Warning: Crooked Timeshare Lawyers
The Timeshare Association warns timeshare owners who need to get out of their timeshares to be aware of third-party exit firms or soliciting ex timeshare sales people who claim to provide a relinquishment/exit service.
A lot of real timeshare cancellation lawyers are providing consumer protection warnings to timeshare owners whose timeshare contracts liabilities may be paid off. The Timeshare Association is issuing a warning that some of these companies are charging many thousands of £ for these matters when several developers have confirmed that they have policies in place to assist timeshare owners to terminate all their obligations. For instance, if you are over 75 and should the timeshare developer be a member of the Resort Development Organisation [RDO] you can leave whenever you like and should you be infirm, ill or suffer with a long term illness, equally you can leave if you are able to supply a doctor’s note. Most timeshare resorts will work with their exiting timeshare owners either for free or a nominal fee.
All lawyers or exit companies should know these facts yet some still offer consultations with a view of selling you what is sometimes free. Furthermore, some firms do not inform clients of their rights, or the fact that lawyer's services are not required and are doing so for substantial unnecessary fees.
“I personally find it not only unethical but reprehensible that any firm or company would knowingly charge an owner, thousands of £ for a service they know the timeshare owner could take care of themselves by simply by making a phone call to their timeshare developer”.
Just last week we had a call from a woman who spoke with one of these bogus law firms and she claimed they were going to charge her £6,995.00 to get rid of a timeshare they claim she was in subjection to. When she called us, we explained she could exit for free if she explained her circumstances to the resorts. She called them and within 2 weeks received a notice to say they accepted her relinquishment request, saving her nearly £7,000.
Be aware of the following red flags when dealing with timeshare lawyers
- Companies advertising on television, radio and social media
“these companies have hefty fees to pay for the advertising and sponsors they use, which of course are then passed on to you, the timeshare owner who is trying to reduce their expenses - not increase them.”
- Any company that contacts you directly, unsolicited cold calls, email or postal offers.
“You are dealing with commissioned based sales representatives in a call centre. Contacting you may be contacting you from an illegal database”.
- Companies that are not law firms, undercapitalised or run by salesmen yet trying to appear as a legal firm; never deal with a cancellation company.
“they are DIY companies that write letters for you to send. Your letters will not reach the legal department because neither you nor the cancellation company are lawyers.”
- Transfer companies
“a very high risk situation where they tell you that they have a buyer or the developer agreed to take back your timeshare when in fact they did not, they transfer your timeshare to a dummy/shell corporation and months later when the maintenances fees have not been paid, and since the developer did not agree, you could end of with a foreclosure and a problem on your credit report.”
- Try to arrange a conference with a highly regarded lawyer - some of who appear on this site.
Orange Lake Country Club
British Timeshare consumers who have bought timeshare in Florida are being warned off using fake law firms who prey on consumers offering legal advice.
What a consumer must understand that in the UK if you challenge a contract which the timeshare resorts contest, they cannot have conduct of the case they intend to run as they are not officers of the court.
In a recent battle in court even licenced lawyers are meeting some resistance with regard to the way they obtained the clients. In a US court battle, the court may have dismissed some charges between the Orange Lake Country Club and a company who allegedly swindled timeshare owners into breaching their contracts and stopping payments, however the issues continue.
In the matter of Orange Lake Country Club and Wilson Resort Finance they sued Reed Hein and Associates, who operate as the Timeshare Exit Team allegedly RHA were taking part in a ‘scam’ to trick timeshare owners into hiring them to help.
“To facilitate this scheme, specifically [Brandon] Reed, [Trevor] Hein, and [Thomas] Parenteau - lured timeshare owners into hiring them by making false promises to relieve them from their timeshare obligations,” according to the lawsuit.
Reed, Hein and Parenteau in turn retained law firms like Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, [SGB], a co-defendant, who allegedly received money to assist in at least 800 files a month and what they sent out were letters that supposedly gave the impression of terminating timeshare agreements without in fact accomplishing it.
As a result, many consumers lead actions materialised involving suing the defendants and the District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, ruled on the defendants' motion denying them their motion to dismiss the claim for tortious interference.
The court sided again with the plaintiffs for two counts of civil conspiracy and refused to dismiss them. The court pointed to the plaintiffs' claim that SGB had personal interests in participating in the alleged conspiracy for its own gain.
The court also denied the motion to dismiss a fifth count, violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. While the defendant said the claim should be dismissed because the plaintiffs were not actual consumers, the court pointed out that the Act did not solely protect customers.
The court dismissed a sixth count of misleading advertising, saying the “plaintiffs are not consumers who suffered an injury in justifiable reliance on a representation the defendant made to the public.”
