Like many vacation owners, Ron Russelburg eventually grew tired of his timeshare contract. Once his kids were all grown up and the family was somewhat dispersed, he didn’t have much of a need for the travel package anymore. After looking for an affordable way to offload the timeshare, Russelburg determined selling his weekly interval at the Calypso Cay Resort in Orlando, Florida was the best solution. This is a fairly common decision that’s often misunderstood. But once he came across an advertisement for the Timeshare Exit Team, he was ready to take action.
In an interview with KMOV4 in St. Louis, Ron explained how Timeshare Exit Team’s guarantees really convinced him that selling his property was a good idea. Although the relief market is quite muddy, he acknowledged that confidence in a beneficial outcome really encouraged him to go forward with the sale. This was in October of 2017.
Guarantees Encourage Timeshare Owners to Pay.
After discussing the process with the well-known, reputable cancellation firm, Ron said he felt good about proceeding with the transaction. According to Russelburg, the salesman insisted that Timeshare Exit Team would find a buyer within 180 days. But he was first advised to work with the company to eliminate his annual maintenance fees. So he agreed to pay a few thousand dollars in upfront fees to get the ball rolling.
By February of 2020, Russelburg’s frustration with the effectiveness of the sale reached its tipping point. Aside from the guarantees to remove maintenance fees, 27 months had passed without any scent of a sale. So he contacted his local news channel for help. His main cause for concern was the reluctance of Timeshare Exit Team to follow through with their promises. “It was their guarantee that if it didn’t work out we could get our money back. It would be no harm no foul,” he said.
Why Would Timeshare Exit Team Do This?
When the Missouri journalist asked him why he’s yet to receive a refund, Ron replied by saying, “That’s a good question.” Thousands of vacation owners are not only trapped in their timeshare contracts, but left without answers by relief agencies. Sadly, many of these “guaranteed” services are scams. What makes this story interesting is that Timeshare Exit Team has had some success helping consumers get out of timeshare contracts in the past.
At the same time, convincing someone that you can help them sell a timeshare, then charging them to cancel annual fees seems a little odd. Once the interval of transferred to another owner, the original buyer shouldn’t have to worry about annual responsibilities. Nonetheless, Russelburg was out over $4k with no resolve.
When the St. Louis news station reached out to the Timeshare Exit Team for answers, a refund was initiated within a few days. This is encouraging because it shows that the company isn’t willing to inconvenience a customer in order to make a few thousand dollars. At the same time, it’s fair to wonder if a refund would have transpired had Mr. Russelburg not gone to the media for assistance.
Timeshare Exit Team’s Refund Statement.
Due to the negative attention caused by the public media, Timeshare Exit Team released the following statement: “Since 2011, [we have] successfully helped more than 20,000 consumers find a path out of their timeshares. Most of these people were unhappy with their timeshare purchase and faced numerous traps, loopholes and maintenance/other fees. Unfortunately, there was some confusion by this customer regarding the time frame detailed in our contract and a separate agreement that one of our third-party vendors had made with her.
Timeshare Exit Team has never had a 180-day guarantee and we’re very sorry for any frustrations this may have caused. We have clarified this and she has relayed that she understands [our] time frame. We completely understood their frustration at this process, made unnecessarily complicated due to the hurdles that developers put up to keep people stuck in their timeshare, and have reached out to make it right. We offered to find another exit option for them, which they declined, so we are providing them with a full refund.”
Truth be told, Ron paid for a straightforward service and a very specific outcome. Whether Timeshare Exit Team made guarantees or not, we can’t miss the big picture here. Resale just can’t be viewed as a realistic option to get rid of a timeshare. Participating In this type of relief can ruin a company’s reputation fast if they’re not careful.
Last week, we kicked off a blog series that analyzes and reports on some of the red flags or general concerns within the timeshare exit industry. Thousands of cancellation companies and third party agencies have made a comfortable living targeting unhappy fractional owners with convincing solutions – that sometimes help buyers kind ofget out of a timeshare contract. Sadly, consumers don’t know who or what to believe anymore. So we’ve recently spent a lot of time digging up and organizing the facts. If people want to be able to combat misleading, disadvantageous sales pitches, then they need to know what to look for. With that being said, we thought it was a good time to review Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation and some of the question marks they’ve accumulated over the years.
Identifying Deceit Only Takes a Little Effort.
