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.

How Timeshare Prospects Are Worn Down During Sales Presentations.

How Timeshare Prospects Are Worn Down During Sales Presentations.

When it comes to timeshares, the amount of time and money that goes into the sale is staggering. But it’s not because travel has become extremely competitive over the last decade. Instead of advertising intervals online, timeshare companies prefer to meet with timeshare prospects in a secluded environment they can control. It’s just too big of a purchase for consumers to sporadically make anymore. Vacation rentals have taken over and nobody is actively searching for vacation ownership – giving resorts even more reason to utilize shady methods to fill presentations and sell their timeshare product. 

Pressure filled environments have always helped sales teams wear down attendees and increase their chances of closing the deal. While most attendees escape the arranged demonstration unscathed, many timeshare prospects don’t. Sadly, they become victims of the timeshare sales cycle. This is why it’s important that all consumers understand how deep the sale of vacation ownership weeks and points can go.

How Are Timeshares Leveraging Sales Presentations?

In our last two blog posts, we did our best to explain the process by which timeshare companies use misleading promises to coralle consumers into a persuasive presentation. Now that you know how these aggressive selling swindlers get in front of unexpecting consumers, it’s time to take a closer look at the exposition itself. While it may seem like we’re bashing the industry for selfish gain, just remember we’re trying to help those that have yet signed up for the agreement. 

Even though some of these occurrences may qualify you for our services, we would still need to inspect your contract(s) before advising you on relief or further restitution. While we do believe many timeshare operations aren’t consumer-friendly, our intent isn’t to sell you on our services. With that being said, here are some of the ways timeshare prospects are worn down during sales presentations.

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1. Short Meetings Usually Last a Long Minute.

If you’ve been invited to a timeshare sales presentation, then you’ve more than likely been offered something in exchange. Whether it be a free night’s stay at a prominent resort or a voucher for dinner and a show, you’ll be required to attend a “meeting” to receive the gift. Since most people balk at this, it’s often presented as a brief, 90 minute presentation to explain the details of the offer. Sometimes this isn’t disclosed until timeshare prospects arrive on location. This is done so consumers don’t change their mind or research the experience beforehand.

When you find yourself being talked into attending a meeting in order to receive something that was already promised to you, then you have to take notice. This is the first red flag of a lopsided presentation. What you’re going to be offered is not worth it. Don’t let the “prize(s)” distract you. Any lack of disclosure should create concern for timeshare prospects. This is important because once you step in the doors, it will be difficult to leave. Although you may think you’ll be able to say “no” and walk away, never underestimate the tongues of timeshare salespeople. It is very much so a group effort to close you.

Everybody knows someone that loves to talk. They’re the one person you can never find a way to break away from. This is exactly how timeshare sales presentations are. We’ve helped clients who claimed they weren’t allowed to leave the sales presentation for water and food due to diabetic concerns. It’s harder than you think and why resorts prefer to sell this way. It’s not uncommon for a 30 minute meeting to turn into an 8 hour presentation that eventually wears down timeshare prospects. Nearly every timeshare group operates this way.

2. Shiny Objects Keep Timeshare Prospects Distracted.

The first step of the sales presentation is to engage the audience. During this time, a number of appealing destinations, perks, options or possibilities are dangled in front of timeshare prospects. This helps them build excitement around the product from the podium. During this time, cunning sales representatives begin to segment the room and determine who they’re going to target and with what pitch. The “check-in” paperwork that guests were required to fill out gives them further insight on every attendee – helping them with this process.

As the lead presenter explains certain deals, packages and benefits, sales teams observe the responses of guests and take note of their intrigue while reviewing their financials. This allows them to “build a friendship” with timeshare prospects before they even meet them. Some have even been known to research certain guests online to gain an advantage.

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When attendees are distracted by shiny objects and the endless possibilities of ownership, it’s hard for them to notice they’re being preyed upon by commissioned contractors. If you ever feel as though something is too good to be true, then it probably is. If you’re giving sales teams personal information that isn’t necessary, think twice. Far too often, timeshare prospects are worn down by appealing possibilities and charisma during sales presentations. Don’t let that be you. 

