mexican timeshare vacation fraudulent sales alert

Mexico Tourist Advisory

mexico time share fraud

  
 

If you are a seasoned traveler you will probably be aware of the following info. If so, please pass this on to a first timer and help keep someone's vacation a happy memory.

During your visit to Mexico you will meet many smiling faces and friendly people. Indeed it is a beautiful country. The people are known for their genuine friendliness and honest work ethics.

The following is to inform you of those that have an ulterior motive.

The following is to advise what you may experience.

In order to set you up for the Timeshare/Vacation Membership Sale certain personal information is required to qualify you.

Before even going to Mexico you may have encountered websites that give the appearance of being associated with a form of tourism promotion requesting that you register on line with the required qualifying personal info. The bait is the promise a cash gift (sometimes called a Rebate) while you are in Mexico.  Only after you have submitted your personal info and travel plans including credit card # are you informed that in fact you must attend a Timeshare presentation to receive it.

However the main way of  identifying you as a qualified target is done in Mexico through personal contact as follows:

Over the course of a conversation the following questions will be asked. As you hear these questions you will realize it is time for caution. These people are usually the local Street Tour and Excursion sellers who have been offered commissions  by the Timeshare resorts to identify you as a target. They may even be your Tour Representative that you will meet at your destination. In which case they will reveal this at your welcoming meeting. There are many at the airport awaiting your arrival. At which time they may attempt to lure you into a vehicle under the pretense that it is your transportation, when in fact you will be end up at a different resort. You will also encounter many on the street and even in local businesses that will attempt to attract you through friendly small talk. They are easy to repel if you are aware and alert to the questions they will ask.

These people are very persistent. But mostly they are just trying to make a better than average living in an impoverished country, and may not truly realize what they are involved in or choose to turn a blind eye out of desperation. It is mostly the local Mexican citizens that are recruited for this initial "qualifying" contact. However at the Resort you will likely encounter fellow American and Canadian sales people that feel they have found their panacea with a lucrative job living and working in a vacation atmosphere, albeit having to compromise their integrity to do so.

(A) They will ask if this is your first trip to Mexico?

This is to find out if you have previous experiences or are familiar to their ploy. First Timers are their prime targets.

(B) They will ask your marital status. If you are married and traveling with your Partner? If you are divorced, are you legally so?

The resort requires this to know if you have total legal signing authority or if your Partner's signature is also required.

(C) They will ask if you have a valid credit card?

The resort sets this as a qualifier as it implies that you have sufficient credit rating to obtain a loan once home to pay them off and escape the high interest rate they have applied specifically to encourage this eventuality, as there purpose is simply an immediate cash grab and not a long term loan contract. An initial payment extracted from your credit card implies a credibility to the transaction with the appearance of voluntary uncoersed compliance on your part.

(D) They will ask your annual income?

They are very interested in your income to judge your ability to accept your fate. They like to feel they target those that can afford this misfortune. (which is usually in the $25,000+ range.)

At the resort they may even have you sign a statement declaring your annual income.

In order to psychologically prepare you for the final signings they will first have you sign very insignificant, irrelevant papers so that it will seem almost natural to continue doing so. (These people are very professional and extremely well trained in their art of persuasion)

Once the forgoing information has been established you may be offered free tours or cash to entice you to be a guest at a "Presentation"(also called a ""session"") at one of the 5 Star resorts in the area.

They may offer you 1-2 hundred dollars and a ride to the resort with breakfast included. You may even be staying at one of these resorts, in which case at check-in you will be offered an upgrade etc. to attend the "Presentation" or you may be told your suite is not ready and they will use your travel fatigue and jet lag to their advantage while you are waiting.

They will tell you that it will take 90 minutes of your time. In actual fact they may hold you at the resort in a very high pressure, intimidating, and often humiliating sales environment for 4-5 hours, if necessary, to get you to submit. The smiling friendly faces will have long since disappeared. They play on the assumption that you do not have what it takes to be confrontational and assertive enough to break free of these tactics. And indeed most do not. They may even imply that due to your claims of financial means, you must defend your honor by purchasing or be viewed a liar.

