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Under state law, timeshares are defined as merchandise and fall within the guidelines of Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act, Chapter 407, Missouri Revised Statutes.
Use of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or concealment of fact by a person in connection with the sale of timeshares is subject to civil and criminal penalties that may be brought by the Attorney General.
Major provisions of a state law protecting buyers are:
- A five-day right of recision. If a consumer signs a contract to buy a timeshare and then changes his mind, he has five days to cancel. The cancellation must be in writing, and cancellation is effective when the letter is postmarked. According to state law, the seller must give the buyer an 18-point, boldface printed notice of the right to cancel at the time of purchase.
- Follow through on promotional offers. The name of the business entity and all timeshare operations involved in the promotion must be included in promotional literature. This material also must contain the deadline by which all prizes are to be awarded, the odds of winning each prize and the manufacturer's suggested retail price for each prize.
- Delivery of promised gifts. When the seller uses free offers or other promotions when soliciting, the seller must deliver any promised gifts or an acceptable substitute gift or cash in an amount equal to the retail value of the gift offered within 10 days of when promised. The seller also must make available to the public a list of names and addresses of all winners. If the seller fails to provide the buyer with a promised gift, the buyer can sue.
- Explanation of timeshare exchange plans. Exchange plans usually involve trading a vacation at one timeshare facility for a vacation in another location. Limitations, restrictions or priorities regarding exchange programs must be outlined for the buyer. For example, the timeshare operator must tell a buyer if a Lake of the Ozarks vacation can be exchanged for an Alaska vacation only during December.
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