Why is it so difficult to cancel my timeshare contract?
If you are reading this information, the chances are that you, like many of our clients, have already attempted to start the process of leaving your timeshare. It could be that your financial or lifestyle situation has changed, that you are no longer happy with the resort or, for another reason entirely. Whether you are very newly into your contract or have been holidaying at your timeshare resort for many years, the simple matter of the fact is that you no longer want your timeshare and you have decided to try to cancel your agreement.
You may have already contacted the resort about cancelling your timeshare and been faced with claims that you are legally and contractually bound to stay in the contract regardless of your personal situation on reasons for wishing to leave your timeshare. At this point, it can be difficult to know your legal standpoint and where you can turn next to move on.
Many resorts bind their customers into confusing contracts with long-term implications which comes under an issue of fairness for the buyer. One of the most common legal issues within a timeshare contract is the ‘in perpetuity clause’. This essentially means that your contract is set to last forever. Recent laws have deemed that these types of contracts, that either exceed 50 years or have no fixed end date, are illegal. These types of clauses in contracts are incredibly unfair and can leave people feeling helpless and trapped in a situation that they either very much want out of or even can no longer financially support. When we consider the age many of our clients take out a timeshare agreement, the likelihood is that these payments will ultimately be passed onto family members and be a burden for years to come.
All of these issues are clearly unfair and unacceptable ways to treat timeshare buyers. So, the big question is: why? Why do timeshare companies treat their buyers this way and make it so difficult to exit their agreements?
The problem timeshare companies have faced in recent years.
In the past, timeshares were in abundance, and timeshare resorts were making good profits from maintenance fees. The ease of acquiring new owners meant that resorts could use the ‘fee pot’ to upkeep their grounds and keep clients largely happy within their contracts while confidently making a good profit. In fact, many resorts had departments aimed explicitly at re-buying back timeshare properties to have new properties to advertise and sell to potential customers and bring in large initial payments. If someone didn’t pay their fees for a number of years and no longer wanted to visit the resort, the timeshare company would usually re-buy the property to move it on to a new buyer because it was mutually beneficial to them to have property to sell and not have to battle to collect unpaid fees.
Fast forward to today, and the situation has changed entirely. Partly down to the bad press timeshare has received in the media (mostly deservedly) and partly because of a shift in what holidaymakers are looking for, timeshare companies have found it increasingly difficult to attract new buyers. Many of their past clients have either passed away or used legal avenues to exit their agreements, and they are left without the financial security of the initial maintenance fees that kept them going. This means that they are left with empty property units in resorts, and their situation has become financially desperate with the need to hang onto current owners to keep fees coming in so they can stay afloat.
Despite it being awful for their own reputations and the reputation of timeshare generally, resorts landed on the solution of simply refusing to allow people out of their contracts for self-preservation purposes and to ensure some fees were still coming in regularly as they were left with so many empty units and no one willing to pay for their upkeep.
What are the implications of this for me?
Although the situation for timeshare companies has become a desperate one and we can sympathise with their difficulties, we believe it is still inexcusable for resorts to treat their property owners the way they have been known to do. They have a duty of care to their members and should be treating owners with fairness and respect. Many timeshare owners are pleased in their contracts and have never had the desire to leave, but when and if an owner decides they do want to go, we believe it is their right to make this choice. At Athena law, we want to help re-address the balance and provide you with a fair, respectful outcome when deciding to leave your contract giving you the justice that you deserve.
We work closely with all of our clients to understand their unique situation and frustrations so that we are placed in a strong position to advise you on the next steps you can take. We have many years of experience in this industry and many success stories for clients who have been in your position, and we may be able to help you too.
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