You will be certain of the fraudulent aspect of your encounter if the following statements are made during the Presentation:

(A) If you are told it is a good financial investment.

In actual fact you would not be able to sell this product the very next day for 50% of what you will be paying for it. Even though the final offer will be about 30% or less of what the starting price was.

If you honestly did want a Timeshare/Membership at that resort you could purchase one on the resale market for 50-70% less from someone that had been pressured into buying on their vacation. There are many available.

(B) If you are told you can make a lot of money renting it out.

There is a lot of trouble and added fees to do this. Time shares are typically rented to cover the annual maintenance fee only. They may even be working in coercion with a Vacation company in the US that will try to convince you (over the phone) that for an up front fee of about $500 they will handle the renting for you. In fact for this fee they only list your rental and that is quite often the last that is heard from them.

Check any vacation rental section of your local news paper and see just how many are now trying to deal with what has become an annual burden to escape the maintenance fee attached to the agreement. The resort enjoys this eventuality as it then gives them a new captive target during the renters stay.
 

(C) If you are told you can cancel at any time simply by stopping payments.

The fact is your account is immediately transferred to their US office and it will be very aggressively collected. There is no legal escape from this contract if the 5 day cancellation window provided by Mexican law has elapsed! (explanation to follow) Many have simply had to sell the contract for pennies on the dollar to make it feasible for someone else to
own.

(D) If you are told the deal they are offering  is  available only at that moment.

And that they are not permitted to talk to you again should you decline at that time. ( A common high pressure tactic that amazingly really works) The objective of this strategy is to get your signature before you can do due diligence. Once entrapped they can make your recourse very difficult if not impossible.

Use this link to check the reputation of any Resort:    http://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=timeshare

They may tell you that due to this particular offer your 5 day right to cancel does not apply.  (A lie).

Fact is if you returned the next day they would make the same or better offer.

These sales people take great pride in coercing people into doing something they really do not want to do.

Never believe it cannot be done to you.

At some point you will be very willing and even request to leave the Presentation without the gifts of tours and cash that enticed you to attend. (These items certainly will not be offered once they accept that you are not buying.) They may tell you that you have disqualified yourself for the gifts by misrepresenting your financial status thus trying to embarrass you into signing.

An insulting confrontation may be their final attempt to coerce your commitment or upset you enough so that you will leave without demanding the gifts. If you manage to hold out to the bitter end the presentation may take on a very intimidating atmosphere, you may be subtly reminded that they are now aware of were you are staying, your room number and how much longer you will be in Mexico. Many have signed simply because they were afraid to say no. You may be physically escorted from the property and left to find your way back to your Hotel. Avoid arguing. They may threaten to call the police.(You do not want that!). It is common to see people leaving the Presentation visibly shaken by this experience.

No matter how intimidated, angry or even frightened you may feel do not sign the agreement just to avoid this. It is nothing compared to the trouble and frustration you would experience trying to free yourself once you have signed the contract. In fact these agreements usually require several signatures and initials covering every legal escape route, as they anticipate major buyer remorse once you realize you have indeed fallen victim to a high pressure fraudulent sale.

It is estimated that 60% of  first-time tourists attending these Presentations are victimized by these high pressure fraudulent sales tactics. Everyone works on large commissions. 50% or more of your initial credit card payment will be the commissions paid to everyone from your first street encounter to all those that effected your final signature on the contract, hence their reason for persistence.

Negligent Travel Consulting is by far the foremost reason unknowing victims are entrapped. There are Professional Travel Agents that will book your vacation and provide quality Travel Consulting with regard to things to be wary of at destination.........BUT NOT ALL. Many Travel agents have been wined and dined by these Resorts and influenced to direct unsuspecting victims. Always ask your Travel agent if there is anything to be cautious about at destination. If all they say is "Don't drink the water" you may consider your victimization to have begun.

IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF SUCH A FRAUD IN MEXICO

This is such a major problem, the Mexico consumer protection department, called PROFECO has a whole governmental section for lodging, timeshare and transportation complaints.

