How do Timeshares Get Away With Lying to Travel Enthusiasts?

How do Timeshares Get Away With Lying to Travel Enthusiasts?

For decades now, millions of consumers have been talked into spending tens of thousands of dollars on a weekly timeshare vacation. While some are content with a simple trip to a familiar destination, others become consumed by efforts to make the purchase worthwhile. Whether lust or disappointment drives the pursuit, the timeshare sales system is built to take advantage of both. Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about the sales process and how buyers are misled. But the way timeshares get away with lying is just as concerning. 

In order to understand this better, it’s important that we remain focused on the contract signing. Oftentimes disputes by a vacation owner stems from the initial presentation. This is because actual contract terms are rarely disclosed, causing many buyers to sign perpetual agreements under false pretenses. In other words, sales teams have been known to lie in order to place unsuspecting consumers under a legal obligation they don’t exactly understand. 

Lying About Timeshare Ownership is Getting Worse.

In the past, getting out of a timeshare agreement has often been viewed as an unattainable feat. This is due to the amount of money poured into the sale of the contract. But over the past few years, people have started noticing that timeshares get away with lying more often than not. In return, consumer protection and government agencies increased their efforts to expose misleading sales practices and crack down on unethical timeshare operations.

Soon after, companies like ours began publishing industry truth to combat the deceit. Because of this, many major timeshare resorts have focused their efforts on additional ways to get away with lying. When you think about it, providing proper disclosure and an adequate follow through would solve a majority of their problems. But apparently, they’re more concerned with protecting themselves from backlash right now – while keeping owners under contract.

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“License to Lie” Clause Created to Protect Timeshares.

In last week’s article, we briefly covered a clause that is commonly being used in timeshare contracts today. Visible on most written agreements, this “license to lie” purportedly gives timeshare companies the “right” to disqualify any “verbal promises” made by a timeshare salesperson during the sale. These clauses are written in a way to protect the timeshare from any type of legal complaint regarding the presentation. 

Although this is currently in play, we’re not sure how they plan on enforcing it. Many prospects aren’t even allowed to view the contract until the sale is final. So if the purchase is based on a lie, then how can a buyer’s obligation be binding? The simple fact that prominent resorts are trying to legally protect themselves from being held accountable for false promises made by their own sales teams is absurd! Even more important, how can timeshares get away with lying when they’ve already been busted for singing the same tune?

Lying About Timeshare Contracts is Nothing New.

There’s a reason why timeshare companies use highly aggressive sales teams. Anyone with sense can see the intent here is to maximize their bottom line at the consumer’s expense. Extra effort has always been made to blame buyers for their ownership experience. Timeshares have their hands deep in lobbyist’s pockets to ensure lawmakers enforce short rescission periods and uncapped annual fees. The state of Florida recently increased the cap for special assessments. Even customer service teams are trained to make buyers feel responsible for the inconvenience of the purchase.

The never ending sales process, that’s jam packed with excuses, helps timeshares get away with lying and deflect any wrongdoing. The thing is, the problem still remains. The more owners they lie to, the more problems they have. Contractually forcing them to pay is not the answer. If anything, the license-to-lie clause will only make matters worse for resorts and their timeshare programs. Refusing to revise sales strategies and show empathy to a number of wronged customers is not a good look.

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Timeshares Find A Way to Keep Owners at Bay.

Government officials are either oblivious to the timeshare industry’s deceitful schemes or they’re benefitting from them. What makes this “license to lie” situation interesting is the California Attorney General recently sued a well-known timeshare group for it. But after the operation settled with the AG and removed the disclaimer from their contracts, they simply repositioned themselves under a successor company. 

Doing so allowed them to create new contracts with the exact same clause – and it’s being leveraged still to this day. Powerful hotel chains know that government agencies just don’t have the funds or manpower to continue fighting the same battles. Since the first settlement took years to execute, they apparently feel it’s worth the risk to do it again. It’s almost as if beating the system makes them feel accomplished.

The current use of the disclaimer against new owners gives the resort enough ammunition to quietly continue selling contracts and collecting payments. The losses from COVID-19 have added even further urgency and aggression to their sales tactics. And like we mentioned before, timeshares get away with lying because a majority of the general population isn’t aware of the actualities of the purchase – or what to watch out for during the sale.

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Are Travel Enthusiasts At a Disadvantage?

Rarely are people ever prepared or even motivated to properly document a timeshare presentation in order to protect themselves from sales fraud. Oftentimes, many feel as though they’ve stumbled across an opportunity of a lifetime. The charisma of the sale can be captivating. This is why all aspiring vacation owners should always have an attorney review the terms before signing anything.

