Elise and I spent a week in Cabo San Lucas last month and we had an absolute blast. We had so much fun that we decided that we will one day return to Los Cabos. So much fun and a desire to return that we bought a timeshare…
You’re probably thinking, “WHAT?!?!”
Yes, we bought a timeshare. We toured a beautiful resort, were subjected to an extremely high-pressure timeshare sales pitch and were sold. We signed on the dotted line and I put a significant down payment on our credit card.
The whole process took approximately four hours. After signing our names stating that we agreed to this, that and the other, we got up from the table and started to make our way back to our hotel. We looked at each other with puzzled looks on our faces.
“Did we do the right thing?”
“Sure. I think. Yeah. I don’t know. Did we?”
We went to the presentation having promised each other that the final word would be “no”. That didn’t happen. My gut told me “no”, but I didn’t listen to my gut. Neither did Elise. Our salesperson was awesome. She got us hook, line and sinker.
I had buyer’s remorse the moment pen hit paper but the devil on my shoulder told me we could do it.
We returned to the States and reality set in. I told Elise we weren’t buying a timeshare. We discussed the issue briefly and Elise was behind me all the way. Now it was time to go to battle.
I e-mailed the customer service manager at the resort. I wrote a polite and professional claim letter stating that I wanted our down payment returned and that we wanted to cancel our contract. I stated the reasons for our decision and documented everything perfectly. It was the perfect claim letter.
Three days later I receive a response stating that according to our contract we could not get out of the timeshare. I was kind of expecting that sort of response. I was still dead-set on not paying a single red penny (or peso). I was started doing a little legal research and was psyching myself up to hire a lawyer.
I did some extensive research and came across a great article from the L.A. Times. I followed a few links and found the most helpful information at Mescam.
Luckily I was immediately proactive in the pursuit of cancelling our contract and retaining our “earnest money” when we returned home. Mexican law states that timeshare buyers have a five day “cooling off” period. During that time the customer can cancel the contract with little or no questions asked.
In the meantime there had been a few exchanges of e-mails between the timeshare resort and your humble narrator. My e-mails were very polite and professional. The responses I received were blunt. The last rebuttal I received from Mr. Customer Service was, “I am sorry but there is not much to discuss, please look at the New Owners Verification Form Number 10..” That basically meant: “You’re screwed, we got your money and you’re going to have to pay.”
The gloves came off:
I am writing you again today to cancel Josh and Elise Janicek’s contract #XXXXXX for one Bi-Annual Junior Suite at the XXXXXX Resort and Spa that was purchased on 7/25/2005 and to get a FULL REFUND for the $X,XXX.XX which you have already charged to my MasterCard; account ending in XXXX. I am providing you with notice that I have cancelled this contract within five working days from (the delivery of, or the signing of) the contract IAW Article 56 of ARTICLE 56 OF LEY Federal de ProtecciÃ³n al Consumidor. (Article 56 of the Federal Consumer Protection Law states: “The contract will be perfected within five working days from the delivery of, or the signature of the contract, which ever occurs the latest. During this period, the consumer will have the right to revoke his consent without any responsibility. The revocation will have to be by means of warning or delivery of notice, in person, by registered mail, or another method of average reliability. The revocation according to this article, will terminate the contract. In this case, the costs of shipping and insurance will be the responsibility of the consumer. If the contract is for services, this article will not be applicable if the date of receipt of the service is less than ten working days from the date of the order of purchase.”)
I am aware that my right to cancellation and a full refund is non waivable (the buyer cannot give it up) and even if the buyer is convinced to sign a document to give it up (waive the right) that waiver is not valid and the buyer still has the 5 day right. Any argument you have claiming that my enrollment fee is non-refundable is invalid according to Mexican law and this has been verified with PROFECO.
I have been in contact with other Americans and know what my rights are under Mexican law. If you plan on sending me an email stating “As indicated in our agreement – you may cancel your membership at any time but the enrollment fee is non-refundable”, I am afraid I cannot comply with your request. You must comply with this request by law or face fines. Please do not send me an email saying that filing a complaint with PROFECO will tie up my refund for months. I know this is not true.
Any attempt to refuse this request will be immediately forwarded to PROFECO. I am also sending a copy of this e-mail and previous correspondences to PROFECO.
As indicated in the dated e-mails below, I have made a good faith effort within 5 working days to resolve this issue and request a full refund in a professional, polite manner and with full intent.
Please comply with the law, cancel my contract and send me my refund immediately.
Your timely response is greatly appreciated.
Half an hour later I get this response:
“The refund of the deposit will be issued within the next 15 days as stated on the contract.”
I called the credit card company, told them what I was doing and disputed the charge on my account – just to be safe.
We learned about timeshares the hard way. I’m sure I’ll have to deal with this for a while longer. That’s okay, I was prepared to battle for a year.
Los Cabos is beautiful as was our vacation. I was scared that we were going to be left to look back on our vacation in a negative light.
I’m pumped to do the Cabo Wabo again. Next time we’ll go to timeshare presentations. Hell, we’ll go to ten presentations and hoard all of the free goodies like deep sea fishing, sunset cruises, ATV tours, parasailing, free food and drinks.
Next time we’ll say “No”.