In Mexico you have an irrevocable 5 day cancellation period!

Even though the Resort may have you sign a note waiving the right to cancel it will not be accepted. It is invalid, it is illegal, and cannot be done for any reason.

According to PROFECO if you cancel within the legal time limit you are entitled to receive ALL your money back, including your credit card deposit even if you signed a statement that you agreed it was non-refundable.

However do not expect the resort to cooperate in any way. You will now spend the rest of your vacation under the severe stress of breaking this agreement within the required time frame.

Immediately make a complaint to your credit card company. However, do not expect them to co-operate, being a major benefactor in this Scam, their loyalty is with the resort. But let the record show that you tried. PROFECO will eventually force the Resort to return this money.

When dealing with PROFECO in Mexico be advised they may not speak English.  You will need a translator.  Your taxi driver will do, so make sure he speaks good English.

You must deliver a letter requesting cancellation of the agreement to the Resort and have them sign a copy that they received it on that day. If they will not sign as to receiving it you will have to get PROFECO to witness faxing it to them with receiving conformation.You can also courier the letter and get  a signed delivery receipt.

From that point PROFECO can handle cancellation and secure the refund without your presence in the country.

Their web site: www.profeco.gob.mx

Click on the scrolling top right when it says "Take your time when buying a Timeshare. ( click here) You will see that they advise you to bring a copy of the agreement to their office prior to signing.This will be reviewed by their attorneys.They offer free legal advice.

If the resort refuses to cooperate with this advice or resists in any way, EXIT and resist all attempts to stop you from leaving (expect a confrontation). Do not expect any of the gifts that were promised to you.

Purchasing a Timeshare/Vacation Membership should not be done with any less due care and diligence than any other form of Real-Estate in any other country. These purchases are usually for perpetuity (you are hooked and must pay forever whether you use the time or not). If they requested info regarding your children or next of kin it is so that upon your death they can contact them with the scenario that they have inherited your "valuable" Timeshare and entrap them as well.

This Link will explain PROFECO'S reporting requierments:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g150768-c15675/Mexico:Timeshare.And.Consumer.Complaints..html

Please be very cautious when giving personal information on any time share website. You will notice the Resorts do not reveal their identity until you commit, and it is very much about getting your personal info. They do in fact warn you that they will accuse you of misrepresenting your qualifications and disqualify you from receiving the cash (bait) if you do not agree to purchase. They do in fact avoid the term Timeshare/Vacation Membership" as they are very aware of the negative reputation within this industry.

You will notice that they specifically target Canadian (except for Quebec) and American tourists as this is where the legal jurisdiction applies once they have your signature on the agreement.

If seeking Legal counsel always check Timeshare Site Forums such as www.tug2.net, www.redweek.com etc. Find legitimate references and positive feed back before choosing a Firm. The initial consultation is usually free.

Another very informative and helpful Site: http://www.mescam.com/

Be informed, be alert and have a great vacation.

 PLEASE NOTE:

 This information is only provided so you will  recognize when you are a victim of high pressure fraudulent tactics. Be assured, the every day vast majority of Mexican people are hard working, genuine and very honest. Please do not judge them or the country by those you may encounter should you fall victim to the above described experience.

For knowledge, support and advice in managing your Timeshare/Vacation Club, www.tug2.net  and  www.redweek.com are highly recommended.

You may check the reputation of any Resort and chat with present owners by reading the area Forums and Resort Reviews at the web site: www.tripadvisor.com/

A legitimate resort will not pressure you into the sale without allowing you the time to do due diligence. If they insist that you commit at your first visit then it is best to firmly decline.

The Timeshare/Vacation club industry is responsible for creating it's own reputation and code of ethics.  Both the Canadian and US Government specifically warn their citizens about getting involved with Timeshare interests in Mexico.  Each of us have a  moral obligation to advise fellow travelers of anything that may harm them in their vacation pursuits.

Please assist in establishing a Resort Integrity Rating Guide by sharing your personal Timeshare or Vacation Club Sales experience.  All information received in strict confidence and privacy protected.  

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