Frank and Betty Lusk have been advocates of timeshare ownership for quite some time. After retiring as Christian missionaries, they fell in love with their ability to travel the world. They’ve used fractional ownership to travel to Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean and even Scotland. Up until last year, every one of their timeshare purchases resulted in a positive experience. To them, each contract was relatively straightforward and affordable. This allowed them to confidently pay off most of their timeshare expenses. In a recent article with AZ Central, Betty went on to say, “We’ve enjoyed the timeshares.”
How they Were Manipulated into Buying
Although they’ve learned to appreciate timeshare travel, they weren’t looking to buy anything else while on a Caribbean cruise in September of 2018. Nonetheless, they were approached by a Diamond Resorts salesman during their voyage. He presented them with an enticing offer. Instead of enjoying a private dinner date, they decided to listen to his pitch about a special reception on a private island. Frank remembers how appealing it sounded to them. “They called it a dream holiday,” he said.
The persistence of the salesman was also memorable to the Lusks. Betty noted, “He really talked us hard into getting this.” The $150K timeshare purchase with 10% down was referred to as “life insurance” by the sales rep. He told them the contract would resolve any debt they had with Diamond once they were deceased. Since the Lusks were skeptical about this assertion, the salesman repeatedly showed them documentation that seemed to support his claim. Even though they weren’t able to keep a copy for themselves, it was enough to sway them into making the purchase.
By the end of their cruise, the articulate salesman succeeded at closing them on a timeshare contract worth $150K. On top of this outrageous amount, he was also able to secretly lock them into $19,000 in yearly maintenance and assessment fees. Without being privy of the additional fees, they went ahead and completed the purchase by borrowing money against their retirement home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Intuition Told Them to Cancel the Timeshare Purchase.
As the cruise docked on their 68th wedding anniversary, Frank and Betty started to become uneasy about the purchase. Instead of celebrating their marriage, they were full of regret. Their gut told them to take advantage of their rescission period (legal window to cancel) by sending a certified letter to Diamond Resorts. In the letter they stated, “We do not want to encumber ourselves with further debt at our ages.” Shortly after their sigh of relief, the salesman called them to talk them out of their cancellation request. Surprisingly, they changed their minds.
Apparently, “We’re too trusting,” said Frank. Betty added, “We’re Christian people, I guess we’re not as worldly wise.” Unable to stand up to the salesman, the anxiety of the purchase ate at the Lusks. Eventually, they sent another letter that demanded Diamond Resorts cancel their agreement, accusing the company of elderly abuse. A settlement with the Arizona Attorney General in 2017 for false promises and sales misconduct reinforced their decision. The lawsuit included a number of timeshare owners that also felt like hardball tactics had been used to keep them under contract. In their second letter, they stated, “Keeping this contract would lead to our bankruptcy.” But similar to those involved in the previous settlement, the Lusks also experienced Diamond’s refusal to honor their right to cancel during rescission.
Charges Continued Even After Cancellation.
Even after the timeshare company confirmed the cancellation, the Lusks continued to receive bills in the mail. When they called the resort, they were told the contract was still valid. Despite a confirmation letter from Diamond, they were still being held responsible for payments. “It was a nightmare,” Frank said.
Since the Lusks had never experienced anything like this before, they weren’t sure where to turn. After researching relief options, they decided to use a timeshare cancellation company to permanently terminate the purchase. After paying $10,000 to cancel, they were finally free and clear from their obligation to pay. Frank now labels the getaway as, “the dumbest thing we ever did.” Betty, now 88, has endured insomnia and fainting spells ever since the experience. After being hospitalized several times, it’s safe to say her perception of the industry has changed.
Buying a Timeshare Can Be Extremely Risky
Cases like these happen all the time. We recently helped an elderly client escape her $140,000 timeshare contract after she took out a reverse mortgage on her home to pay for it. A few weeks ago, we also helped a retiree that wasn’t even able to use his property because of a medical condition. He and his wife paid $40,000 (through ACH) out of their personal bank account while the timeshare financed the remaining $30,000 on a Barclays credit card.
The fact of the matter is, every month, hundreds of thousands of dollars is being ripped from consumer’s hands by timeshare companies. Aside from educating consumers on the actuality of ownership, we want to help current owners get rid of timeshare contracts. If you’d like to learn more about your options, our consultants are available to talk to you for free. If you’re set on terminating your agreement, you can access our qualification form below.