Jennifer Moore, an attorney from Minneapolis, says that she recently sat through a sales presentation in Las Vegas in exchange for “free” tickets to a show. When a representative insisted that she would have paid less for her vacation if she’d owned a time share, she ran the numbers and proved the salesman wrong. She left the presentation despite his objections.
Another time, she accepted tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando in exchange for attending a time-share presentation. At one point during the event, she and her husband were left alone in a room to watch a video. “I mentioned to my husband that our time-share rep looked really tired and maybe sick,” she recalls. “A few minutes later, we were walking through the property and the salesman told us he had chronic fatigue syndrome, so that was why he looked so tired. I guess they monitor those spaces, eh?”
The time-share industry is trying to shed its reputation for high-pressure sales tactics. ARDA members are required to sign a code of ethics that says solicitations should “not convey a false sense of urgency through reference to or use of false conditions, restrictions or time limits.” It also stipulates that time-share companies provide “fair, meaningful and effective disclosure” of the terms of the purchase.
“Our members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation resort development,” says Howard Nusbaum, ARDA’s president.
Although the time-share industry’s self-reported customer satisfaction numbers are high — they held steady at 83 percent in 2012 and have fluctuated between 82 percent and 84 percent over the past decade — Nusbaum says that the industry is concerned about the negatives. To that end, it runs a Web site, VacationBetter.org, that’s designed to help consumers unfamiliar with time share and vacation ownership.
But to some experts, time-share sales will always be associated with fast-talking guys in cheap suits, ethics codes and rhetoric notwithstanding. The best defense: not being afraid to say no when you’re faced with an overly enthusiastic sales presentation, and a basic knowledge of the law.
“Time-share contract rescission periods vary from state to state and country to country,” says Schreier, the time-share adviser. “Once a consumer is past the legal rescission period, the odds are not in their favor of getting their money back.”
That’s what happened to Pavlovic when he tried to cancel. Under the Texas Timeshare Act, he had five days to get a refund on his time-share purchase, and he missed the chance.
Still, after I asked Wyndham to review his complaint, the company allowed him to cancel his contract — an unexpected but welcome resolution to this case.
E-mail Christopher Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.