15 Questions to Ask at a Timeshare Seminar to Quickly Obtain Free Gifts.

15 Questions to Ask at a Timeshare Seminar to Quickly Obtain Free Gifts.

Nearly every person that attends a timeshare seminar has been incentivised to do so. Whether they eagerly arrive for a free vacation or a simple voucher, most aren’t exactly interested in purchasing a vacation package for tens of thousands of dollars. But it has been proven that uninformed consumers are easier to persuade. So if you’re going to show up at a timeshare seminar to quickly obtain free gifts, then you have to be prepared to have your mission sidetracked a few times.

Although your attendance may appear to be a simple exchange, the aggressive nature of the sales pitch can create an unexpected mirage of intrigue. For some, the appeal is too convincing to pass up. We know this because we talk to vacation owners every day. Those that understand the product – and what’s being thrown at them during the sale – typically endure with ease. While it may sound silly, preparing for the pitch will help you see past deceptive ploys and avoid potential pitfalls so that you can make an informed decision about the offer.

15 Questions to Cut a Timeshare Seminar Short.

Before disembarking on your timeshare presentation exchange, we encourage you to ask yourself a few questions: Would you sporadically purchase a boat, car or even an ATV you didn’t need and knew nothing about? How about a $20K travel trailer you can’t haul or store? Truth be told, most of us wouldn’t even spend $500 on a shed that’s needed if we weren’t able to inspect repairs, talk to the previous owner and cross reference the value. 

So why is it that so many consumers fall for the timeshare trap even when the outcome could be potentially devastating – emotionally and financially for an uninformed buyer? The answer is simple. Oftentimes a high-pressured, misleading sale may convince people that they need and want a timeshare. Now that we’ve covered most of the lies timeshare sales reps tell, we decided to start helping consumers qualify the purchase for themselves. So without further adieu, here are 15 effective questions to ask during a timeshare seminar. 

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1. Question the Gift Before Committing.

Aside from some of the things you can ask yourself beforehand, there are ways to confirm if the interaction will be fruitful or not before you attend. First and foremost, call and ask for the terms of the gift or promised incentive in writing. Inquire about any further requirements on your behalf other than a 90 minute demonstration. Will you be asked to provide additional details or personal information? This will most certainly help you avoid uncomfortable, vulnerable situations. 

If you’re able to confirm anything to protect yourself at a timeshare seminar then you have to weigh the outcomes. Is a $75 dinner-voucher or 1 night of fun worth a 90 minute high-pressure sales presentation? If you have an interest in timeshare ownership it may be worth it to you. If you prefer to utilize alternative methods to fulfill your travel needs, then it may not be worth your time.

Also, you may want to review the state’s statutes for truth in advertising laws (or similar), to ensure everything has been disclosed properly and that you understand your rights in collecting on the incentive offered. If you find inaccuracies, then this may be a telling sign of an unfavorable experience to come. You may determine that the $75-$100 value is not worth your time and choose to simply enjoy your vacation, presentation free.

2. Ask Sales Teams to Pull Up Retail Rates.

Picking up on the tactics of a misleading timeshare sale is difficult for most. But the little nuances should always raise red flags. Timeshares should be sold for the value of vacations experienced, not for financial gain. One of the easiest ways to determine timeshare affordability is to compare rates and total costs side-by-side.

If asked, your sales rep may deflect the request. Some have even been known to act as if the internet stopped working to avoid the comparison entirely. While it may seem like happenstance, be careful what you assume. If you can’t cross-reference the value and prove that it’s a “great deal” then you may want to just get your free gift and walk away.

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3. Request Buyer Feedback Outside of Presentation.

During a timeshare seminar, most everything is mapped out and predesigned. If a consumer were to truly consider the track record of the industry’s sales and marketing tactics, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume presented video testimonials may be fabricated. Since we prefer not to make accusations, one of the best things attendees can ask for is access to a current owner. This would allow them to question a number of things about the offer and ownership experience overall.

There is no better person to ask about timeshare benefits, availability and cost than someone currently under contract. If the timeshare seminar claims you can resell or rent your week for profit, finding an owner that can verify this is imperative. If a sales team refuses to let this happen, then it should concern you and signal that it’s time to get your free incentive and leave.