In today’s economy, major purchases are confidently made when a slew of positive reviews are prevalent online. But when it comes to timeshare travel, for whatever reason, consumers tend to follow their emotions while bypassing intuition. In most cases, you can look at a timeshare product and tell if it’s questionable or has the potential to backfire. Unfortunately, salesmen (especially those working for timeshare cancellation companies) are often able to talk people into handing over thousands of dollars based on possibilities.
If you’re crossing your fingers or investing in hopeful solutions, then you’re setting yourself up for failure – or extreme disappointment. If this gullible decision-making presumes, a timeshare problem will turn into financial hardship in the blink of an eye. Vacation owners looking to cancel should have learned their lesson from the timeshare purchase itself. Walking away from anything that sounds too good to be true or seems a little sketchy shows you’ve learned your lesson.
When a business listing or a cancellation company’s information lacks consistency, why would you trust them to go after some of the most powerful conglomerates in the world? How effective do you really think they’re going to be? If there isn’t much evidence of relief, then why buy into what they’re telling you? Always be sure before buying in.
The People Behind Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation.
Aside from one of the company’s Youtube videos, where two Florida women claim to manage the family business, the legal counsel behind their cancellation process is disturbing. Tom Heeler is the only public profile on Linkedin that’s tied to the businesses’ relief services. After reviewing his profile, we found he served in the Army as a traffic controller for a few years before graduating with some sort of creative writing degree from a Harvard extension school. Nothing about his experience tells us he’s qualified to adequately advise Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation on legal matters.
Further inspection shows Heeler is actually listed as the Co-Founder, amongst several other companies in the “creative realm.” Currently, he’s listed as the Timeshare Debt Relief Consultant for Resolution Timeshare Cancellation LLC, which is also listed in Orlando, Florida. Finding these types of details, where inexperience is evident, should help you make an informed decision about who represents your attempt to cancel vacation ownership.
Personally Confirm All Statements, No Matter What You’re Told.
While the following “red flags” for Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation are worth noting, it is up to the consumer to further investigate and informedly decide on who they do business with. Understanding how to research effectively in the timeshare industry is vital prior to hiring any company. Fractional owners can easily identify fraudand avoid it altogetherwhen they commit a little bit of their time. At the same time, the evidence below is enough cause for concern and can be applied to companies with similar timeshare solutions.
Red Flag #1: In Business for Less Than 3 Years.
As a timeshare cancellation company with 40+ years of combined experience, we’ve seen hundreds of phony businesses come and go. While some scams are investigated and prosecuted rather quickly, many aren’t discovered until the fraudulent activity has run its course for several years. Because of this, anything that Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation claims should be cautiously taken in.
The dirty laundry of new timeshare exit companies is rarely aired out unless thousands of people have fallen victim to an unethical ploy. Until people start realizing the service isn’t working or deem it a loss, evidence of an unrewarding experience just doesn’t exist. Therefore, labeling it as a scam is nearly impossible. Even when consumers are bamboozled to the max, greedy sales schemes don’t immediately become public until consumer protection agencies get involved.
Organizations like the FTC or BBB aren’t able to review companies due to public concerns until a trend of negative reviews or complaints grab their attention. While exit customers wait in limbo, more are sold on the service. It’s a sad reality that continues to grow due to internet technology.
Practical Insight That May Apply
Since most unethical timeshare cancellation companies solicit vacation owners with a random, pressure-filled phone call, research isn’t usually a part of the process. People tend to think they’ve been personally selected because of their dissatisfaction with the timeshare purchase. When stolen information aids scam artists in building trust, owners see the decision to cancel as an easy one. Anybody can file for an LLC for a few hundred dollars. Tenure and reputation is key for this service. No timeshare resort is obligated to give you a refund or take back the mortgage just because you hire a company to ask them. Far too many people pay for nothing.
Now we’re not accusing Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation of doing this, rather stating this is a very common occurrence in our industry. Assuming every exit company is capable of deceiving you will help you find one that won’t – so you can experience a clean break from the resort. At the end of the day, Sapphire has been in business for 1 year and 8 months. It’s extremely difficult to feel confident about their outlook when proof of competence just doesn’t exist yet.
Red Flag #2: Affiliate Businesses Are Questionable.
