Six things we know for sure:1) Consumers simply don’t understand the mountains of timeshare paperwork generated with a sale
2) Frustrated timeshare owners are being taken advantage of by an army of scammers that ultimately do great damage to consumers and resorts alike
3) Less than scrupulous sellers have been known to “sneak in” paperwork into the aforementioned mountains of paperwork
4) The one thing that all of the “good guys” can agree on is that the “bad guys” need to be brought to light and thrown out
5) Consumers sometime need a way out
6) Timeshare simply has to adopt policies that other industries have been using successfully for years
It’s with this in mind that I unveil my solution:
THE TIMESHARE RESTOCKING FEE
Just as you can return a computer for a refund less a restocking fee if the computer is not what you wanted, you find out you wanted a Mac when you purchased a PC, you come to the conclusion you are a technophobe or you thought that the Internet “came with the computer”, you should be able to return a timeshare for a full refund less a restocking fee if:
· You thought you could move into your timeshare full time
· You have no idea how exchanging works
· You lose your job six months after purchase
· You didn’t quite remember the bit about the annual maintenance fee
· Your attorney does a thorough review of the paperwork and discovers that the “upgrade” you thought you purchased isn’t “quite” what you thought it was
This restocking fee should be a sliding scale fee. I propose 5% of purchase price for purchases up to $7,500, 7% for purchases of $7,501-$20,000 and 10% for purchases over $20,000.
Furthermore, there is a time limit of 6 months or until the first maintenance fee is due, whichever is less for consumers to take advantage of this return policy.
Who benefits from this? EVERYONE.
Consumers benefit from having time to fully review the paperwork and fully understand the benefits and responsibilities of timeshare ownership, which you and I both know cannot (and should not be attempted) be accomplished in the space of a 120 minute sales pitch and a 20 minute closing
Resorts, developers and resellers (the good ones at least, who have nothing to hide) benefit from having the good PR benefit of doing the right thing for consumers.
The industry as a whole benefits from having a much better understanding of who the bad guys really are.
Furthermore, everyone benefits by only having people who are confident in their purchase move forward with it, leading to happy owners, higher owner satisfaction, an increase in owner referrals and far less likelihood of non-payment issues down the road.
This “re-stocking fee” should be implemented for both primary and secondary market sales as it is obvious that there is too much room for “misunderstanding” in a timeshare sale.
This additional time to truly understand all the implications of a major purchase such as a timeshare should be in addition to the legal rescission period in each jurisdiction. Ten plus years in and around the timeshare industry has taught me that it would be a foolish endeavor to try and get the legal rescission periods extended.
Having said that I feel that any company, especially timeshare companies need to go the extra mile and take the moral high ground in addition to adhering to the legal rules and regulations.
Legally, Nordstroms does not have to accept returns without a receipt. They do and they consistently receive exemplary customer service scores. Legally, Apple did not have to provide me with any assistance when I encountered a “glitch” in my most recent software update since my iPhone was long out of warranty. They did and my opinion of the company stays at an extremely high level.
I think this “restocking fee” will ultimately result in more sales with less rescission. Customers buy more when there’s less pressure. Buying a $20,000 timeshare in the middle of a 7 day vacation when you only have a 10 day cooling off period is pressure. No one reads the paperwork or even fully understands what they purchased in many cases. This leads to fear…fear leads to rescission.
The “extra time” that the customer has also means that the resort and the exchange company have that extra time to really communicate and educate the customer. More time, more communication and more education leads to more confident owners. Owners who are less likely to cancel.