NBC Connecticut Responds received nine complaints from timeshare owners who say they were misled and find it impossible to resell their property.
The thought of buying a timeshare may be appealing, but the fact that it comes with a huge responsibility and price tag may not be.
Timeshares are vacation homes that you can rent for weeks or months at a time.
That’s what attracted Tina Walts-Gilmore and her husband to buy one.
”It was a wonderful way to get vacations and we’ve done it in the past,” said Walts-Gilmore.
But the Unionville couple says it wasn’t a good investment and wanted to get rid of their timeshare, which they owned for four years.
”It was terrible. One time they said, there’s no reservation,” said Walts-Gilmore. “We never were able to get what we want when we wanted it.”
The two recently used their timeshare to take a Virginia vacation. While there, they received a travel voucher to tour a Florida resort through a different company. The couple went through the sales pitch and had no intention of buying.
”We’re both on fixed income and we’re not making enough money to own a timeshare at this point,” said Walts-Gilmore.
But according to the couple, they felt pressured and were promised a Hawaiian vacation before signing a contract to exchange their timeshare. As part of that deal, Walts-Gilmore didn’t realize she agreed to an additional 10-year loan.
”We were excited. We were tired and we were stupid,” said Walts-Gilmore.
“You should never succumb to pressure tactics and it should be a red flag to you,” said outgoing Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.
Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018. Consumer complained about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling.
“You really want to make sure you’re getting straight information before you make a decision, you might not be able to reverse easily,” said Jepsen.
Jepsen stressed that it's difficult to get out of a timeshare because timeshare resellers will give you false resale value information and monthly maintenance fees that increase from year to year.
“What they will frequently do is charge you upfront fees saying, ”oh, we have plenty of buyers, it’s a hot market,” or we have a particular buyer in sight. But there’s a registration fee of $500 or $1,000. They take your money and they’re gone,” said Jepsen.
Here’s some steps to follow before selling a timeshare from Federal Trade Commission:
Don’t agree to anything on the phone or online.
Make sure to get everything in writing.
Get references from satisfied clients.
And ask about fees, timing and refunds.
And if the deal wasn’t what you expected or wanted, don’t sign the contract. Negotiate changes or find another reseller. Also, be wary of offers to buy timeshares or vacation plans in foreign countries because there, you are not protected by U.S. laws.