For timeshare owners who find themselves stuck – be it with hefty maintenance fees, or an interest that they find themselves unable to use due to lifestyle changes – a once-promising shared vacation ownership opportunity can quickly become a burdensome obligation.
When that occurs, many owners turn to a third party timeshare “relief” company to try to redeem, transfer, or sell off their interests – only to discover that this route can be filled with numerous pitfalls, including what San Francisco’s CBS 5 calls “questionable timeshare exit companies” that “profit off desperation.”
As San Francisco’s 5KPIX reports, such companies prey on the desires of the millions of timeshare owners who want to get out of their obligation. This compelling report covers the story of one such owner, Gary Newton, who has found exiting his obligation to a Tahoe timeshare to be “an uphill battle.”
As 5KPIX explains:
“He’s tried selling it and even attempted to give it back to the vacation resort. He finally decided to pay a timeshare exit company just over $3,600 to get rid of it.
“The deal was they would initiate the process and give me an update every month,” explained Newton.
The contract promised a “safe and secure transfer strategy,” noting the process “usually takes 3 to 9 months.”
But 18 months later, Newton was still waiting.”
Indeed, the company did not refund his money until CBS’s ConsumerWatch approached them on Newton’s behalf. To date, Newton is still “back where he started,” according to the story: “stuck with a timeshare he doesn’t want and yearly maintenance fees he can’t get rid of.”
In all, this story is a welcome reminder to be careful when it comes to attempting to contract a third party to get out of a timeshare obligation. Many of these companies come and go, failing to live up to the promise of their so-called “money back guarantees;” others are little more than scams, collecting upfront payments from eager timeshare owners and then proceeding to vanish without a trace.
It pays to remember to thoroughly vet any company promising timeshare relief with your local BBB and consumer protection agencies and be wary of any requests that you pay money upfront; it also pays to see if you can communicate with your resort developer or property owners association – particularly with the assistance of a licensed attorney – before turning to a private third party.
For more on the prevalence of “unscrupulous timeshare exit companies” – including some thoughts from California Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell – we encourage you to read the full CBS report here.
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.