Timeshare Laws for Marketing + Advertising

Timeshare Laws for Marketing + Advertising

Over the years, the timeshare industry has transformed into a hospitality giant since it burst onto the scene in the 1960’s. Now that we’ve shared a solid overview on the history of timeshare ownership, let’s talk about some of the laws and regulations that hold the concept together. Although a number of initiatives, revelations and scams have shaped the industry into what it is today, timesharing is still a wild wild west of sorts.

Leading up to 2019, it’s been fairly difficult for programs and agencies to put a halt to unethical practices and the deceit within the industry. But it doesn’t mean society hasn’t progressed. It simply means greed is clouding the judgement of major stakeholders. Businesses fixated on revenue seem to always find a way around laws when the reward is worthwhile.

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A declining market share also adds a little incentive maximizing profits. If you’ve been following along lately, then you’re well aware of the financial rewards that can come with timeshare sales. The problem is, a big percentage of timeshare revenue is at the consumer’s expense. And most likely on purchases that aren’t really necessary.

With developmental expansion slowing down and major hospitality players slowly taking over, it seems like a more systematic approach is in order for the timeshare industry. As the dust continues to settle, a good portion of sales processes and marketing initiatives are becoming more regulated. The tactics that have allowed timeshares to thrive throughout history are now common knowledge because of the internet. Consumers are able to make more informed decisions now than ever before.

Timesharing is Prime For Competition.

Although progress has been made, it doesn’t mean standardizations will eliminate consumer problems. There are plenty of ways to improve which is why vacation rentals and travel clubs are increasing in popularity. Until the people are able to completely trust the timeshare pitch again, we can’t expect an industry rejuvenation. Although outlook has been dim before, consumers aren’t as gullible as they once were.

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The access to information is eliminating impulse purchases altogether. Because people want to know about timeshares, we want to help them understand what they’re getting themselves into. It’s not just about helping timeshare owners get out of their agreements. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the timeshare laws and regulations that have been able to keep resorts and predatory agencies at bay for the most part.

Timeshare Regulations for Marketing and Advertising

Before we talk about the aggressive sales tactics used by timeshare companies and resorts, we have to point out the role that marketing and advertising plays. Before most consumers arrive at the sales presentation, they’ve more than likely already been briefed on what to expect from the experience. In some cases, they might already be eager to sign the dotted line. Making an impulse buy with confidence typically means the marketing has done its job. What’s bothersome is that many timeshare companies know exactly what to say to get people in the door. If they can get you to arrive with minimal questions, they know it’s pretty much a done deal.

The Difficulty of Regulating Advertising or Misspeak.

Like other industries, advertising strategies don’t necessarily tell you the full truth. Trigger words and vague phrases are often used to manipulate consumers into believing the product is better than what it really is. Call it a mirage if you will. For example, food (especially produce) can market products with “organically grown” on the packaging. But it doesn’t necessarily mean their definition matches yours. Legitimizing phrases like “more fresh” or “healthier” is nearly impossible when you’re unaware of the actual standards of the term. When you think about it, it’s pretty difficult to define this type of verbiage anyways.

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How Marketing and Sales Work Together

The same can be said for timeshare marketing strategies. More often than not, consumers are distracted by free gifts and potential instead of focusing on what the purchase is or can be. Timeshare companies know to hype prospects up while intentionally leaving out the details on drawbacks (availability, annual fees, perpetuity, taxes and resale value). The excitement of something they’ve been persuaded to believe in can easily overshadow the actualities of the deal. Call it false advertising if you must. Consumers deserve to be protected from this.

At the same time, it’s very difficult for misled timeshare owners to find restitution in court. In order to penalize an entity for misleading marketing tactics, one has to be able to prove they’ve been lied to. Some lawsuits have won, but only after a lengthy battle with an experienced legal team. While it’ll always be difficult to regulate hearsay when contractual agreements are involved, there is now a strong push to protect consumers from major purchase decisions like this. The best way to combat marketing misconduct is to educate consumers on the front end.

The Legalities and Laws of Marketing and Sales

Aside from public information like this article, nearly every state now has its own marketing and advertising regulations with the FTC, FCC, consumer protection agencies and other state sales statutes. While regulations may never stop unethical companies from breaking the law, at least there are now some consequences in place. Since tourism is more prevalent in certain parts of the country, some states need to have laws that are a little more strict than others. For example, California actually has its own advertising requirements.

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While it’s good to see organizations keep an eye on an industry that can get out of hand quickly, we know it’s not the end all be all. With the internet still emerging, it’s only a matter of time before new regulations are implemented and reinforced. This is a tall order because the world wide web is still basically unregulated. Since regulations have increased marketing costs for timeshare companies, new acquisition is harder to come by. At the same time, it’s caused resorts to target their current fractional owners more aggressively to make up for the loss.

Combating Misleading Timeshare Marketing Tactics

Once you’re locked into timeshare ownership, not all hope is lost. If you feel as though you continue to be lied to, then you have every right to build a case for yourself. The timeshare industry uses a lot of 3rd party advertisers to re-market to their users. Understanding what they’re allowed to market will help you pinpoint unethical behavior and get out of your contract sooner than later.

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It will be interesting to see what evolves in the next few years to combat the extensive amount of fraudulent activity online. In the meantime, do your best to thoroughly understand major purchases and the rights you have as a consumer. There are plenty of things to look for and ask when attending a timeshare presentation. At the end of the day, doing your due diligence and understanding common timeshare marketing misspeak can save you a lot of grief in the long run. 

To continue reading about Timeshare Laws, click part 2 below. If you’d like to learn more about our timeshare cancellation company, we’d love to hear from you! For those interested in learning how we can help you find relief, feel free to submit a qualification form.

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The Evolution of Timeshare Ownership Since 1980

The Evolution of Timeshare Ownership Since 1980

While you might be reading this to help you determine if a timeshare is worth it, some of you may want to know why your timeshare experience isn’t what it used to be. The industry has come a long way since its conception over 55 years ago and it’s very advantageous of you to pursue a better understanding of the perpetual purchase. Knowing what to expect from timeshare companies and how to make the most of your purchase is important. The evolution of timeshare ownership after 1980 played a big role in what owners face today.