In the cancellation realm, many companies have a clear cut agenda to maximize profits. One of the ways they do this is to establish and launch complimentary businesses that allow them to continue targeting the same customers. For example, a timeshare resale company can also manage an exit firm and a credit repair service in addition to offering new vacation packages as a travel agent of some sort. What this allows them to do is maximize earnings on a failed resale, process a phony cancellation, follow up to fix damaged credit, then harass them to satisfy their traveling desire. It’s the perfect scam.
After investigating Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation further, we noticed that they launched Sapphire Mediation Group LLC on February 2, 2019 – 10 months after their exit service opened business. Also known as Blue Stone Financial Recovery LLC, it’s safe to say the operation is geared towards repairing poor financial decisions. Could that be a follow up sale or conditional service for the cancellation? It’s hard to prove anything right now, but there are definitely some perplexities here. The oversight for all three companies is managed by both Chelsea Wiles and Jeremiah Smith. Red flags like these, coupled with a lack of customer affirmation, is enough reason to cause hesitancy.
Red Flag #3: No Certified Ratings or Accreditations.
Any company just getting started in the timeshare cancellation marketplace has a long way to go to build evidence of validity. But for those defrauding people, a shortage of reviews due to pending results gives them quite the advantage. Suppressing or disguising deceit is a lot easier when no one has complained yet. With that being said, you should use caution when giving a company like Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation the benefit of the doubt because their about page says, “we provide ourselves in transparency and assertiveness.” (Yes, it actually says that.)
Some Fake it Until They Make it.
Just because a registered company promises to “cancel your timeshare contract with almost any timeshare developer,” doesn’t mean they can. Taking the time to investigate how far along the operation is, who’s involved and what they’ve accomplished is important. For the most part, qualified exit programs know they need to invest in credibility from the get go. Since the cancellation process can take a year or more, they understand it may be awhile before customer support is accrued. So before they open for business, ethical solutions typically ensure they have valid certifications and accreditations that relay a level of competency until reviews do.
Even though Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation has been operating for nearly 2 years, they still have yet to be accredited with the BBB. In this industry, this is one of the platforms you kind of want to be in good graces with. So it’s odd that they haven’t set themselves up for success here. After taking a look at some of the company’s reviews, it appears as though they’re asking clients to leave them a review immediately after hiring them; based on the process thus far. This is especially peculiar because they shouldn’t further solicit customers for positive feedback until they’ve delivered on their promises – and they know it.
Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation Reviews Are Telling.
“I was very confident that this company will do a great job for me. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure what to do without spending a lot of money for their help. All the Timeshare places I’ve talked to in the past I had a gut feeling they were scams. When I found Sapphire I felt comfortable inside so I’m hoping it won’t take too long to get rid of my Timeshare. Thank you Sapphire.” Avoiding a BBB accreditation and asking customers to leave a review before promised services have been rendered is definitely a red flag worth keeping an eye on.
Building a reputation this way is asking for trouble. At VOC, we’ve never even considered asking our clients to promote our company until the process was complete and final. From our experience, getting interviewed by the BBB is essential. Providing proprietary information not only shows a willingness to be transparent, but also protects the businesses from false claims that may arise. It’s difficult to trust when transparency claims aren’t apparent.
The Truth isn’t Always Evident.
Entities like the BBB are beginning to crack down on our industry due to the number of unethical companies that come and go at the consumer’s expense. Reviews like this one are sure to grab their attention. “I am disappointed, I signed up in September of 2019, never received monthly updates, as they advertise they would. They also said that they would protect my credit, but that has not happened either. Upon checking my credit report there are two remarks. Yet ALL their reviews are 5’s, this is a little unsettling as I can’t be the only one unsatisfied. It seems that just the good reviews are shown. I find that to be suspicious.”
Red Flag #4: No Reviews Anywhere Else Online.
Last but not least, it’s important that we point out the scarcity of Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation’s reviews. Outside of the seemingly directed posts on the Better Business Bureau’s website, customer feedback doesn’t exist. While the lack of completion may be the cause, it’s still rather unique. Consumers tend to have their preferred platform for leaving reviews. Whether that be Facebook, Google or even Yelp. The simple fact the customer experience is somewhat guarded tells us there’s a good possibility reviews are being manipulated.
The Bottom Line with Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation.
