Those that purchase a timeshare unit for the first time rarely think about an eventual need to escape the binding agreement. Thomas and Huguette Game learned this the hard way when medical conditions halted their ability to travel in 2014. Now that they’ve spent the past 6 years trying to escape a timeshare agreement, they wish they hadn’t upgraded in 2006. Unfortunately, this is the story of many timeshare owners today.
During the initial presentation, most attendees are led to believe they’re investing in a piece of paradise only to discover unexpected limitations down the road. While the sales team is to blame for painting an unrealistic picture, the owner’s decision to invest further (in order to make it worthwhile), is normally what sends them in a downward spiral.
In Thomas and his wife’s case, they upgraded their package at the Carriage Hills Resort because they could only use the week every other year. Since they were aging, traveling more was appealing. Little did they know that they’d have to continue making payments once health concerns limited their ability to travel. While they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, they didn’t appreciate the lack of compassion from the Barrie, Ontario timeshare.
“We were happy with it, it was a good system,” Mr. Game said. But it made no sense for him to have to continue making payments on something they couldn’t use. “We want to get rid of the title and the responsibility.” But a desire to escape a timeshare agreement and the ability to do so is a whole different story. Since the Game’s have compounding contracts, they’ll have to treat them as separate entities in order to cancel, amongst other things.
How the Timeshare is Making it Rough on the Aging Couple.
The association that represents Carriage Hill’s fractional owners (CHVOA) has continuously reiterated that the resort doesn’t buy back units. So far, the only solution they’ve provided is for owners to find buyers themselves. They’ve apparently been looking into “exit strategies for owners” since 2018 but have yet to find a viable “exit from ownership at this time.” In a newsletter they remained firm by stating, “(CHVOA) does not own any deeds, does not take back any deeds, and will not relieve any owners of the obligation to pay for annual assessment.”
What further complicates the matter is the simple fact Thomas and his wife aren’t even sure who owns the resort. They say it belonged to Shell Vacations Club, which may have been purchased by Wyndham. For a good part of this decade, the Games have been sending handwritten letters to the resort and CHVOA, pleading to be released from their obligation. They never imagined escaping a timeshare agreement would be so discouraging.
According to the couple, annual maintenance fees have really taken a toll on their finances. Paying anywhere from $400-$1400 per year with a limited income and medical uncertainty can be quite the burden to bear. Now that they’ve exhausted their efforts to find a buyer, they’re seeking help. For years now, Thomas says, “We’ve had no takers.”
So What Are They Going to Do?
“I’ve lost so much sleep over this,” said Huguette. You can tell she’s tired of stressing about it. “I wake up at 4 a.m. and I can’t get back to sleep because of this.” The couple told reporters that they were willing to lose their equity in the units if that’s what they have to do to escape a timeshare agreement. Mr. Game said they simply want to get rid of the title and its responsibility once and for all. “It’s like they put a big ball and chain behind me,” he said.
Thomas and Huguette aren’t alone. A growing number of owners are currently running into problems when it comes to using their units. But for some, they have no choice but to find a way to escape their timeshare agreement. Finding a middle ground with owners that have physical limitations is different than managing owners with severe medical conditions.
This is what makes the Game’s situation rather sad. Thomas recently had open heart surgery and Huguette is legally blind. While Thomas can drive around locally, he is extremely limited because of his wife’s ailment. Hopefully timeshare companies will take the time to help aging couple’s like this and find alternative solutions to fill their units. Milking them for every dollar, while they hold onto their lives just doesn’t seem right.