Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, yes it is Thursday, but due to personal matters we are publishing this today, also to give a little more time to gather more people to attend the Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest. We also thank Patty Boyak for this article.
Our Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest at the Mall Entrance
Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices
Join Us this Weekend February 16 & 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations
Thursday, February 14 (Friday’s Letter from America)
By Patty Boyak, event organizer
February 14 is Valentine’s Day. I should be thinking about hearts and flowers, but I am having a hard time getting over the deception 70 Platinum timeshare members experienced. I am one of the 70. We were told and believed buying additional points would qualify us for a program to reduce or eliminate our maintenance fees. It was a program that did not exist. Other Platinum members were sold on the ability to be able sell points. They later learned that their timeshare points are all but worthless. We were loyal, and most importantly, trusting customers, so believed timeshare sales agents. We are educated professionals. We are not deadbeats with buyer’s remorse.
Florida Representative Wyman Duggan submitted a Florida House Bill 435 concerned about unfair and deceptive timeshare exit company sales practices. What about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? The bill proposes exit companies be required to provide one day for a buyer to review a contract. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF
Why can’t timeshare buyers be given one day to review a contract?
- Probably because the industry would disappear if the buyer was allowed 24 hours to review the contract. Timeshare companies demand buyers must buy a timeshare the same day – often after a long aggressive sales session.
What about deceptive timeshare sales practices?
Why isn’t Florida Representative Duggan concerned about the much larger dollar amounts consumers are losing to unscrupulous timeshare sales agents?
The St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau gets it:
THE ST. LOUIS BBB RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY
- More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
- Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.
- Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
- Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
- More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
- Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use a neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
- Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT
- Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
- New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.
Voluntary deed-backs work for those who have used and enjoyed their timeshare for years, but what about the buyer deceived who signed off on high interest rate loans and credit cards after experiencing unfair and deceptive sales practices? Voluntary surrender programs don’t help them.
If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official response to complaints of unfair and deceptive practices – seconded by lawmakers and the regulators in some states (like Nevada), the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Nevada all our complaints were dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” There are too many educated professionals, who don’t know each other, reporting similar, and in several cases, identical complaints.
Platinum member Sheila Brust (and our T Shirt designer) reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a Florida regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market.”
Check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare or to find out if your timeshare even has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
Our Mission Statement
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Patty for your article, for all those who are going to attend, Inside Timeshare will be with you in spirit and we hope you all have a wonderful day. We never know, it may just make a difference, we can but try!