Many companies in the exit industry are a facade that sell you on hopes, possibilities and things that you want to hear. It’s hard to find a timeshare cancellation service that’ll provide you with realistic options and outcomes. Far too many use failed promises to collect your money before tucking their tails and running at the first hint of litigation. Sadly, a majority of them transition right into another unethical scheme without thinking twice of the destruction they left behind. Proceeding with caution, not haste, will only benefit your immediate and long term future.
Resort Release is the most recent example of this. After a multitude of lawsuits, they escaped further penalty by filing for bankruptcy. This left plenty of timeshare owners out of a lot of money and their perpetual agreement still under their name. Rumor has it, they’ve re-entered the cancellation industry under a new name. This is why the tenure and track record of these companies are important. While it’s too early to confidently accuse Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation of total misconduct, we’ll definitely continue monitoring the situation closely.
Helping You Understand Timeshare Cancellation.
Since 2018, we’ve invested a lot of time in educating consumers about vacation ownership and how appealing upgrades, resale or cancellation can be. We encourage you to browse our blog library to learn more before buying an interval or trying to eliminate the burden of one. You never know what you might get yourself into. Almost all of our clients learn the hard way and we’d rather help you avoid the same outcome – even when you don’t hire us.
Although we hope that Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation has good intentions, some of these warning signs shouldn’t be overlooked. Even though they use a “money back guarantee,” filing for bankruptcy is a common escape route for many. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and don’t allow anyone to talk you into their solution. Businesses that last more than three years tend to show a lot more promise. It’ll be interesting to see how long this operation lasts. To learn more about our attorney based process, you can schedule a free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.
Last summer, we covered a large scale scam where Daniel “Wolf” Boyer paid dozens of co-conspirators to sell fraudulent timeshare resale services to vulnerable owners. While a majority have already pleaded guilty, the investigation presumes. Paul Michael Marciniak is the second primary co-conspirator to receive his sentence. After the group of greedy entrepreneurs he joined fleeced more than a thousand fractional owners for over $3.3 million, you can’t blame consumer protection agencies for doing their due diligence to ensure justice is served. The well-known Florida timeshare resale con is rounding out to be quite the ploy.
How Did the Con Men Pull it Off?
Boyer, Marciniak and their team of con artists solicited timeshare owners with offers to sell their timeshare and remove the financial burden for nearly 2 years. The telemarketing scheme used personal data illegally to contact their victims and aggressively pressured them to quickly hand over thousands of dollars before the interested buyers found another property.
The problem was, there was never a potential buyer – or any opportunity to sell for that matter. This has come to be known as “the buyer’s pitch.” Everything about the sale funneled towards a limited opportunity that never developed. While this allowed them to bamboozle a lot of people, it didn’t take long for consumers to catch on.
What Eventually Gave the Con Away?
When assessing timeshare exit companies, it’s always best to initially examine public business information. With scams, you’ll often find noticeable inconsistencies, mirages and even duplicate information. That’s right, some people actually use the names of legitimate businesses to operate the fraud. Some end up using multiple aliases as a way to continue defrauding consumers. While a Florida timeshare resale con like this may seem valid at first glance, a little bit of research can go a long way. Unfortunately, tons of people didn’t catch this glitch.
Boyer and Marciniak’s operation was ironically listed under a number of business aliases that include: First Capital Financial Services Corp, Beneficial Business Solutions, Holiday Advertising, Vacation Funding Partners LP, Great West Funding and Property, People, Travel. In order to use these company names, accomplices scoured the internet for inactive businesses that were once licensed to operate in different states.
This allowed them to purchase and promote the entities as their own, across the entire country. By using old company information and reviews, they were able to build trust with unhappy timeshare owners. They even went as far as buying local phone numbers so those they solicited wouldn’t be caught off guard.
While it may have seemed like Boyer and Marciniak had sustained businesses nationwide, they were actually running a ghost scheme from their headquarters in Orlando, Florida. The Florida timeshare resale con was even renting interim office spaces and using false identities to carry out the misconduct. But the paper trail eventually caught up to them in the long run.
Marciniak Pleads Guilty, Joins 17 Others in Prison.
So far, 20 people have been charged for pleading guilty to mail and wire fraud. Paul Michael Marciniak, who has now been deemed as one of the main suspects, will spend 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for his selfish decisions. Aside from handing over $3.37 million as a restitution payment to the victimized timeshare owners, he’ll also receive 3 years of supervised release. Now that Paul’s involvement has officially earned him jail time, only three co-conspirators are waiting for their sentence.