3. You Can’t Leave Once You’ve Made a Commitment.

When it comes to the timeshare sale, psychological tactics are very much so at the forefront. Like we mentioned before, most people don’t like to think they’d fall for a one sided sales pitch. But once your intrigue is real and you’ve been sucked into the sales presentation, it’s difficult to let go of the desire to go on vacation. The longer you wait for a reason to leave, the harder it will be to walk out. Once the sales rep proves he’s continuously willing to wheel and deal, most timeshare prospects simply cannot stop playing the game.

If you already agreed to sit through a 90 minute timeshare presentation (and you weren’t caught off guard), then you were probably already expecting some sort of spiel. But if you knew nothing about the presentation itself, let alone the company name of the host, then why did the “incentive” appeal to you? We mention this because many attend these sales presentations with the hope it’s going to be fruitful. Even though it may seem sketchy, the possibility of an affordable annual vacation is attractive. When free gifts and invested time are at stake, many don’t want to let the opportunity go. In turn, the sales presentation wears them down and they do something they regret.

Personal Commitments and Timeshare Misconceptions.

What makes matters worse is the sales staff’s involvement in the inclination of timeshare prospects. In other words, the psychology of it all is troubling. Once distractions and excitement have been sewn into the podium pitch, the sales reps pull the attendees aside to a secluded room to finish the deal. This is normally the point of no return. 

Some may be skeptical and bold enough to voice that they have fulfilled their 90 minute requirement and demand their free gift. Sometimes this is effective but rarely does it matter. Sales teams have an answer and contingency for nearly every “no.” There always seems to be “one more thing to do” before they give you what they promised.

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Many salespeople simply state they aren’t authorized to give out certain gifts and call in another representative that has “the paperwork” for the deal. When you’re handed off like this, it’s called a takeover (TO). With each new sales representative, timeshare prospects are continuously persuaded on different products, features, perks, destinations and options. The presentation always continues with an offer for a better product, a different getaway or something that’s “better suited for your budget.” 

Even those that continue to demand their free gift are often met by another closer with better skills. The longer they can distract attendees, the more likely they are to settle on something. The mind game played here causes many attendees to forget what they’re even looking for. With each tick on the clock, they feel more committed and determined to get something in exchange for their time. At this point in the presentation, sales teams know timeshare prospects won’t just get up and walk away. 

With each closer, the pot gets sweeter and sweeter in the eyes of the timeshare prospect. Once the sales presentation has worn them down, nearly anything could seem like a good consolation prize. But giving in to get out of the presentation is dangerous. Most buyers never receive what they believe they paid for because they didn’t get verbal promises in writing. If you find the presentation extremely frustrating and you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into, then just walk away. There’s no penalty for making a smart decision.

4. Lying About a Timeshare Prospect’s Ability to Cancel.

One of the most misleading elements of the timeshare sale is the idea of “today only deals.” Nobody should believe this facade for a second. Besides, all you need to do is compare the overall cost of ownership with a retail vacation to see it’s not much of a deal after all. Regardless, there is another lie that is far more concerning. Once a timeshare prospect has been worn down by the pitch, sales reps have been known to make false verbal promises about their ability to cancel or even that they will buy back the timeshare from them. Telling a tired and hungry attendee that they can always “cancel if it doesn’t work out” makes it easy to capture a signature.

This is why you must understand that these presentations are designed to be drug out as long as possible. They want you to believe you made the decision to buy and that the only way to leave is to find something that works. No matter what you think, they will do what it takes to get you under contract. Too much money has been spent and their reward is too high to give up. Leading you to believe you can easily cancel perpetuity is a last resort tactic that’s used once prospects are ready to leave.

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The Reality of a Vacation Owner’s Ability to Cancel.

The problem is, the details of the cancellation (rescission) period are rarely disclosed. Paperwork for this is often said to be missing (“fallen out”) and has even been found in “hidden compartments” of presentation folders at the spine. In most states, buyers have less than 5 days to change their mind. No matter how worn down timeshare prospects are, they have to be willing to ask questions. Many assume they’ll be able to visit the resort before making a decision to cancel – but they’re wrong.

