• February
  • 3 min read

What is a Timeshare Presentation Scam?

What is a Timeshare Presentation Scam?

Every year, millions of Americans are propositioned by timeshare companies. In all odds, you’ve been on the receiving end of some offer to sit and listen to a timeshare presentation yourself. They either get you as you enter into your hotel on vacation. A lot of timeshare properties are attached to higher-end resorts. A vacation club, they call it. Or, you could have been sitting down for dinner and get a phone call telling you about a unique opportunity that you simply must make time to hear. Timeshare companies operate call centers across the country, and internationally, and they are charged with blasting out calls every day to find leads.

Timeshare companies and their ad agencies use a variety of ways to get to you. If it’s not outbound cold-calling or in-person pitches, it’s mailers or social media advertising. These companies spend millions of dollars each year because they know what’s at stake. What they’re offering, if they’re able to close and get you to sign, is worth a lot of money to them. The margins on timeshares are extremely high. People who own timeshare pay high fees throughout ownership and the contracts are very difficult to cancel.

If you’re considering sitting in on a timeshare presentation, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about scams. These are traditionally high-pressure sales situations where salespeople play on your emotions and manipulate you into deciding on the spot that should have been thought out. The last thing you need is a multi-year financial obligation you never wanted in the first place. Read on to learn more about common timeshare presentation scams and how to avoid them.

How the Timeshare Presentation Scam Begins

In the sales world, the conversion process starts much earlier than the conference room sales pitch. Companies know that, on average, a customer has to hear a pitch or see an ad multiple times before they’ll click or agree to a presentation. That’s no deterrent to them. Instead, they break their advertising down to a science to know how and when to show you ads.

If you’re in a certain age demographic, you’ll see a specific set of ads targeted to what is likely your interests and income level. If you’ve gone on vacation at a certain resort in the past, they’ll target you with ads about how you can enjoy better vacations than that at lower prices. This is all part of lead generation and getting you more comfortable with the idea of timeshare ownership. Eventually, the hope is, you’ll start changing how you think of the industry and agree to a presentation.

The biggest draw for leads, of course, is the freebies. Timeshare companies are famous for drawing in people to hear presentations with offers of free nights at luxury properties, gift cards, and other nice prizes. All you have to do is sit in the conference room and learn about what they have to offer. No big deal, right?

If you fancy yourself as someone who is particularly hard to sell, then you might be tempted to grab up any offer you can. However, just know that timeshare companies have spent decades refining their sales pitch. They know how to counter every refusal, pull on your heartstrings, and even play married people against each other to get them to closing. There are, additionally, many common timeshare presentation scams they use to trick people into signing contracts they don’t fully understand. Let’s break down some common scams so you know how to spot them if they come up.

Learn to Spot a Timeshare Presentation Scam

Let’s go over some of the common scams and what they involve. This will help you spot emotional pitches or sleight of hand sales tactics meant to trick you. Here are some of the scams that occur most frequently.

  • The Cold-Call Scam – Timeshare cold-callers make hundreds of phone calls a day. They deal with “no” after “no”, and eventually start to become frustrated with rejection. What happens then? They start to push the boundaries of what’s ethical and even legal when it comes to sales calls. If you’ve picked up the phone after work and hear someone from a timeshare company tell you that you’ve won a competition or have been selected for an amazing opportunity, you’re not alone. Every day, thousands of people in the U.S. “win” competitions. It’s just a line salespeople tell potential leads to keep them on the phone.

This might seem like an unlikely ploy to you right now, but remember, there are a lot of people out there who are bored, strapped for cash, and dying to go on a vacation. Even talking to someone on the phone could brighten their day. Unfortunately, many timeshare salespeople capitalize on situations like this. They take advantage of people when they aren’t at their best.

  • The In-Person Timeshare Presentation Scam – Saying that a timeshare presentation is an intense environment can be an understatement. These meetings typically last hours and there is a lot of hard selling involved. Of course, the salesperson in the meeting can be counted on to gloss over all of the costs like annual fees, maintenance fees, and other recurring costs of ownership. They’ll talk to you about how much you spent on your last vacation and compare it with a single month of timeshare ownership. “Look at all the money you could save!”, they’ll exclaim. What they won’t do is compare the cost of total ownership over the life of the timeshare and what happens if your financial situation changes and you can’t get out of the contract.

These meetings aren’t recorded, and the salespeople aren’t compensated for their time. They get paid by getting you to sign a contract, and can usually be counted on to say whatever it takes to get that done. Reports of unscrupulous sales tactics in the timeshare industry abound, however, they are very hard to prove because there is often little hard evidence of fraud.

  • The Offsite Office Scam – Sometimes timeshare companies turn out to be completely fraudulent. Salespeople at timeshare companies look for people who are particularly gullible or likely to close and pounce on an opportunity to make more money. They will say that they need to take you to another location to prepare and sign the paperwork. You’ll get into a car and go somewhere to finish everything up. However, these offices are fake companies that aren’t even associated with the presentation you just heard! They’ll draw your deposit and first payment from your account, have you sign some fake paperwork and then disappear. The legitimate timeshare company won’t have any record of your contract because it isn’t one of theirs.
  • The Paying for Gifts Scam – Timeshare companies know how valuable people are who go into a presentation to learn about timeshare opportunities. As a result, they can offer some pretty impressive gifts that can run into the hundreds of dollars. Real timeshare companies on the up and up always offer these for free. Well, it’s not free because you’re spending your time and attention listening to what they have to say. You don’t, however, have to pay money for that two-night stay at a resort they dangled in front of your face. If anyone tells you that they’re charging you for a timeshare incentive gift, get up and walk out.
  • The Timeshare Resale Presentation Scam – If you purchased a timeshare, don’t make the mistake of thinking the scams stop there. A lot of people enjoy timeshares. They buy them even though they know it’s an industry susceptible to scams. Timeshare ownership fits some peoples’ lifestyles. But, for whatever reason, after a few years, they want to sell. Getting out of a timeshare contract isn’t as simple as calling your timeshare company and telling them they want out. They’ve got you on a multi-year contract, and they aren’t going to let you just walk away.

A lot of timeshare owners report getting phone calls from people purporting to have sold their timeshare already. They’ll tell you that they have a buyer who has signed on their end or is ready to sign, and all they need is an upfront fee to get things finished. Some particularly unscrupulous services will tell you that they have the funds in escrow waiting to disburse them to you, and all they need is a fee that will authorize release.

These are just some of the common timeshare presentation scams. In an industry with a lot of money on the line, it’s no wonder there are a variety of schemes out there designed to take your money. Learn about common pitfalls and what to avoid to keep your money where it belongs. If you’re interested in buying a timeshare or a timeshare resale, stick with reputable companies that have an established track record. Read online reviews to learn about the process beforehand. The more time you spend arming yourself with information, the less likely you will be the victim of any sort of scam.

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