4. Ask Them to Prove Resale Market Value.

One of the most deceitful ways timeshare sales reps close deals is by convincing people they can make money off the property. While speaking to another owner easily clarifies this claim, asking sales teams to pull up data is just as effective. Timeshares are liabilities and not investment properties or assets, therefore should not be sold as such. All you have to do is ask a sales rep to pull up sales prices for timeshares on eBay or Craigslist. Thousands of people are looking to get rid of them for $0.01, oftentimes with no bids.

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First off, why would you purchase one from them when a similar, if not the same unit is listed in the classifieds? This should make you question everything about the timeshare seminar. Secondly, why are owners so desperate to get out of the contract? Ask them to explain this and how you can expect to make money by buying one for more. Continued pressure here is a good way to determine the true value of the offer or if you should opt to get your free gift and go home.

5. Thoroughly Question The Trial Period.

Many new timeshare owners have no idea they may only have a few days to cancel the purchase and escape perpetual payments. Consumers may not be aware of the term “rescission period”. While this should be pointed out in the purchase agreement, a timeshare sales rep may omit this information or make it difficult to access (such as a tablet that doesn’t turn on).

Every state is different so no salesman should gloss over these things. If buyers knew they’d have to cancel within days, many may pass on the fractional ownership offer altogether until they can make a sound decision on a large financial commitment.

6. Ask About Your Ability to Cancel.

When you’re excited about vacation ownership, it’s awfully difficult to ponder potential regret. But just like any large purchase, it needs to be a thoughtful one. Hardships occur in life and – with a commitment like this – you have to have a contingency. Despite the blinding euphoria, consumers need to ask about their ability to escape the binding agreement if something were to arise.

Taking the time to pry here will most certainly help you realize what realistic relief options at your disposal. A timeshare seminar may try to tell you they have internal solutions that benefit owners, but unless you’re able to confirm free and clear cancellation in your agreement, it may not be a good bet. Pointing out a potential lack of favorable future cancellation terms during the presentation may help you depart quickly – and possibly be ushered out the door.

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7. Request Ownership Data to Confirm Potential.

For the most part, a deep level of discernment is required to determine the true value of a timeshare. This is something most consumers aren’t equipped with because valuations aren’t a part of everyday vocabularies. But it doesn’t mean you should buy into the seller’s valuation. In fact, you should request it in writing so you can better understand its worth. Ask what it equates to in usage and what factors played into their pricing. 

You can also ask them to go over daily availability expectations and previous changes that have impacted owners in the past. Data that shows how many owners sign up, how long they remain under contract and the percentage of defaults can provide you with an immense amount of insight into the company’s stability and how it may impact existing owner’s cost, experience, availability and similar. That is, if you’re able to get your hands on the data.

8. Ask About Online Customers Reviews.

If you’re planning on going to a timeshare seminar, then why wouldn’t you research the presenter? While the free gift can seem nice, you have to know there’s some sort of catch. Inspecting BBB reviews and preparing to ask questions about them will really help you paint a clear picture of the company’s reputation to determine if you feel good about them or not. In reality, nearly every single one of these questions can be supported by a real experience found in an online review.

We’ll Keep the Timeshare Seminar Questions Coming.

Not every vacation owner regrets their purchase, but oftentimes owners wish they would have been better informed beforehand. Buying a timeshare is a big decision and should never be taken lightly. If you have some questions that have worked for you, feel free to leave some in the comment section. In the meantime, stay tuned for the remainder of our list next week!

8 Things to Look For in a Timeshare Vacation Package Before Signing Up.

8 Things to Look For in a Timeshare Vacation Package Before Signing Up.

At VOC, we understand that helping timeshare owners doesn’t always mean providing a legal contract termination. Oftentimes, they simply need honest feedback on where they are or what they can do with their timeshare. Unfortunately, far too many buyers never totally understand the purchase until they run into problems. There’s a reason why sales teams aggressively rush consumers during the presentation. So, if you don’t even know what to look for in a timeshare vacation package, then you shouldn’t put yourself in a position to buy one until you have the information needed to make such a commitment. 

Understanding the product before signing the agreement is absolutely crucial. Those that don’t are often convinced before they even think about reviewing all verbal guarantees and promises. But it’s not exactly their fault. Over the course of the summer, we intentionally spent a lot of time explaining the deception behind a timeshare sale and how consumers are misled throughout. This is important because leisure travel will resume at some point in time and timeshare companies will be looking for new unsuspecting buyers. 

