How a Timeshare Mortgage is Nothing Like Homeownership.

How a Timeshare Mortgage is Nothing Like Homeownership.

Every year, (well, except 2020), tens of millions of Americans travel the country to escape the repetitive reality of their everyday lives. During these vacations, many become intrigued by timeshare opportunities that appear to offer annual trips at discounted rates. While the pitch doesn’t appeal to everyone, it does develop a desire in some tourists to sign up for a repeat vacation every year. Those that take out a timeshare mortgage often think it’s similar to owning a home. But it’s not exactly an on-demand type of travel option.

No matter how much your vacation blinds you from reality, a timeshare mortgage is nothing like homeownership. As our country approaches a potential travel surge on the tail end of COVID-19, consumers must understand that timeshare companies are thirsty for sales. Since March, they’ve been tightly gripping their billions of dollars while slowly squeezing the sponge of their operations. When tourism reopens, they’ll most certainly be looking to target euphoric travelers that are, once again, enjoying an escape.

Helping Consumers Make Good Decisions.

Now that we’ve covered most of the lies that timeshares use to persuade and lure, we thought it’d be a good idea to help consumers better understand the basics of vacation ownership. Believe it or not, we actually care about helping people before they call us to get rid of the timeshare contract. There are plenty of viable travel options out there and buying a timeshare is never a good idea when the decision is based on misinformation. 

When you’re unsure of what a $20K timeshare mortgage entails, then you really ought to take the time to find out. Trusting a salesman in this industry is extremely risky. It’s why we prefer to educate the general public on timeshares instead of cramming cancellation services down the throat of owners. Those that eventually want to get out typically remember our warnings.

In today’s marketplace, sales teams rarely even mention the term “timeshare” anymore. Distinct product titles such as, “vacation club” and “fractional vacation ownership” are intentionally used to avoid any type of negative connotation. Sellers are constantly evolving sales pitches to further deceive. Although timeshare termination is our specialty, equipping consumers with truth, guidance and encouragement is the best thing we can do.

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How Is a Timeshare Mortgage Similar to a Home Loan?

While it may appear that you’ve struck gold with an “affordable” second home in a popular vacation destination, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. A timeshare mortgage almost always is not, by any means, cheap – and buying one as if it’s a vacation home will leave you with egg on your face. But before explaining the stark differences, it’s a good idea to go over how salespeople convince consumers that a timeshare mortgage and homeownership are one in the same.

If you already own a residential property then some of the terminology used in the purchase will sound familiar. Both transactions may include a deed and promissory note with consistent obligations that are expected to be met by the buyer. Looming penalties (such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, negative credit reporting, etc.) should be expected for both when contractual requirements are not honored. 

Owners of home or timeshare mortgages are almost always required to cover the costs of maintenance and repairs. While homeownership offers much more control (as we’ll cover shortly), both can become quite costly if some sort of disaster were to occur. Each mortgage comes with its own set of risks, but the reward of one may be nonexistent when you take a closer look at it. 

Differentiating Timeshare Mortgages & Homeownership.

At the end of the day, the biggest distinction between a house and a timeshare is the simple fact you don’t live in a weekly interval. Whether you “own” a floating unit or purchased points, you’re simply paying for time – that may or may not even be available during your desired dates. You see, the timeshare sale oftentimes is about luring buyers into the next best option when things don’t work out as planned. 

A timeshare mortgage will more than likely not provide you with the luxurious vacation home of your dreams that you can visit whenever you want without any booking issues. Every visit, you may not be able to pick back up where you left off from last year. You truly do not own the property. So as we go down this list of differences, try to see the product for what it is: A  purchase agreement which almost always has annual mandated fees, availability issues, unexpected liabilities and minimal decision making opportunities.

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1. Owners of a Timeshare Mortgage Can’t Make Decisions.

When you own a home, unexpected expenses can be burdensome. But your ability to make decisions regarding the situation helps you manage the overall cost accordingly. Regular maintenance and upkeep can also be controlled and homeowners are essentially able to sleep in the beds they make for themselves. If you have the money and want to add a pool or enhance the landscape then you can. But a timeshare mortgage is nothing like homeownership. 

Timeshare companies don’t exactly make decisions with the approval of their vacation owners. In fact, they almost never even ask for input. If they want to remodel a pool or add another wing to a resort then they do so. When a natural disaster strikes or a pandemic slows their ability to drive revenue – special assessments, in addition to timeshare maintenance fees, help resorts fund repairs. If your timeshare company is bought out or acquired by another entity, it would not be uncommon for maintenance or special assessment fees to skyrocket.

Once you’re under contract, you may become liable to share in some of the timeshare’s expenses along with the other fractional owners. Sadly, many buyers never realize how much annual costs can be and are rarely prepared to pay. Unlike homeownership, where you might be able to use some bandaids until money is right, timeshares almost always have deadlines for fees. Resorts rarely take back mortgages and like we mentioned before, missed payments can carry similar penalties.

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2. Vacation Owners Have No Say in Visitation. 

When you think about it, owning a timeshare is kind of like living in a dorm room. Every year, a new set of freshmen move in with a new set of freedoms and little accountability. Although some believe a timeshare mortgage will provide them with a little slice of paradise, what about all of the other guests that enjoy your proudly owned unit during the remaining 51 weeks of the year? Unlike your house, you have no control over who comes and goes. 

As a matter of fact, you can’t even decorate the premises or make it your own because another guest, you don’t know, will arrive shortly. A timeshare presentation may cause you to believe something is going to be yours but you’re really paying tens of thousands for nothing more than a glorified hotel room. With this in mind, is it really worth paying upwards of $40K in a timeshare mortgage, annual fees, taxes and interest for frequently used lodging? It might be if you think you’ll be able to lower the overall cost.

