Warning Over Airport Scam

21 February 2011, 10:11 | Updated: 7 March 2011, 14:33

Holidaymakers at airports in the South are being warned not to be taken in by people handing out ‘winning’ scratchcards.

To get the prize you have to sit through a lengthy sales presentation - and could end up paying thousands to a holiday club that doesn't exist.

West Sussex County Council Trading Standards Service will be telling people at Gatwick Airport about the scam.

The prize turns out to be a trip to a lengthy sales presentation and a chance to pay thousands of pounds for membership to a bogus holiday club,” said Graeme MacPherson, Head of Trading Standards.

“If given a free ‘winning’ scratch card on your holiday ask yourself:

“One: Do I have to sit through a lengthy sales pitch?

“Two: Are the promises too good to be true?

"Three: If I sign something, can I cancel or get a refund?

“Four: What do I know about the company?

“Some holiday clubs are reputable – but there are a lot of bogus ones out there. Don’t feel pressurised. If you are unsure, our advice is quite straightforward – simply walk away.

“We would also like to remind people about the benefits of using credit cards in some circumstances.  This is because if a consumer has a claim against a supplier for a breach of contract or misrepresentation they generally have an equal claim against the card issuer.

“However the best policy is: if in any doubt do not buy.”

Two Trading Standards officers will be at Gatwick as part of the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) Scam Awareness month.

They will be handing out warning scratchcards produced by the Office of Fair Trading and reminding travellers about new timeshare legislation.

“The new rules will give consumers a 14 day cooling off period that allows you to cancel without a penalty. They apply to holiday clubs, timeshare resale and timeshare-like products. This campaign provides an opportunity to increase awareness to consumers of bogus holiday clubs and the benefits of the new regulations,” said Graeme.

“However not all countries have implemented these rules yet, so do not assume you can easily cancel if you change your mind.”

Pete Bradbury, County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Our Trading Standards team believes it is vital consumers are able to recognise and reject scams, so avoiding large bills for near worthless holiday club memberships.”

For further advice, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06, or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/holidayclubs