The timeshare industry is a substantial contributor to the world economy. In fact, according to research firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the US timeshare industry contributed $92 billion in economic activity in 2005 alone, and generated more than 2.7 million jobs. But the timeshare industry has a reputation of high-pressure sales tactics, and consumers are often unaware of their cancellation rights. For these reasons, the BBB has received 20,118 complaints from consumers who were either sold a timeshare or were unable to get out of their contract.
Generally speaking, timeshares offer the opportunity to purchase access to a specific property for a specified week each year, or a certain number of points that can be used to reserve vacation accommodations at various locations and at various times throughout the year, depending on availability. This is in contrast to renting a home or hotel room on an as-needed basis.
The growth of the timeshare industry has been primarily due to the Baby Boomer generation and their desire for an annual vacation experience that is both affordable and enduring. Consumer acceptance of the product has also been boosted by the entry of large branded companies such as Marriott and Disney, which have brought a level of credibility to an industry that was once criticized for its shady practices.
As the timeshare market continues to grow, so too do concerns about consumer protections. It’s important to keep in mind that the industry is regulated, and timeshare developers must abide by a set of standards set out in the industry code known as NOM (Notice of Manufacture).
The NOM code requires that all timeshares be fully disclosed, including the cost of ownership and any additional fees, such as maintenance or exchange club memberships. In addition, the NOM code prohibits any false or misleading advertising and requires that timeshare companies provide a written cancellation policy.
Unfortunately, these strict regulations aren’t always followed. Consumers who have had negative experiences with their timeshare companies often complain of misrepresentation and shoddy customer service. For example, many consumers complain that they were rushed through the timeshare presentation and did not have adequate time to review their contract before or after the presentation. Additionally, unscrupulous timeshare salespersons often state that the pricing they offer is only available during the presentation and refuse to give consumers copies of their contracts after the presentation.
Despite these issues, the ARDA and its affiliated governing bodies, ARDA-ROC, have remained committed to providing a safe and reputable timeshare experience for all consumers. ARDA and its affiliates work diligently to educate consumers, promote transparency and fairness, and advocate for consumer protections at federal, state, and local levels. They have even worked with lawmakers to pass legislation that will help ensure timeshares remain a viable and competitive travel option for years to come. To learn more about the timeshare industry, click here.