Joan and Bob received a postcard in the mail. The postcard pictured a beautiful beachfront resort and said that Joan and Bob had won a free, week-long vacation. Joan and Bob were very excited and decided to go on the vacation. When they arrived at the resort, Joan and Bob discovered that they had been scheduled to attend a full week of seminars with salespeople to discuss the benefits of purchasing a timeshare at the resort. Joan and Bob were quite shocked. The week was exhausting. Jean and Bob felt an extraordinary amount of pressure to purchase a timeshare. The cost was $3,500 — an amount of money Joan and Bob couldn’t comfortably afford. Joan and Bob signed the purchase documentation, but later changed their minds about the decision to go forward with the purchase.
What Is a Timeshare?
A timeshare is an interest in real property. The nature of the interest varies somewhat, depending on the nature of the timeshare itself, but usually the buyer acquires the right to use a specified property during a certain period of time each year. It may be that the buyer has the right to use the property at the same time every year or, in the alternative, it may be that the buyer has the option of choosing a set time within a specified season or period of weeks.
Questions To Ask/General Considerations
- What do you know about the company offering the timeshare? It is important to learn something about the company, including whether the company is financially solvent.
- What is the total cost of the timeshare, including annual maintenance fees?
- Is the timeshare in a location that you would like to visit year after year?
- Is there any reason to be concerned about the management of the property? Is the property kept up well?
- Will you be able to take your vacation during a time when you usually vacation?
- What facilities are available to you? Are the facilities consistent with your lifestyle?
- Would it be difficult for you to resell your timeshare in the event you decide to do so?
- Do you have a “cooling off” period after you sign the contract? In other words, is there a period of time during which you can cancel the contract?
- What are the applicable rules/regulations governing the timeshare?
Lastly, as with any major purchase, you should consider your decision very carefully. Don’t sign anything you haven’t read. It is probably best not to make a decision on the spot either. Don’t feel pressured by claims that the offer is valid “today only.” Take your time and make a careful, well-reasoned decision. If you feel like you don’t fully understand the nature of the transaction or any aspect of it, you may wish to consult a realtor or an attorney.
For further information on timeshares and on issues of concern to consumers, contact your local Better Business Bureau or:
The Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.