Saturday, September 28, 2013

How to Get Out of a Timeshare in South Carolina

Type in "how to get out . . ." in Google, and Google attempts to automatically complete my search with, in order: (1) a lease; (2) debt; (3) jury duty; (4) depression; and ... (5) a timeshare! (Edit 10/3/13: When I originally posted this blog on 9/28/13, those were the automatic complete results from Google in my search engine; today, it shows "how to get out of a lease" immediately followed by "timeshare" and then by "speeding ticket" and "a funk".) Why do so many people want to know how to get out of a timeshare? It is often because the benefits, terms, and conditions of the timeshare are misrepresented by the timeshare salesman to the buyer.

A common scenario for a timeshare buyer is as follows:

After reviewing the contract in detail and attempting to use the timeshare, the now-timeshare owner realizes that he or she was lied to about the features of the timeshare by the timeshare salesman. Maybe the maintenance fees are outrageous. Or it can only be used once every three (3) years instead of each and every year. The buyer cannot use the week he or she desires. The timeshare company will not purchase the weeks back from the buyer. Or the timeshare cannot actually generate the buyer a guaranteed profit. And all variety of promises and guarantees made verbally by the timeshare salesman, and sometimes in handwritten notes, that are not contained in the purchase contract documents.

The owner calls the timeshare salesman's cell phone, but no calls are answered and messages are not returned. The owner contacts customer service about the promises made by the timeshare salesman and the reality of the contract and features of the timeshare. The owner wants a refund, but the five (5) day rescission period, discussed in an earlier blog post, has passed, and the timeshare company declines to offer a refund. The timeshare company may point out to the buyer that there is an Arbitration Provision in the contract, and that the buyer cannot even pursue his or her legal remedy in Court and must submit the buyer's claim to a single arbitrator.

Alternatively, the timeshare salesman or another timeshare agent tells the owner that he or she can purchase an upgrade and receive the features and terms that the owner believes he or she already purchased. Maybe for another $7,000.00 the timeshare will really be able to be used each and every year instead of only once every three (3) years. Or maybe the buyer must buy two (2) bi-annual timeshares in order to be able to use a timeshare each and every year. At this point, some owners purchase upgrades, while others have smartened up very quickly and immediately seek assistance from a third party, either a resale company, usually online, or an attorney.

A resale company usually requires that the owner have paid in full for the timeshare and own it free and clear, whereas many who realize they have been defrauded shortly after their purchase have paid a down payment only, maybe some monthly payments, and have a loan to pay the balance. However, if you own the timeshare in full, you may be able to pay a timeshare resale company a fee to take your timeshare off your hands. That fee may be a couple or few years of maintenance fees and the costs and expenses of any transfer fees. Transfer fees to the timeshare resort itself may exceed $1,500.00. Make sure to read your contracts very carefully, as not reviewing a contract and relying upon a timeshare salesman's verbal representations are not options any longer, as that is probably what put the buyer in this predicament in the original timeshare purchase.

Before approaching an attorney, a buyer may make complaints with the South Carolina Attorney General, Mayor of Hilton Head's Office, South Carolina Real Estate Commission Board of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs Department, local police, and others. That is, of course, after being rebuffed by the timeshare company itself and the property management company for the timeshare company. Making complaints on Ripoffreport.com, Redweek.com, and other such websites that contain information identifying you, such as your name, last name, first initial and last name, purchase date and amount, etcetera, may result in you receiving a letter from the timeshare company's attorney to immediately cease and desist and to remove your post and/or report that the dispute has been resolved or face legal action for defamation and other violations of the law.

If you are going to seek legal representation and make these accusations of fraud against the timeshare company, you should expect and anticipate that the timeshare company will make counterclaims against you in a lawsuit to include similar allegations of fraud, breach of contract, etcetera, as the timeshare company lashes about in an attempt to further oppress the people it defrauded. But at this point you have exhausted all of your options and you have nowhere else to turn. You want to stand up for your rights, and you need legal advice and possibly legal representation. But what are your rights? Call us for a free consultation. We offer consultation by phone, Skype, and FaceTime for out-of-state owners of timeshares located in South Carolina.