When most people think about buying a timeshare, they think of convenient getaways in desirable locations with family and close friends. But that’s not always how the adventure plays out. Every year, tens of thousands of consumers buy timeshares without any knowledge of what they might actually be getting themselves into. Even those privy to timeshare travel end up in regrettable situations from time to time. Whether buyers can’t use points or availability is slim, many end up spending more money just to enjoy something. But this isn’t always their fault.
Timeshare salesman do a great job of narrow-mindedly leading people to believe the purchase is more than it really is. Aside from selling a mirage, some intentionally avoid contract details to keep potential buyers from having second thoughts. If most people knew it would cost them an additional $1200 in fees per year (for life), they probably wouldn’t be too impressed. Less people would buy timeshares because it wouldn’t be seen as the deal it’s being made out to be. When salesmen focus on benefits instead of product specifics, buyers are essentially being encouraged to make an uninformed, impulse decision.
Instead of experiencing more bang for their buck, many buyers receive less than they expected for more than they anticipated. This is where the financial commitment can become extremely problematic. Once buyers are locked into a perpetual contract, timeshare companies focus on creating a demand for an improved experience. They’ll say anything to keep buyers from realizing they can cancel the contract during the rescission period.
They’re not necessarily interested in solving dissatisfaction, rather offering in-house solutions that consist of upgrades and add-ons. The entire process is based on sales tactics that leverage your lifetime agreement. You have to understand nothing you experience as a timeshare owner is by chance. Systems are in place to always keep you wanting or needing more. Even if you’re enjoying multiple timeshares already, one bad decision can be devastatingly costly.
This is why we want to encourage potential buyers to research the product before they even attend the timeshare presentation. Knowing what to expect and what questions to ask can save you an awful lot of grief. At the same time, investigating the timeshare company isn’t the only thing you can do to prepare. You have to anticipate being told things that simply aren’t true during the sales pitch. Taking the time to review the timeshare contract and mull over the terms before signing anything is essential. Especially if you’re already on vacation. Believe us, the sales rep isn’t going to abolish the offer because you want to think it through. Disregard the “available today only” sales tactics.
One of Our Clients is “Not Proud” of Their Decision.
Although the first 500 words of this article may be enlightening, we understand some readers will require substance. Claims can be dry in this industry as nearly everything is a sales pitch. While you might think we see unhappy timeshare owners as an opportunity, we don’t think of it that way. We talk to dozens of people that buy timeshares every day. We know what type of pain they go through. Whether you’ve never bought a bad timeshare or the salesman’s spiel made you a believer, we believe the story of an elderly couple will open your eyes to what can transpire if you take the purchase lightly.
Bill and Mickey have been married for more than 52 years. They have 2 sons and they managed the household with a blue collar mentality. Bill worked at GM for more than 35 years as a production manager and even spent time in Vietnam. His work ethic allowed him to “retire at age 55 with age 59 money.” But it didn’t steal his drive because he’s been working ever since. Micky spent a good part of her professional career in the medical field. Like most Americans, they worked hard to be able to live comfortably and travel routinely one day.
While their kids were growing up, Bill and Micky started to explore the east coast every chance they got. After using Micky’s brother’s timeshare a few times down in Florida, the couple decided to purchase their own. For years, the couple took advantage of holidays and school breaks to travel with their sons. They never had any issues after buying the timeshare. But all of this changed in 2015 when they attended a promotional seminar for timeshare during a routine trip to Gatlinburg.
Analyzing the Presentation and the Timeshare Purchase
Mickey recalls her husband entering the presentation extremely skeptical. “I remember Bill saying to the guy, ‘well, we’re not going to buy anything.’ Well, that was our famous last words,” she said. When asked about the pitch, Bill remembers it being very methodical. “It was structured. They had an agenda. You know, starting off, what do you pay for a motel? What do you pay for a hotel and all of that? How much did you invest in that vacation?”
The rapid fire questions allowed Wyndham to pull a lot of information from the couple right away. Within a short period of time, the sales rep already had Bill thinking that it made sense financially. “With the initial investment, it seemed like we should be okay,” he said. But they still weren’t sure if it was something they needed right now. So the questions continued.
After going back and forth for hours, the sales rep started to explain their presidential points program. When we spoke to the couple, you could tell they still didn’t understand how they were going to use two million points. “What Invited me to take on the presidential point value was when they talked about how you could rent your properties,” said Mickey. She thought, “If I can get $2,000 a month rental fee then I can pay my mortgage amount.” But this isn’t anywhere near how things eventually played out.
Knowing how much money Bill and Mickey had to spend gave the sales rep an opportunity to continue throwing out empty promises until the couple finally gave in. They could have left at any point, but the couple decided to continue listening to the benefits while the details of the agreement were ignored. So the intrigue progressed.
