There are few products or services around the world, that enjoy as much notoriety as timeshares do. A quick search on Google or Bing will show consumers websites with endless pages of negative reviews, feedback, and angry current or former customers of some of the largest timeshare companies in America.
In fact, if you take the time to read the complaints like we do, you’ve probably found yourself wondering “how do timeshares stay in business?” We agree, because every day, we speak to unhappy timeshare owners who have been emotionally and financially abused by timeshare companies, simply for exploring the option of owning a timeshare, as an affordable vacation option.
In 2016, timeshare companies were again, front and center in the media, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cracked down on fraudulent service organizations (including timeshare resellers). It is an industry increasingly under pressure by shareholders to profit, while costs, and other factors including natural disasters, saw membership and maintenance fees increase. We’ve picked some of the headlines that made media news with (unflattering consequences) for the Hall of Shame Timeshares in 2016.
This article in the New York Times, did an excellent job of warning consumers about the high-pressure tactics frequently used by timeshare sales teams domestically, and internationally. In this story, a 77-year old grandmother was approached at the resort where she already owned two timeshare properties, with a $100 incentive that ended up costing her undue stress and harassment.
Morgenson mentions that the current economic pressures on middle to lower income families have supported a resurgence in timeshare sales, as Americans struggle with the affordability of vacation options. It seems the high-pressure and harassing style of many timeshare sales presentations, isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
2. The Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation
The investigative article reminds us that timeshare companies make money first on the sale of a property and predatory lease, and later by inundating unsuspecting consumers with fees, administrative costs, and rising maintenance requirements. Timeshares are in the business of entrapping consumers with the promise of affordable vacations only on the surface; this article digs down to the financial infrastructure, investors and shareholders and profits that drive the frequently unscrupulous industry.
Everyone knows that someone who is looking for a bargain on a timeshare, should start with the private resale market first. Not only is the timeshare marketplace teeming with owners who are overly eager to get rid of their financial ownership obligation, but consumers who are determined to own a timeshare, can save on the balloon investment cost that typically accompanies new resorts. Forget the down payment; there are literally thousands of timeshare owners ready to give you their contract for $1, and simply walk away from it.
While that arrangement benefits consumers by saving them money, it doesn’t benefit developers, who frequently count on the inflated down payment to complete resorts, fund shareholders, or commence new resort building projects.
Redweek offered some investigative reporting that discussed how determined most timeshare companies are to retain their dominance as the most expensive, least flexible and non-friendly option for consumers. The mathematics demonstrates that it is through lending and financing that many timeshare companies make their largest profits, at the expense of consumers.
If you have researched timeshare complaints online, chances are that you have heard about Westgate Resorts. Consumer Affairs rates the company as a 1-star for consumer reviews, with more than 500 complaints registered on that site alone.
In this article, Forbes explains that Westgate resorts owner David Siegel, a resident of Windermere Florida, was worth approximately $940 million dollars, at the age of 82 years. A fact that few timeshare owners at Westgate Resorts take comfort in, as the developer and management company was probed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2016, for disreputable and allegedly fraudulent sales practices.
At Aconsumercredit™, we share articles on our consumer protection blog, as part of our mission to inform our clients of their rights, and of misrepresentation and fraud within the timeshare industry. If you feel you have been the victim of fraudulent sales practice or one of these Hall of Shame Timeshares, contact us for a free consultation, and learn how our timeshare cancellation counselors can help.