BBB Tip of the Week: Telemarketers and timeshare properties
The Federal Trade commission has cracked down on a telemarketing operation accused of deceiving consumers trying to sell their timeshare properties.
Vacation Property Services Inc. made tens of thousands of unsolicited telemarketing calls to timeshare owners claiming that they had – or could quickly find – buyers, according to the FTC. (This is a common cause of calls to the BBB.)
In this case, the defendants demanded that consumers pay a large up-front fee to facilitate the sale. A judge has ordered the company to pay $4.2 million to settle the case.
If you’re thinking of selling your timeshare, first call your local BBB. Ask if there are any complaints on file.
The FTC recommends that before agreeing to anything, contact the attorney general’s office in the state where the reseller is located.
• Ask if any complaints are on file.
• Ask the salesperson for all information in writing.
• Ask if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify it with the state Real Estate Commission. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers and agents, and ask for references.
• Ask how the reseller will advertise and promote the timeshare unit.
• Ask about fees and timing. It’s preferable to do business with a reseller that takes its fee after the timeshare is sold. If you must pay a fee in advance, ask about refunds. Get promises in writing.
• Don’t assume you’ll recoup your purchase price for your timeshare, especially if you’ve owned it for less than five years and the location is less than well-known.
• You might consider using a timeshare appraisal service. The appraiser should be licensed in the state where the service is located. Check with the state to see if the license is current.
• Before you sign a contract with a reseller, get the details of the terms and conditions of the contract. It should include the services the reseller will perform; the fees, commissions, and other costs you must pay and when; the length or term of the contract to sell your timeshare; and who is responsible for documenting and closing the sale.
• If the deal isn’t what you expected or wanted, don’t sign the contract. Negotiate changes or find another reseller.
For more info or to report scams: Visit the BBB website at www.bbb.org. Call (509)455-4200 or (800) 356-1007.
Holly Doering, BBB editor