Each year, thousands of Brits are cold called or approached in the street to be hailed as “competition” winners or presented with offers of “free holidays”. The catch being you have to attend a presentation in order to claim your “prize”.
The presentation is a high pressure sales pitch which can last several hours with many people finding it difficult to leave without signing up for a Timeshare, a decision they often later live to regret.
Once members of a resort, it soon becomes apparent that what was actually purchased is not what was promised by the sales representatives at the presentation. Often members are persuaded to shell out more cash to “upgrade” for better availability, better quality hotels or more locations. All the while, members are being told their membership is exclusive and an investment which can be sold easily for a profit whenever they like.
The reality is somewhat different. The points/weeks are effectively worthless with limited or no re-sale market. This means that members are effectively stuck with their memberships and the associated obligations, including a liability for increasing annual maintenance fees which could continue indefinitely. This can quickly become unaffordable especially for those individuals who have no intention of using their timeshare rights again, perhaps due to poor health, old age or a change in financial or personal circumstances.
Can I cancel my timeshare?
Timeshare contracts can usually be cancelled if you change your mind within the 14 day “cooling off” period at the start of the agreement if you notify the resort within that time frame.
If you are outside this 14 day period, the options available to rid yourself of your timeshare are more limited, with the resort indicating that the only way out is to sell or transfer your points/weeks to a third party. This is not without its difficulties. The timeshare market is stagnant and the prospects of owners selling or transferring their membership are slim. There are thousands of people trying to sell their memberships compared to the very limited number of people who want to buy them.
The alternative is to argue that the timeshare company has breached the terms of the agreement. In which case, specialist advice from solicitors is required.
A contract is “breached” when one party fails to comply with its obligations under the contract. In our experience, in timeshare cases certain representations are made to individuals at the initial presentation which turn out to be untrue. This is known as misrepresentation and, if proven against the timeshare company, could lead to the contract being void and unenforceable.
Other arguments which can be put forward include that the agreement contains unfair contractual terms such as “in perpetuity” clauses or long duration terms (20 years plus). These clauses tie members into contracts for an unreasonable length of time and give no consideration to any change in personal circumstance. Often there is no way for a member to unilaterally resign from their membership.
How can Linder Myers help?
If you have a timeshare and want to be free of onerous and continuing annual maintenance fees, we can assist you.
We regularly act on behalf of individuals who are in dispute with timeshare companies. Although the facts of each case vary, we write to timeshare companies asserting that our clients are not liable for maintenance fees and attempt to negotiate a cancellation of their membership by putting forward applicable arguments relating to implied contractual terms, unfair contract terms and regulations and/or misrepresentations.