Effective immediately, we will not post weekly articles until after the November election. TARDA needs your financial support, but we have an opportunity to help the first Congressional candidate in political history to include timeshare reform as part of his official campaign. We will instead send weekly emails to our Supporters to update you on John’s progress. Please consider a donation to John’s campaign. Thank you to all Supporters and to all TARDA volunteers. John won the Republican nomination for State Representative (VA-3).
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John Collick, First Sergeant, USMC (Retired)
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Current and former timeshare members and owners, current and former sales agents and managers, or anyone who feels timeshare sales and marketing practices need to improve, have joined our efforts to reduce what the industry itself describes as “pitching heat” or the deliberate employment of unfair and deceptive sales practices. We don’t want to destroy the timeshare industry. We want to save it, because we feel a perpetual contract with no secondary market is a recipe for failure, especially for those who have experienced unfair and deceptive practices.
TARDA’s beginnings started in 2016 when a group of timeshare members and industry representatives questioned the fairness of the perpetual timeshare contract. Members began to reach out to other members to share experiences as they learned that, unlike a house, a timeshare has virtually no secondary market. Social Media was not even around when original buyers, now seniors, made their purchase. Timeshare buyers were routinely told the timeshare is real estate, thus easy to sell.
The evolution from an estimated 1,590 Legacy, or single-site timeshare developments, morphed into a points-based timeshare system. This created ambiguity over what a timeshare consumer actually purchases, and paved the way for over promised availability. The vast majority of buyers were unaware they had signed a perpetual contract that likely has no secondary market.
It is our hope TARDA will bridge the gap between the voice of the industry developer and the voice of the timeshare member or owner. Point buyers don’t “own” anything. The point member has acquired a right-to-use product. While we understand that there are millions that use and enjoy their timeshare with no complaint, those who feel the industry needs fairer practices and greater disclosure should have a voice that they know, beyond any doubt, is the timeshare consumer’s voice.
Why Do We Matter?
There is no consumer voice at the legislative level. The timeshare industry lobbyist organizations are staffed by timeshare executives. For example, legislation proposed in 2019 that would have offered a timeshare buyer 24 hours to consider their purchase before signing a perpetual contract, was defeated in Arizona, with industry lobbyists arguing vigorously that allowing a price freeze offer for 24 hours was not necessary. Complaints abound from buyers reporting they were held for four to eight hours, in a tag-team of three against two, so worn down they are ready to sign anything to end the ordeal.
Why would anyone purporting to be on the side of the consumer, argue against allowing a consumer 24 hours to consider a decision to sign a perpetual contract, or even a shorter term product, when there is little to no secondary market? Why is such a requirement necessary? There would be no need to propose such a requirement for consumers buying a house, a car or a boat, because buyers interested in these big-ticket items do not have their driver’s licenses and credit cards confiscated, passed off from one sales agent or manager to another for hours.
Sales agents demand that buyers buy today or forever lose a proposed price. This deceptive price freeze described in a lawsuit by a former top-producer timeshare sales agent describes the process:
#43 Owners Update is deceptive because it is to sell points.
#44 Customer is told the current “list price” but the agent has to see someone else.
#48 the sales agent has customer sign a form indicating they were updated and the agent has to have the manager sign off.
#49 sales manager reviewed prior customer contracts, the manager falsely states the customer was given a “price freeze” but none exists.
#50 (In bold) because of the “price freeze” only today can the customer buy for the discounted price.
#51 (In bold) the price given is the real price planned from the outset.
#52 “price freeze” never existed because (a) Special deal available to customer only is available to anyone and (b) Urgent to buy for today
#54 this is lucky news for the customer – brand new information!
#55 the sales agent waits for the customer to “step in”
Some companies have instituted voluntary surrender programs, but for the buyer who learned shortly after purchase that what they bought did not meet what was presented, being allowed to deed the timeshare back, paying for the privilege, creates a hamster wheel of recycled points. There are many complaints of buyers not allowed onto the booking site until the next year, and usually not allowed onto the booking site until after the recession period has passed.
The Need for Greater Disclosure
Timeshare buyers are required to be provided a Public Offering Statement (POS) sometimes called a Disclosure Statement. Consumers are instructed to read this document before signing, yet most consumers had not heard of the POS until told to look through their paperwork. The document is often stuffed into a packet of documents, and the member told to review the packet when they get back home from vacation.
One former sales agent reported that the POS had been presented by the closing agent until the closing started to be recorded. At that time the policy was changed so that the sales agent provided the POS. If the closing session is recorded, it is unfair to not allow the buyer to record the sales session. Many members have reported that their complaint was dismissed with, “You didn’t say anything on the recorded closing.” A frequent complaint is that they were coached on how to “pass” QA or the closing session.
Contracts are often signed using electronic tablets. Even for those technologically sophisticated, buyers report that the contract is difficult to read on a small tablet. Initials are stored and then tapped throughout the signing.
A proposed disclosure as to the offer of a 24 hour “cooling off” period would need to be presented at the time the consumer signs up for a tour or presentation. We speak often of the "deceptive" in "unfair and deceptive practices" but it is unfair to not allow a timeshare consumer 24 hours to consider their purchase of a perpetual product with no secondary market. This disclosure should not be buried in the fine print when signing a contract.
The Deficiency of State Regulation
Timeshare is regulated at the state level. While some states actively engage timeshare member complaints, other states do no more than issue a “You have no proof” or “Verbal representations are hard to prove” letter. Hundreds of timeshare complaints have been sent to some states. To date there has been no engagement, save the dismissal letter. In effect, some states offer little to no protection for consumers. Timeshare sales agents know they can promise anything, without fear of reprisal.
Another reason we need federal legislation is because, typically, buyers buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence. An Attorney General is an elected official, so out of state buyers are complaining to an Attorney General that is not their Attorney General. Elected officials are most concerned with their constituents who elected them.
How Do I Become Involved?
Contact us through our contact form to let us know how you can aid our efforts. We would love to hear from you.
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