Our clients come to us, more often than not, because they simply wish to exit their timeshare. They may have had the timeshare for not very long at all, whereas others have been taking their holidays annually for many years, often perfectly happily. Now, however, they’ve decided that it is time to move on. This may be for financial reasons, due to a change of circumstances, a dissatisfaction with the resort or service they are receiving, or something else entirely.
They have usually already contacted their resort about cancelling timeshare, only to be told that they are contractually obliged to continue, regardless of their reasons for wishing to leave timeshare. A lot of resorts are keeping timeshare owners bound into onerous, long terms contracts with undesirable levels of liability which, clearly, is an issue of fairness.
One of the most common things that we find, when assessing the contracts of our clients, is the ‘in perpetuity’ clause. This means that their contract is set to continue, quite literally, forever. This, too, is an issue of fairness, particularly when you consider that the age bracket of long-term timeshare owners now is such that they’re wanting to plan their future and don’t want to pass on debts and liabilities, a pertinent issue that has been quite well publicised.
All of this is obviously unacceptable, a matter of ethics and morality as much as a legal problem. So why do they do it, these timeshare companies? Why are they making it so very difficult for their customers, quite often vulnerable individuals, to give back a timeshare and move on?
At the crux of the problem is that fact that timeshare has become progressively harder and harder to sell in recent years. This is partly down to the profusion of bad press that timeshare has received, in many cases not without good reason. It’s also a matter of affordability and of tighter legal constraints on timeshare companies.
Timeshare companies rely on the annual maintenance fees gathered from the existing client base in order to earn enough to keep the resort running and make a profit. As it is now harder than ever to bring in new sales (where the lump sum initial payments come in to keep the company buoyant) and existing owners are passing away or using legal avenues to get out of timeshare, the timeshare companies have fewer overall owners to contribute to the maintenance fee ‘pot’.
In the past, most timeshare companies operated in such a way that they had a department that actively worked to acquire back timeshares to resell. If an owner had not paid their maintenance fees for a year or two, for example, the company would buy it back from them to resell. They were much more prepared to wipe off debts owing to them in exchange for the owner relinquishing their timeshare back to the company.
The offer to buy back the timeshare from those in arrears was usually positively received. These timeshare owners may have spent several thousand pounds for the timeshare when they first purchased it, but being as they were no longer able to afford the payments, getting older or unable to travel any longer, the opportunity for timeshare release was extremely welcome. At the time, this was common practice, as the resort needed the stock of timeshare units back in so that they could resell it. And back then, they were confident that they could.
Consider the maths…
A timeshare resort with 100 apartments, with 52 timeshare weeks for sale, will generate 5,200 sales in total. Once all these apartments are sold, in order for the company to survive and grow, it must necessarily either build more timeshare resorts or find a way to generate new sales on the apartments it already has at the one resort. Of course, building a new resort is much more costly than the ideal scenario of reselling the products you have essentially already sold.
Having earned several thousand pounds from the initial sale of the timeshare contract, and confident that the timeshare unit can be sold again for the same price (or perhaps more), they are happy for the existing owner (who has already paid that large sum and subsequent annual maintenance fees) to simply give it back for nothing.
All the time that the timeshare companies were confident in their ability to resell units that had been handed back, a steady flow of sales was guaranteed, the operation thrived, and customers were happy with the arrangement. Then, things changed.
Suddenly, timeshare companies found themselves unable to resell those relinquished units. They were in a position with too many empty units. With no maintenance fees coming in, the resort is left responsible for its own unsold stock. They desperately needed income from maintenance fees to stay afloat and for the upkeep of the resort itself.
No longer confident in their ability to sell timeshare units, the only avenue open to them was to find any way they could to hold onto those vital existing owners. And, overwhelmingly, the solution they landed on was to simply refuse to let those owners give back their timeshare.
Even though the timeshare resorts know it’s not good PR to not let people out of their timeshares they can’t afford to just let people go. Desperate times, they figure, call for desperate measures. It becomes an issue of self-preservation, and one that damages their customers, their own reputation and the industry at large.
Fairness and Balance
Clearly, it’s not all plain sailing for the timeshare companies either. Nonetheless, this doesn’t excuse them from their duty of care to their members. That’s why we’re here, to try and redress that fairness. We’re not anti-timeshare at all, in fact. We just want to make sure that people are treated fairly. There are still many people who are perfectly happy with their timeshares to this day, and were the system to function as it should, we’re certain many more would be happy too.
One of the key aspects of good business is to move with the times. There is no disputing that the market has changed, for a number of reasons. Innovation is the only way that a business, in any industry, can hope to survive the changing nature of the marketplace and the evolving demands of consumers. Unfortunately, by and large, the timeshare industry is failing to do that. This is something that causes us much concern, being as we are true believers in the timeshare model as it should be.
The work we do, to gain justice for those treated unfairly by timeshare companies, is inexorably linked to this. It’s our hope that timeshare companies will see the actions being taken and the way that laws are changing in favour of owners as a wake-up call. We see these changes as a ripe opportunity to offer better service and a product that works for the next generation of potential timeshare owners.
We do have sympathy for the plight of these timeshare companies, though we remain convinced that a lot of the time the problems they are facing are sadly self-created and self-perpetuating. At the end of the day, our loyalties lie with the customers, those who have the power to make or break the industry by holding up a mirror to their own practices. Our business is to hand timeshare owners the tools they need to gain justice and move on from their timeshares, paving the way for the next generation and a positive change in the right direction for the industry.
It is essential that we work together, the timeshare owners, Timeshare.lawyer and – in a way – the timeshare companies themselves, to rid the industry of malevolent players and those who undermine the product and mistreat their paying customers. That is our mission, and we are here to help you do just that, achieving the justice and compensation you deserve.
We have no affiliations with timeshare companies in any way. Our loyalty and our responsibility is to you, the timeshare owner, and we work hard with your best interests at heart. If you want to learn more, please do get in touch. We can help you take the right path to freedom, saving you money, time and stress, so you can move on from timeshare with peace of mind.