As our country remains at somewhat of an economic standstill, most consumers are still holding onto hope that things will eventually return to “normal.” When it comes to vacation owners, many are simply trying to figure out if timeshares will ever be worth it. Since the product is tied to a hefty obligation with unpredictable fees, it’s reasonable for them to wonder or even break timeshare agreements. When you think about it, answers haven’t exactly been flowing from major players in the industry.
In turn, the idea of walking away from the expensive product for good is growing in appeal. Now that some resorts have begun offering future maintenance fee payments in exchange for “first dibs” on 2021 reservations (as a solution), timeshare owners are starting to question things. We would know because many are calling us for direction. Truth be told, their outlook is looking rather bleak. But not all escape routes are safe.
Trusting Timeshare Exit Help is Tough in 2020.
At VOC, we don’t believe in a hard pressed sale. In fact, we’ve been trying to advise disgruntled buyers in every way that we can since the whole pandemic began. We haven’t skipped any steps in our process to break timeshare agreements. We haven’t looked to take advantage of vulnerable consumers full of desperation. If anything, we’ve become more strict in order to uphold our reputation. Making sure owners exhaust every option with their resort before assisting in a timeshare termination is important.
At the same time, timeshare companies haven’t exactly been responsive to owner concerns and complaints during lockdowns. For the most part, they’ve spent a lot of time saving themselves money while continuing their slander and persecution of third party timeshare solutions and consumer resources. Although many resale and exit teams haven’t done much to exude trust, discouraging owners from any type of solution during a clear financial crisis is pretty selfish – especially since timeshares are counting their own chickens right now.
Why Do Owners Want to Break Timeshare Agreements?
In short, timeshares are not providing reassurance by expecting the hand that feeds them to deal with an unprecedented burden that they themselves didn’t adequately prepare for. Many vacation owners know that their obligated payments are keeping timeshares from making the same sacrifices they’re forced to. They should anticipate restlessness.
With that being said, there have also been other factors that have played a role in owners’ willingness to break timeshare agreements. After discussing some of these, we’ll answer some of the questions that a recent inquiry had about our timeshare cancellation services.
1. Past, Present and Future Usage.
If you’ve talked to any vacation owner over the past few months, future availability is their primary concern. Even though plans may appear to be in place to eventually cater to loyal payers, those that have already dealt with booking issues aren’t buying it.
Far too many people are trapped in a timeshare contract with limited availability as it is. Waiting another year for a possibility to use the phantom week isn’t going to appeal to them. Even owners that have never experienced a problem before are considering the idea of leaving their timeshare obligation.
2. Unexpected, Hindersome Financial Burdens.
Like we’ve mentioned in a number of articles prior to this, the actual cost of the purchase is commonly misunderstood. Timeshare companies purposefully target households that don’t usually have extra money laying around for an annual vacation. Their sales presentation is geared towards affordability and once in a lifetime deals. This causes people to believe they’ve struck a bargain they can’t pass up.
In reality, the purchase has many hidden obligations that catch buyers off guard. Once the contract and it’s payments kick in, most quickly realize the purchase is more than they can handle. But because of the contractual penalties that can ensue, they’re afraid to break timeshare agreements. Instead, they financially handicap themselves for years in order to make payments. Despite an inability to use the product, many chase a payoff – only to find out annual fees almost always continue forever.
3. Exhausted by Lies and Manipulation.
Owners that have experienced bait and switch tactics for years are usually fed up with the timeshare. Once the “license to lie” is exposed, it’s hard to change their perspective. The more that lawmakers and lobbyists benefit resorts, the more demoralizing ownership is for them. If they lost all hope in vacation ownership before COVID-19 grounded everyone’s travel arrangements, then they’re probably pretty eager to find a way to break timeshare agreements.
The Answers From Last Week’s Timeshare Story.
Since so many timeshare owners feel as though their voices aren’t being heard, we decided to start sharing their individual experiences. While it’s still difficult to expand on all the facts and our client’s details, we do believe the insight provides consumers with a tremendous amount of value. Last week, we covered a couple who did everything right with their timeshare but were still denied restitution. If you’re looking to break timeshare agreements, here are some of the cancellation questions they had for us:
1. Some timeshare exit companies provide “escrow accounts.” How does that work?
- When researching, an owner should find out the name of the escrow company and research that company. Where do they operate? Can you verify their time in business and names of executives? Do the names of the executives match those of the termination company’s business filing with the Secretary of State or Corporation Commission? How is the escrow company regulated in the exit industry, understand this is not the same as escrow for a new home purchase.
- Clinging on to hope of a power word such as “escrow” in an unregulated industry can prove to put one in a worse situation. The contract outlining the details of the escrow option almost never matches an owner’s previous experience dealing with a reputable and heavily regulated escrow company in residential real estate. Proceed with caution.
2. If our timeshare cancellation results in a default, will there be a lien placed on our estate? Specifically, can a lien be placed on our home or other assets that will have to be paid during probate?
- This is a common question owners have. It is important that an owner understands what type of company they are hiring to ensure what type of information or consulting they are receiving. Verify their experience and track record through sites such as the BBB, Management on LinkedIn and Facebook or checking for active lawsuits they are being named in as this may result in their demise if they aren’t equipped to handle such occurrences.
- Oftentimes, aesthetics of exit companies appear to be the same – but actual operations and ethics from one company to the next are night and day. Your time commitment couldn’t be more important than it is at this stage. Interviewing companies takes time. Before pulling the trigger to break timeshare agreements, make sure it’s a sound operation – then check again.
3. We were approved for American Express credit cards to make the down payment ($25,000) [on the timeshare]. If we’re canceling the timeshare contract, can we “cancel” or stop paying American Express, too? Should/Can we file a dispute with American Express to stop payments we’re making?
- It is all too common for the timeshare companies to sign an unsuspecting buyer up with large balances on third party financing such as Barclays, Comenity Bank, PayPal Credit and American Express. Some owners have even said their sales rep went as far as to run their credit without their permission and have them unknowingly sign a credit application. They may not be aware of what took place until they receive the bill in the mail.
- Owners should speak to an experienced professional as they may have options on how to handle these situations or similar. It would seem that these companies would cease their partnership with certain timeshare companies that they receive thousands of similar complaints on, but we continue to see these same types of third party financing and complaints pour in on a daily basis.
4. Can [the timeshare company] still collect payments from my bank accounts after I ask them to stop payments? The payments are made through HRC Clearing.
- Typically a new timeshare owner i
fs encouraged to set up automatic debits for monthly mortgage payments and/or maintenance costs. Oftentimes there are incentives to do so such as a lower interest rate on their mortgage that is oftentimes financed above 15%. There may be a few options for an owner who wishes to no longer auto draft – such as contacting the resort to remove them from auto debit or by updating settings in their online account. They may also want to consult with their banking institution on what their options are for placing a stop payment. Owners that emotionally break timeshare agreements before they understand all repercussion usually regret their decision.
Breaking a Timeshare Contract Doesn’t Have to be Painful.
If the 2020 pandemic has you worried about your future obligations as a timeshare owner, that’s okay. You’re not alone. We want you to know that you don’t have to navigate these waters by yourself. If at any point, you’d like to discuss your rights, options or the current state of your contract, you’re more than welcome to schedule a free consultation with us.
Although finding quality relief can be discouraging, there will always be someone eager to help, that you can trust, at VOC. Every owner deserves a chance to feel confident in their timeshare decisions without spending a dime – even when they decide not to break timeshare agreements and wait things out. If you happen to have a few questions you need answered, leave us a note in the comments section below.