In the 18 years or so of practicing bankruptcy law I have had a large number of people who owned timeshare properties file bankruptcy. Most of them had truly been scammed. I didn’t give it much thought at first as I just thought it was a vacation “option” that many chose instead of hotels or camping. Many of my clients own timeshares in Virginia Beach, Newport News, Richmond, Wintergreen, and other less likely places. As I noticed more and more the percentage of people that had timeshares and were filing bankruptcy I started to ask them questions about their decision to buy and their usage of the time share. Ultimately, I decided that in most cases they had been victims of a “timeshare scam”.
Here are a few observations that might help you avoid the “timeshare trap”.
Lesson 1: Beware of impulse buying
As an employee of the largest timeshare company in the United States boldly stated in the 2012 documentary “The Queen of Versailles” directed by Lauren Greenfield, “100 percent of the sales are closed on the first day” meaning they get people to commit. Need I say more? There is a reason this is true. Opportunity. Once you leave they can’t sell you. Effort. They blitz you with bling and pitches. They don’t want that to wear off. Efficiency. The quicker the sale, the greater the profit.
We are all impulse buyers. That is the rule. That is why we are called a “Consumer Society”. Your impulse may not be measured by immediacy it may be measured by brand allegiance. It may not be an expensive impulse. You may just decide the grapes look good at the grocery store so you buy grapes. Impulse should no longer be considered related to time. Impulse should be defined by the level of analysis and scrutiny you give to a purchase.
While timeshare sellers are trying to shorten the timeline on your decision-making process because you will be out of their sphere of influence shortly, they are more importantly trying to reduce the barriers you normally have to making any large ticket purchases. How do you defend against that? You just tell yourself and the sales person “I will get back to you tomorrow.” “Sleep on it” is the best advice your parents ever gave you. Believe me they will have a response to that but just stick to it. Sleep on it.
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