3. Refinancing a Timeshare Mortgage is proving to be a Pipe Dream.

Nearly every consumer preparing to sign a timeshare mortgage with an interest rate of 13% – 17.9% (may be higher where permitted) has questions and concerns. One of the most cunning ways timeshare sales teams persuade them to sign up for unfavorable agreements anyways is by lying to them about their refinancing options. It may sound good, but almost no bank will refinance a timeshare agreement because they carry little to no value on the secondary market, therefore there is no collateral to back the loan.

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In the past, when owners were unable (or refused) to repay a timeshare mortgage, it would cause banks a tremendous amount of unnecessary problems. Because of this, many timeshare operations talk people into placing the purchase on an high interest credit card (normally a partner) until they’re able to “work out a lower interest rate with the bank.” 

Once targets are under agreement, the timeshare sales rep knows it will prove to be difficult to get out of the obligation without repercussions. By the time a new owner realizes they can’t refinance through their bank (or another financial institution), the rescission (cancellation) period has usually run its course. No matter how much conflict this creates, the timeshare is easily able to point to the contract while claiming the buyer’s remorse is legally not their fault or problem.

SMALL DIFFERENCES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Rates for home loans aren’t anywhere near the rates of most timeshare mortgages. Strict lending processes eliminate a lot of risk and help banks understand who they’re loaning money to. Buyers that make payments on time are often rewarded with refinance and accelerated repayment options. 

A mortgage with a timeshare company almost never holds any value on the resale market and the interest will more than likely remain high for the extent of the loan – unless you pay it off quickly, which many do. But even after the timeshare mortgage is paid in full, most owners are still obligated to cover the costs of maintenance and assessment costs for the life of their contract, oftentimes in perpetuity. This alone takes the wind out of the sails of many.

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4. No Equitable Position With a Timeshare Mortgage.

Vacation ownership is nearly impossible to sell due to the lack of demand on the secondary market. Even sales teams have to aggressively pitch the product to unsuspecting buyers while almost always refusing to take “No” for an answer. At the end of the day, owners can’t even invest into the property themselves to increase its value. As a homeowner, you can always upgrade the property and make minor changes to add to its appeal and increase resale value. With a timeshare, you may find that you can’t even give it away (or donate it to a good cause) if you wanted to. 

You may find that pouring these funds into better maintaining your own house, adding to it’s worth, is more ideal than obligating yourself to a timeshare mortgage. Even more, why not use the money to pay off the home loan? Once it’s yours, it actually becomes an asset. You can never truly own a timeshare and leverage it as an asset. It’s nothing more than a liability – easily making a timeshare mortgage nothing like homeownership.

If you want a vacation home, you may want to look into financing a small investment property or condo that you can rent and use at your leisure. This at least can place you in an equitable position. Although a timeshare vacation may seem like an amazing opportunity for the entire family, investing in something that can be yours, together, can be so much more fulfilling. Especially when you’re in control of expenses, upgrades, refinancing, guests and the future of the property.

Continuing the List of Lies That Timeshares Tell Consumers

Continuing the List of Lies That Timeshares Tell Consumers

If you were able to catch last week’s article, then you now know there is an endless list of lies that timeshares tell consumers. Nearly every timeshare complaint involves the initial transaction. Although we already covered most of the presentation’s tactical verbiage, there are lies that appeal to people – even after they say “No” numerous times. Whether buyers fall for any of the entry-level deception or not, one single lie can lead them down a confusing path of bad decisions.

With that being said, we wanted to kick things off today by discussing the mythical perks of vacation ownership and how damaging they can be. Many consumers eventually give in to the sale because something finally seems advantageous to them. A sampler package, potential income opportunities or even a seamless ability to upgrade to make the ownership more “affordable” can catch the eye of a naysayer. Either way, the longer you stay at a timeshare presentation, the more likely it is you’ll buy one.

The Dishonest Sales Pitch Has Never Changed.

Once someone is sucked into believing that a certain element of vacation ownership is beneficial to them, it’s difficult to escape the neverending sales grasp. This is why hundreds of thousands of buyers spend tens of thousands of dollars chasing a worthwhile experience. In reality, the deception doesn’t end after the sale is final and a string of bad decisions can be devastatingly costly if you buy into the lies that timeshares tell. With that being said, let’s get back into our list of dishonesty.

4. Lies That Timeshares Tell About Discounts and Perks.

Not everyone that sits through a timeshare presentation experiences the same set of lies. In most cases, the sales pitch is predicated on your background and the way you respond. If you know nothing about the product then chances are, a lot will be hidden from you. Informed consumers that aren’t distracted by the demonstration normally ask the right questions. This is good, but sales teams are always prepared to counter.

You’d Rent Your Timeshare Week to Cover Some of the Costs?

For example, most people start to lose interest when they find out additional fees for maintenance, assessments, taxes or exchanges add to the total cost. At this point, the lies that timeshares tell about affordability should set off an alarm. But instead of admitting to the disinformation, most salespeople explain how renting the unit can cover these costs. While this may immediately seem appealing, like the lure of resale, it is almost never beneficial.

In fact, this is a completely hollow statement with no factual backing. For starters, how can vacation owners compete with the timeshare inventory that’s pushed out to travel sites like Expedia and Priceline? What about the seamless transactions of vacation rentals? Are owners really able to provide this type of experience without additional costs? Moreover, why would they want to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a trip they have to rent out just to try to cover annual fees?

