According to its’ definition, puffery is a way of promoting a product or service through oversized statements that can’t be verified. As consumers, we hear puffery constantly. For example, the commercial telling you they have the best tasting burger of all time or the timeshare salesperson tells you “the resort has the best vacation value on the planet”…. That’s puffery. And it’s legal to puff. The problem occurs when the puffery turns into misstatements of facts.
If your timeshare salesperson used illegal, deceptive sales tactics to convince you to buy your vacation, you may have legal grounds for timeshare cancellation.
Like 9.2 million other Americans you became a timeshare owner a few years ago after a free dinner and sales presentation. The salesperson promised you easy access at all timeshare locations, said the timeshare was a financial investment, easily rented or sold and more. But few of the many promises were true. Fees have spiraled up. And you have unsuccessfully tried to give your week away, simply to avoid the costs. After another owner told you about the perpetuity clause – which means that your financial obligation will pass to your heirs – hidden in the contract, you had serious concerns.
Then you read about the Overtons, who sued a well known resort developer for using deceptive sales tactics that violated Tennessee and federal consumer laws. The judge in 2017 awarded them their attorney fees, court costs and $600,000 in punitive damages.
What are Deceptive Sales Practices?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an act or practice is deceptive and illegal where:
- A representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
- A consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
- The misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.
In other words, if your salesperson made promises that were false to convince you to buy the timeshare and you bought the timeshare because you relied on those promises, then you were a victim of timeshare deceptive sales practices.
Here are some examples of deceptive sales tactics from the Overton case:
- Promised them big discounts at other timeshare properties. False
- Guaranteed them a specific unit. False
- Guaranteed them a specific week each year. False
- Failed to provide them with a current Public Offering Statement as required by Tennessee law.
Also, The Harvard Law Review article “Not Above the Law: Practices by Timeshare Companies” lists other illegal practices.
As a consumer, you have the right to be thoroughly informed about the product you’re purchasing and to be protected from fraudulent and misleading statements when making a buying decision.
How do I safely, legally get out of my timeshare contract?
Fidelity makes expert legal representation affordable for timeshare cancellation. Our timeshare attorney network has decades of experience negotiating with the resort legal department and may convince the developer to rescind your contract. If not, the timeshare attorney has the leverage to place the developer on notice for a law suit. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and advise you of your best course of action, working directly with you from beginning to end.