Timeshares Can Make or Break the Economy in Small Towns.
But before explaining their reasoning or what’s been proposed, we have to understand how bad business by timeshare companies can handicap an economy. When it comes to The Acadia Village’s timeshare structure, each week (interval) that’s sold for every condo is considered its own individual property. Since the resort was constructed with 39 timeshare units, that means there are over 2,000 available weekly intervals. Each of which comes with their own tax bills and deeds. When these aren’t filled or being fulfilled, municipalities are left with years of unpaid taxes.
In Ellsworth, city officials have been facing hundreds of foreclosures after acting as realtors just to acquire the abandoned, dwindling timeshare units. They’re tired of cleaning up the mess and simply want to revitalize tourism in the area by providing travelers with quality lodging that makes sense. “We own upwards of 300 timeshare units,” said City Manager David Cole. “This is not our business to be in. We’ve found ourselves marketing them on the city website and the scroll. We’re trying to figure out ways to move these units. The primary objective is getting them back on the tax rolls.” Now that they have a little leverage in the situation, the city is contemplating what to do with it.
The Community Wants to Get it Right.
In their most recent meeting, the city’s councilors listened to a number of testimonies by some of the resort’s owners and staff. Here, they confirmed they can’t hold dissatisfied timeshare owners responsible when they feel as though they’ve been scammed. So, they wanted to figure out how everyone could win. Even though the city of Ellsworth could have easily implemented an ordinance that held the timeshare company liable for the tax burden, they unanimously approved a plan to lease the foreclosed units back to Acadia Village in exchange for an agreed share of profits.
While the community thinks the Resort is holding the town back, they believe Acadia Village can help them get tourists back so the bustling economy returns. “You’d still be engaging in the foreclosure process; the management of the units, however, would still be transferred over to Acadia Village,” says John Hamer, the attorney representing Ellsworth.
He continued, “If one of the units were to be sublet, Acadia Village would keep 25 percent of the proceeds while the rest would be remitted to the city. That split would be “50/50 in the case of a sale,” he said. “This would be a long-term type of lease to see whether Acadia Village is able to do better marketing, perhaps, than the city. It’s the marketing effort that’s most important to the city.” Since city officials aren’t equipped to successfully market the weekly intervals, they’re counting on the timeshare resort to step up their game.
“If they’re able to collect enough taxes, enough money to cover all the taxes, then everyone’s happy, the taxes are paid,” said Hamer. “Unfortunately, if there’s a case where they’re not able to collect the total amount of taxes due for all the timeshare units, the managing entity would be required to make up the difference.” We’ll keep you posted on how it all plays out. But if history continues to repeat itself, the city of Ellsworth could be in a worse position than when they started. Sounds an awful lot like most fractional owners.
For those that have bought a timeshare, the ownership experience can carry quite the mixed bag of emotions. People either enjoy it or they regret the decision. Truth be told, it all starts with the sales presentation. When buyers are fully aware of all the purchase entails, it makes it easier to find contentment. But when they’re sold on false hopes, then higher costs and minimal availability, regret tends to be the result. When a salesman from the timeshare lies about the reality of the product while leaving out pertinent information about the contract, buyers feel rather forsaken to say the least.
When you think about it, buying a timeshare is no different than any other large purchase. An informed decision that matches expectations will be a satisfactory one. An expensive, impulse decision that was too good to be true would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. While it’s never a good idea to make an uninformed purchase of this magnitude (interest, fees and mortgage usually exceeds $40K), it’s hard to fault the consumer when the timeshare lies.
Misleading Consumers is Extremely Damaging.
When a retailer has the ability to lock uneducated buyers into perpetual (lifetime) agreements, a higher level of responsibility needs to be expected. If the travel opportunity is so great, then selling people on the concept shouldn’t be difficult. You shouldn’t need to lie or hide details in order to close a deal. Some people have no business owning a weekly timeshare interval. The simple fact that consumers are pressured into buying something they’re not even seeking out – for a misleading price – is downright criminal.
One unexpected expense can easily push most people over their budget and into financial hardship. So in order to help them avoid haste, we thought it was a good idea to break down four ways timeshare companies convince potential customers with lies. If you’re not aware of the strategy behind this, you could be easily swayed into a disastrous situation. No matter what the resort tells you, the signed contract terms are the only thing they’re legally bound to. Broken promises happen frequently here and if you’re unaware of common timeshare lies, misconduct is extremely difficult to prove.