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The concept in itself makes zero sense but is sold as a perk. In other words, the blatant lies that timeshares tell through sales departments about income opportunities are preposterous! Owners that have trusted the timeshare to rent their interval tell us they’ve only received back a quarter of their annual costs. They can’t believe they were encouraged to essentially pay the resort for someone else to use their mortgage.

Lies That Timeshares Tell About Family Benefits.

While there isn’t one specific lie timeshare organizations spew about family perks, sales people know how to leverage your relationships. Using the property for holiday gatherings, family reunions and other events normally catches buyer’s attention. Even an inheritance for children can be intriguing. But it isn’t always enough. This is why some presentations claim further discounts for loved ones.

Whether your family isn’t available to travel or you don’t have kids, they’ll find a way to position some sort of value. Some of our clients made the purchase because they thought business partners, clients or family friends could use their unit or access membership discounts. But this isn’t always true and Maria’s story we published a few weeks ago is standing proof.

What Does a Timeshare Actually Provide?

At the end of the day, buying a timeshare because you believe it is an asset is ignorant. The only reason most people believe this is because the sale convinced them of it. At some point, we have to start thinking for ourselves. If you take the time to do this, you’ll realize there are no actual benefits other than a time slot for a possible vacation. No matter what you’re told, the product does not add wealth, improve your credit, save you money or give you any type of status.

As a matter of fact, the property may not even be owned by you! Points are essentially “right to use” terms and you can only use them if you can find ample availability. Once you’re under contract, even if you can’t use it, the product (points or deeded interest) places you in an obligation for liabilities. This means, natural disasters, acquisitions, renovations and other unexpected occurrences only add to your payment responsibilities.

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The Coronavirus of 2020 is a perfect example of an unexpected occurrence. Not only is the pandemic proving to be a reason to issue additional assessment bills but owners are being prohibited from using what they already paid on. Many vacation owners are currently trapped in their agreement and can’t even book until next year. Some are even being charged rescheduling fees for trip cancellations even though resorts are closed. 

Owners have told us that their timeshare has “refused to refund” their points or annual vacation time because they didn’t cancel their reservation in time – during a mandated lockdown. Many are now jobless with no help from the timeshare. Although timeshares may be out of touch with reality, owners should be bracing for the aftermath of COVID-19, where significant “special assessments” could arrive in 2021. 

Today, we’d be hard pressed to find any vacation owner that views the purchase as a channel of stress relief. Being forced to pay a large assessment would only increase the burden of owning one during this time. It could devastate the lives of many for years to come. Could this alter the perception of the industry as a whole? It’s hard to tell but one thing is for certain, it’ll be at the expense of buyers.

5. The Lies Told at Vacation Owner Update Meetings.

If you own a timeshare and are unsure of what this means then you will at some point. Owner update meetings are normally focused on persuading current owners to upgrade their package or expand their availability to inventory. Sometimes they’re even positioned as a customer service solution. Whether you’ve been invited by the resort, lured by an incentive or you’ve been told you have to attend one before receiving access to your unit, be prepared to face dishonesty.

Many of our clients tell us they’re appalled by some of the deceit spewed at owner update meetings. “I was told that I would have to upgrade [my timeshare] for it to have any value,” said one owner. Most attendees simply want to get on with their vacation. Little do they know the mandatory, informational meeting is nothing more than an additional sales presentation. Many walk away thinking real problems have been resolved because of the lies that timeshares tell them there.

Timeshare Acquisitions Don’t Provide Many Perks.

After an acquisition takes place (another timeshare operation takes over management), owners are almost always pulled into a “mandated” owner meeting to inform them that their original contract or deeded interest is now essentially useless. Most of these gatherings then “force” owners to purchase upgrades or new programs (typically points) when they shouldn’t have to. What’s explained to them regarding the benefits of an upgrade isn’t always entirely true.

Aside from these lies, a new timeshare mortgage, in general, is rarely beneficial. It usually comes with increased annual dues and language that doesn’t allow the owner to use the timeshare the way they use to. There are a number of lies that timeshares tell consumers after an acquisition. But just because new management says the future is bright, it doesn’t mean yours is.

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6. Even Timeshare Sampler Packages Are Riddled With Lies.

The last section of deceit in this series has to do with sampler timeshare trials. A few weeks ago, we covered a story on two friends that decided to try a timeshare package and immediately regretted it. The limitations of the trial resulted in the timeshare company persuading them to spend more for additional points. Luckily for them, they were able to catch on early in the process and filed a complaint.

Even if you escape a timeshare presentation (without committing to a perpetual agreement), the lies that timeshares tell consumers about a sample package can still trap you. It’s a lot easier for people to say “Yes” to a $5K timeshare trial with an expiration date when compared to a $40K mortgage. But what happens when they can’t book a trip at the locations that were sold to them?

Walk Away From Bad Timeshare Decisions When You Can.

The entire focus of the timeshare sales process is to place consumers under perpetual agreements that force them to make payments. You can believe the lie that you need to upgrade for better availability (like the buyers we first mentioned) or you can overcome the entirety of the ploy by saying, “No.” In most cases, the terms of a timeshare trial are not consumer-friendly at all. The goal will always be to get you to spend more, not have a better time. 

Why take the risk of unexpectedly finding yourself under contract with extensive future payment obligations? You can follow the bait of the trial – so your $5K doesn’t go to waste – or you can take the loss while you’re still somewhat ahead. Sadly, the lies will never end. Even if you think you’re smart enough to come out on top, just know many successful, confident people have been humbled by timeshare travel – egotistically and financially.

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Have You Been A Victim of a Dishonest Timeshare Sale?

