If you recently purchased a timeshare and regret it, you're not alone. If you have been looking for a way out of your timeshare for years on end, you're not alone. To put it simply, timeshare agreements are set up for you to fail. They are designed to disadvantage the clients while the resort companies reap maximum profits. If it was up to the timeshare company, you would be tied to this financial agreement for the rest of your life. Then it would be passed on to your children or whoever your beneficiary is, and then they would be required to make payments every year whether they use it or not. This alone makes for unfair contractual agreements, but this industry lacks lawful regulation. In fact, there are very few state laws currently in place that assist timeshare owners and because of this, resort companies continue to get away with deceptive and disingenuous business practices.
Read on to learn more about the current timeshare laws in place and also what needs to change to make the industry fair and equal for the clients.
Before we take a deep dive into the laws and ethics of the timeshare business, let's first go over the basics. A timeshare is a "shared" vacation property that consists of several owners who alternate their time in using it. This typically means as a timeshare owner you will have 1-2 weeks to use the vacation property and the rest of the year, other owners will make use of it during their specified times. There are two common types of timeshare systems:
These are considered common knowledge to most timeshare owners, but what many may not know is that there are also two types of timeshare agreements. This is more "paperwork-focused" than the above, and so it can be overlooked at times or just swept under the rug. These include:
These are essentially the vehicles used by the timeshare resort companies to carry out their wrongful methods of placing clients into uncompromised positions financially. When we talk about things that need to change within the timeshare industry, we need to start where it all begins.
No one ever goes and seeks out to buy a timeshare. They somehow just find you and when they do, they never leave. This is all mostly due to the highly skilled salespeople of these vacation properties. All too often though, these "skills" seem to rely heavily on deception and dishonesty to make sales. While there are some laws in place that prohibit these misleading sales tactics, overall they lack enforcement along with consistency across different states.
I am sure many of us have been on the receiving end of a phone call saying you just won or are eligible to win a free trip to a luxury resort. The only catch is you have to attend a short presentation. This is how the timeshare companies fill their rooms for sales presentations. They offer gifts and prizes just to get you to attend, and then they throw in even more promotional offers to get you to stay. Several states have laws that are supposed to regulate these transactions, and yet timeshare companies continue to manipulate potential clients without consequences.
As if the tactics used to get you into their presentation aren't bad enough, what takes place during it is tenfold worse. You may have heard that timeshare salespeople lie for a living, and well they do live up to that billing. Every year, more and more families purchase timeshares without knowing the true cost or value because of statements made during their high-pressured sales pitch. Many timeshare owners feel misled, guilted, or even tricked into their purchases. As a result, they are financially bound to a lifelong agreement that never lives up to the promotional build-up. This is not a case of just having a few rotten salespeople on staff, but instead is a system-wide issue for the timeshare business. This needs a correction course made from the very top of these resort companies, and it's time they wake up to it. Until they do, many timeshare buyers will continue to struggle.
When we talk about financial struggles, do not take that lightly. Timeshares are expensive. Especially when they are sold under the impression of being the "money-saving" route for vacations. Whether it's the costly price tag on the mortgage or the maintenance fees which increase every single year, making timeshare payments on time is strenuous and can feel impossible for some. When payments are not made promptly, timeshare companies typically waste no time threatening to send you to collections. You could easily and quickly lose your timeshare due to foreclosure and risk a personal financial collapse.
Timeshare owners are pushed into taking out loans to finance these purchases and sometimes are even registered for new credit card accounts without their consent. Now when they learn the true price for their timeshare and cannot afford it, they risk losing the vacation property to foreclosure. The negative impact of this is real. From wasting thousands of your hard-earned dollars along with the crush to your credit score, falling for the timeshare ruse can be costly.
Nolo.com tells us that timeshare foreclosures can vary from state to state, and this is generally an issue because it leads to inconsistency on how timeshares are represented in courts. Some states will treat these vacation units the same way they treat any residential ownership, while other states see it differently and will use non-judicial procedures. Since every state is different with its laws on dealing with timeshare properties, there is miscommunication from the very beginning with clients. Timeshare agreements bury all of this important information deep into the paperwork, and they try their best to keep you from reading it before buying. If this information was shared openly with honesty during the sales presentations, it's quite certain there would be a significant drop in timeshare sales for many resorts.
