The Hidden Fees Of A Timeshare Contract
3 min read
Timeshare sales presentations are often the entry point for timeshare ownership. As an added bonus, they are notoriously long and grueling. They feature highly motivated representatives and high-pressure strategies. And unfortunately, in many cases, work.
As a smart consumer, be on the look-out for these hallmarks of timeshare sales presentations.
The timeshare sales rep isn’t just any sales rep. These salespeople are very skilled at giving lengthy timeshare sales presentations. And they make big commissions. They are not typically employed by the resorts themselves but rather are contractors. Their loyalty is to their commission, not to you or the resort.
Because many work on commission only, they are highly motivated to make the sale no matter what. And if you think you’ve been in the presentation a long time, at least you’ll get your free gift (maybe. More on this in a bit). But if you decide no, the sales rep gets nothing. No wonder they are ready to say anything, promise anything, invent anything.
This brings us to the “free” gift. Many reps offer fancy and valuable incentives to get people through the door to listen to their pitch. “All” you have to do to get it is listen to a 90-minute presentation. Because they can’t sell to you if they don’t have your attention. So, they need to get your attention. By the way, another word for incentive might be bribe.
These incentives are typically legitimately valuable. $200 gift cards. Cruises. iPads. Things you want. These deals seem too good to be true (pro-tip: too good to be true almost always is). You also have to ask yourself how they can afford to “give away” these incentives. Be very clear: they will get much more out of you than the value of that gift if you sign.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to claim these prizes. They may hold on tight to that incentive to keep you in the room. You may even have to go to extremes to get your gift, like this Knoxville couple. The bottom line is that you will end up paying for that gift with your time if nothing else.
The truth is that timeshares are not investments, so reps need to do some extra gymnastics to get people to spend thousands of dollars on what is often an impulse buy. That’s why timeshare reps will often appeal to emotions to get past that pesky common sense. Many timeshare sales presentations happen when you’re on vacation for this very reason. Vacations are for relaxing. And that can also mean relaxing your judgment. Timeshare reps know this and use it to their advantage.
Picture this: You’re having an amazing vacation at a beach resort. The kids are having a blast in the pool. You’re sipping tropical drinks on the beach at sunset. You haven’t checked your email in five days. Basically, it’s paradise. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this every year? And that’s where they get you. They sell you on doing this every year. Of course, it’s not really that easy.
Just as important as what the reps say is what they don’t say. As we’ve seen, these presentations appeal to the dreamers in us all. So, the presentations themselves tend to stay above the clouds. You’ll hear a lot about luxury and relaxation. They’ll spend hours (literally) showing you the amenities of resorts and suites. Granite counter tops? You got it. Jacuzzi tubs? Absolutely. Impeccable housekeeping? It’s yours. And certainly, some of the people in some of the units at some of the resorts will experience these niceties.
But they often leave out those pesky details that bring us down to earth. Reality is more complicated and more, well, realistic. Reps often don’t mention rising maintenance fees, special assessments, scheduling challenges, or how hard it is to get out of the agreement.
And they also don’t mention the rescission period. That’s the cooling off period during which the buyer can cancel their timeshare without penalty. Any money you pay will likely be held in escrow until the end of the rescission period. However, once the cooling off period ends, you’re locked in and your money is theirs. So, you can see why they might want to keep that information to themselves. Make sure you know your rights and check the rescission period for your state.
But how do they get away with this? After all, you can’t lie in a sales presentation, right? Well, maybe not technically, and laws around what reps can and can’t do tend to vary by state. However, in many, many timeshare contracts, you’ll find a clause where the buyer must stipulate that they did not rely on any oral arguments in making their decision.
This means that you can’t use what the rep said against them if you later want to exit your timeshare. This has the effect of making it very difficult to hold reps accountable for oversights, embellishments, and lies. So, predictably, reps feel empowered to say what they need to in order to make the sale. That means consumers are at risk of signing on the dotted line. Unfortunately, these choices made on the spur of the moment can end up being serious mistakes with implications far into the future.
Just what happens if you stay strong and say no? One common strategy is to not accept that now. As previously discussed, timeshare sales reps advertise their presentations as “90-minute” affairs. Unfortunately, many of these presentations go on and on and on and on well beyond whatever expectations were set. Then they use this time to wear people down and to apply pressure.
Other tactics may include bringing in fresh reps or closers to keep the conversation going. Or to hold off on awarding that free gift. Whatever they can do to keep you in the room. Because they know that the longer they have you in front of them, the more likely you are to buy. We’ve heard many reports of people who’ve entered into timeshare ownership just to exit a timeshare presentation.
If you fell for a presentation and need help canceling your timeshare, contact us for a free consultation.
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