Most people know what a timeshare is; you probably have been approached while on vacation somewhere to listen to a (supposedly) short sales presentation about buying a week in a vacation resort. Oftentimes, you are subjected to high pressure sales tactics and fast-talking. You might be told that you can trade your timeshare week to go on vacation anywhere in the world. Sounds too good to be true? Very often, it is. Timeshare sales presentations are often filled with untruths, partial truths, and outright lies. Very often buyers find that they do not receive what they were promised in the sales presentation.
Wisconsin heavily regulates the sale of timeshares offered or sold in Wisconsin. There are consumer protection laws in Wisconsin which prohibit deceptive sales practices, the use of referral selling techniques, the inclusion of attorney fee provisions in timeshare contracts, and which require many particular disclosures. Many advertising and sales practices are prohibited. Some examples of prohibited activities are:
- Making false statements to get potential buyers to make a purchase;
- Making statements that an offer is only good on that day;
- Misrepresenting the value of a timeshare interest;
- Claiming that a timeshare is a financial investment;
- Making oral statements that contradict the terms in the written documents;
- Misrepresenting the length of the sales presentation;
- Failing to clearly disclose a timeshare seller’s identity and that timeshares are being offered for sale, at the beginning of an initial contact with a prospective buyer;
- Failing to make certain disclosures on any advertising material, including any lodging certificate, gift, award, prize, premium, or discount;
- Failing to comply with certain prize notification requirements, if a mail or coupon is sent to prospective buyers;
- Failing to put certain information in a timeshare contract that is required by law;
- Failing to provide a complete and accurate timeshare disclosure statement containing all of the information required under Wisconsin Timeshare laws;
- Failing to honor a buyer’s cancellation request when cancellation is timely requested;
- Breaching an express or implied warranty relating to a timeshare.
If you have a timeshare claim under Wisconsin law, you are entitled to recover damages, and the timeshare seller will have to pay your costs and attorney’s fees if you bring a successful lawsuit. You may also be entitled to cancellation of the timeshare contract and a refund or partial refund of the money you paid on the contract, depending on the facts.
It is also an illegal and deceptive practice for a timeshare seller to engage in “referral selling.” This is where, prior to a consumer sale, a prospective buyer is promised some form of compensation if the buyer refers friends or relatives, but the seller does not immediately pay the compensation. For example, a timeshare seller may tell you that you can receive $50 for every person you refer to the timeshare seller. The seller may tell you that the timeshare will pay for itself, that all you need to do is refer a couple of people a month. This has been a common illegal tactic used to sell timeshares in Wisconsin.
Attorney DeVonna Joy has litigated numerous timeshare cases and is very experienced and effective in obtaining results in Wisconsin timeshare cases where timeshare sellers have violated the law.