You’ve probably gotten a phone call or a letter offering a fantastic four day three night holiday for next to nothing in Las Vegas, Orlando, Cancun, Newport Beach, Honolulu or other vacation venue, with only one requirement:
“Spend about 90 minutes hearing a timeshare presentation.”
Just ask Scott Morse, Director of Operations at Rockford, Illinois-based Resort Release, Inc, about these so-called 90 minute presentations. “Once they get hold of you, expect to spend hours on the receiving end of incredibly high-pressure, dishonest sales tactics. Many of our clients – who had no intention of buying - were prevented from leaving until they signed purchase agreements.”
Not long ago two couples who read this column in the Hanford Sentinel reported being kept hostage for hours by Las Vegas timeshare sales reps, finally signing contracts to get out of the room.
“Why didn’t you just walk out?” we asked. “They told us we could not!” was the answer. If you think this just doesn’t make sense, you’re right, it doesn’t until the sheer pressure and fear our readers were feeling becomes clear; False imprisonment, duress, lies and more lies enable some in timeshare sales to earn over $100,000 a year.
Resort Release, which is A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau, attempts to “Legally and Permanently get you out of your timeshare,” as its website states. “But,” Morse tells You and the Law, “An ideal client is the couple who never require our services, as they did not get sucked in to buying a timeshare in the first place.”
Understand how they set you up
Key to not being taken is understanding and anticipating what will take place during a sales presentation, “which will be conducted by not one, but several people, slowly ramping up the pressure, wearing you down,” Morse observes, outlining what typically occurs:
(1) You will likely be taken on a tour of the facility, and the sales rep will try to learn as much as possible about your family and how you vacation, becoming your new, best friend. Beware - this is a mind game to make it difficult for you to later say no.
(2) Trying to implant the seeds of approval and keeping you mentally thrilled with the facility, you’ll hear, “Wouldn’t it be nice to return here, every year with your family? We help you do it, saving a great deal of money and you’ll profit from this investment.”
But timeshares are not financial investments. They are always money-losing transactions.
(3) A false sense of urgency is created. “Buy today, and you will receive all these valuable benefits, but you must act now before leaving. If you think it over and come back tomorrow, I can’t give you these perks.”
Just ask yourself, “Did they create these benefits just for you? Tomorrow another couple will hear the same, ‘Now or Never’ offer.
(4) If you raise objections, they have an answer for everything, regardless of how dishonest it might be. The classic lie is to show you a graph of hotel room rates, projecting how high they will go and why this $15,000 timeshare is such a bargain. But with highly competitive websites, hotel rates have actually gone down.
(5) Using guilt as a way to get you to sign, with a long, sad face combined with such statements as, “If you don’t buy, I will lose my job.” Or, “You came here, accepted our hospitality, and are refusing! How can you do this?”
(6) Hiding the true cost of timeshare ownership: Ever increasing yearly fees – which can run into the thousands of dollars even if you never use the timeshare – are often not revealed.
(7) Told, “You can cancel at any time.” This is a complete lie.
No time allowed to read the contract - know how to cancel
“If ever there was a time you need to slowly read the contract, and ideally, take it to an attorney, that’s exactly what you should do if tempted to sign,” Morse recommends.
“Our clients tell us that the fastest part of the entire sales presentation – most which lasted a minimum of 4 hours and some all day and into the evening – was when they signed, not aware these were double-sided documents, with language they had not seen.”
Even if you’ve signed a contract, it is possible to cancel, provided you do so within the number of days allowed by state law, which ranges from three to fourteen. “And you must cancel this contract the right way,” Morse underscores.
“Do not contact the salesperson. Precisely follow instructions for cancellation which will be stated in the contract, and this almost always requires sending a certified letter. Calling will not work, regardless of what you are told.”