Florida needs a timeout from timeshares

Timeshare
Timeshare companies are rarely willing to lend a helping hand.

Floridians need a timeout from timeshares, those too-good-to-be-true vacation dreams that always seem to cost way more than you expected.

But if some Florida legislators (and the timeshare industry) have their way, there would be no end in sight for consumers.

State Sen. Travis Hutson has introduced SB 1430, the companion to state Rep. Wyman Duggan’s HB 435, a bad idea that would stop Florida timeshare owners from using third-party groups to help them escape bad timeshare investments.

The bill has consumer protection groups reeling and resort management companies salivating. Timeshares are so often predatory and — if this bill passes — permanent.

Timeshare pitches are as familiar to Floridians as mosquitoes and pollen. Our state is littered with hundreds of timeshares resorts, and the state is home to almost one-fourth of all timeshare resorts.

They’re promoted as a way to live your dream with a wonderful vacation getaway, but they are frequently a terrible investment with ever-soaring fees.

The legislation would guarantee timeshare companies a steady income by severely limiting owners’ exit options, effectively prohibiting businesses that help victimized timeshare owners get out of their oppressive contracts.

Too often timeshare consumers jump in with eyes bright, but then life throws them a few curveballs. They try to exit as their credit plummets amid late or missed payments, and the unit gets foreclosed. They are left with nothing but dashed dreams and a mountain of debt.

With a little help, owners can break this costly cycle. But without that help, they are frequently stuck with their unwanted investment, shackled to a single bad decision that could set their entire financial future aflame.

Making timeshares inescapable is wrong, hurting everyday people whose dreams to own a slice of paradise can only be attained one week at a time. Floridians buy timeshares as an investment, but often when it’s time to sell, no willing buyers can be found.

And the timeshare companies are rarely willing to lend a helping hand.

By failing to protect the public and allowing businesses that can help, the Legislature traps the public. The choice for lawmakers should be clear when the session starts next week.

Lawmakers should stand up for everyday Floridians, from the elderly to the vacation-inspired working class. Don’t legislatively eliminate the companies that help get people out of bad timeshare deals. People deserve options.

Floridians who are only trying to live their dream should be protected from having to endure a bad contract with no end in sight.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


6 comments

  • John

    March 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    It is an absolutely ridiculous bill. Basically keeps the door open for timeshare developers to continue lying to consumers during the sales presentation and getting away with it. No other product in the world is sold for $20,000 and reduced to less than $1 immediately after purchase. What a racket. A coalition has been started to fight the bill here:

    https://reformtimeshare.org/

  • Gigi

    March 1, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    I have owned a timeshare in Florida since 1999 and I can say that the only people who harass me daily, yes daily, are companies telling me for a small UPFRONT marketing fee how they can save me from the bug bad timeshare industry.
    I think people should take responsibility for their own decisions. Anyone who spends $20k on a whim after one tour is not being responsible. They don’t hold you hostage, you can leave or say No! Adults are not children learning the meaning of the word No, they know how to use it.
    Our family owns a combination of nine (9), YES 9 timeshares. We have rented them, used them, and traded them for points, plane tickets and cruises.
    Stop looking to the legislature to save someone for poor choices.

    • Susan Harbison

      March 2, 2019 at 9:35 am

      @Gigi There is a difference between making a poor choice and being the victim of a professional con artist. I suppose you see no need to have a law against Ponzie schemes either, since the people that fell for them should take responsibility for their own choice?

      What about consumer protection laws? Do we really need them when adults are perfectly capable of being more careful about their choices?

      You are either woefully ignorant on this subject or you have some interest in protecting the developers.

      Tell me this…if the developer has honest sales reps, and it is selling a FAIR product, why would a developer object to being more transparent with consumers?

