How to Rescind a Timeshare Purchase
So you've just gotten home from a timeshare presentation where you were dazzled by the prospect of a wonderful lifetime of adventures and so you bought your timeshare from the developer. And right now some sneaking suspicions are starting to develop that you've made a mistake and you're starting to feel a bit ill about it all.
Fortunately, if you've only just made your purchase, it probably isn't too late to get out of your timeshare contract. If you bought a US timeshare, you will generally have between 5 days and 15 days to rescind (cancel) your contract and if you bought a timeshare in Mexico you will have 5 days to cancel. If you bought a timeshare in a different country, you likely also have a rescission period too.
The important thing to do is act now without delay!
How long is your rescission period?
First things first, read your timeshare contract. Somewhere in your contract, probably in its smallest typeface, will be buried information on your right to rescind, the procedure and the number of days you have in which to act. Be sure to read this section thoroughly and follow the procedure as listed in your contract to the letter if you want to have a valid rescission.
If you have a Mexican contract, even if it does not list this information -- you have FIVE DAYS. And that's five calendar days, not five business days, so the sooner you act, the better. If the Mexican resort had you sign a waiver to waive your right to rescission, please note that it is NOT VALID. Mexican law does not allow the rescind period to be waived. This will be true in most US states as well. For example, Florida does not recognize a waiver. So you can rescind even if you sign one, though you may have a bit of a battle ahead of you.
Important Note: I am not a lawyer. I'm just a timeshare owner who has been through the rescind process myself. For legal advice, consult an actual lawyer!
Some Tips to Make Your Timeshare Rescission Go Smoothly
First things first, follow the procedure listed in your contract exactly. If it says send a certified letter, do not send your letter by FedEx, etc. Do not send an email or make a phone call. Those are not valid ways of rescinding.
Here are some tips to make the process less painful.
- Just do it! If you bought from a developer while you were someplace on vacation, you likely didn't do a lot of research first. Chances are, you paid too much. Assume you did and don't get into research mode now. Rescind, and then research. If you really like that timeshare and decide that timesharing is right for your lifestyle, chances are you can find a much better price on a resale purchase of the exact same place.
- Don't explain. You don't need to get into a long-winded explanation of why you are rescinding in your letter. The developers get these letters every single day. Just keep it short and sweet.
- Some contracts will allow you to rescind by hand-delivery. I think you should avoid returning to the scene of the crime, as it were, as that will simply give them an opportunity to talk you out of your decision by making you other persuasive offers. Handle the whole thing by mail.
- If you need to call the timeshare company about the rescission, do not contact the sales site and do not talk to the sales rep. He or she is out of the picture at this point and can not help you. The only thing the sales rep will do is try to talk you out of it. Contact the head office and talk only to them. Be brief. Do not get into explanations about your change of heart. Simply tell them you've reconsidered and are cancelling the contract. Get the info you need and get off the phone. And remember, you cannot validly rescind during a phone call. You must do it in writing.
- Act immediately and make multiple copies of every piece of paper. Don't wait until the end of your rescission period to act. Do it today.
- Certified Mail with Return Signature and Receipt - even if you are not required to send your rescission request via certified mail, I would do so anyway. It's more paperwork to back-up your legal standing in case anything goes wrong.
I've also include a short video slideshow that explains how to cancel a timeshare. So if you've been dying to know what I sound like, here's your chance :)
3 Steps to Cancel Your Timeshare Contract
Before Asking a Question
Before you leave me a comment with a question about the rescind process, just keep in mind that I am not an attorney and I'm not familiar with all the nuances about timeshare laws and what happens if you don't follow the rescind procedures exactly.
Every state and country has their own laws, so I can only answer very general questions. If you need legal assistance, your best bet is to contact a real estate attorney who knows the timeshare industry.
Be on the Alert
- Surviving a Timeshare Presentation
Timeshare presentations can be a great way to get free or discounted tickets in places like Orlando and Las Vegas, but you'll need these tips to get through that presentation with your wallet intact!