The Reality of the Timeshare Industry

Although traveling options have evolved tremendously since the 1960’s, the purpose of timeshare ownership hasn’t really changed. What’s actually become more clear over time is the intent behind travel corporations and the resorts themselves. Instead of vying for consumer attention with convenience, timeshare companies have slowly shifted their focus towards the mass amounts of revenue within the travel industry. When you think about it, you can’t really blame them. You’d think most people wouldn’t make an impulse buy of this magnitude, but they do. It’s been rather simple for many of these companies to persuade their way into million-dollar market shares without much consideration for those driving the revenue.

Whether timeshare owners view the purchase as fruitful or not, they’re still under contract with an obligation to pay. Perpetual agreements have been extremely beneficial to resorts and have fueled the success of the multi-billion dollar industry today. In reality, any business with guaranteed monthly revenue would thrive. In our last article, we touched on the infant stages of timesharing and the massive expansion efforts that followed. So, let’s travel back to the 1980’s and see what happened once the rush of the industry was in full swing.

How Timeshare Ownership Evolved in the 1980’s.

As the industry exploded in the 1970’s, many timeshare owners started to realize availability wasn’t what they thought it would be. Because of this, they slowly began demanding a little more flexibility from resorts. This trend continued into the 1980’s when even more unfavorable solutions continued to put a bandaid on the problem. Although “The Two Bobs” pioneered a points system to reward their owners early on, not all timeshare companies followed suit into the 80’s. The revenue-focus of the 70’s eventually clouded the judgement of resorts. Taking care of their primary source of income wasn’t a priority like it was for the industry’s pioneers.

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During this decade, resorts also began to experience a growth in general travel inquiries. This was due to the exposure they received from timeshare travel. In comparison to fractional ownership, retail opportunities during peak seasons provided a much higher return for resorts. They realized they could hike up prices during peak seasons and divvy out the remaining weeks to their owners. Sales organizations (which is what most timeshares companies evolved into), are always going to focus on what drives the most revenue. Because of this, timeshare owners typically received the short end of the stick. But it didn’t mean timeshare companies stopped trying to appease fractional owners. The problem was, their efforts weren’t sustainable.

Fixed Systems Evolve into Limited Floating Systems

In order to find a balance, timeshare companies began promising owners a certain number of weeks throughout the year to choose from. A well-known example is the float system. This was created to give users options outside of the traditional fixed system. They could either use their purchased unit (villa) during their scheduled week or they could use a floating week during certain times of the year on a similar unit (number or rooms, size or location). A typical unit in the 80’s consisted of two bedrooms and two full baths with a maximum sleeping capacity for six to eight people.

While this was a step above what owners received before, the ineffectiveness of the resolution actually created more problems. Today, many timeshare owners still face availability concerns and incomparable lodging. We can’t imagine what it was like in the 1980’s. Because of limitations, many developers began expanding into urban markets to provide users with a variety of options. But like the previous decade, far too many were offering packages and plans that didn’t even exist yet – throwing yet another wrench into the timeshare owner experience.

The Beginning of Timeshare Sales Regulations

By the early 1980s, the tactics of development companies began to get out of hand. While this affected the global trade, the United States was one of the first countries to take a stand. Since many timeshare destinations were located in Florida, the state became concerned with unethical selling practices that were affecting their tourists. In turn, they passed a law in 1983 that imposed strict restrictions that only complying developers could meet.

While the main objective was to eliminate unethical practices in Florida, this moment in time could have single handedly saved the industry from collapsing altogether. Another important accomplishment of the 1980’s was the formulation of the ARDA. What started out as a small regulatory organization slowly turned into a conglomerate that regulated timeshare sales while attempting to maintain a certain level of ethics within the industry. Coupled with the entrance of major lodging companies, like Marriott in 1984, government regulations strongly influenced consumers in the 80’s. Although the negative perception wasn’t totally removed, these occurrences added extensive credibility to timeshare travel.

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How Timeshare Ownership Evolved in the 1990’s

Although timesharing stumbled into 1990, expansion continued. The main reason was because the industry proved it could dominate holiday travel. At the same time, regulations still weren’t able to slow down misleading sales tactics and the number of complaints by users. Rapid expansion made it difficult for the government to keep up and once again things got out of control. While some may say timeshare travel was far worse in the 90’s vs the 80’s, it’s hard to say. Timeshare ownership had grown to 4 million global users and over 2,300 shared resorts in the 90’s. The increase in consumer dissatisfaction might have simply been caused by the drastic increase in owners. Either way, something needed to be done to get things under control.

What’s interesting about the 80’s and 90’s is the industry’s strategy to overcome its flaws. Instead of addressing the problems fractional owners had, timeshare companies continued to distract their users with anticipative efforts. Not much has changed today. In order to paint the picture of a brighter future, major hotel brands continued to step onto the scene. While Marriott got their foot in the door first, Ramada, Four Seasons, Sheraton, Hilton, Radisson, Disney, Ritz-Carlton and Westin all pursued the potential of timesharing in the 90’s. As sales continued to skyrocket, the experience remained less-than-stellar.

Rapid Expansion Left the Government Reeling.

By 1990, the Office of Fair Trading launched its first investigation and report for the timeshare industry. To give you some perspective on how bad sales had gotten, it took the government almost a decade to organize and respond to the overwhelming number of unethical sales and false advertising complaints. While many people felt as though the government failed them, forecasting this type of epidemic was nearly impossible. Nonetheless, the basis of these investigations and reports helped formulate the Timeshare Act of 1992.

No matter how many laws passed in the 90’s, nothing slowed down the aggressive tactics of sales organizations until Europe banned upfront payments in 1998. Despite progress for consumer rights, nothing actually decreased the number of complaints timeshare owners filed. In the end, misleading tactics continued to prevail because regulations were ignored or manipulated by companies fueled by greed. Those with disdain for laws and regulations simply continued to prey on vulnerable fractional owners.

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The Evolved Timeshare Industry of the 2000’s.

Towards the end of the 90’s, industry concerns became further complicated when rental properties came into fruition. Online communication and email also made it even more difficult for regulations to keep up. At this point, anyone could take a stab at the travel market. Aside from unethical sales practices online (that had also never been seen before), timeshare owners were now being marketed improved opportunities for lower prices. If they were disgruntled before, this only added bitterness to their experience. This is when predatory agencies began preying on desperate, gullible fractional owners. The deceit of the industry enhanced sales but only added to the negative stigma of timeshare ownership.

