How To Survive a Timeshare Presentation
Given the possible consequences of attending a timeshare presentation, specifically the potential of incurring a lifelong enforceable legal obligation, the title of this article should not just be considered as pure rhetoric, strong consumer caution is advised!
Some factors to consider before you consent to attend a timeshare presentation, given the possible length of time you’ll be engaged in the presentation, include:
- whether or not your family is along, particularly if you’re traveling with younger children,
- your own personal level of comfort given the 3-5 hours involved in a typical timeshare presentation.
- have you recently eaten? Do you suffer from low blood sugar?
- are there other activities planned for the rest of the day or evening?
Forewarned is forearmed!
Moving on beyond the presentation…
Assuming that you did make a purchase, your next shot at “survival” is to be aware that if you do decide within a reasonably short time, between 5-10 days, depending on which state you made your purchase in, that you really don’t want to own a timeshare interest, you have a statutory rescission period during which you may cancel/rescind your purchase and receive a full refund of all monies paid. This is your only opportunity to walk away from your timeshare purchase without any hassle. If you choose to terminate your interest after the expiration of the rescission period, you may well find yourself on a difficult road to travel. Timeshares rarely have any resale value, so you are pretty much at the mercy of the timeshare developer as you attempt to persuade them to agree to terminate your interest when it is time to exit your timeshare purchase contract. Although some developers will ultimately let you go, it is usually with some pretty restrictive conditions imposed. They typically will require that your interest be paid off with no monies owed, either on the purchase price or the maintenance fees. If your purchase was a relatively recent one, the chances are that you will still have a significant balance due, so that may not be a viable option for you. Therefore, understanding your rescission rights and following exactly the procedure for exercising them can be the difference between an easy termination and inheriting a difficult legal battle with your timeshare developer.
Your rescission rights are spelled out in your purchase contract…
There is no requirement that the resort point them out to you, so quite often they do not. Again, depending on which state you purchased in, your rescission period is only 5-10 days from your purchase date. If like many folks, you do not read your purchase contract carefully immediately after your purchase, and assuming your resort did not bother to mention it, it is easy to miss your rescission date. Additionally, knowing exactly what is required to comply with the rescission requirement as stated within your purchase contract is also extremely important! The biggest mistake many consumers make is to attempt to orally cancel via a phone call to the resort. The chances are that if you do get a resort person on the phone and explain the nature of your call, they will not advise you that pursuant to your purchase contract, you must provide the rescission notice in writing! Not only it must be written, but in many cases an address will be provided in the purchase contract as the required address to mail the notice to, and by design, it will not be the resort address! Again, you will not be aware of any of this unless you carefully read your purchase contract! The law does not require that the resort make recission easy for you.
If you find yourself a timeshare owner and beyond your rescission period, your termination options are considerably more limited. They include attempting to re-market your interest, attempting to negotiate a termination with your developer, looking for a third party such as an “exit company”, or preferably a law firm with experience in the timeshare industry, and lastly, perhaps taking the extreme action of simply defaulting on your timeshare contract and letting the chips fall where they may. None of these options are particularly good ones, so it may boil down to a ‘lesser of evils’ decision, although I use that term advisedly, as seeking the services of an experienced law firm is certainly not an ‘evil’, except in this very limited context presented here, meaning of course that hiring a law firm is an experience that many consumers never have attempted, so there may be a ‘fear the unknown’ factor. Also, as with an exit company as well, there will be a cost involved. Although my opinion is arguably biased, it seems the best argument for whom to hire, is to recognize that since you are attempting to extricate yourself from a legally binding written contract, it makes far more sense to hire a licensed experienced law firm skilled in contractual issues, than an unlicensed uncredentialed exit company. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer can significantly limit or eliminate altogether debt collection calls and communications, as well as oversee proper accurate credit reporting, services not offered by exit companies.
In summary, surviving a timeshare presentation…
May just be a question of mentally preparing yourself for an extended hard sell sales pitch designed to wear you down over an extended period of time, arming yourself with knowledge in advance about rescinding a purchase in a correct and timely manner, or perhaps determining the best course is avoiding the experience altogether. After all, if you do want to buy a timeshare, investigating and purchasing through a licensed real estate broker familiar with the timeshare secondary resale market at around a tenth of the developer’s price will avoid both the timeshare presentation itself, and the retail cost of buying from the developer.