Feb 14

Does Compassion Exist in the Timeshare Industry?

We often hear of disgruntled timeshare owners with buyer’s remorse trying to cancel their timeshare, but what about those owners who enjoyed the benefits of timeshare ownership but whose circumstances have drastically changed?

It is true that for many people, a timeshare can be an expensive burden that is impossible to sell, transfer, or even donate. On the other hand, some people find that timeshare ownership offers travel benefits that fit their lifestyle in a positive way. Sometimes, however, even the most satisfied timeshare owner may face personal challenges that require timeshare divestment.

Timeshare contracts are famously difficult to cancel as the contract exists in perpetuity, even transferring to heirs and descendants upon the owner’s death. Although timeshare owners do have options, they may be few and far between depending on the type of timeshare, the mortgage owed, and the respective resort.

For those timeshare owners whose change of circumstances require cancellation, what role does human compassion play, if any? Here are a few examples of timeshare owners who requested our assistance in negotiating with their resorts to cancel a timeshare contract based on unforeseen personal hardship.

Meet Jake*. Jake enjoyed many years of timeshare ownership, but Jake’s wife was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year, making travel extremely painful for her. In addition, Jake was recently laid off from his job, thus putting severe financial strain on the family. Jake still owes over $15,000 in his mortgage and had annual maintenance fees of roughly $1,500.

Next, meet Dorothy*. Like Jake, Dorothy was once a happy timeshare owner. With her husband, Dorothy purchased a timeshare for her family of five to travel. The family enjoyed the benefits of timeshare ownership for several years until one day they received devastating news. Dorothy’s husband was diagnosed with kidney failure. His kidneys were only at only 18% of functioning level, he was put on a transplant list, and he was due to start receiving dialysis treatments every few days. Dorothy’s husband would no longer be able to travel while on dialysis and since he could no longer work, the family’s income was drastically cut in half. Dorothy still has several thousand dollars remaining on her mortgage and her annual maintenance fees remain around $1,200.

Lastly, meet Gina*. Gina purchased a timeshare several decades ago that she used regularly with her family. The past few years, however, Gina’s age has made travel more difficult, and health risks more pronounced. Gina is now in her 70s and knows it will only become more and more strenuous for her to use her timeshare as well as afford it as her retirement fund continues to dwindle. Gina has fully paid off her timeshare, but her annual maintenance fees remained around $900.

In these examples, the timeshare owners are faced with a pressing need to cancel their timeshare contracts due to medical and/or financial hardship. Legally, the timeshare contracts are still binding even in the face of hardship, and Jake, Dorothy, and Gina are still responsible for their outstanding mortgages and annual maintenance fees.

Jake, Dorothy, and Gina’s situations are different than the average timeshare owner, however, in that they face an unforeseen personal hardship making their timeshare a heavy burden rather than the benefit it once was. In these cases, human sympathy plays an important role.

Like other corporate entities, many timeshare resorts are forced to focus on their bottom line, regardless of the circumstances, but sometimes compassion overrides the bottom line. Some resorts, such as Wyndham, Diamond, and Hilton, will consider personal hardship when deciding to dissolve a timeshare contract. The key is getting the timeshare company to listen to your story and understand your hardship. Sometimes it can be as easy as getting the right resort representative on the phone, and other times, it may require a professional to advocate your position for you. Either way, compassion can in fact play an important role in the timeshare industry.

If your circumstances have changed and you require timeshare divestment, call your resort and tell your story—you never know if compassion will be your deciding factor. Even if the resort is unable to cancel your timeshare contract, remember that you have other options.

If you need help getting out of a timeshare, contact The Abrams Firm at (360) 918-8196 for a free consultation. Our low flat-rate fees are 100% contingent upon the successful legal divestment of your timeshare to end ownership and all associated financial obligations. We are staffed exclusively by Consumer Protection Attorneys and ensure your safety by NEVER charging ANY upfront fees.

*Real names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals involved.