After nearly 4 decades in motion, the timeshare industry was still experiencing the same problems that troubled it’s users from the get go. At this point, some consumers had been dealing with dissatisfaction for a long time. Others grew tired of their purchase and were ready to find a way to move on from their agreement. Since major hospitality organizations controlled the marketplace, there wasn’t much users could do to escape their unwanted timeshare contract. This changed (kind of) when resale opportunities emerged.

Resale Opportunities Provided Hope For Timeshare Owners

Timeshare companies initially discouraged resales for obvious reasons, but were forced to compete when secondary markets began offering relief. These independent resellers whom consisted of smaller, local real estate brokers, used traditional real estate techniques to resell timeshare contracts. The problem was, most buyers didn’t purchase their timeshare through real estate channels, rather resort marketing programs.

Because of this, these tactics rarely worked. Either way, resorts wanted to make sure their users weren’t being enticed by possibilities to get out of their contract. Again, sales organizations aren’t focused on refunds and eliminating residual income. They viewed resales as another opportunity to sell fractional owners on something else and the manipulation continued. There are plenty of resale, transfer and exchange tactics from the early 2000’s that are still used today.

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Could the Timeshare Industry be History Soon?

No matter what tactic resorts rolled out, they were never really able to slow down the rising number of frustrated timeshare owners. Instead of focusing on the consumer experience when they had the chance, they slowly started to lose their grip on the travel industry. By the mid 2000’s, timeshare companies became so concerned with trying to get their users to forget about the past that the future of the timeshare industry started looking slim.

Once the vacation rental revolution finally started gaining traction, timeshares couldn’t compete with their ability to deliver on a positive experience. As the media grew it’s reach and social media took over the internet, the deceit and unethical practices of the timeshare industry became a bigger topic of conversation.

Timeshare cancellation services also began helping fractional owners legally get rid of their contracts for good. Despite continued scams, the legitimacy of these services are now at an all-time high. As awareness continues to grow, a majority of consumers are making informed decisions on timeshare ownership. Today, nearly ⅔ of timeshare owners unwillingly pay their annual maintenance and assessment fees. One could say the perception is at an all-time low. If the trend continues then we could see a drastic change in the timeshare landscape by 2025.

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Aside from a number of improved travel options emerging, consumers are now able to research and purchase travel packages that best suit them. While the timeshare timeline has lasted almost 6 decades, it looks like it’s time for the industry to start sharing the wealth with platforms that value the user experience. They don’t really have a choice. But it’s safe to assume they’ll continue targeting uninformed consumers until the market completely dries up. The history of timeshare evolution doesn’t really show us otherwise.

If you’re frustrated with your timeshare contract..

and want to learn more about canceling your agreement, we’d love to schedule a free consultation with you to go over your options. If you’d like to skip the guidance and jump right into the qualification process, then you can fill out an eligibility form below.

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The Result of Walking Away from Timeshare Maintenance Fees

The Result of Walking Away from Timeshare Maintenance Fees

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, timeshare ownership can be full of unexpected occurrences that don’t align with the anticipated experience. From booking frustrations to surprise assessment fees, the vacation haven can quickly shift from butterflies to a perpetual payment of regret. Not only can this type of expense drain people’s bank accounts, it can damage their perception of the travel industry – and rightfully so. Although it may seem like common sense to pay attention to every detail when planning a trip or settling on a timeshare, many travelers are distracted by potential. Once they become privy of the reality of their situation, it’s normally too late for them to turn back.

When you think about it, preparing for a vacation is stressful enough on its own. Adding additional fees and a lack of availability to the equation can create quite a bit of animosity – towards the resort and at home. Unfortunately, the timeshare industry could care less. If you haven’t already found out for yourself, its overflowing with deceitful promises. Once you think you’re in the clear, something else backfires. No matter how many options there are to find timeshare relief, they all seem to lead you back to the same problem. Owning the property can be quite the drag in this scenario.

Walking Away From Timeshare Maintenance Fees Sounds Good

Many timeshare owners despise the sight of their annual timeshare maintenance fees. They just so happen to arrive in the mailbox during this time of the year. Just in time to spread, I mean kill, some holiday cheer. If money is tight or the timeshare owner is simply fed up with the expense, they might consider doing something drastic. Some might look to make a statement and seriously consider walking away from timeshare maintenance fees altogether.

Whether they’ve paid off the contract or not, they might feel like the value of the purchase isn’t adding up. Dumping the timeshare and it’s fees might seem like a viable option to those that desperately want to get rid of timeshare expenses. Do you find yourself contemplating whether or not to walk away? It’s important that you don’t let your emotions or resentment cloud your judgement on this one. Thousands of timeshare owners have been and will be penalized for this decision.

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Why We Care About the Decisions You Make.

At VOC, we speak to thousands of unhappy, disgruntled timeshare owners every year. A good number of them simply cannot afford making payments anymore. It’s a sad truth that’s much more prevalent than most people know. The purchase has been a lot more overwhelming than they ever expected. Helping them find a resolution is important to us – whether they decide to cancel the timeshare or not. At the same time, in order to help them help themselves, we have to make sure they don’t act irrationally. Before you go through with walking away from timeshare maintenance fees, we want to explain what you can expect in return.

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Paying Timeshare Maintenance Fees.

When it comes to maintenance and assessment fees, the amount charged is unfortunately out of the timeshare owner’s control. These costs are determined and governed by a management company (or board) and the transparency is basically non-existent. Although they usually cover property maintenance, operations, budgetary concerns and improvements, a number of “various expenses” typically arise.

Even when timeshare owners don’t agree with the amounts being charged, they’re contractually obligated to cover the expenses of the resort. Almost all timeshare purchases involve perpetual agreements. In other words, they’ve agreed to pay for an infinite period of time. Getting rid of timeshare contracts is nearly impossible as is. If you breach your contract, you can typically expect the following repercussions.

1. You’ll be Refused Reservations and other Options.

When you veer off from the contract requirements, the resort reserves the right to deny your reservation requests. Although this may not apply to those wanting to cancel the timeshare purchase in the past, it’s still something the resort will make sure you’re aware of. If you do decide to book your week, the check-in desk will refuse the reservation due to a contract violation.

