There is no true consumer voice at the legislative level. While we understand that there are millions who use and enjoy their timeshare with no complaint, there are also many who feel the industry needs fairer practices and greater disclosure. Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc. (TARDA), provides a legislative position through lobbying efforts spearheaded by current and former timeshare members.
In 2016 a group of timeshare members and industry representatives questioned the fairness of the perpetual timeshare contract, given the lack of a viable secondary market. Original timeshare buyers, faced with age-related or lifestyle changes, can find themselves held timeshare hostage with no way to responsibly exit their timeshare. While some resorts offer responsible exits, others do not. Some resorts have no buyers.
The evolution from an estimated 1,590 Legacy, or single-site timeshare developments, morphed into a points-based timeshare system. This created ambiguity and paved the way for over promised availability and confusion as to what a buyer actually purchased. Many buyers reported they did not have access to their resort’s booking site until after the contract rescission period. Point buyers don’t “own” anything. The point member acquires a right-to-use product.
Through Social Media our volunteers learned that many who felt they experienced unfair and deceptive marketing and sales practices did not know where to turn if a resort dismissed their complaint. TARDA volunteers encourage owners and members to work directly with their resort to resolve a dispute, but if dismissed, to file regulatory complaints. Filing complaints with the appropriate state and federal agencies can be confusing as states vary in their filing requirements. If there is one thing we have learned, members need support and guidance navigating this process.
TIMESHARE TALKS – An Interactive YouTube Forum
TIMESHARE TALKS was launched May 27, 2021 to offer an interactive forum for anyone who would like to share their timeshare experience or speak directly with guest industry experts. The goals are to improve communication between developers and members and to promote a viable secondary market, essential for the health of the industry. Hosts are John Raymond, an established resale broker, Wayne Robinson, a former timeshare executive, and Irene Parker, an independent writer who volunteers her time to edit articles submitted by TARDA Supporters. In this interview, an HOA Board Treasurer explains how their policies and practices ensure long-term resort viability and worry-free vacations.
It is our belief there needs to be improvement on both ends of the timeshare sale. The lack of a secondary market has spawned a robust exit scam industry, including organized crime rings based in Mexico. EU volunteers have reported the same. Some exit companies report that they receive 3,000 to 3,500 callers a week.
The Deficiency of State Regulation
Timeshare is regulated at the state level. While some states actively engage timeshare member complaints, other states dismiss complaints based on the oral representation clause. An Attorney General is an elected position. Elected officials are most concerned with constituents who elected them. Out-of-state buyers complain to an Attorney General that is not their Attorney General. Typically, buyers buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence.
In 2019, one pro-consumer state proposed a bill that would have allowed a 24 hour “cooling off” period beforesigning a contract. Timeshare industry lobbyists argued vigorously against the bill. Complaints abound from buyers reporting how they were held for hours by a tag-team of sales agents, their IDs withheld, so worn down they are ready to sign anything to end the ordeal. 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 experience such hard-sell tactics.
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. If the closing session is recorded, the closing agent should present this document during the recorded closing.
If a recorded closing is used against the buyer, in the event of a dispute, it is unfair to not allow the buyer to listen to the recording without a subpoena, and 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 agents coached them on how to “pass” the closing session.
How Do I Become Involved?
We’d love to hear from you. Contact us through our “Contact Us” tab to let us know how you can aid in our efforts. Become a TARDA Supporter by simply clicking the Donate button to make a minimum donation of $10 or more. We’ll enroll you as a Supporter. All proceeds go towards legislative efforts, because we have learned only in the legislative arena can change happen.
We thank all who have contributed their time or treasure. We also thank timeshare company representatives who have made efforts to address issues and resolve disputes. Together we can make the timeshare world a better and lasting experience for all.
Donations are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes, however, your generous donation will help fund our mission.