Emotions are usually running high by the time a vacation owner realizes they’ve been lied to. It’s a tough pill to swallow if it’s something you really believe in. But when it comes to dealing with timeshare companies, anger isn’t going to move them. The industry was built on self preservation and the extent of their legal division should intimidate you. This is why it’s important to avoid an irrational agenda.

Even though timeshare cancellation is our specialty, every owner needs to exhaust their efforts with the resort. Doing everything you can to communicate your concerns in a professional manner only helps you in the long run. If you happen to have any questions about your contract you can always schedule a free consultation to learn more. If you know of any other lies that timeshares tell consumers, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Tips For Consumers Taking Out a Personal Loan to Buy a Timeshare.

Tips For Consumers Taking Out a Personal Loan to Buy a Timeshare.

Taking out a personal loan for a vacation ownership usually seems like a good idea after speaking to timeshare salespeople. Misleading promises during the presentation convince many that they’ve stumbled across a deal of a lifetime. Because of this, thousands of buyers borrow money in order to purchase somewhat of a mirage. Many don’t even realize they’ve made a mistake until it’s too late. Interest, maintenance fees, travel expenses, taxes and other costs can create quite the burden. Not to mention the emotional impact of false promises

The problem is, the perpetual agreement that vacation owners sign is binding. Getting out of the contract is burdensome in itself. That’s why we believe it’s important to help inform consumers before they’re even presented with the opportunity to make a life-altering mistake – like a timeshare purchase. With that being said, a recent article by MSN covered a number of things to look for when taking out a personal loan to buy a timeshare. So, we thought we’d highlight some of their points for you.

First Things First, Analyze Everything.

According to ARDA, the average sales price of a weekly interval is $22,942. But this number is far from finite. Sadly, most buyers aren’t truly aware of the totality of the expense and how much interest adds to it (17-19%). This is often intentionally hidden from them. While a timeshare loan may give you an opportunity to travel places you’ve never been, it can also alter your lifestyle. The key to avoiding a regretful timeshare purchase is simply taking the time to read into every detail before buying. Counting on sales teams to cover all of the bases is wishful thinking.

What Caught Our Attention About the Article.

One of the first things MSN mentioned in their post was the concept of reselling fractional interest. They did a great job of explaining how timeshares actually depreciate. This is why most banks won’t finance them and lending often goes through the developer (or credit card partnership). Nobody is going to take over the outstanding balance of an unwanted timeshare as it is proven that almost never does the collateral (timeshare) hold any value on the secondary market. 

If you’re ignoring interest rates because you think you can rent or sell the property, then really think about what you’re doing. It’s value in the marketplace is far less than what’s still owed on it. A timeshare is not the same as homeownership. The simple fact there’s literally no financial return should deter many from taking out a personal loan to buy a timeshare. Thousands of buyers would avoid remorse if this was fully understood.

Other Tips Regarding Personal Loans For Timeshares. 

MSN’s article also pointed out a number of things to look for in timeshare financing. Like all large purchase loans, the fine print should always be thoroughly inspected. Adding up numbers and doing the math yourself is important. This is the last chance you have to catch something disadvantageous. Since other items have been known to be included in timeshare finance packages, check numerous times if you can. MSN even goes as far as saying, “Don’t allow anyone to strong arm you into opening a credit card.” No matter how good 0% interest sounds, APR can be higher than expected.

There are also alternative ways to take out a personal loan to buy a timeshare. For some, the developer’s option may not make sense but they’re still committed to the purchase. While it’s still important to analyze your intentions, MSN recommends looking into unsecured personal or home equity loans for a solution. Lower interest rates can be expected – but realize a default mortgage can cost you your house. Is that worth it?

The Bottom Line With Loans For Vacation Ownership.

Every day, we speak to dozens of unhappy vacation owners, desperate for relief. Although timeshare sales teams deserve most of the blame, taking the time to review every detail would have saved them a lot of time and money. If you’re considering a purchase of this magnitude – even if you think it’s a limited time offer – please do your homework. There are plenty of publications providing a wealth of timeshare information online. Take advantage of these resources and make a decision that’s best for you.

The Timeshare Owner’s Perspective During the Sales Presentation.

The Timeshare Owner’s Perspective During the Sales Presentation.

Nearly every victim of a timeshare sale is on vacation when they make the purchase. Because of this, many eventually regret it. While it’s easy to blame the ignorance of their decision on a gullible mindset and the euphoria of their travels, it’s important that we take a second to look at things from the timeshare owner’s perspective. Although consumers do have an individual responsibility to make wise purchases, the presentation of products shouldn’t look to take advantage of them. 

Whether travelers are solicited to buy a timeshare at a tourist-heavy location (boardwalk, strip, shopping center, etc..) or around the resort, they tend to be instantly intrigued by the lure of free overnight stays, dinner vouchers, tickets and other attractions. Cut-throat salespeople are positioned in these places to talk people into exchanging their time for these gifts. Even if the offer is something inexpensive like $60 GatorLand passes, most people take the bait.

This is Where the Story of the Timeshare Sale Begins.

From the timeshare owner’s perspective, attending a “90-minute” presentation appeared to be a win-win scenario. Yea, they might miss out on some of their trip, but they’ll get to do something else, that sounds amazing, for free! Everyone likes free stuff, right? But fast forward 8 hours (yes, 8 hours later), and the presentation is still going. They’ve now sat through a manipulated podium presentation, listened to a number of misleading statements and find themselves exhausted and relatively confused.

