Have you ever made a large purchase that turned out to be less than gratifying? How about a product that didn’t perform as advertised? In most cases, a consumer’s intuition is to return it –or at least making an exchange. But what happens when the purchase ends up being non-refundable due to a return policy that wasn’t promoted or ever explained? Sadly, a new timeshare package generally creates this predicament.
Your Timeshare Package May Not Be What It Seems.
Rescission (or cancellation) periods in most jurisdictions are between 3-7 days where most major timeshare resorts are. Truth be told, many vacation owners are not aware of this. In fact, some are led to believe they made an investment and don’t even see vacation ownership as a liability. Possibilities distract them. Since timeshare packages are often bought by tourists, they’re in no hurry to inspect the agreement or make an immediate reservation.
By the time contracts are reviewed or initial booking attempts take place, the rescission period is usually long gone. In other words, if a new buyer determines the purchase to be a mistake then it is almost always too late by the time they test their timeshare package and determine its value is nonexistent. We find this extremely odd since many of us wouldn’t even buy a bicycle without giving it a spin. But it goes to show how remarkably compelling the timeshare sale can be.
How to Test Your Timeshare Package Quickly.
First and foremost, truly examining a timeshare package in 3-7 days is awfully difficult if you don’t have any free time. Since booking a trip in this short of a time frame is highly unlikely, you have to be resourceful. There are plenty of ways to test the legitimacy of the deal and the future of your travels. But you have to understand that you can’t solely rely on what sales teams tell you.
Thinking for yourself is crucial. The timeshare is almost never going to make it easy for you to obtain all the answers you want. You have to be able to weigh the pros and cons quickly. Keep in mind, sales teams specialize in keeping buyers under contract oftentimes with empty promises. So don’t dwell on anything or drag your feet when you’re determining if the product is worth it. Waiting until the last minute to rescind the purchase can be extremely costly.
With that being said, the following tips for testing the timeshare package during the cancellation period may help you avoid a $20K+ mistake (plus annual fees, taxes and interest).
1. Examine the Timeshare Contract Yourself.
Over the years, we’ve spoken to hundreds of vacation owners that never even had access to their timeshare contract. As a matter of fact, we’ve had to assist quite a few clients on retrieving their timeshare documents. If you’ve recently made the purchase and realize you can’t even look over the agreement, a red flag should immediately be raised. While a technological failure could be the root, the adsense of a physical agreement should be concerning.
Oftentimes, buyers can find terms, documents and other pertinent information in different compartments or pockets in presentational materials. At the same time, a lack of disclosure and access to it is nothing new in the timeshare industry. So the first course of action is to obtain the contract and review everything it entails. Vague language or questionable terms that aren’t explained should be heavily weighed in your decision.
For starters, you’ll want to look for the details of the contract’s rescission period. You can also look up state laws (where the purchase was made) to see how much time you have before the sale is final. Added fees and the frequency of them is also something you should be able to locate. Is an estimated cost of the timeshare package included?
Circling your concerns and making them known should be a priority when this much money is on the line. One of the best things you can do is have an attorney review the contract for you. If you can’t get the answers you need from the resort then a legal consultation should help you determine if the terms benefit you or not.
2. Try Giving Your Salesman a Call.
Far too often, the exhausting charm of a sales presentation misleads attendees. Some salespeople have even been known to tell buyers they can call their personal line if something goes wrong with the timeshare. The problem is, many lie to close deals. Phone numbers given out are often phony and end up ringing disconnected. Even those that have been able to reach a salesperson have had a rough experience.
With that in mind, if you have contact information for any sales representative then use it in the first 3-7 days. This is your chance to challenge the legitimacy of the offer. Nearly every time someone calls us upset over a timeshare package, they feel as though they’ve been lied to. Gauging the true character of the person that sold you the expensive product may tell you all you need to know. If you’re having booking problems that don’t align with their promises, they should be able to make it right – right?
3. Try to Book The Week You Wanted.
Speaking of making a reservation, this is also one of the most telling signs of a bad experience waiting to happen. If you were promised a specific week at a certain resort with a list of accommodations then you better make sure this is true. If an ideal vacation isn’t available and the reasoning is reasonable (like a pandemic or something), then inquire about other available accommodations.