What to Expect When Closed Resorts Reopen.

When travel bans and local restrictions cease, millions of tourists will be exposed to the ever-luring timeshare sale and thousands will be sucked into a presentation. It’s difficult to talk someone out of “the deal of a lifetime” when they believe it to be true. The point is, the only way to slow down the misinformed purchase of timeshares is to reach consumers before they’re sold. 

What Does An Ideal Timeshare Vacation Package Look Like?

The thousands of inquiries we’ve processed over the years prove that bad, impromptu decisions can be painful and expensive to fix – kind of like getting a random tattoo that says “no regrets” one crazy night while out with friends. The next morning, the reflection in the mirror may elicit a different set of emotions. Bad decisions that are said to be permanent can be erased. But the removal process will cost additional time and money while possibly leaving behind a few scars.

So, if you’re considering vacation ownership or planning a trip in the near future, here are 8 things to look for in a timeshare vacation package before signing up. If you honestly can’t confirm these critical elements of a good vacation, then you should be able to confidently say “No” and walk away without any remorse. 

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1. The Timeshare is Available During Ideal Dates. 

One of the most common causes of timeshare regret is limited availability. Although a number of sales teams claim booking options are nearly endless, it doesn’t always pan out this way. Buyers rarely consider the element of retail travel and don’t realize timeshare companies send a good portion of their inventory to 3rd party booking agencies (Expedia, Priceline, etc.) throughout the year – especially during peak seasons or dates with a high demand.

As a paying owner, it’s frustrating to be told your annual trip is not available. Especially when you can book the same trip on a retail travel site that’s available to the general public, for less than what you are obligated to pay as an owner. So before you buy a timeshare travel package with a seemingly vast selection of trips, understand that availability can be somewhat of a mirage.

UNEXPECTED REALITIES CAN HINDER VACATION PACKAGES.

If your family’s schedule limits you to specific dates or a certain week of the year, then it’s important you’re able to guarantee availability in the terms of your timeshare agreement. Assuming the best typically makes timeshare matters worse. Those fully reliant on verbal promises and an ambiguous contract often learn the hard way. Even after stumbling through ownership, many continue to inconveniently force an undesirable vacation just to get something for their money.

If this is not important to you, then by all means, sign away. But it should be. Many consumers fail to ask these types of questions prior to executing such a binding agreement. The thought of running it by a contract attorney is discouraged and rarely even crosses their mind – setting them up for disappointment. Answers don’t come easy at a timeshare sales presentation, but requesting a contract review is easy. Specific language that confirms promised availability should give you confidence in the product – vague information should not.

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2. Reservations Are Available in Ideal Locations.

Similar to booking certain dates, availability in certain locations or destinations can be just as misleading. Take one of our clients, Maria, for example. Immediately after purchasing her timeshare vacation package (because of family discounts to the Dominican Republic), she was not able to find any availability or discounts. When she called the timeshare, she was essentially told it wasn’t their problem.  

Just because you purchase a package from a prominent resort doesn’t mean you’re going to be flooded with options. Now that points systems are in play, it’s easier for resorts to limit access and offer upgrades. The initial purchase is often used as a foot in the door that leads buyers down a rabbit hole of conditional upgrades, claiming to carry a much better experience. The problem is, further purchases often result in additional contracts and unexpected fees.

In order to avoid all of this mess, you have to ensure your expectations are in writing. Far too many consumers buy a timeshare vacation package thinking they’re going to be traveling to Hawaii for Christmas. A few months later, when they go to schedule the trip, they realize every resort in Hawaii is booked solid and Wisconsin Dells is the only option. There’s no need to have a weary Christmas and a crappy New Year. If the contract language doesn’t secure your “ideal” trip then expectations can’t be high.

3. All Anticipated Costs Are Fully Explained. 

Timeshare sales teams have been known to intentionally avoid the pertinent details of the contract (annual fees, interest, travel expenses and other hidden costs) in order to manipulate the actual cost of timeshares. They do this for good reason. Aside from the thousands of dollars that could be billed at any time for maintenance or special assessments, no bank will refinance the purchase. Interest rates drastically increase the overall expense and a $20K product can easily turn into $45K over a 10-year payment period.

