There is one point in the purchase of a timeshare that is very important to all consumers, this is the cooling-off period, or as it is known in the US, the recission period. As we know, unlike any other major purchase, buying a timeshare is not something we go out with the intention of purchasing.
For many, it began with being “accosted” in the street by an OPC and the “ubiquitous” scratch cards, which to collect the “prize” you have to attend a “presentation”. You are promised that it will take no longer than 90 minutes, but we all know that it is more than likely will end up being more than 4 hours.
During this time you are bombarded with “dream” holidays, how you will save money on future holidays and in many cases that it is an “investment”. The sales presentation is nothing more than a high-pressure technique to get you to join today and part with a huge sum of money.
Hence the cooling-off or rescission period, which is often known as the “reflection period”, which is a more accurate description. It is the time you are given to go over the documents, decide if you have made the right choice and cancel if you are not happy.
Depending on where you purchased depends on the length of time you have. In Europe, this period was extended from 10 days to 14 days. Within that period you have the opportunity to cancel without any financial penalty. It is also illegal for any payment for the timeshare to be taken within this period. The reason, the deposit was used to ensure that you didn’t cancel, the “inference” was you would lose it if you cancelled.
In the US it is somewhat different, it depends on which State you signed the contract. Some allow 24 hours, some 3 days and others longer, there is no consistency, it is a State-line lottery.
According to an article by Brian Burgess in The Capitolist, yesterday 25 January, a Consumer Protection Survey revealed that a huge number of consumers in Florida favour a 24 hour cooling-off period BEFORE SIGNING THE CONTRACT.
At present, the cooling-off period is activated after the signing, which means you really have not had time to consider the purchase fully or actually read, digest and understand the documentation when making the purchase and signing the contracts. You are totally reliant on the sales staff, managers and the consolidation team explaining it all to you.
The idea of the cooling-off period before you sign will take some of the pressure away, you will not feel as though you are already committed, you can go away and make a proper decision after doing some of your own research.
There are some who feel this period should be a minimum of 72 hours, in fairness, this would be more beneficial to consumers, 24 hours does seem to be a little rushed for such a major purchasing decision.
If Florida, which does have a bit of a reputation of backing the timeshare industry, takes up this cause and initiates legislation, it will be a first step to protecting consumers. Hopefully, other states will follow suit making the purchase of a timeshare more of a thought out decision rather than the pressurised one we see now.
It is also something that legislators in Europe need to look at as well, even though European legislation and especially Spain, have probably the strongest laws for the sale of timeshare, we are sure this is something which will be welcomed by consumers.
We shall obviously be keeping tabs on this news and hopefully, it may come to pass. We would also like your views on this very important idea, do you think this would help the industry to clean up its act and give consumers more confidence?
Link to The Capitolist Article