The court denied the motion to dismiss the seventh, and final, count, for false advertising under the Lanham Act. It determined that the plaintiffs had sufficiently claimed to have suffered injuries because of the defendants’ false advertising that they would be able to relieve the Orange Lake owners from their timeshare obligations.
It is fair to say that consumers should commission proper lawyers who tell the truth, giving advice correctly so that the consumer can make a reasoned appraisal of the issue they intend to bring.
You might which to visit a highly regarded lawyer based in the UK, you will find some on this site.
How are timeshares sold?
Timeshare companies sometimes use high-pressure selling techniques to get you to enter their scheme. A timeshare company may first approach you through telephone contact, a raffle or competition, or by approaching you personally at a holiday resort. The representative for the timeshare company will then usually invite you to a seminar held by them with a reward offered for your attendance. At the seminar, timeshare sellers may use high-pressure selling techniques to get you to sign up. For instance, they may tell you that the only opportunity you have to purchase a particular timeshare deal is at the seminar itself. Some consumers have said that they were made to feel stupid, guilty and uncomfortable if they did not want to enter into the scheme. The pressure of having to make the decision at the seminar, the number of sales staff – often one allocated per family – can be confronting for many consumers. There have also been cases of sellers misleading consumers about the nature of timeshares or the operation and consequences of the contract.
Paying for timeshares
As well as paying what is often a substantial sum (between $12,000 and $25,000) for the timeshares themselves, you will usually be liable for other fees and charges associated with managing the scheme and maintaining the upkeep of the holiday accommodation, whether or not you use the timeshare.
Timeshares are not credit products. However, it is common for a related credit contract to be entered into in order to pay for the timeshare. If you have entered into a credit contract in order to pay for the timeshare, you are probably being charged interest under the credit contract as well as fees and charges relating to obtaining the credit.
Contact the Consumer Action Law Centre for advice on whether or not you can get out of the credit contract.
What information must the timeshare company provide?
A timeshare company must provide you with certain documents at the point of sale. Their failure to do so may give you the right to cancel the timeshare contract. Below is a list of the main documents that you should be provided upon entering a timeshare scheme: -
- Product Disclosure Statement (“PDS”):
A PDS sets out some of the terms and conditions of the timeshare contract. It will also contain information about the product including: features of the product, fees that apply, the benefits and risks of purchasing the product, any commissions that are payable, information about complaints handling and cooling-off rights, what happens if you don't pay fees and charges and all other information that might reasonably be expected influence your decision to purchase the timeshare. A PDS must be set out clearly and concisely and must contain sufficient detail about the scheme to enable you to compare similar products. !! IMPORTANT !! The PDS may look like a glossy advertising brochure for the timeshare company. BUT, it contains important terms and conditions relating to your entry into the timeshare contract. - A copy of the timeshare contract - A copy of the timeshare application - A copy of any related credit application together with a copy of the credit contract.
- A Cooling Off Statement
This statement alerts you to your right to a cooling off period and must be set out on a separate document in a form approved by ASIC (see below).
- A Statement of Advice (“SOA”): You should be given a SOA if the sales staff have told you that they think the timeshare is a good deal for you. They should not do this unless they have talked to you about your financial position and your goals and objectives.
The SOA should explain why buying the timeshare fits with your goals and objectives. If the timeshare company fails to provide you with one of these documents, or the documents provided are out of date, deficient or contain false or misleading information, you may have a right to withdraw from the timeshare contract.
You will need to exercise this right as soon as possible after discovering the problem, particularly as some time limits may apply. We recommend you seek legal advice.
Getting out of the contract
If you have just signed up to a timeshare contract, you may still be within the “cooling off” period - act immediately. Even if you are uncertain about wanting to get out of the contract during the cooling off period and/or you experience difficulties in contacting the timeshare company to have any questions you have answered, we recommend that in the meantime you still exercise your cooling off rights. You can always sign up to the deal again, after you have had your questions answered to your satisfaction.
N.B - Do not be deceived into believing that what the sales person said about the timeshare scheme being a “once in a lifetime offer” is true, it very rarely is. It is much more difficult – often impossible to cancel after the cooling off period is up. However, if you have concerns about how the timeshare was sold to you, or you believe you were misled, you may have rights under law to have the contract cancelled or to obtain some other relief. In general, if you are able to withdraw from a timeshare contract, you are also entitled to terminate any credit contract that was linked to the timeshare contract (generally this is where the credit contract was organised by the timeshare company rather than by you). The finance company may also be liable for any misrepresentations made by the seller in relation to the timeshare contract and/or the credit contract.
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