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Aside from your annual vacations, the timeshare will also refuse to process rental requests. You may think you’re being cunning by offering your week as a rental, but you’ll soon find out it’s not that easy. What happens when you have to process a refund and find the traveler another place to stay? Talk about a costly mistake.

You might think an exchange will work in your favor as well. But, when you’re not current on your maintenance fees, depositing your week (or interval) may no longer be an option either. You’re right to process anything regarding the resort is restricted when you decide to walk away from the obligation you signed up for.

2. You’ll be Pursued for Timeshare Maintenance Fees

Defaulting on the timeshare by walking away from the fees will also initiate attempts by the resort to hold you accountable for the breach. Failing to honor the contract gives them every right to pursue you to the furthest degree. This can range from aggressive forms of communication by an internal team to sending you to a 3rd party collections agency.

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The resort is going to do everything they can to pressure you into making any type of payment. Similar to the sales tactics used to close or upgrade you, they know exactly how to hit you where it hurts in order to collect. Many timeshare owners would rather pay the maintenance fees than deal with the consequences. But, some are stubborn enough to dare the resort to act.

In addition to collection attempts, it’s important that you realize the resort will also hit you with penalties and late fees. If you’re still paying on a mortgage and walk away, then you have to anticipate compounding fees for both. Most loans come from a 3rd party lender that has nothing to do with resort obligations. You could end up being harassed by two separate entities if you’re not careful.

When a certain amount of time has passed without success (normally 30-90 days), it’s almost a guarantee that your delinquency will be reported to a credit reporting agency. Although this may not initially worry you, a damaged credit history can eventually hinder your ability to borrow money for an extended period of time. A car loan or another mortgage may be out of the question until the negative reporting falls off. If the timeshare company is extra stingy, they can continue to renew the balance owed for a long time.

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Just like most timeshare owners hope things will work out in their favor, the timeshare company normally assumes you’ll eventually pay up. If they get the drift that you’re serious about refusing to pay, they may begin to threaten you with legal action. Although some of the smaller timeshare operations don’t have the capabilities or means to legally pursue you, a large majority do – and they will. Assuming this is another scare tactic can backfire on you quickly.

Aside from the time investment, a legal battle can easily cost you everything you have. Remember, resorts have the leverage of a legally binding contract on their side. They also have the firepower to legally pursue you to the fullest extent if they want to. Is walking away from timeshare maintenance fees really worth all that?

4. The Resort Can Pursue a Foreclosure.

Besides compounding late fees, collections and credit reports, the developer (or HOA board) also has the right to pursue a foreclosure on the property. No different than a legal battle, the timeshare can add foreclosure costs to the amount you owe them. Court fees, attorney expenses, filing costs and other documentation efforts can be financially damaging.

The foreclosure process can be dragged out for years if it has to be. Even if you think you’re in the clear and collection agencies stop calling, a foreclosure may be in the works. Some timeshare owners don’t hear about this for years and are blindsided by the repercussions. Once the courts are involved, the outlook isn’t very favorable for the timeshare owner. Just like delinquent balances sent to collections, a foreclosure can drastically impact your credit scores.

5. Other Owners at the Resort Will Pay the Price

What can be hard to swallow for most timeshare owners, is the impact their decision has on their peers. On top of individual repercussions, walking away from timeshare maintenance fees causes other owners to pick up the slack. The resort may initially absorb the costs, but they’ll eventually disperse the loss amongst their remaining fractional owners. Although this takes time, it’s inevitable.

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In most cases, this affects those that are in good standing with the resort. Resorts have no problem charging those that pay their bills on time. In other words, you’re giving owners without problems the same frustrations that caused you to walk away. Resorts will make sure you’re aware of this. Guilting you is another form of leverage they’ll play in order to get you to pay. Even if it’s by force, they have no intention of losing you as a customer or their residual income. At the end of the day, someone will pay for the maintenance fees so the resort can cash in on the profits they estimated for the year.

Walk Away From Your Timeshare Legally with VOC.

Understanding the result of walking away from timeshare maintenance fees can be gut-wrenching. If you were set on ceasing payment, the reality of the repercussions may cause you to lose the little bit of hope you had. But, you’re not alone. Escaping the clutch of timeshare ownership is on the minds of thousands of travelers across the country. We want you to know there’s no need to give up and give in if you’re serious about getting out.

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At VOC, we specialize in helping timeshare owners find a resolution. Once you’ve exhausted all options, we’re able to provide you with guaranteed timeshare cancellation services. What differentiates us is the simple fact there are no pressure sales, no broken promises and zero misrepresentation. Since 2014, we’ve upheld our reputation by terminating 100% of our client’s timeshare contracts. Not only have we followed through with our promises, but we’ve provided timeshare owners with the professional experience they deserve. If you’re considering walking away from timeshare maintenance fees, we’d love to point you in the right direction. The only result you should be focused on is a memorable vacation that’s timeshare free.

Check Your Eligibility

View our eligibility form below to inquire about our qualifying for our timeshare cancellation program. This is the first step in getting to know how to get out of timeshare maintenance fees and the contract with the resort altogether.

How Timeshare Assessment Fees Are Different Than Maintenance Costs

How Timeshare Assessment Fees Are Different Than Maintenance Costs

Purchasing a timeshare can be an exciting time for those that have dreamed about vacationing every year. It’s easy for most to commit to a monthly agreement that seems to be cheaper than spending money on one-time vacation packages. But, they soon find out that additional expenses and fees easily push them outside of their budget while expectations typically don’t match the presentation. Aside from maintenance costs catching new property owners off guard, timeshare assessment fees can be maddening. Moreover, they can be devastating. Getting out of a timeshare may be desired, but the financial burden can handicap their ability to cancel the contract when they need to the most.

Unlike vacation rentals or travel deals, timeshare ownership leaves many feeling trapped. Once they sign the contract, they’re obligated to adhere to the terms they agreed to – even if the details weren’t ever made clear to them. As we’ve mentioned in other articles, far too many interested consumers are distracted by the value propositions of owning a timeshare and overlook the actualities that come with a purchase of this magnitude.

Know the Details Before Signing the Contract!

For whatever reason, timeshare sales presentations are so persuasive that many travelers don’t even research the opportunity before spending tens of thousands of dollars into the property. If they did, they’d quickly realize most timeshares have zero resale value. A large percentage of timeshare owners aren’t even aware that their financial commitment can drastically increase when repairs, damage or acquisitions occur. Misinformation is common in the timeshare industry. But, pointing fingers at unethical sales practices isn’t going to solve the problem.

