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A Warning on Timeshares
Plus, credit bureaus weaving tangled webs
A “lifetime of vacations” for a reasonable up-front cost often sounds like a dream come true.
But if you’ve ever thought about — or actually “bought” — a timeshare, you know getting to the truth can be a daunting task.
I teamed up with Lisa Ann Schreier — The Timeshare Crusader — to outline 5 key things to look for BEFORE you decide to buy.
Not understanding the difference between weeks and points
Do you know the difference? Is it well explained? What are you getting for your money? Schreier says, “Not understanding this difference has a tremendous impact on how you’re able to use your timeshare and is a leading cause of owner complaints.”
Not knowing all the costs associated with the timeshare
Are there maintenance fees? What about an annual fee or a membership fee? Sure, the cost at signup may seem reasonable, but what is your yearly obligation?
Spears says, “Timeshare sellers are counting on consumers NOT paying attention. The details matter. Ask questions and don’t sign anything until you understand ALL the costs.”
Not understanding trading/exchanging rules/procedures/timelines
What if you want to stay somewhere else? What are the rules for notice? What if you want to trade dates? What happens if you don’t use all your “weeks/points?”
Schreier says, “In most cases, it’s not as simple and easy as the salesperson makes it out to be. Yes, there are thousands of timeshare properties around the world. Trading your week in Las Vegas for a week in the French Riviera may be impossible.”
Not reviewing the contract to insure you’re getting what you think you’re getting
Read the contract. Every word. Spears adds, “Sure, it may not be fun, and it may take some time but read the contract and be sure you know exactly what you are agreeing to. Don’t sign anything unless you have a clear understanding. If you aren’t sure, have a trusted lawyer of YOUR choosing review the documents.”
Don’t overlook the thousands of vacation destinations that are available to you in hundreds of places you may not have even considered.
Do you really want to be locked into a vacation in this location at this time every single year? Where else might you go? What could you spend money on if you didn’t have this timeshare? Schreier adds, “Sure, everyone has heard of Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Gatlinburg, but one of the best things about owning a timeshare is that you have the opportunity to discover some lesser-known spots that may become a favorite vacation destination.”
TransUnion Won’t Stop Deceiving
When TransUnion was charged with repeatedly deceiving consumers into purchasing essentially useless credit monitoring products, the company didn’t apologize and didn’t stop.
Instead, TransUnion is now asking the courts to dismiss a case brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that seeks to hold the credit reporting agency accountable for persistent wrongdoing.
American Banker notes:
The lawsuit is being closely watched because TransUnion already paid a $3 million fine and $13.9 million in restitution to consumers to resolve the 2017 order — only to be sued for the same violations five years later.
Here’s the deal, though: They didn’t stop deceiving customers. TransUnion’s argument seems to be that they already paid a fine for deceiving customers, now they can’t be punished again for repeat deception.
However, as American Banker reported, the CFPB didn’t stop receiving complaints about TransUnion:
By 2019, however, the CFPB had received nearly 100 complaints from consumers alleging that TransUnion enrolled them in monthly credit monitoring services they didn’t want. Many of the consumers said they had responded to ads to obtain a free credit score but had not read the fine print disclosing that they were enrolling in a monitoring service.
TransUnion signs a 2017 consent order and pays a fine. Then, in 2019, TransUnion customers complain about the SAME type of deception. The CFPB takes TransUnion to court and TransUnion says: “Hey, we already paid a fine for this, so we’re good.”
Fortunately, the CFPB says “not so fast.”
Now, TransUnion appears to be chafing under the lash of a regulator determined to actually hold them accountable for their bad actions.
Advocates at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) have warned against the tactics used by credit bureaus:
“This type of flagrant violation is typical behavior for not just TransUnion, but all three credit bureaus,” said Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Federal regulators, state Attorneys General, consumer advocates, and private attorneys have been battling a culture of impunity and arrogance by the credit bureaus for decades. Unfortunately, it’s the American consumer who ultimately pays the price for the credit bureaus’ longstanding habit of flouting the law.”