Even though the rescission period has been a constant controversy for lawmakers, it has yet to change. Many believe consumers should have a chance to test the experience, but it doesn’t change the fact that thousands of buyers find themselves unwillingly under contract every year – simply because a timeshare representative told them they could cancel. What ends up happening is, once they realize they can’t get out of the timeshare agreement, they attempt to make it worthwhile. If they’re unaware of other costs, like maintenance fees or assessments, then they could be in for a big surprise.

Don’t Misjudge Sales Pitches as a Timeshare Prospect.

Owning a timeshare may seem like a pleasant experience for only $20k, but after interest, fees and travel expenses, it can be overwhelming. Upgrades and additional contracts can quickly turn the purchase into a 6 digit expense. While there are plenty of people that enjoy vacation ownership, people need to understand what they’re purchasing before they say “yes.” If you’re leaning on a sales team (that is highly incentivized) to lead you in the right direction then you should probably reassess your strategy

Hopefully these articles have given you a better perspective on what to look for throughout the timeshare sales process. The last thing you need to be doing is getting yourself trapped in a timeshare agreement you don’t want or need. Plenty of timeshare prospects have taken the time to do their own research and you should too. If you have any questions about your timeshare contract, you’re always more than welcome to schedule a free consultation.

Timeshare Verbal Promises and the “License to Lie” Exposed.

Timeshare Verbal Promises and the “License to Lie” Exposed.

When you think about it, nearly all of us long for a vacation. The stagnancy that comes from a routine is hard to ignore. Because of this, most of us are highly intrigued by “affordable” opportunities to get away. For more than half a century now, timeshare companies have been taking advantage of this desire to travel. But the industry didn’t exactly thrive because of consumer interest. Major hotel chains pay a lot of money to talk people into timeshare contracts. It’s why they unexpectedly present their product in a pressure filled environment with minimal disclosure

Every year, thousands of people jump on the opportunity before it “expires.” The problem is, there isn’t really a limited time offer. Also, the smoking deal isn’t too hot after maintenance fees, taxes and interest are actually included. Special assessments could occur at any time. Who knows which timeshare verbal promises will actually come true. Unfortunately, timeshares aren’t an investment property and they carry zero resale value. So, a return shouldn’t be expected. We’re telling you this because the industry’s “license to lie” has gotten out of hand.

Don’t Make a Mistake Before it’s Too Late.

If you look around, hundreds of thousands of vacation owners are seeking restitution. Although major resorts do a good job keeping things quiet, public records do exist. Dozens of owners call us on a daily basis looking for help. Most of them have continued to make further financial mistakes just trying to get out of the agreement. It can easily become a mess. The sad thing is, a majority of people wouldn’t have even made the purchase if verbal promises or misleading information didn’t convince them.

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At the same time, hearsay is difficult to prove when a signature is involved. Verbiage found on most written timeshare agreements actually states that the contract governs the purchase and that “verbal promises” hold no weight. A majority of buyers don’t notice this until it’s too late. This eventually forces them to make the most of their perpetual agreement. 

This is why it’s so important to understand the sale. Once the rescission period passes, the interval or membership in beneficial interest is yours. Even if you thought it was only going to be $20K. As our nation comes out of a pandemic and a season of protests and riots, most of us will be looking to find a new normal. It’s safe to say many of us will be looking for an escape. If you do go on vacation, then expect to be approached by a timeshare company looking to make up for their recent losses. 

Even if a deal seems too good to pass up and you really want to go on vacation, it’s important to use logic here. Reaching consumers in unexpected moments or during vulnerable circumstances helps them position value. The last thing consumers should do right now is make an impulse decision when the “license to lie” is at an all time high.

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False Verbal Promises Made By Timeshare Sales Teams.

Timeshare ownership may not be a complete disappointment to many buyers, but everyone can admit that the model does have its flaws. Natural disasters, resort failures and today’s travel restrictions from COVID-19 are all prime examples. But these realities of ownership are rarely discussed during sales presentations. Instead, verbal promises and possibilities are used to persuade. Here are a few common examples of such.

1. The Perks of Cheap Timeshare Availability.

The biggest sales pitch you can expect from a timeshare salesperson is the ease of travel and convenience. Aside from convincing you that you deserve a vacation every year, they’ve mastered the ability to present the product as financially affordable and easily accessible across multiple destinations. But this is simply not true. Not all inventory is available for timeshare owners. Package levels limit buyers to certain resorts. Even though the cunning salesman made a verbal promise to give you access in a certain destination, it won’t change what you signed.