Even a simple mention of this during the presentation can work in the buyer’s favor. But it’s hard for most to think this way. Many want the salesperson’s spiel to be true. Instead of challenging any and every promise before committing to the deal, they believe in the pitch. Little do they know that timeshare offers should be viewed with skepticism. Questioning the purchase could be one of the best decisions they ever make.

Timeshares Want Owners to Believe All Sales Are Final.

Travel enthusiasts will continue making ignorant timeshare mistakes until they fully understand the pitfalls of the industry. As buyers progress in ownership, they often have a number of questions about their contract. But once the rescission period is over (usually 5 days) and the agreement is binding, it’s awfully difficult for them to do much about it. As they discover more truth, remorse usually sets in quickly. Timeshare companies know this but many simply don’t care. They know they have leverage. 

As long as owners don’t turn to cancellation services or formulate a strong class action lawsuit, resorts know they can milk a vacation owner for tens of thousands of dollars before they even know what hit them. This is why a majority of their news releases and industry updates discuss exit scams. If they can create fear around an owner’s timeshare contract exit resource, they can make a lot of money off of one buyer.

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Will Timeshares Get Away With Lying Much Longer?

While the whole concept of lying is disheartening, it tells us that timeshare companies are becoming more desperate than ever before. The simple fact that they’re using old, failed tricks proves they’re running out of options. Society just doesn’t value an annual vacation like once before. Even though many have enjoyed their purchase in the past, the greed of the industry continues to rear its ugly head.

Buyers that were once able to travel effortlessly are now experiencing limitations. Mergers and new laws have added inconveniences to the overall fractional ownership experience. Points programs haven’t exactly been fruitful. Now that the travel industry is extremely competitive, some believe it makes more sense to simply cancel the timeshare. While we’re not quite ready to put a fork in the industry, the future most certainly looks bleak. 

When timeshares get away with lying because they’re avoiding the truth, it’s only a matter of time before it bites them. If you feel as though you’ve been misled during a timeshare presentation and want to learn more about our qualifying process, you can always schedule a free consultation. At VOC, we’re committed to understanding your current situation so we can point you in the right direction. Thanks for stopping by.

What Vacation Owners Could Expect in the Aftermath of a Pandemic.

What Vacation Owners Could Expect in the Aftermath of a Pandemic.

Today, our world is nearly at a standstill as the aftermath of a pandemic looms. But most Americans can’t think about potential outcomes right now as they’re forced to focus on the here and now. No matter the precautions that have been put into place, every city seems to be caught off guard by the virus. Now that the unexpected has impacted thousands, U.S. citizens are beginning to safeguard their lives. With travel restrictions and local ordinances in place, we don’t have much of a choice. Whether you believe this is tip-toeing on Marshall Law or wish more people would stay home, each of us will be affected by the aftermath of a pandemic differently.

Unfortunately for those of you with timeshares (like we mentioned in our past few articles), this may not be the best time to be an owner. Just prepare yourself for that. It’s going to be awfully difficult to accommodate millions of travelers once limitations are lifted. If you’re already frustrated with the reservation system, then it’s safe to say your pain will more than likely resume. While we hope that timeshare companies will start putting their buyer’s needs first, it’s hard to know if this will ever be a reality. 

The Financial Impact of a Pandemic is Real.

No matter how many times the industry stubs their toe, they insist on continuing down the same path – in a rather aggressive manner. Their ability to keep timeshare owners under contract has secured them multi-billion-dollar profits every year for a long time now. Nothing about their sales presentations tells us they care about a fair deal. Now that our country is on the verge of a post-pandemic era, this becomes even more concerning. Fair or not, there will be buyers that won’t be able to afford their timeshare anymore. You might even be realizing this right now.

The Coronavirus pandemic has really wreaked havoc on our economy. Business closings, due to finances or a non-essential distinction, have altered a lot of lives. Industries that were thriving have been totally shut down. School closings have forced millions of families to find care for their children. Those that are still working may face difficulties getting to work – if they rely on public transportation. Job loss or an inability to find an income really urges people to take a long look at their spending habits.

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Budget cuts are going to have to be made for most people and businesses. But what happens when timeshare owners can’t escape the costly burden of their purchase? Will resorts really follow through with collection attempts, judgements and foreclosures? Do they really think owners will pay for a weekly interval they can’t use – in the middle of a financial crisis? While it’s easy to assume timeshares will care more about the loss they incur, there is always room for optimism. It’s been said that Hilton recently offered buy-backs, but we’ve yet to analyze the terms.

What to Expect After it’s All Said and Done.