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This is why it’s important for potential buyers to take the time to determine if the financial commitment makes sense. Just know it’s rare to work with a seller that’s willing to take the time to explain every aspect of the contract and forecast costs while comparing them to your budget. Because of this, confirming an accurate estimate is crucial. 

Language in the contract should state whether or not you’re obligated to pay for special assessments (also known as liability) and what you can expect in annual fees (maintenance, taxes, transfers, etc). Moreover, does the timeshare contract disclose a cap on how much fees can rise each year? It’s also important to factor in how much your timeshare vacation package could cost you in food, drinks, entertainment and transportation. By considering these things, you may find that you in fact do not have an adequate budget for the purchase.

4. Contract Is Fully Disclosed By Sales Teams.

Although dates and locations are a big part of vacation ownership, understanding the totality of the agreement is far more important. A timeshare is not something you can easily ditch when it’s no longer fruitful. The purchase is not like a car that can be sold. No, you’re essentially buying a second mortgage for a vacation property you can only use sporadically according to the terms of your contract and the state of the industry.

While it’s nothing like homeownership, there are some penalties and binding terms that you’re going to want to know and understand. Underestimating the product can lead to a number of financial disasters if you’re not sure what to look for in a timeshare vacation package before signing up. Why assume you’re in good hands without confirmation?

If you happen to be told there is no time for an attorney to look over your contract, or that you’ll lose your “today only deal” if you do, then you should most certainly walk away. The salesperson is undoubtedly using unfavorable urgency and time close tactics to push for a rash decision that benefits them. A seller that encourages you to take the time you need to look it over usually has your best interest at heart.

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5. Trial Period and Customer Care Is Reasonable.

Anyone that has owned a timeshare before knows that the customer service teams are oftentimes far below average. You could even assume most are simply another layer of incentivised salespeople. Nonetheless, you can normally gauge the level of service rather quickly by asking a number of critical questions and demanding straightforward answers. A sampler timeshare vacation package that delivers could be worth considering.

If sales or customer service teams are eager to serve you (no matter what) then you’re probably getting a soft preview of the experience. Most timeshare sales people look to butter you up, so you have to be willing to look past the sales pitch. All trials should match the description of the presentation and all upgrade options should be clear. 

6. Available Opt Out Clauses With Conditions.

If you don’t plan on owning a vacation home (or week) for the remainder of your life, then why are you looking at timeshare vacation packages? Far too many buyers think payments cease once the mortgage is paid in full but fees and other expenses can easily add to the lump sum of the cost. If you’re led to believe you can cancel the timeshare contract at any time, then it needs to be in writing. 

Almost every timeshare purchase includes a rescission clause (cancellation period) that expires 3-7 days post contract signing. Some buyers are privy to these types of options but most are not. For the most part, once you sign up, you’re in it for the long haul. It doesn’t take much research to confirm that hundreds of thousands of buyers spend countless hours and money attempting to make the purchase worthwhile

If you’ve come across a timeshare travel opportunity that provides you with an opt-out clause or certain conditions that protect you as a consumer, then it could be a good deal. While you should still work hard to confirm other elements of the transaction, a convenient opt-out clause does communicate that your business is valued.

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7. The Acquisition or Takeover Process is Clear. 

One of the most unexpected scenarios of timeshare ownership is a transfer of power. This can occur when other prominent chains have more authority, know-how or capital in a certain region (and they strongarm the competition); or it’s a simple acquisition that benefits both parties in some type of way. Either way, this usually does not benefit vacation owners.

When another entity buys out another, their rules and requirements normally take over – hence the word. This means, the timeshare vacation package that was originally signed could become obsolete while being replaced with new terms and obligations. This can often get hairy for buyers, but there’s not much they can do. 

This is why it’s important to review the contract of a timeshare vacation package to ensure there is favorable language in the event of an acquisition or takeover. If you’re unable to garner quality information regarding this or the salesperson responds with a bunch of fluff, then the opportunity may not be for you. Although a buyout may not devastate you financially, there is a real possibility that it could at some point in the future

8. There’s No Rush to Make A Decision. 

Like we’ve mentioned before, the pressure and urgency of a timeshare presentation can be overwhelming. Thinking on your feet while someone tries to convince you that a “deal” you weren’t expecting is going to expire can make one extremely uncomfortable. Listen, no sales process should ever be this way. If you’ve found a timeshare company that allows you to take the agreement home, or to review with an attorney before signing, then you have reason to be hopeful.