Bill told us the ability to cut their timeshare costs even more was very appealing to him and Mickey. “Another item they stressed was that you could take this deeded property and go to any loan institution and use that as collateral to get a loan, for less interest to get out of Wyndham’s high interest rate,” he said. Again, another common false narrative used by timeshare companies to close their prospects. Bill went on to say the sales rep insisted this were true by saying, “Oh yeah, we just had somebody in here last week that got a loan for 3% and they were paying 18%.”
Once the salesman found something that appealed to the couple, he ran with it. “It was always a dream of ours to go west because we’d never been west of the Mississippi.” said Bill. “We wanted to see the Grand Canyon and different sites out there.” This revelation was inevitably the final nail in the coffin.
Thinking back, they now realize the salesman really used this desire against them. “Our first buy with Wyndham was kind of geared around that offering, you know, we can put you in condos and do this and do that. So that’s how it started with Wyndham.”
What Can Happen When You Haphazardly Buy Timeshares
Once they made the purchase, the rest was history. While they initially thought they could rent and use their points for little to nothing, they quickly found out it wasn’t that simple. “You’re already losing money right out the door, but they make you think that you can just turn around and rent them really quick,” says Mickey.
Aside from being stuck with a surplus of points, they never considered the additional expenses that come with traveling routinely. Even when they wanted to go on vacation they couldn’t because the anticipated income from renting their points wasn’t there. Especially when they paid two companies to unsuccessfully help them rent the property. In their letter to us, they explained just how bad the points program turned out. “We have already invested $107,139.36 in down payments alone. We bought one million points, but we have approximately 600,000 left to use before 9/30/2019.” Who would have thought, right?
They ran into another costly brick wall when they found out their refinancing options weren’t true. “I looked around, nobody will give you a loan on that deeded property. They make it sound like it’s no problem for you to be able to refinance somewhere easily, but it’s not the case.” After taking out several loans and charging a credit card for some of the unexpected costs they endured shortly after the purchase, the couple finally realized they had to take out a reverse mortgage on the home to cover their loses.
Getting Out of the Timeshare Was Their Only Option.
After contacting the CEO of Wyndham with no reply, the aging couple was determined to find a way out of the timeshare. “We contacted Wyndham’s Ovation program to see if we could cancel our loan and renegotiate for less points. Of course, they said we signed a binding contract,” said Mickey. Unfortunately, the clients that have come to us came to the conclusion that the timeshare resorts don’t care about your financial struggle.
She told us, “If we hadn’t have gone to Global, we wouldn’t have known of VOC and we would still be struggling right now. So it was kind of a blessing. In a way the lord opened up a door and said, here you can save some face,” she said. But canceling the timeshare contract didn’t necessarily eliminate the regret and the exceeding amount of debt they now face.
Although Bill retired relatively young, he is now working as a garbage man at the age of 72 – just to survive and keep their home. The American dream they were once on track to attain is now lost in the shuffle. Bill is deeply distraught by this. “Something that really bothered me was trying to explain this to our children, our two boys, what we had gotten ourselves into,” he said. “This was something that we are not proud of and even now they don’t know what we’ve gotten ourselves into.” The amount of grief the experience caused them is indescribable.
Take Your Time When Purchasing Timeshare Agreements.
For those of you looking to buy timeshares now or in the near future, the couple hopes their story has opened your eyes. They don’t want you to make the same mistakes they did. Mickey now realizes they’re not alone. “As we traveled, we talked to other Wyndham owners. What we found is the first thing you buy, you realize, well this really doesn’t get me anywhere because it’s not enough points. Then you go buy more points so you can do more traveling or go where you want to travel. They [Wynham] say well if you add just a little bit and go up to the next package level then you can do this much more. And before you know it you’re at over your head,” she said. It sounds like people are beginning to catch on.
If Bill and Mickey would have taken a step back to analyze their points program, the rental market and their refinancing options, they probably wouldn’t have made the purchase. But they did and our hearts go out to them because of it. At the same time, we hope consumers learn through their experience.
Knowing When to Exit Timeshare Agreements is Key.
While people can help themselves by preparing before they buy timeshares, knowing when to cancel fractional ownership is even more advantageous. This is something Bill and Mickey can attest to. When seeking timeshare relief, they refused to take “No” for an answer because they didn’t want to pass down the burden to loved ones.
No one should have to worry about paying over $200,000 in timeshare-related-debt during their golden years. Shame on the timeshare sales representatives and management for taking advantage of this aging couple. The silver lining to it all is that Bill and Mickey understand the full picture now and have made an educated decision on how to move forward and move on. They couldn’t be more happy with the route they took.
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