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Just when they start thinking a timeshare may not be their cup of tea, a new sales guy offers another “today only deal worth listening to.” This could be justified due to their shirt being blue or it being Tuesday. Almost anything is usually said to make the attendee believe they’re in for an even better offer or that they are special. Because they’ve come this far, they usually continue listening to offers – hoping something makes it worth their time. But in the end, it simply wears them down while remorse begins to settle in.

At this point, most people feel like they have to get something out of the wasted day. How bummed would you be if you lost some of your vacation with nothing to show for it? This is exactly how timeshare sales teams want travelers to think. Even when the white flag is waved and they request the “free gift” for their time, most are met by another closer that finds a better way to relate to them. Many become so bogged down by information that they don’t even check contract terms. Some even feel forced to sign.

Analyzing The Perspective of a Timeshare Owner.

From the outside looking in, you might wonder why they don’t just walk away. But victims are strategically distracted from certain elements of the purchase and continuously presented with perks. It can be awfully difficult to see the drawback of the product from a new timeshare owner’s perspective. Especially when they’re uncertain if they want to let the “today only deals” they’ve been presented with expire. While it may not be financially ideal, they almost feel obligated to buy because they qualify.

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You see, the timeshare sales process is extremely methodical with a strong level of urgency. The time invested and the commitment to the spiel can be misleading in itself. Salespeople know who they can persuade and how to persuade them. Sales teams pair up with relatable attendees and relationships are forged. The new “friend” spends hours getting to know them and uncovers everything about their financials, family, interests in lifestyle. Pretending to care helps salespeople garner trust and close the deal.

How Else Are Sales Attendees Sold on Timeshares?

Knowing someone’s wife wants to go to the Bahamas or that an attending couple has family in Hawaii could aid them in closing. The idea of letting children or relatives use the timeshare week could also encourage people to buy in. Improved financing options for lower income families that help soften the monthly cost may also do the trick. Many sales teams have even been known to lie about revenue opportunities to get contracts signed. 

From a timeshare owner’s perspective, having an investment property and a new friend that can help him make money sounds like a sweet deal. Sales teams nudge them by asking, “You can see the value in this right?” Some people are even told points or property values will increase over time. But there’s really no way someone can prove this during a timeshare presentation as historical data proves this to be false. So when attendees fail to see the value, more aggressive measures typically ensue.

But, What Happens When They’re Still Not Interested?

When friendly sales don’t work and an attendee really just wants to go back to their hotel, the sales demeanor usually changes drastically. The presentation pivots from a helpful friend to a critical one. Quick jabs are often taken to convict them for walking away. “You can finally afford to take your family on vacation, don’t your children deserve to go on vacation?” This is where some people even feel like they owe their sales rep a purchase – because of how hard they worked on the deal. 

Or they might be told, “Don’t you want to take your parents on a trip before they pass away? You said they wanted to visit Maine.” “What about your wife? Don’t you think she deserves a treat every year for watching the kids while you work?” “Don’t you think your husband deserves an escape after working so hard?” “You guys look like you could use a vacation.” All of these statements really get under the skin of someone who’s already wasted an entire day.

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What to Do If You Want to Go Home.

At this point, the attendee’s perspective will become defensive or succumb to the relentless sales efforts. They’re either going to want to sign up for something or get their gift and go home. In order to exhaust every possibility of the sales presentation, let’s assume the attendees dodge every sales pitch and communicate a firm, “No” on several occasions. Even after another supposed “price drop”, they demand their gift. It’s been far longer than 90 minutes and they’re ready to go to bed and prepare for a day at GatorLand tomorrow.

The thing is, they’re now committed to getting these tickets. Which can take another 3-5 closers to receive. At some point in the process, they’re going to either be forced to leave the event empty handed or commit to some deal to get their gift. Once people are told they can always take advantage of the contract cancellation period, they usually sign up to execute the exchange. Sadly, the actual value of most free gifts don’t match the original perceived value and a majority of people aren’t aware the rescission period is less than a week (3 days in some states).

Signing Up to Escape the Presentation Usually Backfires

So in this example, the timeshare owner’s perspective is rather muddy at this point. In most cases, the buyer isn’t going to even look into the purchase until they get home. If they immediately return to work (or their normal routine) then it could be days or weeks before they even get around to it. By the time they do, they realize there were some restrictions to cashing in their voucher and the timeshare purchase is now perpetually binding. The entrapment of the presentation is to blame.

When the new buyer tries to get in touch with the friendly sales rep, they’re unable to connect. Days after the purchase settles in, the owner then discovers a secret compartment in the binder his salesman forgot to mention. It’s then that they realize all of the verbal promises made were lies. Things begin to be more clear and resentment starts to settle in. From a timeshare owner’s perspective, they’re a victim. Because of this, most people want revenge – but few are able to obtain it.

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The Struggle to Escape a Bad Timeshare Decision.

Unexpectedly finding yourself under contract can cause an aspiring determination to find restitution. But like many buyers, it only causes more trouble. Whether they walk away from timeshare payments, attempt to resell the property or look into cancellation, there are a number of pitfalls. Added costs with no resolve is common in this industry. Frantically guessing on where to turn for a solution leads many to scams. 

A sense of hopelessness, bitterness or anger can then settle in if the financial burden gets out of control. Especially if the unit itself is disappointing. Although many buyers are led to believe they have an affordable $15K contract over 10 years; interest rates (15-17.9%), travel costs and unexpected maintenance fees are also contractually binding. This can be a tough pill to swallow. 

After failing to find a way out, many are forced to look for a new way to make the most of the purchase. From the timeshare owner’s perspective, making some sacrifices to afford payments is better than fighting a battle where the odds are stacked against them. But if they struggle to book ideal dates or the destinations they were promised aren’t available, a tipping point is usually reached. And the cycle essentially never ends.