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At the same time, don’t let one checked box convince you. There is plenty of reason to remain skeptical. Once they’re able to prove their willingness to honor terms, respect your time and exemplify all of the above characteristics should you be confident the timeshare vacation package you’re looking into. Nearly every timeshare experience is different and we hope you’re able to find something that works for you.

If you happen to be a vacation owner with questions or concerns about your contract, you can always schedule a Free Consultation to learn more about your immediate options.

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.

All of the Blatant Lies Timeshare Organizations Spew.

All of the Blatant Lies Timeshare Organizations Spew.

During June and July of this year, we spent a lot of time discussing the lure of timeshare presentations and how consumers are worn down by them. While an initial “free gift” usually carries a lot of intrigue throughout the sales process, there are a number of ways timeshare reps manipulate information in order to persuade. Since we’ve written so many articles on the topic, we thought it would be helpful to publish one article with a compilation of all the lies timeshare organizations spew.

Before you consider buying into vacation ownership, we encourage you to skim through some of these tactics. If you happen to be on your way to a presentation right now, then you’ve probably been told a lie or two already – that’s if you’ve even been told much at all. Going into one of these “opportunities” blind is risky. Most believe 90 minutes is worth the prize while some aren’t even aware there’s a sales presentation.

Timeshare companies want people to think they can show up, wait patiently, receive a free reward and move on with their day. It’s why they tell people things like “you don’t have to buy anything” or “you can walk away at any time” in order to coralle prospects. In reality, their goal is to find your weak points and convince you to buy a timeshare in under 90 minutes. Whether the pitch includes a “deal of a lifetime” or the promise to “cancel at any time”, the lies timeshare organizations spew to keep you engaged are endless.

1. Lies Timeshare Organizations Spew About Financing.

One of the most untruthful things that timeshare companies promote is that their product is affordable. The entirety of the cost (with interest, maintenance fees, taxes and other travel expenses) can be double or triple that of a retail vacation. While it’s presented as some sort of special getaway that no one has access to, it’s normally a unit at a location most retail travelers don’t want to reserve.

It’s kind of like selling snow to an Eskimo. Nobody actually needs binding payments to go on an affordable vacation. Aside from the lies timeshare organizations spew about product value, vacation properties almost always have zero resale value. Because of this, banks will not refinance the purchase. Many sales teams will tell you that standard interest rates can be refinanced shortly after the purchase but this is not true. Most buyers find themselves at a rate of 17.9% or higher.

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Additional Lies that Encourage Bad Financial Decisions.

Many vacation owners balk at the cost of the timeshare once they see what they’re receiving in return. But the binding agreement usually holds them captive. In turn, most buyers immediately look for ways to eliminate fees or make the product worthwhile. Sadly, discussions with “customer service” teams simply expose them to additional lies that make matters worse.

Many are told they can alleviate the expense by paying off the loan faster or upgrade their packages to receive more. But when you think about it, how is this helpful when the consumer was initially told something else? The more lies that buyers fall for regarding financing, the more financially trapped they become in the purchase.

2. The Buy Back & Resale Lies of Timeshare Organizations.

Besides the lies about anytime cancellations, many timeshares also promote the mirage of buy back programs. If at some point you were to decide that the product is not for you, then you can just request to “sell back.” In reality, those that end up inquiring about this service are usually met with a response like, “we’re still working on this program.”

Even if the option is established, owners are oftentimes disqualified for one reason or another. Even those that pay off their mortgage in order to qualify for relief are often met by further conditions or simply referred to a listing company. This can be one of the most devastating lies timeshare organizations spew because many people can’t afford the purchase. Once they’re under contract, paying for it becomes an obligation and not always the choice they were expecting.

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Timeshares Almost Never Hold Resale Value.

Another way timeshare sales teams mislead consumers is by positioning the product as an investment when it is not. It’s not a home and you’ll never be in an equitable position. Timeshares are actually one of the fastest depreciating products in the marketplace today. This lie leads people to believe they can make money on the property if they’re unable to use it themselves or it “doesn’t work out.” In the end, many incur additional costs by listing their weekly interval on platforms with no buyer interest.

