by Barbara Nevins Taylor
Vacation temptation time is here. You take a trip to Florida, Mexico, California, Arizona. Wherever. You love the sun, the beach, the sea, the golf course and start to dream about what it would be like to visit often. If you’re in a place with a lot of tourists, you’re likely to run into a timeshare sales person. We suggest you take a very deep breath before you do anything.
Timeshares may be a good idea for you, and they may not. The reality is that timeshares are often very difficult to resell and there’s an industry of shady characters charging hefty fees to help timeshare owners unload their investments.
First come the high pressure sales tactics to buy.
In Cancun, not long ago, we met a woman at the car rental office who didn’t seem like a sales person. She stepped out from behind a counter that made it seems as though she worked at the office. She came to chat me up on the sidewalk while I was waiting for my husband to get the car. She was charming and gave great directions to Playa del Carmen. But she also suggested we stop at a timeshare resort and have lunch for free. I said, “We’re not interested. But thanks for all of your help.” She persisted. “Why not? What do you have to lose? It’s a free lunch,” she said.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
The time share might have been okay, but my husband and I really weren’t interested and I’d heard enough horror stories to keep me driving right past the resort.
The Federal Trade Commission and Florida consumer protection agencies are cracking down on companies that take advantage of timeshare owners who are desperate to sell.
The FTC says Resolution Trust, Resort Property, and Vacation Communication took more than $18 million from consumers throughout the country who tried to sell their timeshares. The FTC and Florida officials went to federal court to stop the companies’ alleged illegal practices.
Charles A. Harwood, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “Con artists take advantage of timeshare owners who have been in tough financial straits and are desperate to sell their timeshares. They persuade owners to pay fat up-front fees by saying they have someone ready to buy the property, but that’s a lie”
Beware of these sales tactics:
- Scammers say they have interested buyers.
- They ask for upfront fees-$300-$3,000.
- They offer deceptive travel prizes that don’t exist.
- They advertise via email, telemarketing, radio, TV and online.
- The FTC has more information at: ftc.gov/travel including a travel fraud game.
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