Making Wise Timeshare Decisions.

While there are plenty of ways this scenario can play out, it’s important to understand the purpose of this story. Signing up for a timeshare agreement may seem like an amazing opportunity, but there are a number of moving pieces that can make it a regrettable decision. We’ve published dozens of articles on this in hopes you can find the answers you’re looking for. 

Knowing what to expect during the entirety of this process can be the difference between an extensive setback or nothing at all.

Is the Timeshare Travel Strategy for COVID-19 Really What It Seems?

Is the Timeshare Travel Strategy for COVID-19 Really What It Seems?

Now that this pandemic has reached a point of no return, the general public has started to prepare for the aftermath of an economic crisis. Although timeshare companies were rather quiet during the first few weeks of the nation-wide quarantine, they’ve been adamantly working behind the scenes on a plan to sustain their business model. While most major resorts have communicated their losses, they haven’t said anything about the inconveniences their primary customers may face. So does this mean the timeshare travel strategy for COVID-19 won’t exactly be advantageous for vacation owners? 

Everything about the history of timeshare ownership tells us that this could be a frustrating time for interval buyers. Especially those that recently made the purchase this year. Can you imagine spending tens of thousands of dollars on a perpetual obligation that may not be usable anywhere in the near future? Why should you be forced to view a paid vacation as a loss? Even if consumers sign up for better or for worse, is the timeshare business model really worth protecting? While it’s not for us to say, we do know that millions of owners are currently in limbo awaiting answers.

Why Timeshare Owners Are Probably Getting Anxious.

So why do timeshare companies feel reassurement is the best choice of action? What makes them believe they’ll put high paying customers at ease by announcing more money will be spent on sanitation? How do announcements about resort layoffs help timeshare owners feel better about paying for something they can’t use? How long will they be able to buy time when the timeshare travel strategy for COVID-19 doesn’t even seem to include vacation owners.

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The timeshare industry, as a whole, racks in billions of dollars every year. No matter what they tell the public, it’s going to be hard for most timeshare owners to believe their loss is warranted. If maintenance fees rise or special assessments are billed for an influx in owners defaulting, then the average Joe (who’s probably drowning financially during the pandemic) is not going to be very happy – and rightfully so. Why should they be patient if the timeshare expense is a huge burden for them right now?

HOW ABOUT AN EXAMPLE?

Should Netflix subscribers be forced to pay their monthly dues if the internet went down? If you paid for a season pass at a zoo that caught fire, would you ask for a refund? Although these are significantly smaller dollar amounts, we can all agree that it would be bothersome to be on the hook amidst inconvenience on our end. Now imagine that the streaming bill or zoo visit cost you $350 per month. 

What if the website or zoo piled on maintenance fees at the end of the year (that you vaguely remember agreeing to)? How would a perpetual obligation to pay for these things make you feel? Imagine knowing your credit would be ruined or that judgments may be filed if you didn’t pay on time – in the middle of a global pandemic. Customer satisfaction would have to be at an all-time low.

Why Would Timeshare Travel Change It’s Strategy?

The thing about the timeshare industry is, morale hasn’t always been the best. Truth be told, complaints are often ignored. Every year, millions of dollars are wasted on lobbying and lawsuits to control public perception. Endorsers are paid to influence sales and politicians are rewarded for passing laws to their advantage. The billions of dollars in earnings haven’t been used to reward or serve their high paying timeshare owners. In other words, the timeshare travel strategy has always been self-serving – even before COVID-19.

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While we do recognize the industry as a business, it’s hard to justify their past actions towards the consumer. So why should we believe this will change during a crisis that directly affects their business? Over the last several weeks, we’ve taken the time to post a number of news articles about the current updates that timeshare companies have published online. We’ve spent a lot of time looking for hope for timeshare owners. But nothing has shown us change is in the near future

What Most Timeshare Resorts Are Saying About COVID-19.

After digging through dozens of news releases regarding timeshare travel and the Coronavirus, we’ve come to a few conclusions. First and foremost, it seems as though resorts are reaching out just to reach out. It’s as if they’re all saying the same thing. For the most part, it seems like the intent is to inform shareholders that there is a timeshare travel strategy in place. Communicating their ability to remain afloat through the storm seems to take precedence over anything else. 

Apparently, vacation owners are supposed to be content with their ability to use the resort when it’s all said and done. Promoting positivity and encouraging patience helps timeshare companies garner trust. Keeping owners in the dark distracts them from what could be seen as profiteering. What makes matters worse is the simple fact timeshare owners are not invested in the property. 

Buyers don’t have equity in the resort like that of a house. They don’t own it. So the types of announcements that resorts are publishing right now are worthless. No light is being shone on the real victims here. What this tells us is that hospitality chains are currently more concerned with brand equity than customer satisfaction – like they’ve always been. Why would they be when perpetual contracts guarantee income and eliminate retention.

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Informative Updates Turn to Public Relations Stunts.

Why should they care about their owners when they’re already obligated to pay? Vague news releases and updates give timeshare companies one thing – more time. When you think about it, a lack of disclosure is something they use quite often. Almost the entirety of the timeshare sales presentation is predicated on avoiding pertinent contract details. Keeping timeshare owners in the dark right now allows them to remain in control and profit in the meantime.

