Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the financial impact of timeshare ownership. Thousands of buyers struggle to completely understand the purchase and the amount of value it brings them. To consumers, the fluctuation of costs is frustrating because they expect a specific experience that was sold at a distinct price. While it is the buyer’s responsibility to know what the loan and contract terms entail before signing, you can’t fault them for being deceived

Nonetheless, the unexpected typically forces many to go over budget or into hardship. But a higher monthly obligation (due to interest, tax or travel expenses) isn’t the only thing that’s concerning. Annual timeshare fees for maintenance and special assessments can really add to the constrained burden of fractional ownership. Receiving unforeseen charges that weren’t even included in the contract can be maddening. Especially when these invoices arrive in owner’s mailboxes during the holiday season.

Fees for Special Assessments Aren’t Always in Writing.

For most timeshare owners, annual fees are most certainly included in their contracts. The salesmen at the presentation just do a great job of avoiding the pertinent details of the perpetual agreement while overhyping the possibilities of the travel purchase. But not all timeshares include this type of language in their agreements. The problem is, they’re still charging for annual timeshare fees based on “industry standards” and conformity by a majority of owners. 

At first glance, the emergence of improved travel seemingly threatens the outlook of timesharing. Today, the general population is well aware of their timeshare sales tactics more than ever before. But resorts continue to find ways to manipulate potential buyers and hold them liable for certain obligations by threatening penalties. Knowing that potential buyers can confirm that annual timeshare fees are not included in the contract and still be charged for them is concerning to say the least.

Vague Reasoning for Annual Timeshare Fees.

Back in 2015, Eric Jordan of the Conde Nast Traveler published a story that detailed how timeshare companies justify their demands on owners. After growing tired of non-contractual, annual timeshare fees for special assessments, Tim (previous owner) and his wife reached out to the website for advice. So Eric reviewed their situation and attempted to reach out to Marriott for answers. He quickly realized the only thing that was justifiable was the buyer’s sense of hopelessness

What astounded him the most was the amount of effort required just to garner clarity. When he finally spoke to the director of operations at Seaport Development, N.V., the justification set him back even more. Mr. Trivedi stated, “Over 99 percent of our timeshare members have paid their share of the special assessment.” We’re not exactly sure what this has to do with the simple fact the annual timeshare fees weren’t included in Tim’s contract. Neither did Eric.

Either way, Trivedi went on to say that they have the right to limit the usage of those who don’t adhere to payment requirements and that all buyers are held to the same standard. When Eric pressed the same concerns, Trivedi simply reiterated his stance. “Special assessments for extraordinary renovations are a standard industry practice and upwards of 99 percent of our members have paid in full.” So, if owners decide to jump off a bridge, everyone else should be required to do the same? The argument seems a little dry if you ask us.

The resort’s leader even suggested that Tim and his wife were being disingenuous because they’ve paid for annual timeshare fees for special assessments in the past. Eric went on to combat the resort’s ambiguous responses by insisting the contract needed to include these details in order to be upheld. In the long run, Tim and his wife’s refusal to pay for the assessments cost them their ownership rights.

How to Avoid Unexpected Timeshare Expenses.

While it’s nearly impossible to avoid this type of misconduct, there are ways to avoid the unexpected when signing up for a timeshare. But this requires extensive knowledge of the purchase itself. If you’re attending a timeshare presentation for the first time, it’s imperative that you know what you could be getting yourself into. Studying the details of timeshare contracts helps you know what to look for and understand what needs to be in writing. 

If Tim and his wife would have noticed that annual timeshare fees for special assessment costs weren’t included in the agreement, they could have taken the proper steps to ensure they weren’t charged. It’s not out of the ordinary to require certain details in writing before signing anything. If all else fails, at least you can walk away confidently. The last thing you should want is a perpetual burden that can set you back financially.

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