People that value an affordable vacation package often see timeshare travel as an advantage. On the surface, it seems like a straightforward transaction. But once limitations arise and costs become higher than expected, many resent their decision. Since the agreement is perpetual, the outcome is especially troubling for low income households. When owners are at the mercy of the resort, the financial burden can be crippling. For the most part, all they can do is endure. This helps timeshare giants ignore owner complaints and slander the cancellation industry in order to keep their buyers from putting any type of hope into an exit strategy.
There is a Strategy Behind the Attacks.
The concept of handicapping buyers isn’t just happenstance. It’s been widely documented that timeshare sales teams intentionally target consumers with limited finances. Owners with extra spending money tend to be more willing to take risks to get out of a timeshare contract. Those counting on credit lines and loans usually continue compiling interests and fees just to avoid potential judgements, foreclosures or credit hits. Penalties scare buyers from walking away and it’s difficult for them to know who to trust. Even if they can afford an attorney, the process usually becomes too expensive to complete. It’s safe to say a sense of entrapment is common amongst buyers.
At the same time, owner hesitancy or skepticism isn’t always intuitive. Timeshare companies do a great job overcoming complaints with false hopes and distractions. No matter how much inconvenience transpires, the resort somehow convinces many owners that the resort truly cares about their experience – and that the exit industry as a whole does not. Whether they persuade buyers to purchase an upgrade or transition them into a points program, it’s pretty evident that timeshare companies are selfishly motivated. The last thing the resort wants is to lose control of their owners – or that which they consider a stream of revenue.
Sadly, many disgruntled buyers reach a point of fear where they’re afraid to even consider our services. They’re led to believe all exit programs are scams. Even though timeshare giants ignore owner complaints, buyers feel as though they have no choice but to adhere to the contract they signed. Some even feel as though it’s their fault. The last thing they want is to make matters worse by taking another chance on something that seems to be fruitful.
Ruining Reputations Instead of Helping Owners.
At the end of the day, timeshare companies aren’t actually fighting for restitution for their customers – rather protecting their own interests. They’re solely fighting to limit or discredit resources that can actually help timeshare owners find relief in a difficult situation. They know that pro consumer solutions exist. They know that previous class action lawsuits against major players in the industry have resulted in a win for the owners. They’re afraid that advantageous programs and services will inform their users on the truth – or the reality of their situation – and help them find relief. The desperation and deceit is clear.
So what are timeshare companies doing to disparage these resources and exit companies? Well, for some time now they’ve been trying to change the law. In the meantime, they’ve spent a lot of time and money taking cancellation programs and attorneys to court. For the most part, major hospitality conglomerates are claiming that the exit industry is soliciting and ripping off their customers; leaving them to pick up the pieces. Asserting that someone else is stealing their customer’s joy, instead of taking responsibility for the grief, helps them control the narrative and eliminate hope – outside of their difficult-to-navigate internal solutions.
But Do Lawsuits Benefit Vacation Owners?
Slander is one thing, but manipulating the system is another. After reviewing many court documents from lawsuits with monetary wins (very few by the way), we found that timeshare owners never actually benefit from them. While timeshares claim to be fighting for buyer restitution, it appears the payouts and settlements remained in their pockets.
If timeshare companies are in fact in their owner’s corners, why isn’t the initial problem going away? What continues to get lost in the shuffle here is the simple fact vacation owners want out of their contracts. When timeshare giants ignore owner complaints, they’re going to start looking for relief elsewhere. Companies like ours wouldn’t even exist if most buyers were happy. So are they really in the corner of the owners?
Timeshare Strategies Are All About the Money.
When you think about it, all of the money they’re pouring into legal fees to sue the exit industry could be well spent on their customers. The time wasted on slander could be used to listen more and change for the better. But the revenue opportunities defile them. No matter how much they twist their reasoning, the fact remains that most owners are under a binding agreement due to a lie or misrepresentation. They wouldn’t be complaining and falling for cancellation scams by 3rd party predators if they hadn’t been misled at a timeshare presentation.
What’s even more troubling is that timeshare companies are really trying to persuade buyers that their relief options are beneficial. In reality, additional timeshare purchases (or signed agreements) made after the initial sale are often due to a lack of disclosure, further lies, financial hardship or changes in the program that prevent owners from using the property. Many believe they’re actually signing up for relief – only to realize they’re further trapped.
AMBIGUOUS INFORMATION IS COMMON.
Singling out our entire industry, that emerged because timeshare giants ignore owner complaints, is rather ironic. But it doesn’t take much research to see that timeshare companies haven’t exactly taken out faulty timeshare exit teams. In fact, most of the news releases they publish on the matter come from a state’s Attorney General’s Office. Promoting these types of wins over unethical operations allows them to act as though they’re doing the same.