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At VOC, we take pride in helping potential timeshare owners understand what they’re getting themselves into before making the purchase. Educating current owners on the terms of their contract also allows us to help them find the best way to cancel their timeshare for good. So, before you call the resort to complain about unexpected expenses, let’s discuss the major differences between timeshare assessment fees and maintenance costs. Knowing what to expect will help you better navigate the muddy waters of timeshare ownership.

What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees?

As we discussed in our previous article, timeshare maintenance fees are annual charges that go towards maintaining the resort and the operational costs of the property. If you’d like to see the resort invest more money in laundry services or to update the carpet, then the cost of these “upgrades” will eventually come out of timeshare owners’ pockets. For example, properties with excess greenery or golf courses use yearly timeshare maintenance fees to spread out landscaping costs. The amenities and elements of the resort that initially caught your eye during the presentation aren’t necessarily included in your mortgage.

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Unexpected Maintenance Fees Are Unpredictable.

What’s worse, is that these yearly fees fluctuate every year depending on what the timeshare claims as maintenance. There’s no questionnaire that goes out to property owners asking for their opinion or input on decisions about the premises. At the end of the day, they can basically bill their occupants for whatever they want. What’s more concerning is that yearly timeshare fees continue to rise. A 10-year mortgage for $20,000 can easily become a $30,000 expense when you factor in maintenance fees. Keep in mind, this isn’t even including your interest rate (15-19%) and unexpected timeshare assessment fees.

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What Happens When You Pay Off the Timeshare Contract?

Do you still think owning a timeshare is cheaper than your family vacation for four? What many don’t realize is that they’ll still be on the hook for maintenance fees once they’ve paid off their timeshare mortgage. Contracts don’t become expendable once payments are complete. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. As long as you’re under contract, you’re responsible for your share of property expenses. This is when a good number of timeshare owners begin thinking it might be a good idea to dump the timeshare altogether.

What Else Can Increase Maintenance Fees?

You’ll typically see a large increase in timeshare maintenance fees when an acquisition takes place. If the resort decides to transform the location into luxury suites, property owners are expected to quietly foot the bill. Similar to a new property management company gutting an apartment complex, the acquirer will say major changes need to take place in order for the resort to be profitable. In other words, they justify the increase with a few open ended promises.

Unfortunately, most don’t improve anything about the property and simply spread out acquisition costs through maintenance fees. A $500 increase for 100 rooms with 50% occupancy can generate them a quick $1.3 million in the first year. While maintenance fees can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, timeshare assessment fees can be substantial.

Explaining Special Timeshare Assessment Fees

Unlike maintenance costs, timeshare assessment fees are not annual expenses that you can anticipate (or save up for) every year. In most cases, these unexpected fees are sent out to timeshare owners after a natural disaster or extensive damage occurs to the property. Hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions have led to several recent lawsuits regarding timeshare assessment fees.

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Instead of rolling out damage control or resort improvements over an extended period of time, most timeshare companies give their owners a few months to pay them hefty sums of money. Unless you’re up to date with everything going on at the resort, you’ll more than likely get blindsided by timeshare assessment fees. Some vacation owners are forced to hand over the deed to the property due to their inability to pay the fee on time. Losing the timeshare can be a punch to the gut, but dealing with collection agencies and a damaged credit score can be even more devastating. Failure to pay timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs can even result in a foreclosure if you’re not careful.

What Can Impact Assessment Fees?

With an increasing number of owners legally cancelling their contracts or defaulting on payments, timeshare assessment charges have been used as damage control. When there is less money coming in, the resort needs to make up for the difference. The costs that timeshare companies deem “billable” isn’t going to change when there are less timeshare owners in the building. It simply costs every remaining owner more money to keep their share. At the end of the day, the resort’s board of directors has total control over what they charge their timeshare owners for. 

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Are Timeshare Assessment Fees Related to Maintenance Costs?

Similar to maintenance fees, people under contract really have no choice but to pony up the cash for timeshare assessment costs. The only time the two charges are related is when “special” assessment fees are issued because the revenue from maintenance fees wasn’t an ample amount. Whether fees are considered “required” upgrades (like a new pool during the offseason or improved telecommunications) or uncovered costs, timeshare companies will find a way to distribute the expense. Unfortunately, they have every right to do so.

 

Why Legal Timeshare Cancellation Makes Sense

By ignoring contract details during signing, many timeshare owners end up being held hostage by their agreement. Fees can end up doubling or even tripling their anticipated annual expense. This makes it easy to understand why ownership turnover is so high. A timeshare sold for $20,000 can realistically cost consumers $40,000+ over 10 years. Not everyone has this kind of money laying around. Either way, the timeshare profits at the consumer’s expense. Although some scams are obvious enough to lead to class action lawsuits, not all timeshare owners are presented with ample relief options.

Once disgruntled owners start to consider timeshare cancellation, hundreds of predatory agencies and con artists await their desperation. Attempting to find an affordable solutions more than likely puts them even further in debt. What seemed to be a small investment towards a great time can become a headache with no end in sight. Although many are stubborn about the purchase, a good number know what they have to do.

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How to Get Rid of Timeshare Fees Altogether.

Whether your timeshare contract is paid off or you still own a mortgage, unexpected fees can be a nuisance. Most of our clients decide to finally get rid of timeshare obligations when the value of ownership doesn’t add up to the cost. Maintenance and assessment fees getting out of hand makes it easy to look for relief. The problem is, many wait until they’re in the hole financially to take action. It makes it very difficult for them to do anything at all. Walking away from these fees can also make matters much worse.

This is why we provide eligible timeshare owners payment options for our services, like $0 down and 0% financing. At VOC, instead of preying on desperation and over promising, we actually take the time to understand your situation. Paying for a timeshare cancellation service after spending thousands to own the timeshare may sound crazy, but the long term benefit is evident. In order to eliminate the fees associated with owning a timeshare, it’s important that you realize time is not on your side. The longer you put off getting out of the agreement, the more fees you’ll experience over time. Money saved is money earned when it comes to getting out of a timeshare.

