Or so they would like you to believe. Here's a scam going around you need to be aware of. It sort of goes like this. You get a call at night (of course). The nice person on the other end asks you if you're happy with your time share. They want to know if you received everything you were promised at the resort. They want you to know that if you bought your time share direct from the developer the value of that time share is now pennies on the dollar. THAT gets your attention! Especially is you're still paying for it!
What's going on here? Well, they're doing a classic sales technique: Create a problem and then offer the solution to the problem. It's a tried and true technique, and unfortunately one that certain con artists use to your disadvantage at times. Who falls for it? It could be a number of folks:
· You bought the time share direct from the developer (big mistake) and afterwards you discovered you vastly overpaid for it. Canceling the contract sounds like a way out of a bad mistake. Perhaps they can even get you ALL your money back!
· You're still paying the mortgage on the time share and you know you're underwater on it. You don't want to let it go to foreclosure because that will hurt your credit rating. Perhaps canceling the contract would solve the problem!
· You've tried selling the time share by giving money up-front to con artists who promise everything and deliver nothing. Perhaps canceling the contract is a better idea and less costly!
· You were pressured into the contract and really should never have bought it. It just wasn't the right thing for you and you've never used it. Canceling the contract would make things right again!
The con artist will give you a whole smorgasbord of ideas of why you can legally cancel your contract, waiting for you to pick one or two so you feel like a victim. On one web site we visited they gave these ideas:
- Being told you are buying a real estate investment.
- Being told your timeshare is a tax write off.
- Being told they have a resale department in the event you want to sell your property/points.
- Informed the resort was pet friendly and later finding out pets are not allowed.
- Verbose claims to induce the purchase of the timeshare.
- Not being informed of exchange fees and being told that you can travel freely at any time to any place.
- Not being made aware of maintenance fees or that your fees will increase
- Not being informed of potential assessments as the property ages or that you may be responsible for additional dues when other timeshare owners have backed out of their timeshare.
- Summoned to a meeting under the guise it is a mandatory "owners" meeting only to be pressured and sold an upgrade
- Not being able to use your timeshare, with the resort citing that nothing is available or you do not have enough points.
- Not being informed of the time period in which you can cancel your timeshare.
- Were you told the timeshare was an investment that would increase in value?
- Were you told you could rent your timeshare to make money?
- Were you told your maintenance fees would not go up or minimally if at all?
- Were you told that you had to buy today and today only?
- Did your 90 minute presentation last much longer?
- Did they offer to buy your previous timeshare for a great profit?
- Did they tell you that you could go anywhere in the world whenever you wanted
- Did they tell you that you were only going to attend an "Owner's Update Meeting" to give you information on how to better use what you have?
- Did they tell you that you could write the timeshare off on your taxes or that you could refinance at a much lower rate?
- Were you ever told that you had a legal right to rescind or cancel and how to do so if you chose?
Perhaps there really is a company out there that can do these great things and we just don't know about them. Perhaps they truly have helped hundreds and hundreds of consumers out there as they claim. Perhaps there really is an Easter Bunny.
Now for the disclaimer. We're not attorneys and we're not giving legal advice. That said, we ARE a licensed real estate brokerage. That means we know real estate contracts, and time share contracts in particular since that's our specialty. So the big question: Can you cancel the contract? Yes, you can. Next time you see the Easter Bunny he'll tell you how.
Now folks, let's be real. A developer spends tens of millions of dollars to build and sell a time share resort. They have an army of attorneys guiding them all along the way. Do you really think their contracts are not 100% iron-clad? In 26 years of doing this I've heard of only two or three contracts that were broken and that was because the salesperson simply screwed up royally and there was evidence to prove it. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than finding something in your paperwork that can prove you were lied to, misinformed or cheated in any way at all. It doesn't happen. PERIOD. And stuff like, "Did your 90 minute presentation last much longer?".........please, give me a break.
So what's the catch? MONEY! Of course! For their services you're going to pay them up-front! But wait, there's more! Some of these companies have a 100% money back guarantee! So how could you go wrong? Well of course to take advantage of the guarantee you're going to have to follow their guidelines exactly to the letter (oh yes. They don't do the work for you, they just tell you what to do) If you don't follow the instructions to the letter the guarantee is void and they can't help you any longer 'cause you didn't follow their instructions. The instructions are not so bad, really. Write a bunch of letters in a certain order and on certain dates. Follow up with phone calls and a second round of letters, all in a certain order and on certain dates. Personally appear at the offices of the Attorney General and Real Estate Commission dressed only in a copy of your contract, while moon-walking through the front door. Stuff like that.
Yes, when you buy a time share from the resort they do tend to "stretch" the truth here and there. OK, they lie through their teeth. Sometimes. Not all the time. Some are really very straight forward and honest. But anything verbally discussed or promised in a real estate contract is of no value. That is the law. Everything must be in writing. If it's not in the contract, it doesn't exist. That's the law. In fact, in any real estate contract worth its salt you're going to find a sentence like this, "No agreements or representations, unless incorporated in this contract shall be binding upon any of the parties". In other words, if its not in the contract, it doesn't exist. That sentence is there to protect BOTH parties, not just one.
And now you know!
Tom Tubbs, Broker
Island Consulting Realty
[Editors Note- Timeshare Cancellation Schemes are a growing problem in the industry, simply because resale values have fallen so dramatically over the past few years and many timeshare owners still have large mortgages which make resale impossible. As always- simple common sense can protect you from the vast majority of timeshare related fraud and one simple statement to always remember...
Never pay any type of upfront or advance fee to sell, rent, or liquidate an unwanted timeshare!]