Although it may be difficult to make a timeshare payment right now, facing reality can help you avoid a number of devastating outcomes. At some point, the resort has to acknowledge the aftermath of a pandemic. Staying in communication with them is the best thing you can do – even if making payments isn’t an option. This at least shows the effort was there

As our nation aims to get a handle on the outbreak, we have to understand that damage will be done. Being proactive and preparing for setbacks not only helps you act wisely but understand your options. Many of you have been ready for something like this and others have not. Either way, how you respond to this can determine how the next few years of your life goes. Truth be told, timeshares should be thinking the same way. With that being said, here’s what we see happening in the timeshare industry in the aftermath of a pandemic like this.

1. Timeshares Labeled Non-Essential.

As we walk into an unknown time of recession, how many buyers will simply stop paying for their timeshare? Like we mentioned before, you’d think it’d be an easy decision if it had to be made. The problem is, a decision to walk away doesn’t just affect them. While the timeshare company may come after the breaching owner for contractual obligations, annual maintenance and assessment fees still need to be paid. This falls squarely on the remaining owners group. 

The thing is, others might be facing similar financial hardships themselves. So the snowball effect can be rather burdensome. Even if resorts are able to find new buyers (which is extremely costly for them by the way), the loss from cancellations and contract infringement is hard to ignore. If the industry is desperate for new owners now, there’s no telling what they’ll do in the aftermath of a pandemic.

If history repeats itself, timeshare companies will surely remarket their users with enticing upgrades to increase profits. Sadly, this tends to negatively impact senior citizens the most. If a drastic decline in payments occurs because timeshare owners view the purchase as non-essential, then further financial consequences can be expected for those who remain loyal. Are you prepared to carry this burden?

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2. New Hospitality Health Standards.

In the aftermath of a pandemic like the Coronavirus, one can’t help but assume the hospitality industry will improve health and wellness standards. There’s no way we’ll ever know how many people contracted the virus from a hotel stay or their timeshare vacation. At this point in time, health standards for hotels, condos and even vacation rentals are basically self regulated. While there are rules, regulations and inspections in place for every state, it’s nowhere near where it needs to be. 

Improved health regulations will be a big win for all, but it’ll be rather costly for timeshare owners. Most travelers won’t care about paying a few extra dollars per night when they know it’s going towards overall cleanliness. The peace of mind is usually worth it. But when millions of dollars is poured into a resort for maintenance and wellness improvements, the annual fees for vacation owners can increase significantly.

There are also a few other items worth considering. If new health standards are implemented for the hospitality industry, are you prepared to pay for a special assessment? Have you ever heard of this or know what it means? This could be extremely costly if there is a surge in legal timeshare cancellations. 

Will all of this force timeshare companies to start assisting aging owners that develop disabilities, health conditions or an inability to make decisions? All of these things need to be considered before assuming a healthier environment actually bodes well for you – financially.

3. Heirs Will Be Opportunistic.

When it’s all said and done, I think we can all agree that the COVID-19 virus has impacted the elderly population the most. As we’ll find out, some of those that have lost their life were timeshare owners. This means, heirs will have to eventually decide what to do with the weekly interval. Some of which aren’t even notified until a mass amount of fees have racked up due to deceased payments. Even when a life is lost, the timeshare industry shows little regard. 

When it comes to inheriting something like this, most people are pretty eager to use it. Those that aren’t privy to the product tend to be extremely vulnerable – and timeshare companies know it. They’ll be more than happy to lower your parent’s (or original owner’s) penalties if you upgrade. While a majority of people will see this as opportunistic, salesmen only see them as an opportunity to make more money.

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In the aftermath of a pandemic, where we lose thousands of seniors, many heirs will find themselves in this predicament. A good part of deeded ownership is outdated because timeshares now prefer selling points. While aged contracts are pretty straightforward (specific week and unit at specific property), most point contracts work a strategic legal plan to deed the points through trusts with perpetual beneficiaries. If you inherit an aged timeshare contract, then you can expect to be pressured on a points program that better suits the resort.

4. A Severe Bottleneck for Traveling.

One of the main concerns for all timeshare owners right now should be availability. While a good number of travelers have had their timeshare vacations canceled over the past few weeks, plenty of people are waiting to see if their reservations will stand. Over time, this creates quite the queue. Who gets to go first? How will their allotted travel time be affected if the resort has to continue upending reservations? Will the resort be willing to halt retail bookings until vacation owners get what they’ve already paid for? 

Due to the screeching halt of the travel industry, we should all be expecting a drastic bottleneck to occur. Who knows how long it will last but the longer travel restrictions remain, the more difficult it’ll be for timeshare companies to win. Even if they make up a lot of lost money with maintenance and assessment fees

5. Vacation Resorts Will Suffer Loss.

Once timeshare companies start suffering tremendous losses, internal hits are inevitable. Long time employees and key staff members will be forced to pack their bags – at least for the time being. Hospitality chains simply can’t survive when tourists aren’t bustling and travelers aren’t filling their rooms. The lack of job security or fear of contracting the virus might even cause some employees to quit or look for other work. All of these things weaken hotel chains.

