How Valid Are Timeshare Complaints?
It isn't hard to find a listing of timeshare complaints. There are a number of forums on the Internet specializing in just that topic. In fact, if you're considering purchasing a timeshare, it might be a good idea to peruse a few of these forums to see what in the sales and purchasing process gets people most upset. Bear in mind, it's usually more likely that people will take the time to complain about something than to take the time to write words of praise. If we're satisfied, we're satisfied, if not, we get emotional very quickly.
In reviewing timeshare complaints lodged against a half dozen of the larger timeshare sales organizations, the bulk of the complaints registered have to do with either the high pressure sales tactics which are so common in that industry, or promises made but not kept. There are fewer complaints, though there are some, with regards to the actual timeshare itself. Unless you're buying one over the Internet or by phone (bad idea) it is usually a matter of course to be able to take a tour of timeshare units, and you may be even be allowed to pick out the unit that most interests you.
Mixed in with the complaints are words of praise, indicating that part of the problem may be due to individual sales people or sales offices, and not with the corporate headquarters. Headquarters should of course be aware of what's going on, but some are not. It never hurts to send a letter to the President or CEO though if you feel you've been burned. Send one to the Better Business Bureau as well!
The Value Will Not Go Up! - Purchasing a timeshare is a little like buying a new car. With a new car, the resale value starts dropping rapidly as you leave the lot. With a time share, the same thing happens before the ink is quite dry. Some timeshare complaints address this issue, but if you purchase a time share and enjoy it greatly for a good number of years, you'll usually more than get your money's worth, and if you sell it later at half-price you can still feel good about it. Like buying a new car though, some sales people will tell you that the resale price is going to remain high. Believe that more than one time and any loss is your own fault.
If You Thought Buying A New Car Was Stressful - Most often though, timeshare complaints address the manner in which units are sold. Sales pitches can be very high pressure and sometimes turn nasty if you're not ready to sign up. Very often you're offered a free gift for showing up and sitting through a sales presentation. There's nothing wrong that, as long as you know up front what the deal is. You should be able to accept the gift after the presentation and walk away. That's usually more easily said than done. Perhaps the gift is a 2 night stay in one of the units. That's fine too, but the pressure to say yes is going to escalate significantly.
Sometimes It's Our Own Fault - In looking at the various timeshare complaints however, it seems some of the blame really has to fall on the consumer. When we purchase a timeshare, it is very often on credit, simply because we're purchasing something we really can't afford to buy. Rather than suffering buyer's remorse the next morning, it's best to take a wait-and-see attitude after a sales pitch. You shouldn't really be making a major purchase based on a 90 minute (hopefully not a 3 hour) sales pitch. Say you'll come back tomorrow, and either come back or don't.
A Good Last Resort, The FTC - If you do make the purchase, read the contract very carefully before signing. This is another area in which there are numerous timeshare complaints. If in signing the contract you find later that it said in the fine print you have to give up your first born one year later, you've signed a contract and that means there can be real problems in trying to get out of it. If the contract has deceptive language, that's a totally different situation. Hire a lawyer, write the Better Business Bureau, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. No large organization like to have the FTC on their tail, neither does a small organization for that matter.
Summary - Most of the major time share organizations are honest and straightforward, but at times their local offices may not be. Do your homework first, make certain you can afford what you're considering purchasing, and be prepared to just walk away if things start getting irritating.