Why Lies About Timeshare Travel are Common.
Timeshare sales teams know that once the rescission period (a trial period that lasts 5-7 days in most states) is over, new owners are officially bound to whatever they signed that was in writing. Any undocumented guarantees, hypothetical scenarios or suggested possibilities cease to exist. This gives customer service teams a chance to position up-sales as solutions. When the timeshare salesperson lies and the owner can’t prove it, they’re often forced to spend more money just to make the purchase worth it.
When they can’t use the property the way they envisioned, many find themselves at the mercy of the resort. It’s hard for them to say “No” even when they don’t have the money because thousands of dollars are already going to waste. Pride and hope often gets in the way here. So, preventing a bad decision starts with asking the right questions. Once you know how and why the salesman of a timeshare lies to you, it’ll be easier for you to identify deceit, confidently say “no” and walk away. Hopefully this article equips you to act accordingly.
Lie #1: Cheap Travel Options Are Available.
When it comes to assessing the sales strategies in the timeshare marketplace, the ideal target audience is pretty clear. Resorts usually crave to speak to those who rarely even think about traveling or lavish vacations. These groups of people tend to be 35 and older with an average annual income of $50K. Most of which aren’t privy to the history of timeshare travel and don’t have a lot of extra funds laying around for a nice family vacation every year.
So why do they target people with limited funds and zero travel aspirations? Because the timeshare lies about the product being an affordable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that isn’t actually out of reach. They know how to make it seem like it’s a deal not worth passing up by leaving out potential limitations, costs and fees. But first, they have to gain their victim’s trust by showing them a smashing good time.
Creating Appeal Before the Deal
Every year, timeshare companies advertise free gifts in order to lure hundreds of thousands of ideal customers to their destination resorts. The only thing they require is that each guest attends (or endures) a “brief” timeshare presentation. Wining and dining consumers that rarely experience a pampered lifestyle creates an uncommon sense of euphoria.
This opens a consumer’s mind to possibilities. It’s like getting your spouse drunk to elicit a reaction that benefits you. By the time attendees are told an affordable getaway is at their fingertips, the excitement of the new experience blinds them from their intuition. In the midst of bliss, escaping for a week all of a sudden becomes appealing.
Undisclosed Dollar Amounts.
In reality, buying a timeshare is rarely what it seems. Far too many people end up finding this out the hard way. During the sale, specific number amounts are normally highlighted or pointed out in order to mislead the buyer. What tends to be left out are annual maintenance fees, potential special assessments, interest and even taxes. What was said to be $359/month all of a sudden becomes $525/month after the first year is all said and done. That’s $6,500 and an unknown liability cost for mediocre accommodations for a week. Does that sound like an affordable travel alternative to you? Since maintenance fees rise every year and special assessments are spontaneous, there’s no telling how much the overall cost will be.
When the purchase sends a buyer into financial hardship, additional costs and penalties can devastate their livelihood. Something that was sold as a way to bring the family closer together can end up tearing them apart. Even if the timeshare lies and claims the total cost won’t exceed $19K, most vacation owners end up paying close to $41K by the time they’re repayment term ends. This is assuming all payments were made on time. It also doesn’t consider the simple fact buyers are on the hook for maintenance and assessment costs for life. So, the true “all in cost” (at maturity) is closer to $56K.
Timeshare Lies Prove to be Costly.
When it’s all said and done, forking over six figures for an annual trip isn’t unrealistic. Even for a median income household. This is crazy to think when far cheaper options are available. If buyers knew the cost would play out this way, it’s safe to say most would have walked away. But since they were told they could afford it and lied to about the financial commitment, many are forced to adapt to a financially handicapped situation. All for the sake of a few thousand dollars in commissions paid to a sales representative with no conscience.
Lie #2: Timeshares Are Investment Opportunities.
Since we’ve discussed this a number of times in other articles, we’re going to keep this short and to the point. A timeshare is not an asset, it’s a liability. Think of it like leasing a car. You can’t resell the vehicle and it’s only costing you money to use it. There isn’t much that’s advantageous about it from an investor’s standpoint. The fact of the matter is, timeshares hold zero resale value – now and in the foreseeable future. If anything, they’re depreciating faster than ever before due to improved travel options and other advancements that the timeshare industry is failing to adapt to.