2. Timeshare Owners Get First Choice.

If you’re going to talk someone into handing over tens of thousands of dollars for a vacation package, then you better make them feel important. This is why sales teams have been known to position “VIP access” as a perk of ownership. Since the travel industry is highly competitive and it’s difficult to find a good deal, getting the first pick on where you stay is extremely valuable. The thing is, inventory is first pushed out to the general public before going to the highest bidder. Timeshare owners receive the remnants. Unless you can confirm this in your contract, it’s certainly almost never true.

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3. Usage and Income Opportunities Are Vast.

After talking to thousands of timeshare owners over the years, the biggest misconception has got to be resale potential. Far too many buyers are determined to find a way to make money off the timeshare. They would never believe this to be true if they weren’t sold on this possibility during the presentation. Renting or selling timeshares usually comes with additional fees and no guarantee to garner a return. Similar to the timeshare itself, many of these programs also sell possibility as a product.

Utilizing a points program can be just as frustrating and discouraging. Many people are sold millions of points that they’ll never even be able to use. They find themselves in further peril after struggling to exchange the product. Timeshare presentations are structured to get attendees to believe there is value after the transaction. This makes them directly responsible for everything the buyer endures throughout ownership.

4. Buying A Timeshare Gives You An Asset.

While the presentation may seem compelling, there is no reason for anyone to believe a timeshare is an investment opportunity. Buyers don’t own the condo and receive no equity in the transaction. Once a salesman starts singing this tune, walking away is the best decision you can make. Today, most states regulate timeshare practices, specifically labeling it an asset. Intervals are absolutely not supposed to be sold as an investment property. But cunning tactics are normally used to get around the law. Verbal promises are the easiest way they can garner a signature and lock people into long term payments.

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Even those already under contract are continuously fed these lies. Timeshare reps have been known to go over numbers with owners, explaining how increases in “today’s point rates” have impacted the investment. However, the perceived value they slap on points programs makes no difference. Either way, timeshares almost never hold any value on the resale market anyways. This is a very misleading tactic used by timeshares to give the perception that there is equity to be had. Doing so allows them to offer today only deals that seemingly sweeten the return. All the while, the owner has no idea the timeshare is worthless and they’ll never be able to sell the property.

Resale should never be considered a perk of ownership and verbal promises like this should tell you everything you need to know about the industry.

You Can’t Believe Everything You Hear.

In a time of an awful lot of uncertainty, making wise decisions is important. We could all use a much needed vacation right now. But it doesn’t mean going all-in on an annual trip is a good idea. Take the time to investigate the opportunities that come your way over the next few months and always be leery of a timeshare salesman. If you have any questions about your contract or you’re looking to escape your burden for good, a no-cost consultation is only a phone call away.

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

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

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

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

Why Timeshare Owners Are Probably Getting Anxious.

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

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

HOW ABOUT AN EXAMPLE?

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

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

Why Would Timeshare Travel Change It’s Strategy?

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

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

What Most Timeshare Resorts Are Saying About COVID-19.

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

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

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

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Informative Updates Turn to Public Relations Stunts.

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

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

What Timeshare Resorts Are Actually Doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Timeshares Treat Financial Hardship Differently During a Pandemic?

Will Timeshares Treat Financial Hardship Differently During a Pandemic?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking a lot about the realities and possibilities of vacation ownership during a global pandemic. As we head into month two of our country’s attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it’s becoming more apparent this isn’t going to be a temporary thing. Many of you are reading this right now because you’re starting to realize your timeshare contract could soon present you with some problems. Some of you may already be in the midst of a financial hardship and vacation ownership is probably the last thing on your mind. So what can you expect if you stop paying for it?

Look, no one can really prepare for the international spread of a highly contagious respiratory illness. But the perpetual agreements signed by timeshare owners really rains on a parade doesn’t it? Whether you fully understand what this obligation entails or not, owners will more than likely be held accountable for payment during this time. It’s how many past owners facing hardships have been treated. To date, resorts haven’t said anything to otherwise reassure timeshare owners during the COVID-19 crisis. Expecting empathy from an industry that fails to disclose contract terms during the sale is risky.