If you think you are ready to legally cancel your timeshare contract we’d love to schedule a free consultation with you. Give us a call or fill out our form today to get the process started. We aren’t going to ask you for your credit card to simply answer your questions and have agents standing by to educate you on how our process works. There’s no need to worry about pressure sales or broken promises anymore. Take control of your situation, eliminate your timeshare assessment fees and become contract-free with VOC!

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The Reality of Timeshare Maintenance Fees

The Reality of Timeshare Maintenance Fees

In order to make an educated decision on purchasing a timeshare, understanding the fees associated with timeshare ownership is a must. The problem is, hundreds of thousands of consumers don’t. Like many great sales organizations in the travel industry, timeshare presentations intentionally leave out the details regarding fees and accessibility while distracting attendees with “what ifs” and “free” rewards. They know exactly how to tap into desires by using misleading benefits that persuade listeners into making long term agreements. Their goal is to get you excited about vacationing with them, not necessarily what can hinder your enjoyment. This leaves many feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of when their experience doesn’t match the presentation. Getting billed annually for timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs (on top of their monthly expense) normally adds insult to injury.

But, before we dive into some of the bothersome details, let’s talk a little bit about what maintenance fees actually entail. Every property management company occurs management and maintenance costs that need to be paid for. If you look at the fine print, every timeshare contract includes a section detailing timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs. Although this might bother some timeshare owners that assume this is accounted for in their payment plan, they don’t have to look far for an initial roadmap. Similar to residential mortgages, homeowners have additional expenses that they’re responsible for.

What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees Similar to?

The most relevant example of timeshare maintenance fees would be the HOA (Homeowners Association). If someone is considering buying a home in an HOA neighborhood, they’re required to pay the annual fee. At the same time, most home buyers understand that this type of cost isn’t included in the mortgage. Moreover, they tend to value an added expense that preserves the quality of the entire neighborhood they’re paying for. In other words, HOA fees are accepted and approved by the residents that choose to live there.

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What Does an HOA Entail?

Although the city may have some say in regulations, the subdivision is normally maintained according to the requirements of the community’s development team. The biggest contrasting factor is the simple fact that HOA residents are able to attend routine meetings and even play a role in what transpires with their funds. When it comes to assessing HOA costs, they normally derive from management salaries, community swimming pools, parks, landscape and other features. Payments are placed in an escrow account and used for routine maintenance, when repairs come up and during strategic developments for the residential community.

The Difference Between the Two

Timeshare companies validate maintenance fees by making similar claims. The thing is, they get to decide where money is spent and how much you pay them. Aside from the fee being quite larger than an HOA, they also hold the power (or right) to increase the maintenance costs at any time. When it comes to fee increases, there isn’t really much clarity behind why they’re charging you more and where it’s going to be spent.

Timeshare companies don’t need your input in order to deem something repairable – they just do it. They make it a point to remind you that you chose to purchase a share of their resort and it’s your responsibility to maintain their premises, that you signed up to enjoy. The biggest difference between HOA costs and timeshare maintenance fees is transparency. It’s hard to really know where your money is going.

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Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees Being Used?

What can be troublesome for most timeshare owners is the fact that some resorts aren’t properly staffed and the upkeep is unacceptable. Even if you feel like your experience is being hindered due to poor maintenance, they’ll point you to the contract. This causes many owners to complain about timeshare maintenance fees and demand that something be done. They feel like the money they’re spending isn’t matching their expectations.

Do you think resorts are interested in your opinion on financial planning when they’re cashing in? Do you think they’re going to do anything about your dissatisfaction when they know it’s nearly impossible for you to get out of a timeshare contract? It’s not their first rodeo. Timeshare owners have been caught off guard by maintenance fees for years. Unlike an HOA, the timeshare company isn’t held to a certain standard and has no obligation to provide anything outside of the bare minimum. Be careful when you complain because the resolution could end up including a hike in your fees.

The Revenue From Timeshare Maintenance Fees

When analyzing timeshare maintenance fees, it’s easy to understand how they can be used to build a new pool or repair one. It’s easy to understand that the landscape needs to be maintained and employees need to feed their families. It’s understandable that an emergency plumber is needed when the entire building is backed up or the hot water isn’t working. It’s even more understandable when renovations are required to improve guest safety. New bedding, upholstery, appliances, furniture, cleaning supplies, kitchenware and the little mints at the front desk cost money. We get that. But, does the amount charged align with the amount needed?

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Timeshare owners should be less worried about what their fees go towards and more concerned with how much of their money is actually being used. Although timeshare maintenance fees have increased since Statistica completed their report, the average fee per interval for a U.S. vacation timeshare (in a beach resort) was $860. Looking back to 2012, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) reported that the average cost for maintenance was $660.

How Much Do Timeshares Make on Maintenance Fees?

In order to create some simple math, let’s aim low and assume each resort charges every timeshare owner $500 per year for maintenance. According to the ARDA, the average timeshare consists of 131 units. This gives the timeshare 6,681 weeks to sell, while 1 week per year is dedicated to maintenance of the unit. If they’re able to fill 50% of these weeks with a timeshare owner (3,340), they could potentially cash in on $1.7 million annually. How much do you think it costs to manage and maintain the resort? One can’t help but wonder how much is being pocketed by the resort.

Instead of getting upset that $350 was added to your yearly maintenance fees for a pool renovation without your consent, realize the timeshare just deposited upwards of $1,192,100! I hope the pool now has a diving board and an option to swim with dolphins. Many timeshare owners are currently experiencing annual fee increases due to acquisitions. In some cases, maintenance fees are tripling even though nothing is being done to the resort. They’re simply covering the acquisition costs so they can get out of the red faster. Once you sign the dotted line, there isn’t much you can do to put a halt to the greed behind the timeshare industry.

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Understanding the revenue focus of timeshare companies is normally enough for unhappy timeshare owners with unwanted properties to get rid of the contract altogether. Just remember, if you can’t sell the timeshare, you’re still going to be on the hook for monthly payments. Once you’ve made the decision to get out, make sure you’re allocating a reliable option.

The Long Term Cost of Owning a Timeshare

As aforementioned, most people buy into the whole timeshare ownership mantra without really considering the details. Timeshare companies know how to persuade people into believing that $250/month is ideal – Especially when vacations for a family of 4 have an average cost of $4,580 ($382 monthly cost per year).

