Timeshare, Campground and Travel Club Sales
Timeshares, campgrounds or travel clubs may offer to sell membership
vacation accommodations for five years or more, or until you resell
your interest. Unless you're certain you'll stay healthy, both
physically and financially, and that the company selling the memberships
will stay solvent and in business, prepaid vacations may not be
right for you.
Types of Timeshares
The three most common types of timeshare opportunities are:
Fixed-unit, fixed-week agreement - you
buy the deed to the property which allows use of the property
for the same time period each year.
Right-to-use plan -
you lease the property for a particular time period each
year for a set number of years, usually 10 to 15 years. Under
this type of agreement, the ownership remains with the developer.
Vacation club or points-based
program - you buy points which are then used like
currency to purchase time from the amount of available
weeks at various resorts. The number of points required
to purchase time depends on the season, resort location,
luxury, unit size and demand.
There are also variations in how the time can be used, depending
on the contract.
||Fixed time - In
this arrangement, you reserve the same vacation weeks each
||Floating time -
In this case you do not reserve specific dates each year, but
rather, reserve a certain season each year, usually within
a three to four month period. You must then reserve a specific
vacation period in advance. Reservation confirmation is usually
on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Common Sales Practices Used in Time Share Sales Pitches
Holding contests then not informing consumers they must listen
to a lengthy sales pitch before receiving their "prizes." Misrepresenting
the facility's physical condition, market value and resale or exchange
Making oral promises that are omitted from the written contract
and including fees and obligations in the contract that are never
There are certain common traits and techniques all timeshare salespeople
employ, all with the purpose of “closing the deal - today”.
Tomorrow does not exist.
The presentation is all about misdirection and distraction. The
music, for instance. It’s loud and festive. It’s
supposed to put you in the mood; but it also conceals the conversations
at the next table. Another purpose of the music is when they turn
it down, you really notice the silence – to announce another
new owner (sometimes fictional) joining the program. The other
way they have called attention to new owners is to open a celebratory
bottle of champagne.
They can write upside down. Most will use a yellow, not white,
legal pad. Felt tipped pens, not ballpoints. They also read
quite well upside down. Especially the resort directory which contains
a description of every property that you can exchange into.
They have favorite pages in the book and may bookmark specific
pages with paperclips or know the book well enough to rapidly find
resorts that will be of particular interest to each prospect, depending
on what you said you enjoy. Fabrications may be told by salespeople
who suggest they own a timeshare, or their parents owned one.
Contractual Obligations of Timeshare Agreements
Timeshare sales contracts usually include clauses that disclaim
any promises made during the sales pitch. The contract you sign
will ask you to agree that you are making the purchase only on
the basis of the representations in that contract. Prospective
purchasers who notice differences between what is in the contract
and what was promised by the salesperson are likely to be told
that the contract is only "legal jargon."
If a timeshare salesperson will not put a promise in writing,
don't go through with the sale. You will be forced to argue afterwards
that you relied on that promise, even though you have signed a
contract that explicitly says you did not rely on any verbal promises.
Timeshare Maintenance Fees
What you may not be told is the extent to which the annual maintenance
fee will increase over time. If the seller claims the fees will
stay the same, beware. Beautiful properties today may be run-down
in five or ten years without sufficient maintenance. Timeshare
operators also may force owners to pay unexpected but obligatory
special assessment fees.
Secondary Market for Time Shares
As far as timeshares for investments: they rarely appreciate in
In fact, the likelihood is that you will lose money on the sale
of a timeshare. The original price may have included premiums of
up to 40% to cover sales costs. As a result, a resale will yield
as little as 60% of the purchase price. Then you will have to pay
a new commission (often as high as 20%) to the broker who
sells the property for you.
If you decide to buy a timeshare or membership in a vacation club,
be aware that resales are difficult, if not impossible. In
general the market for resales is poor and may vary considerably,
depending on the location and time of year. One recent survey found
that only 3.3% of owners reported reselling their timeshares during
the last 20 years. Still, desperate to sell, many owners have been
taken in by timeshare resale scams.
You have several resale options. You may try selling your timeshare
yourself, by placing an ad in a newspaper or magazine, or contacting
a real estate agent familiar with the area. If all the timeshares
have been sold in your development, consider asking the seller
to establish an on-site resale's office. As an alternative, you
may consider an exchange program. For a fee, these programs allow
you to arrange trades with other resort units in different locations.