Understanding Your Timeshare Contract is Important.

While it may seem like our goal here is to slander the industry to acquire new clients, that’s not the case. The last thing we want you to do is rush the cancellation process before exhausting all of your options. Sometimes, you just need an advocate to help point you in the right direction. But for the most part, you need someone to be honest with you so you can make intelligent decisions. Waiting on the resort to give you a break during a financial hardship can be extremely inconvenient, frustrating and even more costly. Either way, you don’t deserve to be aimlessly led down a road that seems fair. 

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No matter the reader’s perspective, VOC believes that all vacation owners should be able to seamlessly enjoy their purchase. The problem is, this was rarely the case even before this pandemic arrived. Since most buyers aren’t properly informed, disappointments lead to further purchases and even penalties. Plenty of our clients have called us because their timeshare has drained them financially. We can only assume this will continue. 

Now that the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in everyone’s activities and plans, it’s going to be extremely difficult for anyone to appreciate and relish in the decision to buy a timeshare. Whether you think you have a good enough reason to walk away from the burden or not, it’s important to understand what can take place if you do.

When You Can’t Pay For Your Timeshare.

Many of you were ecstatic when you first made the decision to buy a timeshare. Going on vacation every year is a big financial commitment that most people never get to enjoy. It feels good to be able to escape. At the time, none of you were thinking about the possibility of financial hardship – let alone forced social distancing. Some of you just made the purchase last month and now you’ve lost your job. With the job market at a standstill, unemployment will only take you so far. So what can you expect from the timeshare company? Moreover, what can you expect from a company that claims to know how to legally terminate timeshare contracts

Financial Hardships Don’t Stop Collection Attempts.

If there’s one thing that has remained consistent since timeshare travel came about, it’s that complaints have never been paid much attention to. The focus and capital always seems to funnel towards sales tactics and collection attempts. This has been evident for quite a while now. No matter the cost to them, timeshare companies and resorts will make sure they’re paid in full. If they allow vacation owners to easily escape the contractual burden, their entire business model would be destroyed.

Those that don’t adhere to the contract they signed can expect to be aggressively pursued for payment. Especially if you avoid the resort and refuse to pay in an aggressive manner yourself. If the communication gets to this point, you have to understand that sales organizations will harass you. The first level of collections normally comes from an internal agency or staff, employed by the timeshare. Some of our clients have told us that commissioned salesmen have even threatened them over the phone.

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FEAR CAN BE MISLEADING

While it may be comforting to believe the industry could have a change of heart, we also have to understand they’re losing a lot of money right now. If anything, this should lead us to believe that collection attempts could be even more troubling today. Threatening notices for foreclosures or liens could come a lot quicker if the travel ban lasts through the year. Not everyone will stop paying because of financial hardship. Some will deem the expense non-essential or simply boycott payments because they can’t use it.

Timeshare companies will more than likely respond in a way that benefits them best. With a contract on their side, it’s going to be awfully difficult for vacation owners to escape some sort of obligation. You might be racking up fees right now.

There Are Multiple Ways Timeshares Collect Dues.

If you’re able to endure the resort’s collection attempts, just know you’re not in the clear. Once your contract reaches a third party collector, the tactics get to be a little more cunning. Most people don’t understand that there are different ways this can affect your credit differently. Not only is the debt amount likely to increase, but you’re not guaranteed a “paid in full” distinction.

These types of agencies really know how to put the pressure on timeshare owners to take action. By removing the emotion out of the equation, they aim to tactfully remind you of the ramifications of your refusal to pay. If you’re in over your head or you don’t know what to look for in your contract, they can be especially convincing. They know how to create confusion in order to bring the contract current. It’s their job and you should always seek advice in these matters.

At the end of the day, third party collectors work for the timeshare company. Negotiating with them is rarely fruitful and leaves most owners back at the mercy of the resort – even after a large payment is made. If you’re in the middle of a financial hardship and worried your debt is going to put you in a deeper hole, it would be wise of you to seek advice. Threatening you until your contract is current is bad business. If you can’t pay, you have to be smart.

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Avoid Timeshare Deception During Financial Hardships.

