We’re all for major publications and news outlets covering the many stories of timeshare owners seeking relief. It’s an important topic, and if having a skilled writer cover the complex ins and outs of timeshare redemption, relief, and cancellation can help even one stressed out consumer help regain their footing, then that article should be counted as a success.
We recently found ourselves reading a great piece in the Boston Globe, Jon Gorey’s “How to Unload an Unwanted Timeshare Without Getting Scammed.” It’s an excellent article, well worth your time; Mr. Gorey speaks to a number of timeshare owners and examines the pros and cons of a number of “relief” options, including resale, rental, and resort negotiation.
What’s more, Mr. Gorey does an excellent job of highlighting the pros and cons of timeshares themselves; he speaks from experience of both their appeal (as a way for consumers to vacation and “stretch their downtime dollars”) and their numerous caveats (including “the relentless nature of the annual maintenance fees”).
So while we applaud the writer for his wonderful work, we also have one small quibble: In an otherwise thorough and well-vetted article on timeshare relief and cancellation, it seems odd that Mr. Gorey makes absolutely no reference to retaining a qualified attorney!
In our experience, hiring an attorney as a representative and mediator is one of the most effective methods that a consumer can take to “unload” that unwanted timeshare contract.
Certainly, having a lawyer by your side will help if you pursue a resolution with your resort developer or resort homeowners’ association. Having a legal professional – armed with a deep knowledge of the law and the ability to pursue litigation, if warranted – offers a consumer a level of leverage that would elude the unrepresented David going up against the huge, deep-pocketed resort company Goliath.
And having representation can help alleviate the burden of what Mr. Gorey refers to as “the nuclear option:” simply stopping the payment of one’s maintenance fees. As the author notes, this tactic will lead to default, and often ends “in a potentially credit-crushing foreclosure.” However, consumers who have retained an attorney are privileged with a certain degree of protection during this process, thanks to FDCPA, which stipulates that third party debt collectors must contact the debtor’s attorney, rather than the debtor himself.
This protection offers a certain level of peace of mind and financial security for the timeshare owner in the short term; it also deprives the resort company of a valuable chance to pressure the owner into payment. Repeatedly hamstrung by the attorney’s representation, the third party debt collector may well hand the file back off to the resort, which may suddenly be far more willing to entertain a walkaway negotiation – and save the consumer’s credit in the process.
In the end, we see timeshare cancellation as, fundamentally, a legal issue; a consumer has signed on the dotted line with a resort developer, and is obligated to honor that agreement. Cancelling and disputing a legally-binding contract is a matter for an attorney, not for a third party company that is likely more motivated by its own bottom line than the needs of the timeshare owner.
The most important thing? That you, the consumer, are being taken care of and represented aggressively and fairly. Hiring just about any skilled attorney is a better route for the timeshare consumer than seeking a private company making hard-to-verify claims about cancellation; entering a resale market fraught with scammers; or trying to turn a profit from the oversaturated rental market.
Have any questions? We’d love to continue the conversation!
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.