Randy Meier writes consumer protection advice columns for Iowa’s Clinton Herald, with a particular emphasis on “seniors versus crime.” So we were grimly unsurprised to see, in a recent article, that Meier claims to receive “one or two complaints every month on scams involving timeshares,” typically with losses that are “high dollar, involving thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.”
To that end, Meier’s column, “Do Homework on Timeshares,” offers several important warnings for the timeshare owner looking to exit their contract or enter the resale market:
1.) “Two timeshare ownership options are on the market”
As Meier’s column rightly points out, consumers who already own a timeshare interest have one of two commitments: either they purchase a deeded piece of real estate, cut up for time, or far more likely, they procure “points,” which offer the right-to-use a developer-owned resort for certain periods of time.
As Meier points out, right-to-use intervals come complete with annual maintenance fees, which, as we’ve observed, almost always tend to rise year over year. A right-to-use timeshare interest is not a traditional real estate investment, which leads to his second particularly cogent point…
2.) “The market for re-selling is very poor”
Because of low demand, high supply, and deliberately-restrictive actions by many major resort developers, the timeshare resale market is, in many ways, all but non-existent. Some interests go for sale on eBay for as little as $1 to $15. This fraught marketplace – combined with, as Meier writes, consumers “desperate to get out from under this obligation” – have led to the rise of the common timeshare resale scam. We’ve broken down some of the major tactics of timeshare scammers into five stages before; Meier does a good, brief job of running down the common chain of events here:
“Through telemarketing and emails, they make claims about how “hot” the market is, with buyers waiting in the wings. But they demand upfront fees to market the property. Paying those fees is a really bad idea…”
…Since the scammer is likely to take the money and then drop off the face of the earth, as we’ve seen time and time again.
Don’t let it happen to you! There is great consumer advice on timeshares and timeshare resale and rental schemes available from the FTC and the BBB. Do your research! Take every offer with a grain of salt and don’t hesitate to reach out to consumer protection agencies and officials from your state with any concerns. A little diligence upfront could save you a lot of money down the road.
These are important pieces of consumer advice, always worth keeping in mind, and we commend Mr. Meier for bringing them to his audience’s attention!
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.