British tourists are being warned by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) not to fall for holiday-club scams.

Sales people working in resorts often persuade people to pay large upfront fees to join clubs that promise cheap holidays in the future. Once the fee has been handed over, however, all they are offered is a booking service with little in the way of money-off on hotels or apartments. In short, the holiday clubs do not deliver what has been promised.

Sometimes the sales people try to sweeten their pitch with cashback deals and special one-day offers, both of which are often bogus.

The European Commission, which investigates markets, is looking at regulating the holiday-club industry. It would like to see a ban on upfront payments and an automatic 14-day cooling-off period.

The OFT’s head of consumer protection, Mike Haley, said that bona fide holiday clubs already had consumer safeguards in place. “They will generally give a cooling-off period so you can think about whether you want to make a sizeable investment,” he said.

“And everything they promise you will be in the contract.”

He added: “Bogus holiday clubs won’t give you any of those rights, won’t respect you as a consumer and will try to make you sign up on the day.”