Vacation Buying Clubs: Deal or Don't?

COLUMBIA (WIS) - As summer starts to wind down you may be thinking about your favorite vacation spot, or you may have even been offered a rock bottom deal on a club that promises future premium vacations. However, before you sign-up for anything, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has a heads-up for consumers.

When it comes to purchasing a membership with a vacation buying club, the Consumer Affairs office says it's important to do your research. Officials say an incredible deal now, may come with high membership fees and less vacation options later.

Officials say they've received complaints about clubs this year and often the biggest frustration for a consumer is that they didn't realize the difference between a vacation buying club and a timeshare. Juliana Harris with the Department of Consumer Affairs says it's important to separate the two, "A timeshare is usually a set place and you just get certain amounts of time in that place, whereas with the vacation buying club the locations can change and the times can change, as well," said Harris.

So Harris says first and foremost, research the company that is offering the deal before you make the big purchase. A potential future discount could come with strict stipulations.

"As always, do your research, do your research, do your research," said Harris. "It's important as consumers, especially when you're making a pretty large purchase like this, to definitely research the company and make sure you know what kind of company they are.

Harris also says it's best to ask lots of questions about membership, annual and pop-up fees, as well as blackout dates. She suggests asking if your vacation can be transferred to someone else if you cannot make the offered vacation date so that you do not lose the vacation.

Most importantly officials say read and re-read the contract. Once you've signed on the dotted line, it can be hard to get out of the commitment until it expires.

The Department of Consumer Affairs says vacation buying clubs are not regulated in the state of South Carolina.

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