What You See...
Evergreen Resorts, a company which markets travel and camping
clubs and sells lists of potential customers to other marketers,
deceived consumers by displaying a truck it never intended to give
away. The brand-new pickup truck appeared in malls, fairs, and
recreational shows as a major draw prize award.
They would call consumers who filled out the entry slips and congratulate
them, saying they had "won" if they attended a sales
presentation for travel, camping or timeshare services or memberships.
Attendees found they won a secondary prize, not the truck.
And although they advertised that a truck would be given away
yearly, an investigation revealed that no trucks were given for
two years and then only because the Attorney General was contacted.
Even then the truck finally awarded was not the same as the one
Expecting to receive the new four-wheel drive, fully-loaded Chevy
truck as displayed, the winner instead got a stripped down basic
model, priced about half, with no 4-wheel drive, no radio, no carpeting,
no clock, no tilt, no aluminum wheels, no extras.
Through direct mail and telephone solicitations, American Campgrounds
offered consumers a chance to win a a Chevy Tahoe or $25,000 in
cash in their "If The Key Fits, Drive It!" contest and
a trip in their "Carnival Cruise for Two" promotion.
Instead of an actual chance at a major prize, each person who
made a reservation and traveled to the campground received an inexpensive
watch and a vacation certificate providing only lodging, which
was subject to limited availability and conditional upon attending
a high-pressure time-share sales presentation.
How one viewer's prize television turned into a vacation club
contract that wasn't as black and white.
the River Styx
Several weeks ago I had went to bed early, and the phone rang. I
answered the phone and they said Mrs. Jones, I'm calling from the
Gift Center to let you know, you have won a television valued at
I said I'm not interested. She said "But don't you want
to claim your television, all you have to do is verify your name
and address?" I said okay and said yes to her questions. She
said we'll mail you a pink card to claim your prize. I said
okay and hung up.
Several days later I received another phone call from the gift
center. She asked, did I receive my pink card, I said no. She
said, "I'm calling to set up an appointment for you to pick-up
your television, and I'll send you another pink card."
I asked her what was the value of the television? She said "$179.00,
and you also get a $40.00 gas voucher, and a $1000.00 bonus."
She said, "How about Thursday for the appointment, or would
a weekend be better?" I said "Saturday", she
said "Okay, Saturday at 1:30."
Friday night I received another call from the gift center to
verify my appointment Saturday. She said we are located in
Robertsdale, you'll need your pink card or remember your prize
Saturday, I told my husband let's go pick up the television we
won. Working for Walmart, I know how much televisions cost. So
for $179.00 I figured it had to be 13 or 19 inches.
We called Saturday for directions. She told me the road
to take and to look for the sign Gift Parking. We went to
the front door. They had a sheet to sign in.
We signed in and the guy at the desk said, John will be with
you in a minute. He took us to a picnic table and said, "Okay,
so they promised you a million dollars or something like that to
get you here, huh?" We said a television.
It turns out to be a vacation park where you need to buy a membership
to join. The gifts are conditional upon hearing a sales presentation.
We walked the park. They have places to park RV's. They
have small mobile homes that look like log cabins. They have a
building with an indoor pool, and an outdoor pool. He said
they were in the process of buying water world, it would be added
to the park and be free to members.
He said a membership, was $6000.00. We couldn't afford
that, so he said a 10 year was $3999.00 and you have 36 months
to upgrade to the lifetime membership. $395.00 down & $91.00
a month. Plus $300.00 in maintenance fees per year.
They make this seem like part of what you have won. This deal
is only good for the day you go.
We asked, "You mean we can't go home and think about
it, and let you know Monday." He said "Absolutely
not, the price then would be $12,000.00."
I asked so what if you pay your down-payment and make some payments
and then decide you're not going to use the facility. He
said, "If you're asking, have we ever sued anyone? No,
we have not."
We signed the paperwork, then asked about the television, we
had won. The television was black and white, and 5 inches,
the $1000.00 bonus was grocery coupons.
It was about this time I realized I hadn't won anything but they
refused to tear up my check or the contract, saying it was a binding
I sent a certified letter two days later stating: "I
rescind my contract due to your fraud in enticing us to your location."