The problem with firing timeshare employees is the simple fact most former sales reps launch fraudulent exit programs in an effort to sustain their lavish lifestyle. In a time like this where we’re nearing the aftermath of a pandemic, timeshare owners are going to be more desperate than ever. During the financial crash a decade ago, a number of former sales reps launched illegal transfer schemes where they’d let Shell corps dissolve and leave the owners with the financial burden years later. If sales teams lose their jobs, it’s not a reach to say history could repeat itself.

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Say the hospitality industry is affected by this for a long time, how are timeshare owners impacted? Will resorts continue to rely on them to burden the cost while they pocket billions of dollars? Will they ask for more? Will it force them to finally find a way to offer an affordable vacation – even if they can only make $500 million? Only time will tell. But in the aftermath of a pandemic like the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s hard to know what to expect.

Vacation Ownership Consultants.

While there’s nothing more that we want than for timeshare owners to enjoy their vacations, we understand this can be a tough time for you. Sometimes, you just need to know how to exhaust all of your options with the resort. At VOC, our goal isn’t to close you on our cancellation service. We’d rather help you find the best path to a logical solution. You can schedule a FREE consultation anytime or proceed with our qualification form below.

Should You File Bankruptcy to Eliminate Timeshare Debt?

Should You File Bankruptcy to Eliminate Timeshare Debt?

For the most part, timeshare ownership is believed to be a cost-saving, enjoyable purchase that’s fruitful year after year. Nobody signing the dotted line expects anything less. While a satisfactory experience does play out for some buyers, the exact opposite occurs for others. When disgruntled owners give us a call to talk about their regret, a common question they ask is if they should file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt. While we believe this is an irrational take, we have to understand why they’re willing to take such desperate measures to get out of a timeshare agreement.

How would you feel if you thought you bought a $20,000 timeshare then later found out at the time of the mortgage maturity it was actually going to cost $55,000 due to annual fees, interest and taxes? What would you say after realizing your annual payment obligations continued for life, even after you paid off the timeshare mortgage? How would you feel if you couldn’t book your desired location, time or even something comparable to what you thought you were paying for? Let’s just say emotions run pretty high once buyers recognize the ploys. What makes matters worse is the simple fact that a majority of solutions are meant to keep timeshare owners trapped in their contract. 

Once they make a decision to pursue some form of relief, they’re commonly ripped off by 3rd party agencies that prey on their vulnerable state. Whether or not they’ve attempted to sell the property or legally get out of the timeshare contract, failed attempts to escape fractional ownership can create uncertainty – which may create even more vulnerability. When owners become driven by their emotions, they become even more susceptible to scams that specialize in deceit.

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We Want to Help Fractional Owners Avoid Bankruptcy.

Aside from a number of devastating financial blows, these real-life experiences cause some timeshare owners to believe extreme measures are necessary. Because of what they’ve been through and all of the relief scams that flood the market, timeshare cancellation is rarely viewed as the logical solution. But it most certainly is. They just have to put the time in to find a company that actually knows how to get out of timeshare contracts and cares about their quality of life. This starts with an ability to identify scams and unfavorable outcomes, like bankruptcy.

Knowing that some fractional owners file for bankruptcy with the hopes of escaping the clutches of timeshare ownership is disheartening. Consumers should never have to think about taking such a blow just to eliminate their sense of hopelessness. But you can’t really blame them. Even though most owners aren’t interested in legally canceling their agreement, we want to help them understand why they shouldn’t file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt. 

If we can reach one person on the verge of making a life-altering decision, it’ll be worth it.

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Is Filing Bankruptcy Over a Timeshare Worth it?

When a fractional owner starts throwing around the term “bankruptcy,” it’s pretty obvious they’ve gotten in over their head. It’s not something that’s commonly brought up in the timeshare industry until threats of a foreclosure are involved. Based on the conversations we’ve had, financial hardship is rarely the reasoning. It’s the feeling of entrapment and mistrust that provokes their desperation to get out from under the timeshare constraint.

Many don’t even know if they would qualify to wipe out the existing debt of the purchase. They simply want to stick it to the resort. While speaking to a lawyer about the legal process could be helpful, expecting a legal teams to consider your best interest is risky. If timeshare owners were to take the time to really think about the decision, would they really file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt? Are they willing to deal with possible embarrassment and endure purchase limitations for the next 7-10 years?