There’s a reason why. If you research timeshare resale, you’ll find they are listing for $1 on eBay with no bids. Some even offer a $500 gift card and future dues paid in advance. Why spend $40K for something you may never use, to then pay additional money for a listing advertisement in an attempt to sell for $1, to simply get rid of a timeshare. Moreover, how do timeshare organizations sleep at night when they blatantly lie to people about this? Some even have internal resale services that work with them to keep buyers under contract. Even if a sale is validated, owners almost always have to rely on the timeshare for the transfer.

The Timeshare Transfer Itself is Misleading.

In order to process the transaction, owners are required to remain in good standing on payments throughout the listing and transfer process. The lies sales reps spew about how timeshares are “easily” resold couldn’t be further from the truth. Oftentimes, the timeshare organizations charge large transfer fees to approve the transfer, sometimes in the thousands.

This makes it more difficult for those already facing financial hardship due to the timeshare creating a financial burden on their finances due to rising fees and special assessment costs. At the end of the day, why spend a lot of money on an unproven possibility that might make you a little money? That doesn’t even make sense.

If you feel as though your timeshare will be appealing because the presentation persuaded you it was, guess again. Sales teams will tell you there is a high demand for them but why do they have to lure people to presentations if this is true? As a seller, will you be able to do tours and match their spiel? They may tell you that your points have value but the market price will never match the sales tag. The fact that timeshare developers rarely take back vacation interest contracts should be telling.

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3. Lies About Timeshare Inventory and Booking.

Since we’ve covered a lot of the lies timeshare organizations tell about available dates, resorts and locations, we won’t go into much detail. But promises regarding booking your timeshare should always be taken as a grain of salt. There is usually a secondary action (purchase or condition) required in order to obtain an access level to the presented vacation inventory. Timeshare companies know consumers are apt to be at their mercy when they realize the vacation they thought they bought is not available.

Exchanging Timeshare Packages Is Not a Good Solution.

Another lie that’s common is that owners can easily transfer or exchange their timeshare internally if it doesn’t “work out.” But similar to a resale transaction, it is not a simple “in-house” process. In most cases, buyers are referred to another company with an additional membership fee of $124-$228 annually plus another $179 – $230 per exchange through Interval International, RCI or similar. Oftentimes new owners are led to believe they can exchange for prime inventory, in reality they can only exchange for equivalent inventory at the level they purchased into.

You can’t swap access to a resort in Yuma for a vacation package in Hawaii. While it might be presented that way, it’s important that you see the pattern here. Hundreds of thousands of vacation owners have been lied to about resort access, booking options and their ability to rollover unused timeshare points without resolve and additional money lost. Many sales podiums falsify the value of points leading unsuspecting buyers to believe that they can access any desired vacation. It’s almost never a possibility, it’s a popular misrepresentation used to sell. Again, read the terms.

Many of our clients confirm they were sold specific inventory that was never available. Some admit, after a decade of ownership, that they’ve never even been able to use the product. For years now, it’s been proven that the system is extremely misleading and difficult to use. Yet for some reason, the lies timeshare organizations spew about available inventory goes unnoticed by society – until they experience it for themselves.

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Dishonesty Regarding a Major Purchase is Wrong.

As we continue to dissect the timeshare industry to better equip consumers in general, we’d love your feedback. There are so many different things that major organizations lie about to turn a profit. At the end of the day, we believe in establishing and promoting quality solutions that better society as a whole. Although our industry makes it extremely difficult to identify truth, we’ll continue to put our best foot forward.

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s article where we’ll go into more details about the lies timeshare organizations spew on a regular basis. Now that the world is at a standstill, we hope timeshare owners take the time to educate themselves on real possibilities about their future. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our cancellation process, you can always schedule a free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.

Maria & Luis Wanted to Escape Vacation Ownership | Maria & Luis’s Story

Maria & Luis Wanted to Escape Vacation Ownership | Maria & Luis’s Story

Over the years, we’ve talked to thousands of vacation owners about their timeshare experience and the regret of the purchase as a whole. Whether it takes them days, months, years or decades to denounce the product, each tells a unique story. While the entrapment is fairly consistent, the consumer reaction and corresponding misfortune is rarely the same. Because of the depths of the deal and magnitude of the transaction, some even struggle to pinpoint where it all went wrong. But for one couple, it was clear right away that they needed to escape vacation ownership immediately. 