Remember, the end goal of the timeshare company is to make as much money as they can. It’s always been that way. Their strategy is always going to be to keep you under contract for as long as they can. They’ll tell you that they’re waiving fees and “helping you out” – but the fees would never have been there if they cared. Even bait and switch attempts should be expected during this time. Future promises and guarantees should be taken with a grain of salt, because the proof is in the pudding.

Things that may be available today may not be available tomorrow. Efforts to comfort you while creating fear are common in the industry. Nearly everything presented to prospective buyers and current owners is excessively ambiguous and one sided. The goal has always been to collect as many timeshare payments as they can for times like these. It’s not hard to see right through the business model itself.

Do Struggling Timeshare Owners Have Legal Options?

So what happens when you scrape together enough money to pay off collections but find out your timeshare contract is still active. What will you do if you were counting on the expense being eliminated altogether? When timeshare owners are taken advantage of in this way, they’re usually ready to sue the resort for everything they have. But there’s a reason why so many struggling buyers have failed to find legal success. 

For the most part, the contract itself favors the resort. Even class action lawsuits have been known to fizzle after months of planning and organization. No matter what hardship was endured, the agreement remains binding. Even when accusations are valid, many go broke just trying to keep up with the lawsuit. Timeshare companies have millions of dollars and use some of the best lawyers in the world to defend themselves. Competing is difficult when you’re already struggling financially. The simple consideration of this approach is rather foolish.

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Many legal teams just aren’t equipped to go up against timeshare companies in a legal battle. If you find yourself committed to restitution, then the best thing you can do is eliminate the burden for good. We’ve written a number of articles that explain the differences between hiring lawyers to litigate and our attorney based process. Working with a company that understands the industry and has success with timeshare litigation can be extremely beneficial. Especially when you can get out with a clean slate for $0 out of pocket with 0% interest. 

How Owners Could Pay For Walking Away.

If you decide to just ignore the collection attempts and hope for the best, then there are some things worth considering. Refusing to act responsibly can make this global pandemic far worse for you and your family. Even if you don’t hear from the resort for a few months or even a year, the repercussions could be adding up. Our clients have been known to incur a number of late fees, hidden costs and even unauthorized credit card charges in the past.

Some don’t even know the resort signed them up for a credit card or an additional contract during the point of sale, adding further inconveniences. Many of these scenarios aren’t even known until tens of thousands of dollars have been incurred. Missed payments on maintenance fees and a potential special assessment only makes matters worse. Especially for new buyers who never knew they existed.

Judgements, interest, legal filings, attorney fees and any other administrative costs can really catch a struggling individual (or family) off guard. Timeshare ownership doesn’t come with a forbearance option. In the timeshare’s eyes, your only option is to pay for what you agreed to. Far too many buyers think they’re ahead of the game only to find out they’re behind the curve. At some point, you’re going to have to face the fees that have accumulated because of your decision to walk away.

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Be Smart With Timeshare During This Pandemic.

Whether there is a pandemic or not, it’s uncommon for timeshare companies to willingly take back your contract. They don’t care if you now view the purchase as a non-essential expense. They worked hard and paid a lot of money to guarantee your payment. No matter how upset you may get over broken promises, all they have to do is point to the piece of paper you signed. Sadly, this is how they’ve always done business and we have no reason to believe it’ll change. 

So do your best to prepare yourself for the unexpected during this time. Even if you never face financial hardships as a timeshare owner, be mindful of everything the purchase entails. There might come a point in time where timeshare travel loses its luster. You never know, going on vacation may never be the same. Waiting or acting irrationally could be costly. With that being said, if you have any questions about legally canceling a timeshare contract, we’d be more than happy to help.

What Could Make Timeshare Ownership Worse During a Pandemic.

What Could Make Timeshare Ownership Worse During a Pandemic.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing a few hypothetical situations that vacation owners should most certainly consider. While it’s still difficult to tell when travel bans will be lifted or the economy will reopen, it’s safe to say that the hospitality industry will incur quite a bit of loss. Whether it be the consumer or businesses. As a vacation owner, you might be used to inconveniences – but no traveler is in a worse position than you are right now. No matter what happens, your perpetual agreement will more than likely keep you at the mercy of the resort.

