5 Common Timeshare Scams And How To Avoid Them
Timeshare scams have been rife in the industry for years, and persist to this day with plenty of people being conned into expensive timeshare purchases that fail to live up to the dream they were being sold. One of our main objectives here at Timeshare Compensation is to eradicate the underhand and practices within the industry and to make sure consumers are as informed as possible.
In this article, we are going to share with you five of the most widely encountered timeshare scams and the tactics that timeshare companies use to manipulate, to prevent you falling victim to them yourself.
- Timeshare Cold Calling Scams
If you already have a timeshare and wish to get out, then you could be vulnerable to a timeshare cold-calling scam. If somebody calls you out of the blue without you having requested it, this is known as ‘cold calling’. They may offer you a timeshare exit plan or tell you they have a ready buyer for your timeshare.
In this scam, you may be told that for a specific sum, say £5000, they can help you to exit your timeshare for good. They may tell you that they have a buyer interested in purchasing your timeshare contract, and they may even have the personal details – and even passport number – of the ‘buyer’. On paying the exit fee, you may receive a letter telling you that your timeshare has been sold or nullified, only to later receive your maintenance bill as usual and find that you are still bound by your contract after all… the fraudsters have done nothing but take your money. In many cases, once the money is handed over, you will never hear from them again.
If you have not requested the call, then put down the phone. Avoid cold calling timeshare scams at all costs.
- On The Street Timeshare Sales
These are less common than in the past, but in many places, you can still find street hawkers out to entice you into a timeshare presentation. Reputable timeshare companies never use this tactic for bringing in audiences to their sales presentations, so if anyone approaches you on the street, this should set alarm bells ringing.
These sort of scams usually start with you buying or being offered a free scratch card. Lo and behold – you’ll find you’ve won a prize. This can be anything from a state-of-the-art tablet or smartphone to a bottle of wine… all you have to do to claim it, you’re told, is attend a ‘quick’ talk about timeshare and the prize is all yours! In truth, that timeshare presentation may take hours and hours. You’ll be beaten down with insistent sales tactics until you finally relent and sign the dotted line. Timeshares like this are usually of dubious quality, the contracts are often illegal, or the development may not exist at all.
- The Disappearing Timeshare Development
There are countless stories of people signing up to a timeshare contract with a resort that is not yet built, only to find that it is never built at all, or the project is abandoned halfway through. If you are convinced into buying a timeshare on an as-yet unfinished timeshare development, be sure to hold the money in escrow until there is concrete evidence of building completion before releasing sums. If the salespeople expect money upfront before the development is ready, walk away. Remember that you are entitled to a legal 14-day cooling-off period after signing any contract in which you can cancel with no further obligation.
Another disappearing timeshare may be one that you see in photos, complete and beautiful, but once you’ve signed up you soon find out that the photos you saw were fake and the resort simply does not exist. Unless you’ve had a tour of the resort itself, have done thorough research, and have a genuine interest in buying, walk away. If you are thinking about proceeding, take advice from a timeshare legal expert first.
- The Double Dip
The double dip timeshare scam is a particularly nasty one, targeting those who have already fallen prey to a fraudster who offered to sell or nullify their timeshare only to run off with the money (see point 1, above). The same fraudsters will return several months later, offering to represent you in claiming back the money stolen from you in the original scam. All they need… you guessed it… is money upfront to start proceedings. Needless to say, they will vanish as quickly as they did the first time, leaving you out of pocket once more.
Even in cases where there is not an overt scam in play, desperate timeshare salespeople may be so eager to close a sale that they make statements and promises that are simply untrue. If you find yourself in the sales suite, be alert to these well-worn topics that will tell you that all is not as it seems:
- You are told that the timeshare will appreciate in value, and is thus an ‘investment’ that will make you money over time. It will not.
- You are told that the timeshare can be freely exchanged for another outright, transferred or sold. You’ll need to delve deep into the contract to confirm the veracity of a statement like this, and it’s unlikely to be true.
- You are told that your timeshare membership will guarantee you priority booking over non-members at your resort. There are countless cases where people have been unable to book their holiday as non-members were prioritised overpaying timeshare holders. This is because the resort wants to sign up new members so, in truth, it is they who take priority.
Other forms of misrepresentation are common and can be extremely difficult to prove in Court, as they are mostly verbal statements that go unrecorded. Ask your salesperson to reiterate all their statements in writing, and cross-check all you are told against what’s in the contract. Remember that 14-day cooling-off period if you think you have made a mistake in signing.
These are some of the most common ways that people have been fooled by unscrupulous timeshare fraud, but there are many others out there. If you are in any doubt about communication you have had with anyone regarding timeshare, it is important to get expert advice before handing over money or proceeding any further with a purchase.
Our team at Timeshare Compensation are well-versed in the ins and outs of timeshare law and know all about the scams that are out there. Give us a call and chat it through if you’re concerned – we are always there to help!