Unlike many consumers, they took the large purchase very seriously. In other words, they didn’t completely buy into promises and were highly critical when expectations weren’t met. They asked questions and pressed the timeshare giant for answers as they believed their hard-earned money seemed to be going to waste. In the end, escaping what they felt was an inaccurate purchase was proving to be exhausting. 

But before we get into the details of their misguided journey, let’s better understand why Maria and Luis bought the timeshare in the first place – and why they feel it turned into such a devastating blow for their family.

A Timeshare Purchase to Celebrate a New Life.

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Originally from the Dominican Republic, Maria and Luis worked hard to become U.S. citizens and chase the American dream. To them, this “dream” wasn’t just about earning money. It was more about raising a family with rights and values in a land of opportunity. During our discussion with Maria, she looked back at their life saying, “Luis and I had to work a lot for a long time just to go on a trip.” The last thing they wanted to do was fight to escape vacation ownership.

For most of their life, bills consumed them. After going to school, Maria took on the occupation of a medical assistant and the couple began saving for their future. Once they paid off their mortgage, they turned their attention to their son’s college tuition. No matter how far ahead they were able to get, setbacks usually kept them from truly rewarding the family’s work ethic. While this would discourage many, we could hear a sense of pride in Maria’s voice. 

As she continued explaining their story to us, it was evident that determination has carried them. Even a surgical procedure last May, that cost them 6 weeks of pay, didn’t detour their aspirations of escaping reality one day. By the time their boys graduated, and bills seemed to settle, Maria and Luis eagerly took a 7-day Florida vacation for two. 

While the intent was to enjoy a well-deserved getaway and “celebrate a new life”, the experience didn’t exactly go as planned. Here is their story and why they decided to legally escape vacation ownership.

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Anticipated Vacation Interrupted by Misleading Raffle.

On September 7th of 2019, Maria and Luis were having a “great time” on vacation. After getting up early to go sightseeing, the couple decided to go on a bus tour to explore the city. They also went on a “boat trip” with a large group of people to see more of the Florida shoreline. Once aboard, they were promptly “approached by two gentlemen pitching a raffle.” Like most people on vacation, they decided to take their chances. 

“They gave us a form asking for our information, like how much we make a year,” Maria said. This should have been the first red flag. No raffle needs to know this to give something away. Despite this, Maria and Luis ended up “winning” and were presented with a “trip for their next vacation.” This really caught them off guard. “We never win anything,” said Maria. Now that they want to escape vacation ownership, the deception is clear.

The Appearance of an Award Misleads the Travelers.

“That is when they arranged for us to go to the timeshare hotel to claim this special deal they were offering,” she recalled. “We were not told the specific details of what that entailed and were only told that we had to go to the timeshare to claim our prize.” Upon exit of the boat, transportation was already waiting for them. From here, they were taken to meet Daniela Rausseo, a guest service representative at the hotel. But they soon found out that Daniela wasn’t exactly handing out the prize they had “won”.

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“She greeted us and took us to a conference room where she brought us a binder full of information [with] benefits of being a member of the timeshare.” The couple was then ushered into a sales presentation to hammer home the perks, she recalled. “The presentation was this whole flashy show about the great amenities, prizes, memberships, clubs – basically becoming a part of this timeshare ‘family’. They also gave us a tour of the facilities [and] kept us there and fished for more information.”

The Reality of the Ploy Was Difficult to See.

As Maria reflects on the experience, you can tell her perspective of the sales pitch is totally different today. In hindsight, she wishes they never partook in the raffle. She believes they were viewed as easy targets and handpicked to win. “They got us into signing up for the package and a credit card without being fully transparent of what this was,” she said. Maria also pointed out the couple has always been strict with their money and never this gullible. But after being worn down by relentless sales pitches, they fell for the deal.

“They took advantage of the exhaustion of keeping us there for six hours from 4pm to 10pm,” says Maria. Aside from losing out on the vacation time they worked hard for, they felt deceived. “We thought it would be simple to just get information on this, but instead, we got roped into something we did not want.” Aside from their income, the couple believes they were easy targets for “predators” because they were middle class, low income tourists that were new to empty nesting.

