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Some Thoughts on the Timeshare Rescission Letter

Timeshare rescission letter

Unraveling the Complexities of Timeshare Contracts

Timeshare agreements represent long-term commitments with lifetime obligations that you agree to when you sign a contract with your resort developer and its management company. These contracts allow you to collect points or weeks at the resort, but in return, you need to meet ongoing financial responsibilities.

One of the main responsibilities includes timeshare maintenance fees and assessments. What’s notable about these fees is that they consistently increase every year, regardless of the rate of inflation. This means that as time goes on, these costs will continue to rise and take up a bigger portion of your budget.

In addition to the financial commitment, the process of buying a timeshare has become notoriously high-pressure. It typically involves a team of salespeople who use a variety of psychologically intense tactics to persuade consumers. These tactics are usually applied over a lengthy timeshare tour that can last several hours.

When you combine the high-pressure sales process with the substantial financial commitment, buying a timeshare can seem incredibly daunting. Given the intensity of these factors, it’s reasonable to suggest that consumers should have the option to cancel their purchase. As long as they make this decision within a reasonable amount of time, they should be able to withdraw from the contract. This not only protects the rights of consumers but also helps maintain a sense of fairness and trust in the timeshare industry.

And, indeed, many do. As one recent panelist at an ARDA conference pointed out, many of would-be timeshare consumers choose to opt out of their purchase by taking advantage of a statutory protection known as a rescission period a window of time, varying on a state-by-state basis from five to ten days, in which the consumer can opt to cancel their transaction, typically by writing a letter to the resort company with which they did business.

According to this researcher’s findings, the rescission rate for timeshares may be as high as 15%. However, there is every reason to believe that, were the situation slightly different, that rate would be even higher, since, according to that same timeshare study, “85% of all buyers regret their purchase,” citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.

So, if consumer satisfaction is so abysmally low, why isn’t the rescission rate even higher than it already is? Much of it comes down to the circumstances that surround this important consumer protection measure, many of which make it difficult to parse exactly when, how, or where to take advantage of the rescission period.

Some thoughts on the timeshare rescission letter. How To Write A Timeshare Rescission Letter

First and foremost, there is the matter that, in order to rescind their timeshare interest purchase, the buyer almost always has to contact the seller in writing. While this may seem like a small quibble, it can actually pose a number of legal challenges for consumers.

For one thing, consider that many timeshare purchases occur while the buyer is already on a vacation or staying at a resort. While it is certainly not outside of the realm of possibility, it is hardly realistic to expect someone to cut their vacation time short in order to take the time to research how to properly write a timeshare rescission letter, much less to find a post office and pay for stamps in an unfamiliar locale where they may not be immediately available.

The public-facing online legal encyclopedia NOLO offers some basic guidance on cancellation letters. They encourage letter writers to include the following information…

  • the purchaser’s name as it is written on the contract
  • the purchaser’s address, phone number, and email address
  • the name of the timeshare company
  • the timeshare description, and
  • the date the timeshare was purchase

… and to clearly state that “the purpose of the letter is to rescind the contract.”

With all of this being said, it is also common for the necessary address – which is often not the resort address – to only be found by a careful review of the purchase agreement.

The Timeshare Rescission Window is Narrow

Even if the letter is written to the letter of the law, it is often made difficult for consumers to get it in the right hands, due to a combination of psychological factors aided and abetted by the sales practices of the resorts themselves.

Timeshare public offering statement shift from paper to electronicConsider, for example, the interplay of the Public Offering Statement or Prospectus documents and the timeshare rescission period. The rescission period goes on hold if the consumer is not actually given POS documentation; knowing this, the salesperson often has the buyer sign that they have received these forms, even if that’s not the case, thus restricting the timeshare rescission period to its narrow window of efficacy.

Even when given the POS and other essential paperwork properly, this packet – which contains vital information for consumers – is typically dense and full of complex legalese, and may even be made literally difficult to open. When we consider, again, that many consumers will be in a vacation mindset when they receive this information, it becomes clear that many will simply toss it all aside until they return home and have the chance to really sit with it, perhaps with a lawyer or trusted real estate professional by their side. By this time, however, it may well be too late to take act on the terms of the rescission.

Unmasking Timeshare Rescission Practices: The “License to Lie” and the Importance of “Buyer Beware” Principle

And, while the timeshare rescission procedure language is statutorily required to be in larger point type and located close to the signature block, there is no state law or rule requiring the resort to provide any separate rescission instructions or advice at closing, either oral or written. With this mind, most sales personnel simply ignore or gloss over the finer parts of rescission over the course of their pitch.

But if a consumer is ever told something misleading about their timeshare rescission options by a salesperson? In most cases, that salesperson will be protected by what our office calls the “license to lie” clause, which negates all oral representations made prior to and during the presentation, making only the written contract provision representations legally binding on the resort… freeing the salesperson up to say whatever needs to be said in order to get the buyer to close right then and there!

As always, the key words when it comes to timeshare remain caveat emptor, or “buyer beware” – even when it comes to the statutory protections put in place, ostensibly, to support the consumer! Timeshare Rescission is essentially your right as a consumer if you choose later to cancel the offer.

This article is intended for educational purposes and does not represent legal advice. Seek out a qualified timeshare attorney is you feel you need assistance with timeshare rescission.


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. 

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