At the end of the day, hotel chains are using the idea of a timeshare travel strategy for COVID-19 as a PR stunt. Why else would they promote employee firings or boast about acts of public service when owners may be in need of answers? When the general public feels sorry for their losses and applauds their efforts, it makes it awfully difficult to notice struggling timeshare owners. Putting out good content and a positive image during a crisis is essentially an advertisement – not a timeshare travel strategy for COVID-19.

What Timeshare Resorts Are Actually Doing.

When it comes to the announcements that timeshare companies are making, their statements are rather misleading. If you actually take the time to research resort happenings you’ll find that layoffs aren’t exactly what they seem. First of all, most firings have occurred in the sales divisions. Since timeshares aren’t able to hold presentations right now, there isn’t a need for salesmen. This actually presents them with quite a bit of savings as millions of dollars are spent annually on new acquisition. It’s by far the highest cost of the industry. 

Other employee layoffs haven’t been as convenient like the way some resorts made it sound. Many staff members have been asked to take furloughs or mandatory time off with no pay. In other words, some people aren’t even getting laid off or fired. Timeshare companies are literally expecting them to wait out the pandemic in order to keep their job. This leaves the decision in their hands to quit or move on if they can’t survive.

Many of these positions, like sales teams, are easily replaceable. If anything, the resort will be able to employ a young, fresh and energetic workforce once their doors reopen. While they may be forced to cut costs and say goodbye to some tenured people, doing so is not in the least bit disadvantageous to their business. All stakeholders and key staff members will more than likely remain intact.

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Is There Really a Timeshare Travel Strategy for COVID-19.

The point of this article is to encourage vacation owners to look into things themselves. Far too many expect the truth from timeshare companies and rarely suspect deception. But in the wake of a pandemic – that directly affects the travel industry – they have to be able to expect the worst. Especially when the track record of the industry is rather consistent. Like we mentioned before, nothing in the past has shown us that vacation owners will be considered in the middle of a crisis. Even natural disasters or emergency situations haven’t elicited empathy or compassion.

Buyers of this type of product are customers. They aren’t shareholders and they don’t own anything of value. Most can’t even rent or sell the property for profit. There’s no return on their payments other than the possibility of a good time – that one may argue can be obtained at a cheaper rate and with more flexibility. A timeshare interval is not homeownership or an investment of any kind. Owners should not have to take on the burden when the business stops. They paid for something and they aren’t getting it. Just because the industry is losing income doesn’t mean the customer should suffer.

No matter how many lawsuits timeshare companies fight or lobbyists they’re able to pay – one thing remains clear. There’s always an agenda with this industry and it rarely focuses on the consumer’s concern. As long as they can keep timeshare owners calm, patient and under contract through the pandemic, they’ll come out of it in great shape. Sadly, many vacation owners won’t be able to keep up with the billion dollar industry.

How Might Timeshare Owners Respond to a Pandemic?

How Might Timeshare Owners Respond to a Pandemic?

Social distancing has been a worldwide phenomenon for more than a month now. Billions of people are grounded, waiting on government aid to revitalize their hope. Now that the Coronavirus has everyone’s attention, certain expenses are being looked at through a different lens. Decisions are being made to a different tune. It’s difficult for anyone to know just how different the post-pandemic era will be. While it may be easy for most to cut costs, it’s not that simple for timeshare owners. So how might timeshare owners respond to a pandemic?

Over the past few months, we’ve discussed a number of possibilities that could make vacation ownership worse. Unexpected events, like job loss, medical emergencies or natural disasters could eventually place buyers in a really big pickle during a really tough time. Especially if they’re not even able to use the purchase. But aside from what you could expect or what to be leery of, it’s important to understand your options

Far too many struggling timeshare owners are predictable when it comes to finding relief. At the same time, it’s not exactly their fault. Some have an inaccurate or vague understanding of their perpetual agreement. They might even believe options like resale or buy-backs exist because of what they were told at the point of sale. Unfortunately, misleading presentations aren’t uncommon in the industry. After owners realize they’ve been misinformed or lied to, their desire to get out of the agreement usually grows. What’s interesting is most timeshare owners respond the same way. Let us explain.

What Might Timeshare Owners Be Thinking?

Looking through the lens of the consumer in these situations not only helps us understand how we can help, but also how to avoid further letdown. Oftentimes we speak to owners that simply need advice on something they’re considering for relief. Pressuring people to cancel the contract isn’t always in their best interest. Knowing what you’ve been sold and where to look in the contract for answers allows you to make intelligent decisions regarding your timeshare.

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With that being said, many of you are currently holding onto the hope that vacation ownership isn’t a mistake. As we’ve highlighted in our recent news articles, most resorts have talked about bouncing back better than ever before. Although they haven’t directly addressed how this might affect you, you’re trusting the timeshare will reward you for your patience. While the resort will most certainly appreciate your loyalty, it’s difficult to say if they’ll be eager to reward you.

THE PANDEMIC SHOULD ELICIT BETTER DECISION MAKING.

Based on the history of our clients, many of them hold out hope for the purchase to turn around. They’re told one promise after another, sometimes investing thousands more, only to find themselves back where they started – with a higher expenditure. Although our intent isn’t to mistake your loyalty for ignorance, we encourage you to reach out to your resort for clarity. If there are major changes to availability or fees increase, will the purchase still be worth it

We talk to thousands of people that wish they would have taken action sooner. This is why it’s so important that you think things through. Especially when it comes to an expense of this magnitude. Why wouldn’t you want to know if there is a way for you to suspend payments if hardship were to strike? If these programs end up costing you thousands of dollars in interest will it be worth it? 

Ask them what they would do if timeshare owners respond to the pandemic in a negative manner. Find out how they prepare to manage priority bookings in the future. Let them know you’re interested in all of the benefits they have to offer. But if you’re thinking about trusting a sales organization to do what’s “right” when they’re losing millions – you might want to think things through.