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Most people wouldn’t deem this a viable solution if they knew the facts surrounding a quality timeshare exit strategy. This is why it’s so important that you speak to legal counsel with experience with timesharing. Our timeshare cancellation services aren’t temporary fixes, we use an attorney based process that actually terminates your future obligations. It’s important to understand that bankruptcy could potentially be a temporary fix as it only eliminates past debt, not future debt. After speaking with a few of our contracted attorneys, we’ve compiled some additional reasons why it’s a bad idea to file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt.

Real Attorneys with Real Outcomes for Timeshare Bankruptcy

Diving off the deep end before you know how to swim or what’s in the water is a bad idea. Educating yourself on the actualities of filing for bankruptcy is an important step that should be completed before consideration presumes. There’s no need to waste time on the pursuit of a bankruptcy claim if it’s clearly unrewarding. With that being said, here are some questions our partners wanted timeshare owners to chew on:

  • Do you want to accept the risk of having an inability to obtain a loan for the next 7-10 years because you filed for bankruptcy? Your ability to finance a home, motor vehicle or even a computer can be hindered due to this decision. If you’re willing to endure anything to get rid of a timeshare then there’s no reason cancellation methods should be out of the question. If you’re being stubborn due to an unfortunate encounter with an ineffective exit team, then ask yourself if protecting your pride and limiting your credit is more important than moving on for good.
  • Does your income even allow you to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? A lot of time and money can be wasted on a claim if you’re not even sure you can wipe out the timeshare purchase. By proceeding with the process uninformed, you may find out that you only qualify for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. This requires you to pay all or a partial amount of the debt over the next 3-5 years. Undesirable results can be the result if stubbornness is involved.
  • If you decide to proceed with a Chapter 7 filing and you don’t have a structured payment plan such as Chapter 13, will any of your assets be at risk? While you might successfully file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt, your failure to make payments can be rather detrimental. Is there a chance you could lose your home with equity? If so, is this worth the risk to you?

Escaping a timeshare contract with a bankruptcy claim may seem advantageous to you, but it’s not as simple as you might think. While many people use bankruptcy as a way to start over, their decision usually surrounds a large failed business investment. Most people in this position aren’t left with much of a choice. Hitting the financial reset button because you feel trapped in your timeshare and are determined to get out is never a good enough reason. Especially when there are professional companies out there that truly care about helping you move on with your life.

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Our Contracted Attorneys Have Additional Timeshare Advice.

While the above questions should really help you determine if you should file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt, our legal partners mentioned a few more things you need to know. 

  • Filing bankruptcy does allow you to wipe out old debt with the timeshare company, but you’re still responsible for future contractual obligations. In other words, your future debt will not be discharged and you may be required to pay for annual maintenance fees, taxes and other special assessments that accrue.
  • Timeshare bankruptcies will stop collection attempts and the harassment from the resort for old debt, however we provide an alternative option that inevitably blocks your timeshare company as well as third parties. Terminating the contract with a timeshare cancellation company like ours allows you to cease and desist communication while eliminating future obligations.
  • While bankruptcy may solve your current problems, there is a chance your heirs may run into inconveniences. Again, since the contract is perpetual (forever binding), it’s hard to tell who the timeshare company will come after for their losses.

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Eliminating Timeshare Debt Doesn’t Have to be Complicated.

At VOC, we take pride in offering professional services that consider the owner’s experience leading up to their decision to contact us. Unlike most exit companies in the timeshare industry, we make sure potential clients don’t feel pressured to get rid of timeshares. There are always additional ways to try to work things out with the resort.

If you feel as though you’ve tried everything and you’re ready to cancel your timeshare, we’d be more than happy to offer you a free consultation. In the meantime, we hope this article helped you understand why you should never file bankruptcy to eliminate timeshare debt. In the end, terminating the agreement for good will inevitably help you move on.

Timeshare Sales Laws That Regulate the Industry

Timeshare Sales Laws That Regulate the Industry

The timeshare business has been booming for quite some time now. But demand hasn’t necessarily been the driving force. Since the 70’s, a nearsighted salesforce has been at the wheel despite a diminishing reputation and an increase in competition. At the same time, timesharing isn’t the only travel option that takes advantage of impulse buyers.

Nearly every industry requires a set of laws to keep greedy businesses from taking advantage of customers. There’s always someone who ruins it for everyone. Helping you understand what a purchase of this magnitude entails is important to us. Now that we’ve pointed out the challenges of regulating timeshare marketing tactics and advertising lingo, we wanted to shed light on some of the timeshare laws that protect consumers from misleading sales strategies.

Understanding What Timeshare Sales Laws Regulate

In the early stages of timesharing, when expansion was occurring rapidly, many resorts utilized “misspeak” to promote products that didn’t actually exist yet. Like we mentioned in an article about timeshare history, travel solutions were kind of made up as they went along. Consumers were inevitably left hanging while timeshares figured things out. Without regulations, developers were able to take risks at their customer’s expense. This eventually caused regulatory and consumer protection agencies to form and spring into action.

