Anyone who owns a timeshare should be able to acknowledge that timeshare companies are notorious for their high-pressure tactics. This is how they are able to continuously attract new buyers. It’s also how they get you to buy into a timeshare upgrade.
If you’re unfamiliar with the territory, getting a timeshare upgrade is like paying for additional services at an auto shop. You came to the mechanic to get a simple oil change. Now all of a sudden you’ve agreed to get your air filters replaced and change out your tires. All kinds of unnecessary stuff that you don’t actually need at the moment but have agreed to at the insistence of the salesperson you’ve dealt with.
If you’re tired of your developer endlessly berating you to make a timeshare upgrade, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll expose the tactics that timeshare companies use to get you to upgrade and why you shouldn’t buy into them. Once you’re aware of the tricks they play, you’ll be able to recognize if you’ve been caught in a timeshare membership upgrade scam and start planning a way out of it.
Is a Timeshare Upgrade Really Necessary?
Think back to the moment you decided to make a timeshare purchase. You were probably influenced by the glossy photos of happy people on the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, or Miami, Florida. Plus, the sales presentation made vacation ownership seem convenient and luxurious.
So why all of a sudden is your initial purchase not good enough? Why is your timeshare company acting like you have to get a timeshare upgrade?
Sure, over time your once brand-new timeshare may decrease in value. Your timeshare resort will inevitably get older and need updating. But that’s what maintenance fees and special assessments are for. Rest assured that you never actually need to upgrade your timeshare. Your company shouldn’t be forcing you into a new membership that you don’t actually want.
Unfortunately, many timeshare owners are pressured to upgrade. They’re told that the new membership will offer a better experience and will replace their old membership. Or they’re convinced that upgrading will make their maintenance fees lower when really the opposite is true.
Here are some of the upgrade tactics you need to watch for.
The Membership Upgrade That Becomes Two Timeshares
Person filling-out a Membership Application form
Company mergers have played a big role in convincing — and sometimes forcing — timeshare owners to upgrade their membership. A good example is Hilton Grand Vacation’s merger with Diamond Resorts.
The former is a lucrative Florida-based timeshare company that owns hundreds of properties throughout the world. The latter is a lower-tier timeshare provider that was bought out by HGV in 2021. From this merger, a new type of membership called HGV Max was created. It claims to provide owners from both companies with an enhanced vacation experience, or so they say.
Hilton Grand Vacations is known for having many different types of memberships, including Hilton Grand Vacation Club and Hilton Grand Vacations Elite. But HGV Max is a little different. Enrolling in this membership means you have the option of staying at both Diamond and Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare properties.
The merger between HGV and Diamond Resorts is an example of how two companies becoming one often lead to new membership tiers being created. But while timeshare mergers can mean double the vacation destinations, they can also mean double the charges. That’s why it’s extremely important to know what you’re getting into and how much you’ll be paying before you sign up for any sort of upgrade.
Some developers see timeshare upgrades as an opportunity to get you to sign up for an additional timeshare. And unfortunately, numerous timeshare owners end up making this regrettable decision. Timeshare sales reps from many different companies tell owners that their upgraded membership will replace their old property. But what actually happens is that these customers are signed up for a second timeshare and are now responsible for paying two rounds of maintenance fees.
Equity Discounts and Lower Maintenance Fees
Many developers will manipulate you into a timeshare upgrade by telling you that the equity you have in your current timeshare will roll over. Like with real estate purchases, they’ll say that the amount you’ve invested over the years will go toward the price of your new timeshare membership. But this offer is likely a scam. Here’s why.
Would you sell a completely paid-off $300,000 home and put your equity toward a $1 million home of the same size? Probably not. So why would you want to do the same with a timeshare property?
Many timeshare companies will try to convince you that the equity you’ve acquired will act as a discount on a higher-valued timeshare property. But that’s simply not true. They use this “equity discount” excuse to get you to pay insanely inflated prices on a new membership. Even if the new membership comes with slightly better perks and nicer amenities, the prices they want you to pay are rarely proportionate to the value.
Plus, you may have to pay upfront fees — on top of the timeshare cost — to upgrade your membership.
Another supposed deduction that timeshare companies offer with upgrades is lowered maintenance fees. They’ll say that if you upgrade, your perks will go up and your annual fees will go down. But oftentimes, what they really mean is that your new membership is going to be cheaper than your current one. You’re still going to have to pay the maintenance fees you owe now, plus fees on a new property that you won’t know about until it’s too late to cancel.
Confusing Contract Jargon
Stressed entrepreneurs having a discussion
One of the ways developers are able to trick people into timeshare ownership is by using cryptic language in timeshare contracts. These contracts are filled with all kinds of deceptive clauses that make it almost impossible to pursue timeshare cancellation once the rescission period is over. If you’ve fallen victim to this tactic, don’t be tricked again by a timeshare upgrade.
Pay close attention to any new contracts that come along with upgraded memberships because they could be full of red flags. The contract should assert that the original form of membership or deeded week you were assigned is being taken back by the developer.
If the contract doesn’t say this, you are almost certainly being enrolled in an additional timeshare property or membership. And with this likely comes double the membership and maintenance fees. It’s not an upgrade, it’s just another financial burden that your developer is bestowing upon you.
Don’t Fall for a Timeshare Upgrade
What we’ve learned today is that timeshare upgrades are usually just developers trying to get you to buy another timeshare without knowing it. Or they’re trying to get you to pay for a more expensive membership that’ll add much more stress than value to your timeshare experience. Add this to the multitude of reasons why you should never purchase a timeshare.
But what if you’ve found yourself in a timeshare scam like this? Unbeknownst to you, you’ve been burdened with owning an additional timeshare that you don’t want. If you’ve found yourself pressured or tricked into a situation like this, it’s time to reach out to Centerstone Group.
Centerstone Group is a full-service advocacy group that knows how to protect owners from timeshare scammers. High-pressure tactics, timeshare resale scams, and unauthorized wire transfers are no match for our team of timeshare exit specialists. Plus, we have an A+ rating and 4.78-out-of-5 stars on Better Business Bureau (BBB).
If you’ve been misled by your developer and tricked into a timeshare upgrade that is nothing like you bargained for, reach out to our team to see if we can resolve your contract issues. We’re just a phone call away. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.