Thought 1:  I’ll Just Sue the Timeshare Company.

Before the pandemic even arrived, some of you may have already been frustrated with a timeshare purchase. While some see value in the vacation package, others feel like they’ve been forced to carry the burden for far too long. The Coronavirus will probably be the last straw on the camel’s back for many. But no matter how upset you are or how bad you think you’ve been screwed, you must proceed with caution

Aiming to hire an attorney and file a class action lawsuit isn’t always fruitful. An average lawyer just isn’t equipped to battle a timeshare company in court. Even those experienced in timeshare litigation struggle to keep pace. Unless you have visible evidence of sales fraud and you’re able to afford the legal process, then you could lose an awful lot of money. Many timeshare owners have.

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While lawyers do their best to represent you, timeshare companies have unlimited funds and elite legal teams that know how to use the contract against you. Even most sales laws benefit timeshare companies. Some states currently have an unlimited cap for assessment fees. Unfortunately, successfully suing the resort because your maintenance fees skyrocketed or a special assessment arrived in the mail is highly unlikely. Your contract says it all. 

Thought 2:  I’ll Just Walk Away From Payments.

Once timeshare owners realize that a class action lawsuit requires a lot of work, evidence, capital and patience – they often have the urge to refuse making payments. Look, we totally understand why. Anyone that’s been taken advantage of by a company they’re paying, no matter the number of occurrences, would find it difficult to be honorable. The binding agreement can seem meaningless when the other party doesn’t meet their end of the bargain. 

No matter how good it might feel to stick it to the timeshare company, it’s important that you don’t take a contract breach lightly. This is why we always recommend adamant communication with the resort. This at least proves that you tried. When you stop paying for the timeshare, it really stacks the odds against you. While you may not hear from the resort for a few months (or even years), you can most certainly expect they will come calling. 

Timeshare owners that think they’ve gotten away scott free are often surprised at some point with a series of ultimatums. Although the expense may vanish from your current balance sheet, it could require quite a bit of cash to settle out down the road. Are you willing to work something out with the resort or legally cancel the agreement now – or would you rather take your chances at the possibility of facing judgements, past due fees, interest and legal costs to name a few? Walking away from an expensive binding contract can be extremely devastating.

Thought 3:  I’ll Just Resell My Timeshare.

Timeshare owners that are able to quickly overcome their emotions tend to look for ways to recuperate their loss. Many immediately turn to resale platforms to see how they can make money leasing or selling their weekly interval. If you search on Google, you’ll find hundreds of resale options that seem promising. The problem is, there just isn’t a market for timeshares. When people are selling them for a little as $1 on eBay, it should be rather telling.

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Sadly, many vacation owners look at this as a safe way to endure the regret of the purchase and at least break even on the expense. But when a buyer doesn’t come knocking and nobody rents the condo then they’re back where they started. Some even invest in other platforms or pay for ads to increase exposure. But they just can’t get rid of them. Most timeshare buyers are aggressively sold at a timeshare presentation that they’re incentivised to attend. Almost no one is actively looking to purchase one. Especially now that vacation rental is huge. 

Not only can resale be a waste of time, but it can also be extremely costly. A number of online scams prey on vulnerable timeshare owners. This is also true in the exit industry. They’re definitely waiting to see how timeshare owners respond to a pandemic. Tons of tactics are used in the 3rd party marketplace. Some even use the names of real businesses to operate the fraud. So don’t let the pandemic lead you to haste. One of the worst things you can do is hand money to someone that isn’t really interested in selling, renting or canceling your timeshare. 

Thought 4: An Advocate Program Will Help.

Whether timeshare owners are burned by resale programs or pass on them, most simply want to find someone they can trust. At this point in their thought process, they’ve realized that working with someone who can represent them and advocate on their behalf is probably best. The problem is, many of these types of programs are similar to inadequate attorneys and even relief scams.

At the end of the day, an advocate simply communicates your plea or request in a professional manner. It’s the glorified way of making a demand so to speak. There is no guarantee, if at all, that this sways the timeshare company to respond in your favor. Even if you’re experiencing hardship. While we’d like to think timeshare companies will aid owners if restrictions last most of 2020, it’s highly unlikely. 

So advocate programs shouldn’t be valued any more today than they have been. If anything, there will probably be an increase in advocate scams during this time. When you have a strong case, you should seek some sort of legal consultation. But if you’re looking for a way to get out of a timeshare contract, then a professional company will benefit you the best. There’s no need to waste thousands of dollars with an unproven solution. 

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Thought 5: I’ll Just Give the Timeshare Away.

Most people wouldn’t donate a timeshare due to the burden or out of desperation. So it’s hard to assume this is crossing many people’s minds right now. But for those that are thinking about doing so, donating or giving away a weekly interval is risky for two reasons. Not only could a transfer scam leave the timeshare deed in your name, but the donation could cause the recipient additional financial problems. What happens if the party you gave the timeshare to wants to give it back?

In the middle of this pandemic, it won’t be surprising to see a high number of timeshare owners looking to discharge their contract or escape the burden altogether. But it’s important that you don’t act irrationally and simply hope for the best. The last thing timeshare owners need is further penalties during an economic standstill.

Thinking about these types of decisions and your timeshare options is one of the best things you can do right now. Not all timeshare owners respond to a pandemic the same way. But helping everyone keep a level head so nobody throws away money is important to us at VOC. If you happen to have any questions about our qualification process or your timeshare contract, you can always schedule a free consultation to learn more.

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