The problem is, the $22,000 purchase price quickly turns into $40,000 after 10 years with 15-19% interest (most rates are higher than 17%). Not to mention the annual timeshare maintenance fees! The limited-time-offer that once seemed promising can eventually turn into lifelong regret and a lot of debt. These situations cause many people to make irrational decisions. When timeshare owners become desperate to find a worthwhile solution, they’re often bombarded with pressure sales pointed towards upgrade options. This is the last thing they need to do. 

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Owning a timeshare can be devastating when you aren’t aware of what you’re getting yourself into. Even when you pay off the contract, you’re still on the hook for timeshare maintenance fees for life. Many people wonder what happens if they simply stop paying for the fees. Unless you’re prepared to battle additional fees and a foreclosure-type-situation, we wouldn’t recommend it. What’s worse is that many timeshare owners seek relief only to be scammed. This only adds salt to the open wound that has yet to heal.

It’s hard to overcome the scars or financial ruin of timeshare ownership – but it can be done. If you’re struggling to keep up with payments or you’re tired of being held hostage by your contract, we’d love to help. We understand how resorts and predatory agencies take advantage of vulnerability and we take pride in providing a permanent solution that makes sense. Every single one of our clients have successfully gotten rid of their timeshare. Stop wondering if someone can help you eliminate your maintenance fees. Our ability to cancel timeshare contracts is unmatched in the industry and we stand by our promise.

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Schedule a FREE consultation to discuss your timeshare maintenance fees or get started by filling out one of our qualification forms below.

How “Timeshare Cancellation Lawyers” Differ From Our Attorney Based Services

How “Timeshare Cancellation Lawyers” Differ From Our Attorney Based Services

Owning a timeshare property can be extremely frustrating when you feel trapped in your contract. Regret and an inability to get out from under the timeshare can be a difficult road to navigate. As we discussed in previous articles, many timeshare owners are misled by enticing offers that promise simple solutions – but never pan out. Being taken advantage of time and time again forces victims to admit their mistake and start looking into legal resolutions. Once the deceit of the industry is clear to them, taking legal action is easily seen as justifiable. At the same time, suing the timeshare has its own set of disadvantages. In order to help navigate this desire for justice, we wanted to touch on the major differences between companies that claim to have timeshare cancellation lawyers and our attorney-based solutions.

When it Comes to Timeshare Cancellation Companies

Viable resources and quality timeshare cancellation services are unfortunately viewed as last resort options. This is understandable because the cost of a guaranteed termination can be a lot more intimidating than a company promising empty guarantees for “minimal fees.” It’s a shame that so many companies are OK with misrepresenting this verbiage in order to drive a profit. Over the years, we’ve found it to be extremely difficult to position our value when predatory agencies know exactly how to manipulate vulnerable, desperate timeshare owners.

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Instead of investing in aggressive sales strategies ourselves, we decided to educate consumers on how we help them get out of timeshare ownership. While other timeshare cancellation services file for bankruptcy, we’re able to deliver on our promises and maintain a reputation that leads the industry in success rates and client satisfaction. So, before you go “all in” on hiring a lawyer to cancel your timeshare, let’s take a look at what you can expect from the legal process.

Not All “Timeshare Lawyers” are Actual Lawyers.

Most timeshare owners are filled with euphoria after they initially make the purchase. The sales pitch seems so promising that they normally don’t even read the contract until they get home. Unlike other large purchases, consumers are easily led to believe what they’re told instead of what’s in writing. When they search for leverage, the actual legalities are never really in their favor. This is why a lot of vacation owners turn to law firms when their attempts to cancel fail miserably. The problem is, presenting a lawsuit isn’t necessarily a safe bet when getting out of a timeshare.

The most common misstep during this approach is the timeshare owner’s failure to research the law firm. Aside from being burned by predatory cancellation agencies, phony “legal teams” also prey on desperation. If you’ve already experienced a scam, then you know very well how these types of businesses can manipulate with words. Using legal jargon to persuade is no different and it can be dangerous if you’re not educated on legal terminology or fail to do your research. Unfortunately, thousands of timeshare owners assume businesses with legal titles are trustworthy. Eventually, they’re victimized by fraud and end up right back where they started.

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Weaving through the nonsense and finding a legitimate timeshare cancellation lawyer can be exhausting – but worthwhile. It’s important that you do everything you can to avoid submitting your contact information to sales focused agencies lacking legal credentials. If you do, expect to be bombarded with sales pitches pertaining to timeshare ownership. Remember, unethical companies are either working together or they’re one in the same. At the end of the day, they specialize in taking people’s money – not helping you legally cancel your timeshare.

Hiring a Lawyer For Your Timeshare Troubles

Today, there isn’t a true law firm on the market that solely specializes in timeshare litigation. Legal teams tend to offer timeshare exit plans as a side dish while focusing on more evidence-based lawsuits. Their experience lies in cases that normally involve divorce, accidents, medical claims or bankruptcy. Before you invest in a lawyer to cancel a timeshare, it’s important that you act slowly. Irrational decisions normally create devastating blows to your bank account. There’s a big difference between reacting and taking legal action.

In reality, the decision to sue the timeshare company is essentially an emotional one. Although it seems like a no-brainer, most timeshare owners know nothing about their right to sue – let alone class action lawsuits. Moreover, they don’t really understand what they’re up against. Even though every experience they’ve had leading up to this point proves the timeshare is worthless, many people believe their property still holds value. For some reason, they believe leverage is in their favor.

It’s important that you understand you’re going up against a billion dollar travel company and all of their fancy lawyers. The probability of you coming out on top with a minimal investment is slim to none. This is why it’s important to do everything you can to leave the emotions out of your pursuit of happiness. No matter what you think, the resort is very much in the driver’s seat.

The Reality of Lawyers Cancelling Timeshares

Believing that any lawyer will eliminate your timeshare troubles is like expecting a mechanic to fix your plumbing. Although both are tradesman, they specialize in different fields.Think about how long it would take for a mechanic to get up to speed with what’s going on inside of your toilet. Would you be able to trust their ability to keep human waste from overflowing into your home? The same can be said about lawyers and their experience with timeshare cancellations. They’re going to apply the same processes and procedures that they typically provide for all of their other cases.