Buying a vacation interval isn’t even comparable to the purchase of a new car that depreciates when you drive it off the lot. It never carries any value. The market is so dense and competitive that it’s nearly impossible to ever even get in front of someone looking to rent or buy one. So when the timeshare lies and mentions resale or rental as a fallback or investment option, don’t believe it. A weekly interval should never be mistaken for a business opportunity.
Supplemental Pipe Dreams.
The resort wants you to believe that the more you buy the more you’ll be able to make. The low risk, high reward sales pitch works when people think they can earn supplemental income while vacationing for free. Especially those with limited incomes and not a lot of spare change. It’s extremely appealing to them and often used to combat their initial remorse. But a mediocre interval during a limited week will never be able to compete with timeshare marketing strategies or premium vacation homes that are visibly listed on AirBnB or similar.
Lie #3: Booking Priority and Convenient Availability.
One of the biggest lies timeshare companies tell involves availability. Nearly every day, we talk to someone that was told a specific week or destination was going to be available and it wasn’t. It’s just another way sales teams use verbal affirmations to get people to sign the dotted line. Buyers that are on the fence about the purchase usually want certain guarantees before agreeing to the deal. When they’re able to lock in a date that the entire family would appreciate, the pot becomes too sweet to pass up.
But the Actual Deal is Usually Sour.
In reality, first dibs for bookings almost always go to third party online travel retailers like Expedia and Priceline. Although new owners may have been led to believe they had priority booking, it’s highly unlikely. You’d have to make a substantial investment to guarantee a specific date – at which point you are drastically overpaying for something you can reserve through one of the aforementioned third parties. Resorts profit far more from retail travelers during peak seasons. They’re not going to hand over these dates to clients that are already obligated to pay.
If the buyer doesn’t figure this out within the first week, the trial period will end and they’ll be stuck with limited dates and destinations for good. Misleading statements and guarantees about availability can really put a damper on the entire experience for the consumer. Especially when the scheduling department for the timeshare lies further by claiming another vacation owner booked the week first. Ironically, this sets the resort up nicely to pitch an upgrade for the desired dates.
Lie #4: “Beneficial Interests” Add to the Family Legacy.
If you stay at a timeshare presentation long enough, sales teams know how to start tugging on your heart strings. After a few hours they start trying to make attendees feel as though they’re letting loved ones down by passing up an amazing opportunity they may never come across again. Whether they’re referring to children, extended family members or a close group of friends; the timeshare company knows how to pull information out of you and use it against you.
A Legacy Pitch is a Red Flag.
Telling a proud father that his kids deserve an annual trip is a good way to chip away at the sale. One of the more famous ways they go about doing this is what’s called a “legacy pitch.” This leads potential buyers to believe they’ll be able to leave their kids a piece of vacation property (otherwise known as “beneficial interest”) for future use once they pass away. This tends to be pretty convincing for aging couples nearing the end of their lives.
Unfortunately, it’s just another way the timeshare lies about the actualities of the bargain. While the offer is normally sold as a points program through a trust, in most cases, the contract language states the owner doesn’t actually own anything at all. The trust owned by the timeshare does. However, the owner is on the hook for the mortgage, maintenance and assessment fees. What ends up happening is, the children of the deceased buyer end up absorbing the burden down the road and the resort begins requesting liability payments from them.
Avoid the Lies and Focus on the Facts.
At the end of the day, the only reason a timeshare should be purchased is for the travel experience. However, participating in minimal research and simple comparisons will show this to be a poor financial decision. While the purchase is sold as an affordable expedition with ideal dates that are too good to pass up – you must understand that you’re paying a premium to vacation this way. Nothing is guaranteed unless it is in writing. If you feel as though your emotions and personal relationships are being used to leverage your decision, it’s always best to walk away.
The truth is, it’s very hard to identify timeshare lies and deception at the point of sale. But when you know what to ask and how to confirm pertinent details, you’ll always be able to make a confident decision. The last thing you should want is to enter a never-ending sales cycle that continues to prey on your desperation with false hopes. If you’re stuck in an unfavorable agreement, we’d love to help you exhaust your options with the resort before helping you find a favorable outcome. We provide free consultations that explain how to get out of a timeshare or you can begin the qualification process below.