I went to the courthouse fora judgment search. The
resort has a string of cases where they sued people for breach
of contract. The same situation as mine, I'm sure. I've
spoken with several people, who paid Styx River Resort because
of this scam. They didn't know if this was legal and if you
could get out.
After crying for nearly three days solid, I went on-line
to look for some kind of information to help, and I found your
website. I couldn't believe you actually wrote me back. When
you've been lied to like these people do, you feel like there's
no one to trust.
After using the information of who to contact from your site,
I wrote a letter of my situation, and made copies and mailed to
Alabama's Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, and several
other people. A week later the Better Business Bureau received
a letter from Styx River Resort ending my membership.
I had a friend call them last week, and ask about pricing over
the phone, they quoted her $3999.00 for a 10 year membership. So
I know for a fact there is no one day deal, as they tell you. Hope
my story helps keep someone from making the same mistake I made.
Thanks for your help. Saved me a total of about $7000.
Didn't Make it Across
It was great finding your website, albeit too late. I was
beginning to think that everyone who was scammed by these outfits
was too embarrassed to talk about their dealings.
We toured Styx River Resorts and were told the same thing as
was Mrs. Jones. We asked questions about the accommodations but
were only allowed to see a one bedroom cabin. Everything else was
said to be unavailable.
We found out too late that the cabinettes that we were interested
in did not even have bathrooms.
After I complained I was told we were stuck with the contract
even though some of what the saleslady said was deceptive or just
not true. They pointed out that their contract states that they
are not held responsible for anything that salesmen say that might
induce you to buy a membership.
You are offered a free trip which includes airfare and lodging
at a destination chosen by you if you attend a "travel seminar" and
fill out a questionnaire. You are specifically told that the travel
seminar is not a sales presentation just that the Travel Club simply
wants you to critique a travel video.
The travel seminars are, in fact, high-pressure sales presentations
for memberships in a travel club. Membership costs range in price
from $2,000 to more than $3,000.
Instead of the free trip, what you get are travel certificates
which do not include airfare and can be used only at a time-share
In order to use the certificate, you are required to choose three
destination choices, at least 100 miles away, and pay a "$50
refundable room guarantee deposit." The Travel Club ultimately
chooses the destination, and you are not told you will be required
to attend a high-pressure time-share sales presentation in order
to receive the refund.
Spin To Win
I just received a phone call informing me that I had won a prize
but in order to claim it I had to attend a 120 minute sales presentation
on timeshare opportunities for Red Wolf Lodge in Tahoe.
Afterwards, I would spin a wheel for one
of 5 prizes; $500, $1000, a trip to Las Vegas, a trip to
Hawaii, or a trip to Tahoe. They said there is no obligation
to buy anything. I agreed but told them I would call to
confirm because I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it.
It sounds too good to be true and I am very skeptical. Does this
sound like a scam? When I call back what type of questions should
I ask? Any help or advice would be appreciated.
Shannon Mullis 10/01
Seeing is Believing
I purchased a time share last year from Wyndamn Palms Resort in
The model looked great. Lots of plants, plush towels and bath
mat, decorative pillows on the beds, cloth napkins and placemats,
etc. The unit we eventually stayed in had none of these things.
At the time we bought, I asked if all the units looked like the
model, with all the extras, and was told they did. I should
have looked for myself but didn't.
Do I have any legal recourse? Is there any breach of contract?
David Albert 03/24/02
Still Feeding An Albatross
Eighteen years ago, I was foolish enough to purchase the following
type of campground timeshare from Indian Cove Resort in Virginia
Fixed-unit, fixed-week agreement - you buy the deed
to the property which allows use of the property for the same time
period each year.
I have never been back since I purchased and paid the entire
$7,000 for the timeshare. Each year I have paid the
maintenance fee, which runs approximately $30/month, but
not until a creditor bullied me into paying the full amount.
The past two years though, I have not paid and now "owe" them
close to $900 in back dues but have decided not to return
the creditor's calls. I have gotten to the point where I
would rather fight this in court with an attorney than to
pay them. What do you recommend? By law, what recourse do
the parties have?
