A new consumer protection survey shows that, despite the importance of the timeshare industry to the state’s tourism-based economy, Floridians overwhelmingly want the Legislature to enact a 24-hour cooling off period before consumers can sign a timeshare contract. A measure that would address those concerns is under active consideration by Florida lawmakers in the 2022 legislative session.
Florida is home to about a third of all timeshare properties in the nation, with tens of thousands of units and more than 350 different timeshare resorts. A large number of those are concentrated near Orlando. The popularity of timeshares is no surprise given the appeal of luxury getaways located near world-class tourist attractions and beaches. But the industry itself has long been defined by controversial, high-pressure sales tactics that dazzle prospective customers with slick presentations and then ask them to quickly commit to a contract without allowing time to assess prospective deals objectively.
That’s exactly what the Florida Alliance for Consumers and Taxpayers (FACT) says is missing from the industry, based on a survey of 500 likely Florida voters: just a little more time to think. The survey found 93% of those who attended a timeshare presentation, and 82% of all Floridians, favored a brief cooling off period before time share contracts are allowed to sign on the dotted line. Most others were undecided, and only 1% of Floridians opposed the measure.
“The Legislature has the opportunity to address this widespread problem with a simple, small, common sense solution – 24 hours to sleep on it before signing a contract,” said Sha’Ron James, a representative of the Florida Alliance for Consumers and Taxpayers (FACT) and Florida’s former Insurance Consumer Advocate. “That at least gives consumers a chance to get away from a high-pressure sales pitch and speak with someone they trust.”
The survey of 500 likely Florida voters was conducted for FACT Jan. 13-15, 2022, and is representative by age, race, gender, political affiliation, and region of state, with a margin of error +/- 4.3% at the 95% confidence level.
The overwhelming support for the measure is driven by the fact that most Floridians surveyed who have experienced a timeshare presentation described the experience as negative. About 74% said they experienced strong-armed sales tactics, insufficient time to consider the options, or deals that were deceptive or too good to be true.
“Florida is home to many vulnerable populations who are frequently targeted by timeshare marketers, including seniors and veterans,” said State Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin. “They need a chance to get out of the room before they make a decision that will have such long-lasting financial consequences.”
While the industry does have a short “rescission period” that allows new customers to back out of their just-signed period, most are only a few days long. Many consumers who engage with timeshare sales teams do so while on vacation, traveling to the timeshare resort to check it out. And before they’re even back home, the rescission period has already expired. That’s why consumer protection advocates like FACT want Florida lawmakers to install more protections on the front end of prospective deals.