent hotel complex where they are, for several hours, exposed to real pressure in order to get them to sign a timeshare contract.
The methods used are sufficiently convincing that few tourists manage to find the moral and physical strength to decline.
Exchange and resale
The additional costs linked to a timeshare contract and the sometimes disappointing quality of the services lead many timeshare users to want to exchange or resell their contract.
Here again, caution is required. There is no market for the resale of timeshares and very few exchange possibilities exist. Unscrupulous companies contact contract holders directly, informing them about resale possibilities. Interested resellers have to pay a certain amount of money, followed by an application fee, in order for the resale of their property to be taken care of by these companies. Most of the time, the company pockets the application fees, but never actually resells the property because no buyer is found!