There isn’t much that could make timeshare ownership worse during a pandemic than your obligation to pay for something you can’t use. But there are a few instances that could make those payments even more difficult to bear. Truth be told, vacation owners are more vulnerable than ever before. Although we’d hate for any of these things to occur, helping you understand what your contract entails could pay dividends down the road.

Are You Worried About Timeshare Ownership?

Listen, you have a right to feel uneasy about owning a timeshare interval during a global standstill. Especially if you’ve lost your job or simply realized that you need to cut expenses to do a better job saving money. The level of uncertainty in general, on top of your inability to use something you have to pay for, has to be burdensome. Some of you already know you’re not going to be able to afford your timeshare

YOUR AGREEMENT DOESN’T GIVE YOU MUCH LEVERAGE.

To date, all signs from timeshare companies have been pointing towards self interest. Nothing has shown us they’re contemplating helping the millions of owners that are paying their salaries during this pandemic. The binding agreement that timeshare owners signed allows them to expect payments and penalize refusals – even though they have an ability to help out. In short, waiting to act on your concern can be costly. If further disaster were to occur, then what?

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What Could Make Owning a Timeshare Worse?

While the chances of another setback occurring during a global crisis is slim, it’s not out of the question. The longer this pandemic lasts, the more the odds are stacked against you. The last thing we want is for you to be unprepared. Although it may seem like we’re trying to talk you into canceling your contract, we simply want to make you aware of possibilities so you may act accordingly. Sometimes, this is as simple as reaching out to the resort to work something out. Nonetheless, if any of the following events impact your resort, then your binding agreement could become quite regrettable.

1. Bad Weather Can Be Limiting and Expensive.

One of the worst things that could happen during a pandemic is a natural disaster. In a time where everyone is isolated in their homes, a loss of power or water can be devastating. Not to mention the immediate dangers that come with severe storms. Whether you experience a natural disaster yourself or your timeshare is hit by one, a timeshare contract is not going to come in handy.

Just in the past few weeks, there have been a number of deadly tornadoes in the southeast and moderate earthquakes on the west coast. We have no doubt that there are timeshare owners out there who are currently dealing with these unimagined scenarios. If your timeshare vacation was already cancelled due to the pandemic, what happens if your resort is damaged by an earthquake or hurricane this summer? It’s hard to tell when hotels will reopen for tourists. Anything could happen in between.

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SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS ONLY MAKE MATTERS WORSE.

What happens when you don’t get to vacation in 2020 at all but you’re asked to pay thousands of dollars in special assessment fees due to tornado damage? How would it feel to know the resort profited off of you and your fellow owners during a year where many suffered? Would it make you wish you would have reconsidered the purchase long before? 

A natural disaster would make it awfully difficult for you to find restitution for a lost year. If your timeshare is on a fault line, in tornado alley, in the Caribbean or next to a volcano then you might want to start thinking about what’s really worth it. If you’re already struggling during this pandemic, then assessment fees and further limitations would definitely make timeshare ownership worse.

2. A New Acquisition That Spurs Change.

If travel limitations stretch into the fall or holiday season, a handful of timeshare companies may look to off-load some of their resorts to cover their losses. Whether sales are low due to a pandemic or lost interest, resorts often benefit from change. And what better time to revamp a timeshare resort than during a global lockdown. Investors and developers that are able to endure this standstill will be eager to take over struggling properties in popular destinations.

The problem with an acquisition is the suddenness and lack of transparency that occurs. Owners rarely have a say in what transpires or what’s required of them. Oftentimes, those taking over have big plans to upgrade the resort at the timeshare owners’ expense. Receiving high maintenance fees and sudden assessments – because a wealthy developer wants to make more money – can be quite troubling during a pandemic. Especially for those that are already struggling to pay for their timeshare.

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BUYOUTS CAN BE MISLEADING FOR OWNERS.

Although an improved experience may appeal to most travelers, additional expenses could be devastating to some timeshare owners right now. Now that assessment fees aren’t capped in many states, there’s no telling how resorts could respond during a pandemic. Sadly, you’d have no choice but to adhere to the decisions of new management. Even if this means their budget cuts eliminated employees or services you’ve grown accustomed to.

