How Vulnerable People are Targeted by Timeshare Companies
We are often wary of Timeshare exit scam companies, but timeshare companies themselves can use dodgy tactics and lies to coerce the vulnerable. For the right people, a timeshare is an ideal investment and something they desire to have. But, these people looking for a timeshare can often be scammed into signing a contract on false promises and lies about fees and exit strategies. Frank and Betty Lusk are one example of the elderly being conned into a dodgy contract, even after years of owning various other timeshares with that company.
Read on to learn more about this specific case study and how the couple were conned into signing a contract they didn’t want. Then, take a look at our top tips on how you can avoid being pressured into signing a timeshare contract with the wrong company.
Case Study: Frank and Betty Lusk
Frank and Betty Lusk, retired Christian missionaries, were on a cruise in the Caribbean last year when they were convinced by a charming and persuasive Diamond Resorts salesman to buy a $150,000 timeshare with $19,000 a year in annual fees. To pay for the timeshare, the Lusks said they borrowed against their Phoenix-area retirement home. They had enjoyed timeshare resorts before that they said were affordable and straightforward, in locations like Scotland, Florida and Alaska. But, the fees for this new timeshare were too extortionate.
Recalling how they were sold the timeshare, the couple said it was called ‘the dream holiday’, but think of it more like a nightmare now. Frank, 89, who was a music professor, said buying the timeshare was ‘the dumbest thing’ he ever did. So, desperate to leave their contract and the extortionate annual fees, they agreed to an exit company’s fees to negotiate an end to their contract.
The Timeshare Scam
The Lusk’s said Diamond Resorts lied to them in a sales presentation they made in September 2018, using hardball tactics to sell them their timeshare without adequately explaining all the costs. Diamond Resorts even failed to honour the couple’s request to cancel the agreement within the legal time frame. Only a year earlier, Diamond Resorts agreed to reform their sales practices, pay a hefty fine and cancel dozens of contracts in a deceptive-practices case with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. But, it seemed these tactics were too good to let go of for the company.
When on their cruise in the Caribbean Frank and Betty were promised a special reception on a private island by Diamond Resorts but instead were ushered into a meeting with a salesman. Frank and Betty Lusk, who are in their late 80s, said they were pressured in this meeting into buying the $150,00 timeshare with yearly maintenance fees. The said they were told that the $150,000 timeshare with 10% down was ‘life insurance’ which would resolve any debts they had with the resort when they died. However, the contract they received is not life insurance and does not pay off any debts upon their passing. As well as this, the Lusk’s claimed that the salesman showed them documents that they weren’t allowed to keep and didn’t mention the high maintenance fees that appeared in the final contract.
The Lurks had a change of heart and sent a certified letter to Diamond Resorts within the legal window to cancel their contract. They were met with a phone call by the salesman who convinced them into keeping their timeshare. But, shortly after this, they wrote another letter demanding the cancellation of the timeshare contract, accusing the company of elder abuse. They knew keeping the contract would lead to their bankruptcy, the Lusks claimed.
In December, Diamond Resorts finally confirmed that their timeshare had been rescinded in writing. However, they kept receiving bills, and representatives of the company over the phone told the couple that their contract was still in place. So, the Lusks turned to a timeshare exit company to try and leave their contract.
The Seattle-based firm claimed to help consumers exit timeshare contracts and charged the couple $10,000 to help them exit their contract, or refund this fee if they cannot. The case is still ongoing. The timeshare exit company CEO, Brandon Reed, said Lusk’s case angered him, calling the contract “a complete scam.”
How to Protect Yourself: Timeshare Companies
Read our top tips on how to protect yourself from abrasive timeshare companies who want to target the vulnerable to avoid facing the fees and stress the Lurks have. The first thing you need to do is realise that a timeshare company might use harsh sales tactics for long-periods of time over the phone or in meetings to get you to sign a contract. In a meeting, ask to record the conversation so that you can have a record of any promises that the salesman makes that aren’t in the final contract. If they do not want you to do this, then take this as a bad sign of things to come.
Before going into a meeting or a sales presentation, talk with the person you are going with, a family member or partner, about when you will leave. Stick with this decision and don’t let anything the salesperson say to convince you to stay and sign a contract if you want to leave. Ask for a written estimate of the total cost, including yearly maintenance fees and any other expenses for five, ten, and even twenty years to come. Get as much of what they say written down as possible. Also, make sure you know the length of the contract, as many are for life.
Don’t sign anything there and then. Tell the salesperson that you need to take the contract home and look it over. Then show it to an attorney to have it reviewed. If the salesperson doesn’t want you to do this, then be concerned. Or even better, get up and leave.
Check out our website today if you think you have unfairly been sold a timeshare contract and want to try exiting it as soon as possible. We want to help those who felt targeted by companies who used illegal and unwanted sales tactics to con them into signing a contract.