Disreputable Timeshare Sales Teams Attempt to Coerce Vacationing Families

A California couple was the victim of a high-pressure timeshare scheme, that they alleged involved a deliberate plan to get presentation guests inebriated, to solicit a sale.  Even after canceling their timeshare within the five-day period allowed, and filing a complaint and closing their credit card account (used for the deposit payment), three years later, the American couple is still dealing with harassment and threats from a Mexican timeshare company.

According to CBS©, the couple went on vacation to the Puerto Bahia Villas and Spa, in Puerto Vallarta in 2013.  While they were on vacation, they were invited to a “no obligation” 90-minute timeshare presentation.  Attendees were promised a cash payment of $450, simply for attending the presentation (whether they purchased a timeshare or not).   Pete and Susie High did what any of us would do in a similar situation, and agreed to attend, considering the additional $450 to be an opportunity to have even more fun, during their remaining vacation time in Puerto Vallarta.

The couple admitted that they had no interest in purchasing at timeshare at that time, but felt willing to be compensated for sitting in the marketing presentation.  Despite being promised food and other refreshments, no food was served, and after the fourth hour, open alcoholic beverages were served to the presentation guests. On an empty stomach, and in a crowded presentation room, Pete High felt sick after consuming the beverage.  His wife suspected there may have been something added to the drink, but it was alleged and not investigated, or proven.

The following high-pressure tactics were used on the High family during their timeshare presentation:

  • Small, crowded room that was uncomfortable.
  • No food or refreshments (until after the fourth hour).
  • Persistent pressure to purchase, even after the family had declined several times.
  • Angry and aggressive treatment that belittled them for attending if “they were not going to buy.”
  • Serving alcohol after four hours without other food or refreshments, and offering more alcohol even after it was declined by guests, who felt they were being plied to become inebriated so that they would sign the timeshare contract.

Shortly after being served the drinks, the couple succumbed and signed a timeshare contract, and left the room quickly.  Back at their hotel room and recovered, they immediately were confused about what had happened.  They consulted locally for legal advice, and were able to cancel their contract within the maximum five-day window provided by Mexican contract law, and contacted their credit card company, explaining what had happened, and that they felt coerced into the purchase.  Their credit card was closed and another card was reissued for security purposes.  The couple took a printed original copy of the canceled contract to the timeshare provider, and returned home.

Shortly after returning to California, Pete and Susie High began to receive threatening notices, calls, emails and letters indicating collection action.  When they reported their story to CBS Los Angeles in 2016, they were still receiving threats of legal action, despite successfully and legally canceling their signed contract in Mexico.  The High family was paid the $450, but in retrospect three years later, Susie High commented that the entire experience was regrettable, and even frightening.  The couple stated that they felt bullied even after following all legal steps to cancel their timeshare contract, within the five-day window mandated by Federal law in Mexico.

For families who are traveling to resorts or exotic destinations, the experience that Pete and Susie High shared, should serve as a warning.  Whether offered free airfare, tours or exclusive tickets, or even cash awards for attending sales presentations, be aware that these offers can come with a significantly negative experience with timeshare sales teams.   The High family did receive the promised cash gift, but it has cost them over three years of administrative work and frustration.  Don’t get hooked by the bait that unscrupulous timeshare providers offer.

To read more about their experience, visit the CBS Los Angeles website.