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Instead of already understanding what you’ve been through, legal teams are going to use up your $500-$1,000 retainer just to understand your angle. From here, they’re going to ask for an additional investment to research similar cases in order to outline potential outcomes. In other words, they perform tasks that you can easily do yourself. Before your case has even been presented, you could already be in the hole a few thousand dollars. The worst part is the simple fact you don’t know if they’re even going to take on your case. As we already mentioned, going up against a powerful organization that knows how to beat the system is extremely difficult. Once the law firm realizes they’re in over their head, do you think they’ll refund you for the “research” they did?

Timeshare Cancellation Lawyers Focus on “Evidence”

When you think about court rulings, the side with the most evidence normally prevails. When you’re prosecuting someone, it has to be clear that your claim is evident. Hearsay, perspective or misinterpretation isn’t going to hold up in the courtroom. When you hire a lawyer to represent your case, they’re going to be solely focused on the evidence you have against the timeshare. Unless you’re able to prove you were victimized during signing (documentation of misleading sales pitches or false promises) the odds are going to be stacked against you.

Most legal teams don’t specialize in real estate or consumer protection laws and it’s going to be difficult for them to advise you on how to move forward with your claims. This is normally where they realize they’re in over their head. It may seem like they’re scamming you like previous agencies have – but they’re simply unequipped and not qualified to help you get out of timeshares. Most importantly, they know it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to win the lawsuit by yourself. The thing is, it can cost you a pretty penny to find out what you probably already know. Let’s take a look at why most timeshare fraud lawyers shy away from pursuing your rights as a consumer.

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Typical Legal Tactics Lack Leverage.

When it comes to fighting for what you deserve as a timeshare owner, you must understand that the resort’s sales team has taken the necessary steps to protect their manipulative measures. Every step of the sales process is carefully crafted to benefit the timeshare. What many new timeshare buyers don’t know is that they were recorded as they were signing the dotted line.

Even if they were agreeing to what was verbally being exchanged (and not necessarily what’s written in the contract), most are unable to prove it. Not only are timeshare companies able to show the contract being signed, they’re able to claim it was thoroughly explained on the date of the purchase. This typically discourages lawsuits because the prosecutor lacks evidence and is unable to prove otherwise.

The Disadvantage of Hiring a Lawyer for Timeshare Cancellation

Preparing to combat consumer claims is what well-oiled sales operations do best. If you’ve taken the time to research the timeshare industry, you’re already aware of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the misleading tactics of timeshare companies. It shouldn’t surprise you that they have a plan in place for every accusation or dissatisfied customer.

This is why it’s extremely important that you find a competent company that can actually help you legally get rid of your timeshare property when you’re ready to take action. Just because lawyers normally represent victims or accusers during lawsuits, it doesn’t mean they know how to get rid of a timeshare property legally. Understanding the meticulous steps required to regain leverage is the only way you’ll be able to cease your agreement with the resort. Otherwise, your efforts aren’t going to be considered as a serious threat. Legal teams do a good job of persuading you they have your best interest in mind, but if they’re unable to fully get rid of your timeshare, it can be extremely costly. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re having cold feet prior to handing over retainer fees.

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You have to realize that timeshare companies receive hundred of letters scrutinizing their tactics on a daily basis. Many of which are from law firms making threats they can’t back up. Even if your timeshare lawyer sends a letter with an intent to litigate, it doesn’t mean the resort will take it seriously. To be honest, we’re pretty sure every last one of these cancellation letters are laughed at and thrown into the trash can – literally. This isn’t their first rodeo and they have enough resources in their back pocket to call your bluff.

Legally Shutting Down Litigation

Even when you’re able to initiate prosecution, timeshare companies are willing to pay their legal team to intentionally drags things out. This inevitably causes many to exhaust all of their financial resources and eventually bail. They know exactly what to do and the inexperience imminently catches up to timeshare owners and their lawyers. To give you an example of how much actually goes into a successful class action lawsuit, consider the recent $6.5 million settlement made with the Manhattan Club Timeshare (August 2017) that was executed by the New York Attorney General. It took thousands of complaints and mass amounts of evidence to finally confirm false promises and high pressure sales tactics were being used ripping off consumers.

Although hiring a lawyer to cancel a timeshare can create a domino effect that’s eventually beneficial, it could take years and tens of thousands of dollars to get to that point. Unfortunately, many timeshare owners simply don’t have the capital to proceed with prosecution while paying a timeshare mortgage with a 19% interest rate. Take a second to think about the amount of money that can be wasted on an unwanted timeshare purchase. The interest and maintenance fees easily turns a $20k purchase into a $40k+ expense. Cancellation attempts can cost a consumer anywhere from $5k-10k and litigation expenses can surpass the $20k mark. Why go through all of that heartache when you can eliminate the purchase altogether for a fraction of the price?

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The Effectiveness of Our Attorney-Based Process

Over the years, thousands of timeshare owners have come to VOC after throwing away thousands of dollars with no resolve. It’s really a shame when legal teams take on these cases without considering the impact it can have on the financial well-being of the timeshare owner. Especially when they know they don’t have the experience to adequately help them. It’s easy for them to say they’ve done “everything they can” and move on. In reality, they’re simply disinterested because their specialty isn’t really focused on consumer protection or timeshare exit strategies like ours.

What many timeshare owners don’t know is, we actually have arbitration agreements in place with a majority of timeshare companies. Our highly skilled team of litigation specialists have already successfully sued major timeshare corporations and implemented an amicable release that’s clear for both parties. We’re also in the process of reaching agreements with smaller timeshare operations that have yet to see the value in avoiding the legal costs of a class action lawsuit with us.

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Legally Getting Out of Timeshare Contracts

Our legal team enforces the law while fraudulent companies take shortcuts led by greed. We don’t need to research your timeshare and review similar cases like timeshare cancellation lawyers do. We don’t need to write letters claiming we’re going to take action. Prominent resorts already know that our timeshare cancellation company means business. Our track record is known due to the success we’ve had in previous class action suits. Our exit model is proven, our intent to litigate is valid and we’ve never lost a case.

The point is, we’ve already done the work for you. Why attempt to sue your timeshare company when you can easily cancel the agreement and move on? Why wouldn’t you consider the only timeshare cancellation company on the market with a guarantee of service that’s backed by 100% success rates? There’s no need for us to aggressively persuade you with an incentivized sales team because our reputation speaks for itself.

If you’d like to learn more about our $0 down, 0% interest options, feel free to contact us below – or give us a call at 1-800-614-5288 for a FREE consultation.

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