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Brian Perkins 09/19/02
I signed up with www.timesharefsbo.com which
is timeshare for sale by owner. I was promised that my timeshare
would be sold by labor day but it wasn't. Can I get my money
Candy Steele 10/08/02
Lingering Remorse Could Last Fifty Years
I need some help in trying to break out of a contract I
signed on August 17, 2002 at the Vacation Inn resort in Collingwood,
It all started with a phone call from them inviting us for
a weekend for a 1 hour presentation. Well the presentation
started on Saturday at 9:30 and I believe it ended close
About ten couples were brought in to this big room and each
was seated with one salesperson at different spots so that
conversations between each table could not be heard. It
began by asking us travel questions (how often we like to
travel, where we like to go, how important it is for us to
travel, etc - the usual stuff, I'm sure).
Then there was a presentation for the whole group in a small
room where the person spoke very fast for approximately 45
minutes. Following that we were taken to see a model of units
we could have access to, as they were not selling a timeshare
but a "vacation membership."
Then we sat back at the table and the selling began.
It started at a 50 year membership for $25,000, as we kept
saying that we couldn't afford it because we are students
with debts, they kept lowering the price and saying "This
is a one day only" deal because by law they could not
offer it another day.
At the end of 4 hours after lowering the price to $8000
(after removing "fees" that we found they were
not entitled to charge us anyway) and ensuring us that we
could resell this at any time for the same amount or less,
they gave us five papers to read and sign, three of which
had small writing (font 10 or less) on the back.
Needless to say that at that moment we didn't know what
we were reading. After paying attention for 4 hours it is
impossible to concentrate on small writing documents with
details not discussed during the presentation.
Do you have any advice on how to get out of this? We called
them on the Monday to cancel the contract but only got the
secretary who told us that a "rescission" was not
possible, and then went on ignoring our complaints telling
us that "You are going to love it, you are just experiencing
The head sales person contacted us finally on the Friday
(after leaving messages on his machine and with his secretary)
and we expressed verbally once again that we wanted to "rescind" the
contract to which he answered "that's not going to be
He continued on to ensure us that they had not done anything
illegal and that until the law changed he wasn't doing anything
wrong. When responding to comments about high pressure
tactics, he stated "Yes, that is the way these things
are sold. These guys are professionals."
He continued on, like his secretary, to ignore our demands
and spout platitudes. Please help!!!!!
Analia Barroetavena 10/16/02
Info about Marriott Vacation Club International,
Timeshare Nation and Aquatology.
TSN was supposed to revolutionize the secondary timeshare
market with placement on eBay, backing from MVCI and inventory
from developers including Starwood and Hilton.
Instead, TSN ceased operations in April, leaving in excess
of $100,000 in unpaid wages and fees.
The TSN Web site ultimately became the home page for Aquatology,
a company operating under the same ownership as TSN. The
new concept was that of a Miami-based yacht staffed by at
least six "hostesses" to attend to the needs of
up to four male guests. Once international waters were reached,
the yacht would become a floating brothel and casino.
Documents filed with the Florida Secretary of State office
show Mike Costigan as president of TSN and Steve Burke as
vice president. The board of directors included the senior
Costigan, Burke, Derek Eily and Roger Dow, a senior VP with
Marriott, Inc. It seems possible that MCVI, and its parent
company Marriott, Inc., are themselves victims of several
highly placed MCVI employees who shared the trust, but not
the values, of the corporation.
Marriott's 1984 entry into timeshare is widely accepted
as an industry turning point in terms of product credibility
San Francisco Examiner 08/16/02
I came home from work yesterday and my 9 year old son was
so excited because my wife had just received a phone call
saying we were guaranteed to win one of 5 prizes ($1,000
cash, trips, cruises, etc.).
All I had to do was go hear a 2 hour presentation in Woodbridge
Ontario - dinner would be served. I tried to explain
to him that nothing in life is free and that I would
do some research. I called back "The Vacation
Store" and asked some pointed questions about the value
of their guarantee, previous winners, additional costs.
As expected they were very coy and even short with me.Would
love to hear your feedback!
