Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc.
Sheilah Brust, Allen Sterling, Branden Boyak, Irene Roberts, Brenda Santos
The Florida Alliance for Consumers and Taxpayers (FACT) conducted a survey to determine how Floridians feel about high-pressure timeshare sales:
The survey of 500 likely Florida voters was conducted for FACT Jan. 13-15, 2022, and is representative by age, race, gender, political affiliation, and region of state, with a margin of error +/- 4.3% at the 95% confidence level.
The overwhelming support for the measure is driven by the fact that most Floridians surveyed who have experienced a timeshare presentation described the experience as negative. About 74% said they experienced strong-armed sales tactics, insufficient time to consider the options, or deals that were deceptive or too good to be true.
“Florida is home to many vulnerable populations who are frequently targeted by timeshare marketers, including seniors and veterans,” said State Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin. “They need a chance to get out of the room before they make a decision that will have such long-lasting financial consequences.”
FACT supports efforts to allow a 24-hour “cooling-off” period BEFORE signing a timeshare contract:
The survey found 93% of those who attended a timeshare presentation, and 82% of all Floridians, favored a brief cooling-off period before timeshare contracts are allowed to sign on the dotted line. Most others were undecided, and only 1% of Floridians opposed the measure.
Each state has a contract rescission period of three to ten days, depending on the state. The rescission period that begins after the contract is signed allows buyers time to review their contracts and confirm fact from fiction. The problem is there are things not likely to be confirmed during that period, typically while on vacation with the family, things like being able to sell or rent a timeshare – or easily refinance. New programs (that don’t exist) are promised, so reading the contract won’t help.
Consumers don’t need a law to allow 24 hours to consider their decision before signing a contract to buy a house or a car. Real estate agents and car dealers don’t ask for your credit card and license before talking to them – items that are not always easy to retrieve. One 90% disabled Iraq veteran, with traumatic brain injury, accompanied by seizures, recorded the second hour of his five-hour sales presentation after he had repeatedly asked for these items to be returned. His dispute was easily resolved because he recorded the presentation.
TARDA volunteers across the country (and Canada) feel a 24-hour “cooling-off” period would greatly benefit consumers, but most of us feel it should be offered, not mandated. Some buyers may want to buy the same day, or the logistics of a buyer’s vacation might make this requirement inconvenient. This disclosure should not be a sentence buried in the contract fine print, like the oral representation clause that basically says that you agree you didn’t believe a word the sales agent said. The disclosure should be provided at the time the presentation is confirmed.
Recording the Sales Session
In an initiative launched by the industry in 2017, the signing session is usually recorded. There have been a multitude of complaints from timeshare buyers saying they were told what to say or not say on the recorded closing. When the member complains, their complaint is often dismissed because they did not say anything on the recording closing. Buyers should record their sales presentation in states where legal to do so, known as “one-party” consent states.
Hours-long timeshare sales presentations have been widely reported. Our record is a report from a senior couple who were kept for 11 hours at a sales center in Florida, despite multiple health problems. They reported that they were given no food, but on the return trip from a bathroom break found their sales agent in his office eating a sandwich. When he saw them, he hid the sandwich in his desk drawer. One of the agents involved in the transaction had served four years in jail having burglarized seven homes, some while occupied.
Financing a timeshare at 12% to 16.99% can quickly turn into a financial disaster given the lack of a viable resale market. Timeshares with loans are virtually impossible to sell. Of particular concern is active duty service members who find their security clearances jeopardized when falsely promised they could easily offset maintenance fees or loan payments by renting out their timeshare. A timeshare loan default can jeopardize not only a security clearance but a career.
What is FACT?
According to their website, FACT “speaks up to make sure the public is heard on important issues that affect Floridians at the local, state, and federal levels.” The organization has been around for decades. https://flconsumers.org/
FACT is asking timeshare members to share their timeshare experience on their Timeshare Nightmares website.
What is TARDA?
TARDA was formed by a group of concerned timeshare members who feel the voice of the timeshare consumer at the state and federal level should be the voices of consumers, not developers.
Our self-advocacy process, as reported by TARDA volunteer Fran Dygulski, has helped members and owners resolve their disputes by answering questions about filing regulatory complaints, while encouraging members to work directly with their resort. Some timeshare companies have been helpful in resolving disputes, knowing our common goal is to stop members and owners from spending sometimes thousands of more dollars with exit providers when they might have been able to simply reach out to their resort. However, we have learned it’s not that easy. People need support and guidance.
We thank our volunteers across the US and Canada. Thank you to Charles Thomas at After Inside Timeshare, and volunteer Wayne Robinson for his support. Wayne is a former Navy journalist and veteran, stretching our efforts from Spain to Malaysia. Wayne’s new release for his book, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, will be happening soon.
This recently published After Inside Timeshare article notes three active duty service members, all from the same branch of our armed forces, worried about their security clearances because of buying a timeshare.
Army veteran Ron Dashiell shares his timeshare experience, along with five other veterans. The members of our military deserve better.
Thank you Irene and TARDA for your contribution, this subject has also sparked some debate in Europe, as we have stated before, timeshare is the only product you are “forced” to make a decision on the day. Being given a “cooling-off” period BEFORE committing not only protects the consumer but also in the end the reputation of the vendor. We shall be watching this story to see if the Florida Attorney General takes note and puts through the appropriate legislation.
That is all for this week, as usual, “Baby Dog” is eagerly awaiting the weekend in expectation of the hours of playtime. Have a good weekend.