Even though consumers have become more informed over time, a layer of protection is needed now more than ever before. Since the internet provides a boatload of inaccurate information, it’s important that people can make educated decisions before signing over tens of thousands of dollars. While most of society is aware of what timeshare ownership can entail, not everyone is. Besides, the internet is flooded with sales jargon, so consumers are still easily swayed by the craftiness of timeshare sales teams. In order to combat misconduct in the industry, more and more timeshare laws regarding sales practices have been implemented, revised and reinforced.

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Unlike unethical marketing campaigns, sales presentations and conditional offers are easier to regulate. At this point in the sale, marketing tends to reveal its hand and misleading transactions begin to take place. In some instances, it’s where salesmen are caught in their bluff. No matter what is said to get people to attend an initial presentation (or ownership update meeting), it’s not as damning as the terminology used right before the contract is signed. Sales teams realized that this may be their only chance to lock in a new fractional owners. In other words, desperate times (in their minds) call for desperate measures (to make money).

Why Some Timeshare Salesmen are Motivated to Say Anything

There is an awful lot of pressure to sell intervals because the financial reward is tremendous. Timeshare resorts are always looking to maximize profits, especially to overcome some of the turnover they experience. In order to do so, they have to continuously find ways to fill fractional owner vacancies. The less they have, the more they count on current owners to cover expenses. While re-marketing current users isn’t as costly, they realize the real revenue comes from acquisition. The more timeshare owners acquired, the more consistent their revenue will be. This also gives them flexibility to continue developing and expanding properties.

At first glance, you might think it’d be easier to simply sell each unit individually. But, that leaves too much money on the table for resorts. Instead of selling a single condominium unit, timesharing gives resorts an opportunity to make money on 52 interests sold for each unit (52 weeks in a year). It’s pretty hard to tell timeshare developers to stop when they’re able to make 20-40% margins on each sale. It’s simple math. Sell the unit for $1 million or sell 52 weeks for $25,000 and make $1.3 million.

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The revenue potential isn’t even close and that’s not factoring in maintenance fees. Besides the fact resorts can charge whatever they want per unit if revenue is low. Most timeshares even limit availability by continuing to sell retail packages. The continual chase of revenue is why resorts don’t mind investing mass amounts of money into strategic endeavors to persuade.

To give you an idea on how much timeshare companies spend on new acquisition, roughly 30-50% of all revenues goes towards sales and marketing efforts. As you can see, the urgency to keep condos filled with fractional owners is real. The problem is, timeshare companies ignore the fact they’re biting the hand that feeds them. While they may promise timeshare owners a plethora of things during the sale, not much comes into fruition. This is where laws are needed to ensure buyers get what they paid for. Let’s take a look at an example so you can see how timeshare sales laws work.

Manhattan Club Caught Taking Advantage of the Elderly.

An investigation of the Manhattan Club began after the Office of the Attorney General received repeated complaints from many timeshare owners that were unable to make reservations at the resort. Despite paying tens of thousands of dollars for their timeshares, the rooms were rented to the general public rather than the timeshare owners, which was in direct violation of the timeshare contract.

But, illegal practices began even before purchases were made. Investigators found that timeshare sales teams repeatedly deceived potential buyers regarding reservation procedures, the ability to sell back shares, and other specifics of the contract. High pressure sales tactics even went so far as to state that their timeshare ownership was “better than money in the bank.” Seniors were (and still are) sold on an experience that’s not realistic.

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The sales pitch inevitably promised public use of rooms, an easy reservation process and scarce constraints regarding reservations for owners. All of these claims were found to be false by the Office of the Attorney General  and proven in court. In this case, timeshare sales laws protected a good amount of fractional owners that could have been taken advantage of for a long time.

How Timeshares Create a Demand for No Availability

Common timeshare sales tactics tend to surround the overselling or misrepresentation of travel products. In other words sales teams state that owners will have access to all of the inventory while distracting them with an array of intriguing possibilities in order to get the tour to sign the dotted line. What they don’t explain is that they’re selling the lowest level of access and buyers will have to dish out more cash or jump through more hoops to make this a reality.

Salesman know that once the prospect is under contract, there isn’t much they can do to get out of the agreement. The sales system is set up to continuously persuade users to upgrade no matter their frustration. Timeshare infrastructure is built to overcome conflict and upsell. They purposefully create no availability but demand payment. This is why the regulation of the sales pitch is so important.

