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Timeshare memberships

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					Timeshare memberships
Purchasing a campground or           Sometimes timeshare plans              Some consumers have lost
vacation resort membership that      include exchange programs              substantial investments because
offers the use of swimming           which offer an opportunity to          their timeshares went out of
pools, tennis courts, a golf         arrange swaps with other resorts       business or filed for bankruptcy.
course, and many other amenities     in different locations. In some        In other situations, consumers
may be the right decision for you    cases, you may be restricted to        paid money toward timeshares
and your family. However, a          the same time period in which          being offered before
timeshare membership is a long-      your time-share is available.          construction had begun or
term, expensive investment.          There are usually other restrictions   adequate financing had been
Take the time to check all the       which limit access to popular          obtained.
details.                             destinations as well as additional
                                     costs.                                 State Law Protects
What is a Timeshare?                                                        Consumers
                                     Timeshare Promotions
Timesharing is a form of                                                    In Wisconsin, a state law defines
property ownership which allows      Many promotions for timeshare          and regulates virtually all
you to buy a specific week or        memberships are conducted              aspects of timeshare and
more of vacation time in a           through mass mail solicitations        campground memberships in the
condo, resort, or camp-ground        that offer “free” incentives to        state. The law prohibits deceptive
for a set number of years. This is   consumers who visit the site and       advertising and sales practices in
very different from the outright     listen to the sales presentation.      the promotion and sale of
purchase of land or the payment      Some consumers who have                timeshares, including:
of daily or weekly rates for         visited a site complain that the
facility privileges.                 “free” merchandise costs money         •   Misrepresenting the
                                     in redemption fees or report that          investment or resale value of
The cost of a timeshare is           the gifts are of poor quality and          timeshares.
usually based on location and        little value. Others complain that     •   Using phony or misleading
amenities, season, and length        the sales pitch is lengthy and             discounts to induce
and type of ownership. Annual        high-pressured. In some cases,             customers to sign contracts
maintenance fees may also apply.     those who have signed contracts            on their first visit.
In addition, buyers may be           later found the terms to be much       •   Failing to clearly disclose in
responsible for major repairs or     different from those the sales             printed advertising and mail
other costs associated with          representative spoke of.                   solicitations the identity of
normal wear and tear.                                                           the seller and that the
                                                                                purpose is to sell timeshares.

                                                                                                        (over)
There are some additional                receive the “free” gift or               reputation of the builder and
protections related to timeshare         prize. Consider the quality              run credit checks on the
memberships in Wisconsin.                and value of the prize.                  developer.
These include:                       •   Take the time to figure out        •     Before you sign, take the
                                         what you’re getting for your             contract home and read it
•   Solicitations which offer free       investment. Don’t be fooled              carefully. Make sure all
    gifts must disclose all              by first-day sales incentives.           verbal promises made in the
    conditions associated with           More than likely, the deal will          sales pitch are written into
    the gifts or services                be there when you’re ready               the contract. You might want
    constituting the prize or            to sign.                                 an attorney to go over the
    award.                           •   Think about whether you’ll be            fine print with you. If you are
•   Sellers must provide buyers          able to use the facility often           not allowed to take an
    with a disclosure statement,         enough to justify the expense.           unsigned contract home,
    purchase contracts, and a            How far must you travel to               remember, you have five
    right-to-cancel within five          take advantage of the                    business days to cancel a
    business days.                       membership? Will you be                  signed contract.
•   Fifty percent of a consumer’s        able to afford to use the          •     What conditions apply to
    payments toward an                   facility each year?                      resale of the property? Are
    incomplete project must be       •   Calculate the total cost of the          you allowed to sell the
    escrowed or otherwise                timeshare, including finance             property yourself? Will
    protected until the project is       charges, travel costs, annual            penalty fees apply?
    completed.                           fees, and maintenance.
                                         Compare estimates with rates       If you can’t get satisfactory
Timeshare and campground                 of similar accommodations          answers to these questions
membership salespersons must             you could rent in the same         when you visit a facility, think
be licensed by the state                 location. Carefully evaluate       twice about making a long-term
Department of Regulation and             any investment claims made         commitment that costs
Licensing.                               by the seller.                     thousands of dollars.
                                     •   What are the time limits on
Please notethese protections            use of the facility? What are      For more information or to file a
apply to timeshares located in           the limitations if you want to     complaint, contact the Bureau of
Wisconsin. If you’re interested in       use affiliated facilities?         Consumer Protection:
a timeshare located in another       •   How long has the company
part of the country, find out what                                                    (800)422-7128.
                                         been in business? Do the
laws apply in that particular            owners have proof they own                  FAX: (608) 224-4939
state.                                   or have a full right to the                 TTY: (608) 224-5058
                                         area for the full time of your                    E-MAIL:
Purchasing Tips                          contract? How sound is the             datcphotine@datcp.state.wi.us
                                         company financially?                              WEBSITE:
If you’re interested in purchasing   •   What happens to your                      http://datcp.state.wi.us/
a timeshare, consider the                lifetime contract if the land is                     i:\cpcic\facts\tmshr182 3/00
following:                               sold or the campground
                                         owner becomes insolvent?
•   Before you respond to a          •   If the resort isn’t completed,
    promotion, read the fine             get a written commitment
    print. Understand what               from the seller stating the
    conditions apply in order to         completion date. Check the

				
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