How Does a Free Trip Turn Into Discounted Timeshares.

One of the hardest things for the couple to get over is the character of the timeshare’s salespeople. “They seemed to be genuine [and] they pretended to be friendly and honest,” she recalled. The couple doesn’t believe they’d be trying to escape vacation ownership today if someone would have simply been honest with them. “We thought they were our friends and we would have said, ‘No’.” But because they were implored to trust the pitch, they were misled.

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How Did Trust Impact Their Final Decision?

It’s important to understand that this type of misrepresentation further blinded the couple from additional red flags. At one point, they totally forgot about the “free trip” they were supposed to “quickly” receive. “It was overwhelming,” she said. By the time they gave in, Maria said guest services “worked very fast and quickly to check our credit and begin the process.” Without many questions asked, Luis and his wife were quickly assigned a “universal room” that was said to be the same as their tour.

The couple’s minor raffle prize wasn’t even explained or awarded until after $1,624.55 was charged to a new credit card account and 10 years worth of timeshare mortgage payments had been scheduled ($255.55/month at 17.99% interest). The agreement they’re now looking to escape also included about $1,000 in maintenance, tax and assessment fees they weren’t fully aware of. Instead of focusing on contract terms, “guest services” sent them on their way with a helpful guide on how to use it all. 

Aside from their subconscious desire (like most people) to travel as empty nesters, Maria and Luis finally gave in because the pressure of the sales environment was too much to bear. Sadly, thousands of innocent people like this are worn down by timeshare sales presentations every year. While it was their decision to buy, it’s safe to say the lure played a major role in the outcome. Unfortunately, most buyers never escape vacation ownership.

The Couple Felt Uneasy About the Purchase Right Away.

“They run their business like a smooth sales machine. From the beginning they have the recruiter ready to go. They have the conference room setup, the guest representative waiting, a supervisor on site and a notary on standby. It was the perfect set up to convince the guests even more to sign up for this deal – and especially to apply pressure to couples,” said Maria. “What they did was predatory and not okay.”

She went on to say, “They know how to play this game. They know what they’re doing, how to manage it [and] what they’re doing to wrap people around their feelings.” By the time the couple got home from vacation, they started wondering about the effect of that $300/month payment. “You start thinking, there goes my electric bill,” she said. But despite intuition and a subtle buyer’s remorse, they decided to give it a try.

The Timeshare Didn’t Provide Much of an Escape.

The couple’s first call to the timeshare occurred a month later (October 2019) when Maria tried booking her brother a trip to the Dominican Republic. After logging into their account, she realized prices were still high and no deals were available. She remembers wondering, “why would he have to pay this much for something we already pay for?” She told us, “That’s when I came to the realization, Oh my God, what have we done? This is nothing like they say it was – nothing like it.” 

According to Maria, no matter how many phone calls she made, she was not able to speak to someone that could help. The card that Daniela Rausseo (who’s actually registered as a realtor in Dade County, Florida) had given her with contact numbers was bogus. “No one is allowed to talk to the sales representatives or teams,” she said. Breaking free from the binding contract started to seem impossible.

Even though valid complaints were immediately made and three timeshare cancellation letters were written, the responses they received showed them they’d have to seek outside help to escape vacation ownership. Maria and Luis were told, “You have the timeshare, it is your responsibility to sell it, pay it or take care of it on your own,” she said. Here is one of the replies from the timeshare company:

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The Couple’s Timeshare Experience Was Devastating.

When asked how this made them feel, she replied, “I felt very taken advantage of and felt like an idiot for falling into their trap – I can’t describe with words how I feel.” In the past, the couple’s determination has carried them. But effort hasn’t provided them much satisfaction to date when it comes to escaping their timeshare.

“A lot of my family members have no idea,” she said. Despite deception being the culprit, there’s a lot of embarrassment and shame in her story. “I’m disappointed in myself and for my husband and kids. My life is absolutely destroyed.” Everything they’ve worked for is now turned back due to a purchase they were talked into. Helping Luis and his wife manage this situation is a privilege. 

In our next article, we’ll talk more about the couple’s experience with VOC and how they’re looking to move past their timeshare decision. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help Maria and Luis escape vacation ownership financially, leave us a comment below! If you’re currently in a similar situation, you can always schedule a free consultation to better understand your options.

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.

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