We hear these types of situations from our clients all the time. One woman was told she could go to Jamaica (which was her sole purpose for purchasing the timeshare) so they could visit their family once a year. When she went home, she immediately called reservations but they told her there were no properties left in Jamaica. They told her to check back in a few weeks, ironically once the rescission period was over. After multiple complaints, they promised to give her a “fully loaded” golf or beach view casita elsewhere. Since she couldn’t cancel the timeshare agreement anymore, she accepted their offer to upgrade and funded the down payment on a new contract. She ended up being a guest at a dingy unit in a sister resort with a parking lot view.

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Timeshare Sales Laws Do Regulate Unethical Tactics

These types of situations happen more often than people realize. The thing is, buyers aren’t aware of the laws that protect their rights. While salesmen may tell you your contract is final, unethical terminology used can work to your advantage. If you feel like you’re being set up for another bad experience, then you need to document what’s being said. Without any proof (especially when it’s in person), the probability of things working out in your favor aren’t likely.

Sales Pitches on Investments and Potential Income.

Understanding timeshare sales laws will help you identify and expose false promises that eliminate your obligation to pay for the property. Timeshare companies and sales teams can be penalized if the product is being sold as an investment or prospects are being told they can make money renting out or re-selling the property.

The Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act specifically touches on some of this jargon. “The purchase of a timeshare interest should be based upon its value as a vacation experience or for spending leisure time, and not considered for purposes of acquiring an appreciating investment or with an expectation that the timeshare interest can be resold.” The California Vacation Ownership and Timeshare Act of 2004 also clearly restricts this verbiage.

In other words, it’s a purchase, not an investment – and claiming you can make money on it is against the law. Sadly enough, this causes many timeshare owners to believe they can actually sell the property. This results in them wasting even more money on resale services that rarely pan out. Instead of learning how to get out of a timeshare, they dig a deeper whole due to deception.

Additional Unethical Timeshare Sales Claims.

Leading timeshare owners to believe the property holds more value than it really does is only one tactic that sales teams use. Leaving out pertinent information can also result in consequences. If you’ve signed a contract and the timeshare hasn’t disclosed the right of rescission, right to increase maintenance fees or liability of ownership that results in assessment fees – then you have the right to void your contract.

Another enticing offer for potential timeshare owners is the Survivorship Clause that’s sold as a “Legacy Pitch.” This basically means the timeshare company tells you that you can pass on the property to family when you pass on. In reality, you’re basically dumping the perpetual expense on an unexpected heir. Aside from being extremely inconvenient and a terrible memento, it doesn’t even guarantee the recipient will be able to use it. One of our clients actually speaks about this in one of our testimonials. “Because of the changing industry, they were basically stuck with the cost and nothing to show for it.”

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As you can see, there are a number of ways timeshare companies bend the truth and con aspiring travelers. The worst part is that it can take years for those wronged to find restitution. Because of the power timeshare conglomerates have, they can easily bully consumers with expensive legal teams. Unfortunately, most cases don’t even make it to court. But that wasn’t the case for Diamond Resorts in 2016. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced a $800,000 settlement with the timeshare giant.

Many timeshare owners found relief when the state found the company was violating timeshare laws regarding annual fee increases, resale claims, rental opportunities and counterfeit discounts on other travel needs. While this was a big deal for the timeshare industry, we still have a long way to go to right the ship. If you’re thinking about buying a timeshare, we encourage you to consider these points before signing the contract. Although we may not be able to do anything about the unethical practices of the industry, we can take a stand to educate consumers on the possibilities of ownership.

If you feel as though you’re stuck in a timeshare contract and want to be relieved of your obligation to pay, we’d be happy to review your options with you. Timeshare cancellation services aren’t always necessary and we take pride in ensuring our clients exhaust all options before investing more money into the purchase.

Timeshare Laws for Marketing + Advertising

Timeshare Laws for Marketing + Advertising

Over the years, the timeshare industry has transformed into a hospitality giant since it burst onto the scene in the 1960’s. Now that we’ve shared a solid overview on the history of timeshare ownership, let’s talk about some of the laws and regulations that hold the concept together. Although a number of initiatives, revelations and scams have shaped the industry into what it is today, timesharing is still a wild wild west of sorts.

Leading up to 2019, it’s been fairly difficult for programs and agencies to put a halt to unethical practices and the deceit within the industry. But it doesn’t mean society hasn’t progressed. It simply means greed is clouding the judgement of major stakeholders. Businesses fixated on revenue seem to always find a way around laws when the reward is worthwhile.

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A declining market share also adds a little incentive maximizing profits. If you’ve been following along lately, then you’re well aware of the financial rewards that can come with timeshare sales. The problem is, a big percentage of timeshare revenue is at the consumer’s expense. And most likely on purchases that aren’t really necessary.

