DEAR BENNY: My husband and I were in Las Vegas and made a horrible mistake in sitting through a time share presentation so that we could obtain half-price tickets to a show. The presentation was at an office on The Strip.
Unfortunately, I did not research the company before the presentation. The salesman gave only his first name and had no business card. That should have been a clue about the company.
Anyways, he started talking about the time shares at a Vegas hotel, which was running about $52,000 for a two-bedroom. Since we were not interested, the sales manager came out and said there was an issue with our tickets.
While waiting for the tickets, the sales manager starting talking to us about a resale/foreclosure unit at another Vegas hotel.
The cost for a two-bedroom was significantly less, even though it was considered biannual usage. The rest is history as to what happened that afternoon.
Later that evening, we found the same two-bedroom unit for $7,000 cheaper and another on eBay for $1.
In addition, we researched the company and found hundreds of unhappy time share owners. We also read that a class action lawsuit was filed against the company in November 2011.
We immediately sent a rescind letter, while we were still on vacation. We even called the salesman the next day and he told us that “they never cancel.” At that point, we knew we were scammed.
We just received a letter from the company in which they repeated that we are “not the owner/seller of the time-share interest but rather we are an authorized agent acting on behalf of the owner/seller with respect to the resale of the timeshare interest.”
Therefore, we are unable to cancel the purchase agreement since the statutory right of rescission applies only to developer sales. Since the purchase is a resale by a nondeveloper owner, the buyer has no contractual or statutory means to cancel the agreement.
Our question to you is whether the company as an authorized agent on behalf of the owner/seller is obligated to tell the buyer that the sale is final and that you are unable to cancel the purchase agreement.
While we were finalizing the paperwork, they made sure we initialed the floor plan for the unit. Never did they have us initial any document that we could not cancel the contract, nor did they volunteer this information.
The majority of people who attend the time share presentations are not familiar with real estate law and haven’t even purchased a resale/foreclosure.
Does the buyer have any rights to cancel a contract? Is there even a cooling period? Are we stuck with the time share? Shouldn’t we receive some document that we are unable to cancel the purchase agreement? —Thomas
DEAR THOMAS: I have deleted the name of the time share company that you dealt with, so as to avoid any back-and-forth responses with that company.
But if you go to the Web and type in “time share scams” you will find a large number of websites.
I can’t provide legal advice but suspect that the company carefully complied with existing laws. It has lawyers on retainer who will do their best to keep the company from doing something illegal.
Some states provide rights of rescission; others do not. The sale may fall under the federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, which does give you the right to cancel after you sign a contract. But, again, your attorney will have to provide you the specific answers to your specific transaction.
However, you got caught because you wanted something free: those Vegas tickets. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has posted a number of ways to protect oneself from time share fraud, and a couple are as follows: (1) be wary of the hard sales pitch and (2) be wary of too-good-to-be-true claims when it comes to resales.
My suggestion: Don’t make any payments.
If you made the mistake of authorizing direct deductions from your banking account, stop that immediately. If you used a credit card to make a deposit, demand that your credit card company cancel the transaction. They will investigate and may be able to help you.
But the bottom line is: Please do not fall for those fast-talking salespersons who promise you the moon.
I can assure you that you won’t even get a single star.