There is a small sliver of hope for those who are seeking a way out of their timeshare agreements. The first line of defense when it comes to canceling a timeshare purchase is a public offering statement, also known as a timeshare disclosure statement. This will contain important information about the timeshare unit and the agreement. Again and again, these documents are deemed insignificant by salespeople because they most likely are telling you false information that goes against what is in the document. Timeshare buyers need to look over this statement diligently and swiftly.
Owners do have the right to cancel their timeshare purchases. Though just like everything else when it comes to timeshares, there is a catch. That is that you have to decide on canceling very quickly. There is a cooling-off period after buying where the clients can change their mind and back out, but the time is limited. If you miss this brief window of hope, your right to cancel could cease to exist.
As with most laws regarding timeshares, these cancellation rights are governed by individual states, so again they all can vary. Usually, the amount of time that clients have to cancel their timeshare purchase ranges between just two days and two weeks. This very short period gives the timeshare owners a chance to rescind their timeshare agreement and back out of it at no cost to them. For a vacation property that you will most likely not see until months later, this is not a fair amount of time for such a large financial decision. Most individuals and families are persuaded into buying their timeshares when they are on vacation, which means by the time they get home from their trip, the rescission period could easily already be over.
According to Nolo.com, if you can rescind your timeshare purchase the most common way to do so is in writing. You will prepare a cancellation letter that includes all the specific information to your timeshare unit and then will deliver it to the resort either in person or through the mail. You must refer to your agreement and the state laws to find the specific instructions to follow when canceling your timeshare. This industry still needs much more transparency when it comes to this process. Timeshare owners are constantly left in the dark on this option, and when the cooling-off period quickly passes by, they are essentially locked into a lifelong agreement.
That's right once the rescission period is over, getting out of a timeshare agreement becomes ridiculously more difficult. Many owners are led to believe that there is no way out whatsoever and they just have to deal with paying off a timeshare for the rest of their lives. What more would you expect from the people who lie to get a sale? There are indeed other routes to timeshare liberation, though they are more expensive and laborious.
This is all at the discretion of the timeshare companies, but many times when owners seek out help with their agreement they walk away in even more trouble than they came with. The ideas of renting and selling your timeshare for a profit are pitched in the sales presentations, but when owners inquire more about this, rarely is any help given. Or worse, sometimes the salespeople strike again and cripple you with another agreement of theirs that is disguised as a timeshare upgrade. Renting out or selling your timeshare are sometimes options for unhappy owners, but most have realized the lack of value their units actually hold at this point. The dream scenario would be for the resort to buy back the timeshare from you, but this seldom happens and leads timeshare owners to seek help in the secondary market.
The timeshare industry is currently being swarmed with a new form of corruption. That is the influx of timeshare scams in the resale and cancelation markets. The saying goes 'like attracts like’, and that is exactly what is happening here. Fraudulent people have watched and observed the deception that takes place in the timeshare industry for years, and now they have decided they want in on the action. These scammers go after the troubled owners and give them the impression that they have a timeshare buyer interested and ready to buy their property. Of course, what they are saying is not true, but this has become a rampant problem within the timeshare after-market.
Every day, more and more owners are convinced to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in upfront fees with the understanding that they will finally be getting out of their timeshare agreement. Then, these fake companies disappear after they get your money, never to be heard from again. This just demonstrates how bad these people want out of their timeshares though. It is a shame that the timeshare industry idly sits by and watches this happen to their clientele.
The Federal Trade Commission now warns everyone about the timeshare resale market and several states have begun enacting their own laws against potential timeshare scams. The issue is, many times it is just too late to fix. By the time the law is brought into the situation, the scammers have already left with the money. Passing more regulations for the after-market could shatter the faulty timeshare resale industry, but it will not fix the root of the problem. It is time these resorts step in and personally defend their timeshare buyers. They are the only ones who can protect and shield them away from potential scams, as they hold the most power in the owner's decision-making. The flawed business practices of the timeshare industry opened up the gates to all of this and only they can close them.
The only true support timeshare owners have is from trustworthy and respected cancellation companies, such as Wesley Financial Group, LLC ("WFG"). They will put your needs first, and their only goal is to remove you from your dreadful timeshare agreement. Time and time again, the timeshare industry has proved to be unethical with its proceedings. WFG hopes to right all the wrongs these resort companies have committed to innocent people.
Wesley Financial Group, LLC, and/or its affiliates, successors, or assigns are not lawyers and/or a law firm and do not engage in the practice of law or provide legal advice or legal representation. All information, software, services, and comments provided on this site are for informational and self-help purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, legal or otherwise.