With developmental expansion slowing down and major hospitality players slowly taking over, it seems like a more systematic approach is in order for the timeshare industry. As the dust continues to settle, a good portion of sales processes and marketing initiatives are becoming more regulated. The tactics that have allowed timeshares to thrive throughout history are now common knowledge because of the internet. Consumers are able to make more informed decisions now than ever before.

Timesharing is Prime For Competition.

Although progress has been made, it doesn’t mean standardizations will eliminate consumer problems. There are plenty of ways to improve which is why vacation rentals and travel clubs are increasing in popularity. Until the people are able to completely trust the timeshare pitch again, we can’t expect an industry rejuvenation. Although outlook has been dim before, consumers aren’t as gullible as they once were.

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The access to information is eliminating impulse purchases altogether. Because people want to know about timeshares, we want to help them understand what they’re getting themselves into. It’s not just about helping timeshare owners get out of their agreements. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the timeshare laws and regulations that have been able to keep resorts and predatory agencies at bay for the most part.

Timeshare Regulations for Marketing and Advertising

Before we talk about the aggressive sales tactics used by timeshare companies and resorts, we have to point out the role that marketing and advertising plays. Before most consumers arrive at the sales presentation, they’ve more than likely already been briefed on what to expect from the experience. In some cases, they might already be eager to sign the dotted line. Making an impulse buy with confidence typically means the marketing has done its job. What’s bothersome is that many timeshare companies know exactly what to say to get people in the door. If they can get you to arrive with minimal questions, they know it’s pretty much a done deal.

The Difficulty of Regulating Advertising or Misspeak.

Like other industries, advertising strategies don’t necessarily tell you the full truth. Trigger words and vague phrases are often used to manipulate consumers into believing the product is better than what it really is. Call it a mirage if you will. For example, food (especially produce) can market products with “organically grown” on the packaging. But it doesn’t necessarily mean their definition matches yours. Legitimizing phrases like “more fresh” or “healthier” is nearly impossible when you’re unaware of the actual standards of the term. When you think about it, it’s pretty difficult to define this type of verbiage anyways.

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How Marketing and Sales Work Together

The same can be said for timeshare marketing strategies. More often than not, consumers are distracted by free gifts and potential instead of focusing on what the purchase is or can be. Timeshare companies know to hype prospects up while intentionally leaving out the details on drawbacks (availability, annual fees, perpetuity, taxes and resale value). The excitement of something they’ve been persuaded to believe in can easily overshadow the actualities of the deal. Call it false advertising if you must. Consumers deserve to be protected from this.

At the same time, it’s very difficult for misled timeshare owners to find restitution in court. In order to penalize an entity for misleading marketing tactics, one has to be able to prove they’ve been lied to. Some lawsuits have won, but only after a lengthy battle with an experienced legal team. While it’ll always be difficult to regulate hearsay when contractual agreements are involved, there is now a strong push to protect consumers from major purchase decisions like this. The best way to combat marketing misconduct is to educate consumers on the front end.

The Legalities and Laws of Marketing and Sales

Aside from public information like this article, nearly every state now has its own marketing and advertising regulations with the FTC, FCC, consumer protection agencies and other state sales statutes. While regulations may never stop unethical companies from breaking the law, at least there are now some consequences in place. Since tourism is more prevalent in certain parts of the country, some states need to have laws that are a little more strict than others. For example, California actually has its own advertising requirements.

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While it’s good to see organizations keep an eye on an industry that can get out of hand quickly, we know it’s not the end all be all. With the internet still emerging, it’s only a matter of time before new regulations are implemented and reinforced. This is a tall order because the world wide web is still basically unregulated. Since regulations have increased marketing costs for timeshare companies, new acquisition is harder to come by. At the same time, it’s caused resorts to target their current fractional owners more aggressively to make up for the loss.

Combating Misleading Timeshare Marketing Tactics

Once you’re locked into timeshare ownership, not all hope is lost. If you feel as though you continue to be lied to, then you have every right to build a case for yourself. The timeshare industry uses a lot of 3rd party advertisers to re-market to their users. Understanding what they’re allowed to market will help you pinpoint unethical behavior and get out of your contract sooner than later.

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It will be interesting to see what evolves in the next few years to combat the extensive amount of fraudulent activity online. In the meantime, do your best to thoroughly understand major purchases and the rights you have as a consumer. There are plenty of things to look for and ask when attending a timeshare presentation. At the end of the day, doing your due diligence and understanding common timeshare marketing misspeak can save you a lot of grief in the long run. 

To continue reading about Timeshare Laws, click part 2 below. If you’d like to learn more about our timeshare cancellation company, we’d love to hear from you! For those interested in learning how we can help you find relief, feel free to submit a qualification form.

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