David Taylor 10/30/02
Still Going Strong After Five Years
1673853 Ontario and/or 1197980 Ontario Inc dba The Vacation
Store Company dba TVS Corp. dba Canadian Gifting Center, Canadian
Gifting Centre, dba Canadian Promotion Gift Centre, dba Cendes
Promotion dba National Gifting Centre, National Gifting Center
2nd floor, Unit 202, 216 Chrislea Road, Woodbridge, Ontario
Canadian Vacation Time Sharing Companies, Fairfield Vacation Club,
51 International Boulevard, Etobicoke, ON M9W 6H3
416-222-6708, 416-222-5125 fax,
416-224-0410, 416-224-2058, 416-224-8331, 416-224-8298, 416-224-5161
416-642-6790, 416-642-6793, 416-642-6796 (possible range of numbers 6790-6796)
416-642-6821, 416-642-6824, 416-642-6826, 416-642-6827 (possible range
of numbers 6821-6827)
416-342-1520, 416-342-1547 (possible range of numbers 1520-1547)
905-856-1747, (905) 264-2453 Fax, 905-481-0571,
718-673-6170, 321-250-7422, 202-552-1557
647-426-1890, 647-426-1886, 647-722-6187,
John Carroll, President
David Ouellette, (former) Secretary/treasurer
In business in some form since 1994
Boiler room telemarketers selling vacation club memberships
-said the sponsors were:
RCA / Hilton / Ramada / TVS / Royal Caribbean Cruises
Basically, if you attend a 90 minute meeting your are guaranteed
some variation of the one of five prizes or one of three
- $2,500 CND
- 8 Sun-filled Florida days and 7 Magical nights for 2
Adults & 3 kids in Orlando (Hotel only)
- A 5 Star Hotel in South Carolina for 7 days (Hotel only)
- An Aruba trip 7 days
- A Royal Caribbean Cruise
- 1 week cruise with air fare/food included to Caribbean
- A big Screen Plasma TV
- $1000 cash
- 1 week for 2 adults/3 children in South Carolina
- 1 week for 2 adults/3 children in Mexico or Florida
- 2008 Ford Explorer (or $45,000)
- 27" plasma TV
- or 3 night stay in any of 30 North American destinations
Their website vacationstore.ca has the following whois data
Description: travel club
Admin-Name: Tom Caringi
Admin-Title: Marketing Director
Admin-Postal: The Vacation Store
200 Finch Ave West, Suite 109
Toronto ON M2R 3W4 Canada
Name brings up this. (may have designed site for them)
Bimen Business Consultants
365 Evans Avenue, Suite L10
M8Z 1K2 CANADA
Principal Contact Information:
Tom Caringi, President
Tel #: 416-503-2957
Fax #: 416-233-1371
Mexican Time Share Issues and Related
Laws - Consumer Protection
According to the Web site http://www.mexicolaw.com,
maintained by VERNON PENNER, Attorney at Law in Mexico:
- Cancellation Period
There exists a five (5) day period of cancellation, during which the
contract does not become perfected, for sales that are described as "at
domicile, mediate or indirect". This indicates those sales that
are proposed or carried out, outside the local or establishment of
the provider, including the rental of chattels and the rendering of
services. This also applies to the selling of timeshare rights.
This 5 day right of cancellation is not waivable (the buyer cannot
give it up) and even if the buyer is convinced to sign a document to
give it up (waive the right) that waiver is not valid and the buyer
still has the 5 day right.
Please note that if you have issues against a timeshare
company in Mexico you should file a complaint with Profeco,
which is the Consumer Protection Agency. They are slow, they
are limited in how far they can go to help you, but sometimes
they really come through.
Go to the Mexican site. Near the center of the page
you'll see a small bright icon that says "Attention
to Foreigners". Click on that and it will give you the
info you need. (Note: link removed, no English on site.)
You should also file a complaint with the Attorney General
in the US state where the company has offices, the US Attorney
General's office, and your own state's Attorney General.
Get it on the record.
Editor's note: I have, over the years received
several inquiries regarding perceived abuses from dealings
with a time-share business in Mexico going by the name Mayan
Resorts / Mayan Palace, aka Desarrollo Marina Vallarta. I
have been asked to post a link to a website which has been
formed by individuals who have had bad experiences with this
company. I am more than happy to assist potential victims
by doing so. I make no allegations regarding the firm,
nor do I have any control over what is posted on the site.
Inactive site last time I looked.
Certain customers of Mayan Resorts are assembling a petition
which they hope to bring to the authorities in the hopes
of resolving concerns they have with this operation. Please
add your voice if you feel it is warranted.
Getting Out of
Your Contract Before and After Three Day "Limit"
See also: TimeShareBeat's Vacation Club Scams.
Timeshare Users Group 1 / Timeshare
Users Group 2
Club Scammer - article
Campground Resort, Timeshare and Condominium Scams
Timeshare Scam Articles