It seemed like a great deal at the time: listen to a 90-minute sales pitch on timeshares and get a free gift worth $100 or more. No commitment to buy anything. You knew there was no way you were going to buy. You just wanted to get the gift and leave. What's the harm in listening to the sales presentation?
Two hours later you somehow bought a timeshare. High-pressure sales tactics had your head spinning, all the numbers that were thrown at you began to make sense, and the spiel from multiple well-trained salespeople convinced you that owning a timeshare isn't just a better way to take vacations, it's also makes financial sense.
But many of the things timeshare salespeople tell you during their presentation aren't 100% true. It may be timeshare fraud. Here are some of the common false promises and/or sleazy sales tactics used by timeshare salespeople:
1. The presentation lasts longer than they promised.
Your are lured into the timeshare sales pitch with the offer of a free gift and the promise that the presentation will only last an hour and a half, but often it lasts two hours or more! (Parents and children are separated during the presentation, and sometimes alcohol is served.) The timeshare salespeople know that your willpower is not infinite. The longer they can keep you listening to them, the more likely you are to buy from them. People often say they felt trapped in these presentations and did something they wouldn't otherwise have done.
2. Timeshare is a good investment.
This may be the biggest factor that convinces people to sign on the dotted line and purchase a timeshare. The salespeople lead you to believe that a timeshare is a smart investment in real estate. In reality, the timeshare is probably insanely overpriced and unlikely to retain any significant value. Timeshares are generally NOT a good real estate investment.
3. You can sell your timeshare easily.
Something that makes taking on the commitment to buy a timeshare less daunting is knowing that you can sell it. The salespeople claim that you can easily sell your timeshare at any time and probably make a profit or at least break even while doing it. In reality, most people who are able to sell their timeshare end up taking a loss.
4. You can rent your timeshare.
You're told that you can rent your week/s to someone else, but that may be harder to do than they lead you to believe. The resort can charge you a fee for using their rental service, which they keep whether or not you find someone to rent it. If you do find a renter, you will be held responsible for any damages to the unit or grounds, and getting enough money to break even could be a challenge.
5. Maintenance fees are reasonable.
If the salesperson mentions their fees at all they'll probably say that they are average and reasonable. But owners often find that the fees they're charged do nothing but go up. There are maintenance fees, special assessments, and more that often add up to a significant amount that makes owning the timeshare too expensive.
6. The contract cannot be canceled.
Of course contracts are legally binding, but that doesn't mean that there's no way out of them. There are legal ways to cancel a timeshare, especially if it was sold to you under fraudulent terms, or with some kind of errors in the sales process or contract. And you can avoid a big negative impact to your credit while getting out of your timeshare contract if you work with an experienced professional who advises you on the best course of action.
If you call your resort developer and tell them that you want to get out of your timeshare, they may try to make you feel bad for wanting out. Don't count on them being helpful or giving you the information you need. Talk to a professional consumer advocate.
If you've been a victim of any of these fraudulent tactics, Amerihope Alliance Legal Services would like to hear your story. We may be able to help you exit your timeshare in a way that benefits you the most.
Images courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net