It causes us to pose this question: How did a system that is supposed to provide a “lifetime of vacations” or “owning a piece of paradise” become so lopsided? The industry is literally profiting off of their paying customer’s demise. Almost everyday we get inquiries asking us, “How is this legal? “Can’t they just be sued and put out of business?” “This isn’t right.” While we agree, unfortunately, the deeper you investigate the more eye opening the deceit becomes.
Politicians and Lobbyists Are Helping Timeshares.
If you want to eliminate your direct competitor, and lawsuits aren’t producing the results you’d hoped (because the problem is still there), the best thing you can do is start dealing with lawmakers. That is, if you’re into controlling the market instead of serving it. In the timeshare industry, power roots run deep. Let’s just say timeshare companies have quite the lure for prominent officials when it comes to travel and entertainment.
To give you an example, the founder of Vidanta Properties (one of the largest hotel chains in Mexico) is said to be an advisor to the Mexican president. The real estate mogul also happens to own the country’s largest collection of golf courses and built Mexico’s first private airport.
There are also subtle references and speculations such as the ludicrous house bill proposed in Florida that accused the exit industry of every tactic that timeshare sales teams use. The bill was basically designed to make it impossible for relief companies to operate – no matter what resources or services were being rendered. In other words, they wanted to completely eliminate all outside resources for their consumers. No wonder timeshare giants ignore owner complaints.
WHAT IS A LOBBYIST?
When it comes to passing or revising laws that limit consumer rights, timeshare companies usually have a lot of support. Lobbyists from different legislature departments are paid serious money (and also rewarded) for siding with resort control. Their job, alongside the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), is to influence lawmakers. Even recent attempts by consumer protection agencies to extend the rescission period (amount of time buyers have to cancel) was diminished.
Lobbyists from ARDA argue that mature adults should be able to make responsible purchase decisions. While pro consumer agencies believe buyers should be able to visit the timeshare unit before their rescission period expires, resort lobbyists disagree – and they do so aggressively. By incentivising politicians and public officials, this gives them a lot of leverage. The average consumer doesn’t have the capital to compete here.
PROPOSED AZ BILL PROVIDES INSIGHT
To give you an example, let’s look at HB 2639. The Arizona proposal suggested giving buyers a 14 day opt out period after they were able to use the timeshare. It also pushed the entitlement to a 90 percent refund and options to cancel after 1 and 10 years (in order to escape lifelong maintenance fees and other liabilities like taxes). But since timeshare giants ignore owner complaints, they weren’t interested. Every single argument they made pointed to selfish ambition.
Lobbyist Don Isaacson was the most vocal. “The state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.” But what about those that were lied to and distracted so that they didn’t miss out on the “today only” deal? It is hard to understand how Don Isaacson sleeps at night with the intimate understanding of what really takes place at the point of sale. Especially since he insists on criticising victims for trusting sales teams for product information.
If he claims not to be aware, then we find it incredibly irresponsible and ignorant to make this statement: “It’s very difficult to legislate good decision making [and] I think it would be a mistake to mandate that,” he said. How can he speak on this if he doesn’t really know?
Instead of taking responsibility for disappointed buyers, they’d rather blame them. This is pretty cut and dry and we’re not the only entity taking notice. “They’ve [timeshares] got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” said Amanda Rusing who works in Legislative Affairs at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.” AG spokeswoman, Katie Conner, agreed.
THE BOTTOM LINE.
If you carefully assess timeshare presentations, the reality of ownership and the business side of timeshare travel, what Regulatory Affairs put together for HB 2639 is actually well done. Unfortunately, the arguments for the timeshare industry were enough to sway most from passing any type of action. When money and power are leveraged, it’s proven tough for the consumer to be truly considered.
Depending on a jurisdiction, 3-10 days is the average rescission period for buyers and they typically don’t experience the let downs until they first attempt to use the timeshare – which is usually months into the contract. The length of this rescission period is simply not enough time to uncover real issues regarding the onerous contract.
Will Timeshare Giants Ignore Owner Complaints Forever?
As you can see, uncovering the intentions behind most timeshare entities is quite difficult. Truth be told, it can be quite discouraging too. There is a lot of noise that overpowers the fact that buyers are suffering while timeshares are thriving. Last July, ARDA reported that the timeshare industry made $9.6 billion in 2017 – more than any previous year. Annual earnings from fees also increased by 1%.
As long as power, money and incentivised support continues to work in their favor, change is not likely. This is why it’s important for consumers to start educating themselves on the purchase before the anticipation takes hold of them.
Like Isaacson said, lawmakers aren’t always going to help you with discernment. But it doesn’t mean helpful resources are nonexistent. There is hope out there after all and we hope this article points you in the right direction. No matter what the resort leads you to believe, you don’t have to let them dictate your quality of life. If you happen to have any questions or would like to learn more about our attorney based solution, we’re always available for a free consultation.