Pickens County man finds out firsthand about timeshare pitfalls

Timeshare pitfalls

CARROLLTON, Ala. (WBRC) - When it comes to summer vacations, a lot of people can’t afford a beach home or condo at Disney World, but you do have options. But as one Pickens County man found out, he got hooked on a timeshare that turned into a nightmare.

Will Sims calls it the honeymoon he will never forget for the wrong reasons. It all started earlier this year at the hotel they were staying at in Florida right before their cruise to the Bahamas.

“Before we could go to the hotel, we had to go to a meeting,” Sims said.

That turned out to be a meeting for a timeshare in Pompano Beach. Will initially told them he couldn’t afford it. Will says after some high-pressure sales tactics, he was talked into signing the paperwork.

“During that time, which is probably the easiest time for them to make this kind of stuff happen, during that time I was more susceptible, I guess, to what happened,” Sims said.

Will was told there was a 10-day cancellation policy. After speaking with his family about it, he decided to cancel. He says he did everything the company asked and nothing happened.

“I tried several times to get a hold of them in that 10-day window and the only people I got a hold of told me that I got to call somebody else back. It was a very painful process,” Sims said.

Will has spent about $12,000 so far. He has an attorney. His story isn’t the first about the pitfalls of timeshares.

“People need to really look out for the fine print, and they need to look out for who they are actually doing business with,” Ken Riley, Attorney with Farris, Riley & Pitt, said.

Riley says it can take an act of congress to get out of a timeshare.

“Getting out of a timeshare can be very difficult and you have to be very careful about the fine print. You don’t want to get sued by the developer. You have to know exactly what you’re selling,” Riley said.

Riley says don’t let timeshare companies play on your emotions.

“Take your time. Make sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. That timeshare is always going to be there. You can always get in one. Don’t fall for the pressure cooker type situation,” Riley said.

Will understands he’s probably not going to get his money back. He says his story is a warning for others.

“I’d like to see me being the last one that this ever happens to,” Sims said.

Riley says this comes down to a contract. Before you sign anything, make sure you know what you're getting or it could end up costing you.

Riley says there are good timeshares out there. You just have to do your homework to find them. Riley says check the secondary market for timeshares. He says generally those timeshares are sold or half their value.

The Better Business Bureau offers these timeshare tips:

For Consumers:

· Do your research.

· Look on the secondary market for properties being resold.

· Don’t give in to high pressure sales pitches; take your time to make your decision.

· If you have second thoughts, make sure you act quickly. There is a short window of time to cancel your contract.

Recommendations for the Industry:

· Develop ethical standards to combat the use of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices.

· Deliver honest and accurate pitches.

· Honor your promises and delivery incentives quickly and simply.

· Be clear about the rules involved in timeshare inheritance.

· Be transparent with consumers and answer their questions clearly.

· Use neutral, third-party mediation rather than a company’s internal program for resolving disputes.

· Make it easier to exit from a timeshare agreement.

You can find more info from the BBB at this link.

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