Everyone knows that in the US and most other countries, there are so-called consumer protection laws allowing a consumer to cancel or rescind the purchase of a timeshare and receive all of their money back. In the US, these rescission periods range from 3-10 days.
Let’s forget for a minute that most timeshare developers make the consumer follow quite strict and sometimes arcane procedures to actually rescind. Let’s further forget for a minute that at least one well-known developer goes even further and actually hides any and all mention of the rescission period in a ‘secret compartment’ in the myriad of paperwork given to purchasers.
Let’s focus on the absolute absurdity of the short period of time that consumers have to cancel.
- Purchasers are given either mounds of paperwork or worse yet, a CD/ROM with all the terms and conditions. 99% of the time, the purchase is made while the consumer is on vacation. The odds of a consumer reviewing these terms and conditions are incredibly small.
- The Uniform Commercial Code ‘gives a buyer a right to inspect goods prior to accepting or paying for them, and a buyer is not required to pay for goods that he or she does not accept. More specifically, before making payment, the buyer has the right to inspect the goods “at any reasonable place and time and in any reasonable manner.”’ In the case of deeded-timeshare, how many purchasers actually inspect the physical unit they purchased? Worse yet, how does a consumer inspect a point-based timeshare?
- Shouldn’t ‘inspecting the goods’ include determining if the timeshare operates as the salesperson said it did? You’d expect this from a watch, a TV, a computer or even a pair of jeans. Not so with timeshare.
- The ‘use’ of a timeshare boils down to two options: using it at the home resort or trading/exchanging to another refuel, whether internal or external. Furthermore, the use of the timeshare requires an ‘account’ of some sort, generally Internet based, to be activated. Not surprisingly, the developer is UNDER NO TIME CONSTRAINTS TO OPEN OR ACTIVATE THIS ACCOUNT.
So, the consumer has absolutely no method of adequately inspecting anything. No way of seeing how many points it really takes to get that 2-bedroom condo in Hawaii, no way of seeing just how easy it is to get a studio in Daytona during Race Week. Not even a way of finding out how simple it is to come back to the home resort the following July.
Now of course I hear you asking, ‘how is this possible? This isn’t fair!’ The answer of course is that the timeshare laws were written approximately 40 years ago and that the terribly clever people in the industry categorized their nifty little product in such a way that the UCC didn’t pertain to it.
As a matter of fact, those clever people made sure that the laws covering their nifty timeshare product were specific to only timeshare.
And there you have it. A legal rescission period that on the surface, is consumer protection. In actuality, it’s a total farce. Except the only ones laughing at this face are those within the industry. Consumers are crying.