Nearly every timeshare acquisition gets our phones ringing here at VOC. Many vacation owners learn to appreciate the little things about their locations and dislike being stripped of them without warning. If hospitality companies are expecting a lot of downtime, you have to know they’re going to be looking for ways to maximize profits once they’re able to reopen. New construction, landscape improvements, pool renovations and suite upgrades usually come with an acquisition. Unfortunately, these could occur at a really inconvenient time this year, making timeshare ownership worse during a pandemic.

3. An Owner’s Sudden Change in Health.

One of the most unexpected occurrences in a timeshare owner’s life is a decline in their health. Everybody wants to believe they can continue traveling forever. Nobody wants to think about physical ailments or health conditions limiting their quality of life. But things happen, and you have to be prepared to adapt or face the music. When it comes to timeshare travel, many purchases end up unusable because of this. 

Whether a property doesn’t have adequate handicap accessible lodging or higher altitudes are unsafe, visiting your timeshare can become a lost cause. Especially when the timeshare company isn’t willing to make it work for the same price. If traveling to the resort is already risky as it is, what are you going to do if your health worsens? While we see this the most in the aging community, one unforeseen tragedy or accident can alter anyone’s life in an instant.

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If you’re already struggling to get by during the COVID-19 crisis then how would you pay for the timeshare if you become terminally ill or are involved in an accident? If you have an underlying condition and traveling isn’t safe anymore, what will you do when the timeshare holds you to your contract? Understanding these types of scenarios and how timeshare ownership could get worse will help you navigate certain paths if they were to occur.

4. A Large, Unexpected Expense Arises.

There are a number of things that play a role in a vacation owner’s desire to legally get rid of a timeshare contract. But nothing is more convincing than an abrupt expense that takes a priority in their life. This could involve anything that’s unexpected with a high price tag. Funeral costs for the death of a family member or medical expenses can create quite the setback. Even caring for your parents or going through a divorce could quickly come into fruition unexpectedly.

If you lost your job of 30 years and are struggling to pay for your mortgage then homeownership certainly takes precedence over the timeshare. Maybe you purchased the timeshare before expanding your family and you’re just now realizing they need you more than you need the vacation. Kids are a lot more expensive than most people think. 

All of these things, during a pandemic, would definitely make timeshare ownership worse. Understanding what your options are will help you avoid further trouble down the road. At some point, you’ll want to decide if a total cancellation is the best way to save money over the long term.

5. What Else Can Make Timeshare Ownership Worse?

Look, there isn’t much worse than a terrible timeshare experience. Paying for an expectation that doesn’t transpire has got to be frustrating. But we have to start thinking about how this pandemic is going to alter the future of travel. Aside from dealing with an invisible enemy, we have to admit America is quite vulnerable right now. If international tensions arise, how will timeshare contracts be viewed? How burdensome could they become if a war or global conflict broke out – on top of the economic crisis our country is already facing?

Something else worth considering is an economic crisis that’s beyond what we’re currently experiencing. If you still have a job but you ended up losing it due to a poor recovery, how will this impact your life? Will you still have an ability to travel? If new laws, tolls or regulations for hotels add to the cost of your timeshare, is it going to be something you can continue to afford?

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The coronavirus will also affect a number of people psychologically. If you’re already a germaphobe, are you going to be able to get into an airplane or visit a condo that could potentially be contaminated with COVID-19? If you’ve experienced trauma during this time, will you feel safe in unfamiliar locations? If you lose someone close to you, are you going to want to go on vacation anytime soon? Anything that could make paying for timeshare ownership worse needs to be considered here.

Will Timeshare Travel Ever Be the Same Again?

No matter how you’re handling the pandemic, we can all agree there’s plenty of time for us to reassess our spending habits and priorities. If owning a timeshare just doesn’t seem like something that makes sense anymore, then cutting ties while you’re still ahead may not be a bad idea. Because of the way your resort has handled this crisis, some of you are ready to move on. If the unexpected were to occur, then your timeshare contract probably won’t help. 

At VOC, we don’t believe in pressuring timeshare owners to cancel their contract. In most instances, there’s a competent way to work things out with the resort. You just need to know your realistic options when it comes to your contract. Working with someone you can trust helps. If cancellation is something you’re interested in, you can always schedule a free consultation or fill out a qualification form to see if you’re eligible for our services.

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