    • Teddy

      March 2, 2019 at 10:23 am

      What😡, are you serious …there are many timeshares that are totally deceitful in the way their sales reps uses bait & switch sales tactics, pencil pitches, and flat out lies of non existing programs. Plus there is no secondary market values with these timeshares. Buyers are lead to believe that during their presentations that what their sales rep is telling them is truthful. You state buyers need to be held accountable…how about the timeshare companies need to be held accountable for their sales reps defrauding consumers. There are over of 2.6K members in the advocacy group I joined who have fought back with filing complaints against this horrible timeshare company ( I too, owned) and state regulators for clarity, intergrity, concise and honesty from this timeshare company. The many nightmare horror stories we have heard regarding elderly abuse, disabled honorable Vets, hard working middle class to poor credit classs are all being targeted with scamming presentations. After filing complaints on top of complaints, this timeshare company stands behind their lying sales reps w/ “ you have no proof”, “you signed a contract”, “ we are not responsible for what our sales reps tell you” and “you must have misunderstood what was told to you”. We consumers need protection against these predatory timeshares. We are not allowed to record the presentations and the QA session, but the timeshare will record the QA session as they state for training purposes. But they do not, for they will use it against you in your dispute. I had asked to record our conversation w/ the timeshare hospitality rep since they stated our conversation will be recorded and quickly was told no we could not because we could splice our recording. Funny he said that when that thought had never came to our mind. However, they wanted to record us but we were told no to us recording them. We said you could do the same, so why would we allow such a thing. We learned that nothing said from this timeshare company can be trusted. They decline our talks due to us declining to be recorded by them. So why the one way, if this timeshare company is so honest why decline our request to record them as well. If they have nothing to hide or cover up what’s the problem. We want everything in writing now. But yet this timeshare company does NOT want to be held accountable. So we are held accountable for trusting the sales rep not knowing that he was flat out telling many lies in the presentation to make a sale, why can’t the timeshare company be held accountable for knowing and allowing their sales reps to defraud/scam the consumers. These kind of timeshare companies all need to be investigated and held accountable for such deceitful presentation tactics. Consumers can go to Trustpilot and other advocacy websites to learn and educate themselves from the many horrible timeshare nightmares reported daily. There are many repeated offenders from the same timeshare company making millions in fraudulent sales off of innocent trusting consumers. Where is the support for us against these predators??? State AG and legislators you all need to do your jobs and protect the consumers from these timeshare companies preying on us. We need justice and protection against these timeshare companies. Nothing is being done to protect us, yet you want bills passed to protect these horrible deceitful timeshare companies.

  • Irene Parker

    March 2, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Let me share a story of one person who you accuse of making a poor choice. He is one of 99 veterans and active duty service members to reach out to our publication. Leo Gomez 100% disabled Agent Orange. The agent knew he had pancreatic cancer when he lied to him and said he needed to give up his points and buy the company points because his resort went bankrupt. Leo didn’t know he had been duped until I told him. I own the same points he gave up. Having earned two Purple Hearts protecting even a predator who would do him harm, he spent his last month talking to me frequently asking for help, not wanting to burden his soon to be widow. Since he was dying I filed a complaint with the AZ AG on his behalf. A Tampa detective who worked economic crimes undercover was duped. A Marine lost his air unit command. The owners of The Manhattan Club have been banned from the industry, the NY AG having recovered $6.5 million. There are AG investigations too numerous to mention. There are several artful ways to dodge a rescission period, “This is a new program not available till Jan 1” or “Wait a few months before refinancing.” 70 Platinum members who loved their timeshare were up-sold into insolvency, told of programs that did not exist, the agents adulterating an existing legitimate program. There are also things like availability that cannot be determined by reading the contract. Private equity, formerly into junk bonds, has seized control of timeshare. A junk bond had some value. A $100,000 timeshare contract, at least with the company I own, is worth nothing as licensed brokers will not even accept a listing. What car boat house or pair of shoes would you buy that you could not sell or give away with a loan outstanding. Upfront cost are on a low end estimate 49% of the purchase price. Think of our primary housing market if the commissions were 49% upfront to buy, and no secondary market. Leo’s last words to me were that he wants his story told.

  • Sheilah B

    March 2, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I am one of those 70 probably plus Platinum owners who probably should have known better but finally was worn down by what I thought was a very nice salesman who just kept telling us he was always here for us. We were are the resort for 3 weeks and every time I had questions about his new program that Apollo started for Platinum owners for double points he always had answers. I even walked out with his pencil pitch that show double points and how to pay 0 dollars for our maintenance fees. After we got home and our New Barclay credit cards were in the mail he told us to let him know when we got them activated and he would have them add to our Diamond mortgage. First off we did not say to put $26,000.00 on our cards. When he came out of the office he said Barclay loves you guys. He knew I was upset but he said don’t worry when you get home we will take care of it. We have owned since 1994 long before Diamond and had built up to 50,000 points for our retirement to travel but because of his con we are not able to pay the $50,000 plus mortgages and the $11,362.00 maintenance fee. My husband is 72 and I am 69 and instead of traveling in retirement we had to go back to work. There are unfortunately sales agents who are con artist and give good sales agents a bad name. I am so disappointed and discussed at this company and what it has done not only to us but many more people. I hope I live to see the day they are taken down and all the government officials who let them get away with destroying honest hard working people.

Comments are closed.


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