Gaining an accurate understanding of the potential logistics of the purchase is definitely something you can do to test your timeshare package in the first 3-7 days. Plenty of deal breakers have been presented during initial booking attempts. You may find out your lodging is nothing like the presidential suite you toured during the demonstration or that your “Disney Resort” is actually down the street from DisneyLand (and not within).
4. Test Timeshare Customer Service Reps.
Once you’ve dissected the contract of your timeshare package and made a list of all your concerns, ask as many questions as you can. Even if you’re able to get a hold of the sales rep or you’ve been speaking to a booking agent, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Bringing up hypothetical problems and seeing how customer service teams respond can give you a good idea for what you can expect from the resort in times of need.
While most sales organizations are going to be as courteous as they can while cancellations periods play out, constant prying will provide hidden answers. Double checking certain promises with different reps provides a variety of responses that may help you determine what can be considered truth. If you keep receiving pushback or the runaround, then keep pushing for someone that can help. Once the contract is binding, they may not be as patient.
5. Test the Waters of Buy Back Programs.
When it comes to timeshare packages, one of the most common assumptions involves the idea that timeshares will easily and equally exchange any product that’s dissatisfactory. In reality, the process is not simple and it’s not free. So testing the waters here during the 3-7 day cancellation period is ideal. One of the first questions that needs to be asked is how much the resort is willing to pay you to take back the timeshare. What is its value?
Although this number will change in time, what the timeshare tells you – immediately after the purchase – should be eye opening. Did the value of your week drop drastically? Is it still worth what you paid for it? If not, ask them why not. If they’re unable to give you any specifics about a buyback program or any types of guarantees then how can you trust the “perk”?
In most cases, you’re going to find out that the timeshare package does not in fact hold any buyback value. Most are lucky to pay the timeshare to take back their timeshare and release them of the future liability. Many realize it depreciates more than a new car without any type of use. What happens during a struggling economy or pandemic? How do these types of scenarios impact the timeshare’s take back policy?
6. Take a Look at the Resale Market.
New vacation owners that aren’t able to confirm anything with buy back programs should quickly turn to resale for insight. If you bought the purchase to make money then you have limited time to ensure this is actually a feasible feat. Remember, this belief is often predicated by the sale. If you’re not actually sure you can profit from a timeshare package then you may want to exercise your right of rescission. $20K+ is not chump change.
Aside from asking the timeshare company for resale success stories, researching your options can tell you a lot about the process. Many buyers believe selling is an easy process. But the market just doesn’t exist. A quick browse on eBay or Craigslist will show you many people are looking to get rid of timeshares for pennies with no bids. If you’re unable to find anyone that’s successfully renting or selling timeshares then the purchase may not be worth it.
7. Ask About Your Right to Rescind.
At the end of the day, going through this list is going to create a little uneasiness about your timeshare package. You may feel like you wasted an entire day listening to a sales pitch that may be determined to be a scam. Maybe you’re still holding out hope for the deal. Either way, sticking to what you know should guide you. If you find yourself second guessing the decision at all, then you may want to start the process to rescind.
Buyers that take the time to look into it are sometimes encouraged to follow through. Sadly, many aren’t able to complete the process because they’re unprepared. They panic then find themselves stuck in perpetual payments. Random problems or unexpected setbacks should be expected during the rescission process. A story we did recently on one of our clients explains how frustrating this can be.
VOC Will Put Your Timeshare Package to the Test.
If you feel as though the resort is chipping away at your allotted cancellation period then do your best to document everything. Certainty is everything when it comes to testing timeshare packages. If you don’t feel good about the purchase, then you ought to be pursuing your right to rescind the contract before it’s too late.
At VOC, we believe in helping consumers avoid the pitfalls of the timeshare industry. We’re not interested in taking advantage of vacation owners in vulnerable situations. If at any point you feel lost or the situation becomes hopeless, you can always schedule a free consultation. Those of you that simply want out can pre-qualify below.