With timeshare bill losing steam, should lawmakers look at addressing timeshare sales tactics?

Timeshare
Legislators need to stand up for consumers.

Earlier this month we wrote against legislation that would block timeshare owners from hiring exit companies to escape bad deals.

That bill hasn’t had a committee vote yet and appears to be going nowhere this session. That’s a win for consumers.

However, an ongoing lawsuit out of Pinellas County shines a light on some timeshare practices, and the Legislature should pay attention and consider taking action next year to fix the problem.

The bills filed this year (HB 435 and SB 1430) aimed to take away consumers’ rights to get out of unfair deals.

Instead of instilling trust and accountability, the bills would have stacked the deck in favor of timeshare operators. The legislation would effectively protect timeshare developers and business interests by locking Floridians into lifetime contracts.

That’s a shortsighted idea considering the civil litigation against Wyndham Resorts over their treatment of customers and employees.

At the company’s Clearwater Beach Resort, sales sharks are accused of circling in dark waters, pursuing people looking to own a little piece of paradise.

Some of them will do anything to make a sale.

Many employees, promised hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay, came to the resort with high hopes and left with nothing but compromised morals.

The lawsuit confirms much that we already thought about timeshares tricks: that they lie about impacts on customer credit, how much their properties are really worth, when owners can access the unit, and how they’ll help owners exit if and when their plans change.

According to the lawsuit, Wyndham salespeople didn’t lie on their own volition, they were told to.

If true, that is blatant fraud.

The suit alleges supervisors altered income levels on credit applications, used misleading charts to back up overstated property values and told consumers that if they ever wanted to walk away, Wyndham would buy the property back from them.

That’s not how it worked out for many owners, some of whom couldn’t wriggle free without retaining a third-party exit company.

Tourism is the biggest cog in Florida’s economy, and nearly a quarter of all timeshare resorts call the Sunshine State home.

Instead of making it easier for bad actors to take advantage of the visitors our state depends on,  lawmakers should take a look at what’s really going on and stand on the side of consumers.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


2 comments

  • Axelskater

    March 28, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Oh man I would LOVE to be locked in to my 5 timeshares for life instead of the 50 years they give us. Then again, I own all DVC, paid cash for every one of them and they can all be sold at a nice profit. I think the only other one that comes close to having consistent value is Marriott and I think Hyatt ages fairly well also. So many of the others all seem like a pretty bad deal over time.

    • Mike Ross

      March 30, 2019 at 11:30 am

      All of them besides Disney is bad! But in reference to the OP. The bill would not only lock Floridians into the contracts for life, but any timeshare owners across the board. The timeshare companies are now trying to pass the same bill in NV and AZ

Comments are closed.


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