Americans over the age of 65 are frequently the target of telemarketing fraud, high-pressure sales scams, and a frequent favorite prospect of the timeshare sales industry. While seniors have earned the right through decades of hard work, to enjoy a relaxing retirement and vacation time, many find themselves in a precarious financial situation after purchasing a timeshare.
Increasingly the timeshare industry has moved to telephone sales and direct mail ‘contest’ marketing and incentives; both methods are highly effective at reaching pre-qualified middle to upper income retirees. It’s a way for the timeshare industry to target seniors who may not be willing to purchase online, but those who trust more traditional sales approaches, including the reassuring voice of someone who promises “the deal of a lifetime” and “affordable vacations”, and other free incentives.
From our experience as America’s original timeshare cancellation team since 2004, we share five reasons that senior citizens are the prime target for timeshare sales.
1. Seniors Have More Disposable Income
While many seniors live on a fixed retirement budget, on average, Americans over the age of 65 have more disposable income than middle aged families, who may be contending with expenses related to education, or childcare. Many seniors own their own home, and are financially able to commit to a monthly payment for a timeshare, which may seem reasonable when compared to residential mortgage costs they were already accustomed to managing.
2. The Desire to Spend More Time with Family
The average family does want to spend more time together. Seniors who have children and grandchildren who live further away, may anticipate that a timeshare is the perfect solution. Much like the “Field of Dreams”, if grandparents provide a free place for children to visit and spend quality vacation time together, a timeshare seems like the perfect solution. Trying to coordinate vacation weeks off with other family members however, can be limiting.
3. Seniors Are Less Skeptical
Seniors also tend to be less active online, and don’t always have the tools to evaluate complaints, reviews and other red flags that would warn them against purchasing with specific resorts. On average, beyond Facebook, many seniors do not engage socially online, and they frequently do not have the confidence or “know how” to research a company, including resorts which may have pages of consumer complaints, warning future buyers away from investing in the timeshare opportunity.
Because of the technological hesitancy of seniors, and as a matter of integrity, many Americans over the age of 70 are vulnerable to expert psychological and high-pressure sales tactics used by the timeshare industry. Given the nature of the average timeshare sale, seniors are not always given the opportunity to “think about it” or “call their children” to discuss the proposition. They sign the contract, hope for the best, and quickly learn about the pitfalls of owning a timeshare.
4. Maintaining a Vacation Home Is More Costly
Two disadvantages factor into the decision that seniors make, when it comes to owning a timeshare, versus buying a cottage, cabin or beach home that they can use for vacation purposes. While the senior may have the capital and credit capability to buy a vacation home outright, the ongoing costs of owning one are frequently prohibitive.
The second disadvantage to owning a vacation home is the cost and time commitment that is involved with maintaining a second property. Owning another property in a different state can present costly taxation complications, as well as increased expenses for insurance, security, maintenance and utilities. A cost analysis sheet is sometimes used by timeshare sales teams, to demonstrate how much more expensive it is to own a vacation home, versus a resort membership. The one caveat is that a vacation home will likely appreciate, and depreciate in debt over time as the mortgage is paid, unlike a timeshare, which is never considered owned property or equity.
5. Buying a Timeshare That Family Members Can Inherit
Even though many consumers are opposed to buying a timeshare, seniors often make the mistake of accepting one of the most commonly used rationales presented by timeshare sales experts. Seniors are told that family and friends will be able to use the timeshare (which is true), and that they will not lose their initial investment in the timeshare, if they continue to pay fees. Concerned seniors that inquire “what will happen to my timeshare after I die?” are assured that family members can continue to use their allotted weeks, and assume ownership (like an inheritance) of the timeshare.
To a senior (and frankly to anyone) that sounds like a good deal, right? If you are a senior and you are buying into a fifty-year contract (or longer), you have a sense of getting your value out of the timeshare, particularly if children and grandchildren can use it after you’re gone. The problem is that a timeshare not only creates a financial burden for family members who do want to assume ownership, but it also complicates estate proceedings.
A senior who owns a timeshare will pass the property, and financial obligation, on to the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the timeshare membership and maintenance fees continue to accumulate. The contract is not “null and void” after the death of an owner; to the contrary, the resort will seek the full amount owing on the timeshare, from the net value of the estate.
Children of deceased senior parents are often shocked to find they have two options: a) allow the resort to accept a lump sum payment, essentially buying back the timeshare contract at a loss, or b) assume responsibility for the timeshare, and commence paying fees (including any accumulated penalties and late charges). Imagine bereaved family members learning that the value of the unpaid timeshare will be deducted from any net inheritance they receive, as an outstanding financial obligation of their family member. And many families are shocked at the value of the “payout” which can add financial strain to surviving family members left with medical, funerary or other expenses.
Given the number of seniors that are contacted with the timeshare proposition, we recommend that all families have a discussion with their parents and grandparents about timeshares, and the legal and financial implications of owning one. If you are ready to seek advice about cancelling your timeshare for good, contact Aconsumercredit™ and learn more about options that help protect your credit, while resolving the burden of timeshare ownership. Our Attorney led team is ready to assist you.