Timeshare vacation ownership provides an excellent way to visit both domestic and international destinations. However, scams and high-pressure sales proliferate in this industry. Before buying and selling a timeshare, it is important to know all the facts, in order to avoid costly mistakes.
A timeshare gives you the right, along with other timeshare holders, to own or use property at an allotted time. Usually, this is at a highly sought-after travel destination and the timeshare owner is buying rights to use a resort condominium at a certain time in the year.
There are typically two types of timeshare vacation ownership – traditional and points based. With traditional ownership you purchase access to a single property for use during a specific time frame (i.e. one week) each year. With points-based ownership you purchase points you can redeem at differing resort locations each year. This option often comes with flexibility in regards to when you travel and for how long each year.
Often consumers consult with the BBB after they are offered a free trip or other gifts from a timeshare telemarketing company. The trip is a marketing manoeuvre to have consumers do a site inspection of a resort condominium and attend a timeshare sales presentation. At this point, you have to ask the telemarketer if you will first be required to sign a contract and make a down payment before your receive your prize? Will you receive the gifts if you decide not to buy? Are there any other conditions or fees for the “free” trip or prize?
Essential information about timeshares:
Do your research. Before impulsively buying into a timeshare opportunity, think about what types of destinations and accommodations you would enjoy most. Shop around before settling on one opportunity.
Know your rights. According to the BC Real Estate Act, a consumer has a seven-day rescission period to cancel a contract for real estate timeshare packages. To learn more about your rights, consult with the Financial Institutions Commission (ficombc.ca).
Understand costs. Getting involved in a timeshare contract can typically include monthly maintenance fees and other expenses that will impact your travel budget. Before buying, calculate your annual cost over the term of the deal and compare that to the cost of other vacation options or other uses of your money.
Get the details. Find out if the timeshare is a title, lease or a club membership, how many years you are buying and if you are buying specific, revolving or floating weeks.
Get it in writing. Verify that everything the seller has to do is covered in the contract. Get ALL verbal promises IN WRITING.
Do not sign a contract unless you understand it, and do not sign a contract with blanks in it.
You can check out timeshare companies from across North America at the BBB website: vi.bbb.org (Vancouver Island) 250-386-6348 and mbc.bbb.org (Mainland) 604-682-2711.
JUNE 2012 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE