Can a lawyer help you get out of a timeshare?
People who get stuck in timeshares often end up feeling hopeless. Many of them have been outright scammed. The salespeople in the industry are notoriously high pressure, and notoriously dishonest. Victims report thinking that they were going on a free vacation, only to not be given the key to their room until they sat through a “short presentation.” Only that short presentation dragged on for hours. They get told all kinds of things that aren’t true. That their payments are tax deductible, that they can vacation whenever they want, that they can resell their timeshare or their points for lots of money, that they might even make money.
They’re sold a fantasy, and the reality turns out to be points you can’t use without booking years in advance, a timeshare you can’t sell to anyone, and maintenance fees that just go up and up and up. But you’re locked into the contract (or so they tell you). You’re stuck. And the worst timeshare companies will tell you the only way out is to buy more timeshare points, which just ends up being another scam.
So what can you do?
A lawyer can help.
If you’re having a problem with a timeshare company and need an attorney, call us at 657-845-3100 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
How can an attorney terminate a timeshare?
First things first, let’s be clear: there is no guaranteed way to get out of a timeshare, even with an attorney. But you can do what anyone has a right to do: sue them.
Most timeshare companies actually make this somewhat easier for you. They don’t want to be sued in court, because that’s a disaster for them. It’s expensive, but more importantly, the lawyers get to dig into all their files. The lawyers get to question their salespeople under oath. The lawyers get to drag everything out into the public record. And we can promise you that no timeshare company likes when that happens.
So what they do instead is put an arbitration clause in the contract. An arbitration clause says you can still sue them, but not in court. Instead you have to take your lawsuit to a private arbitration, which means that a lawyer will act as the “arbitrator” (essentially a judge) and decide the case on the law and the facts.
Arbitration has disadvantages for you, which is why the companies want it. But it also has advantages. It’s cheaper, and takes a lot less time. The company normally has to pay almost all of the arbitrator’s fees. Your attorney’s fees are less because of how much less there is to do. And at the end of it, you can get a legal judgment, just like you would in court.
What most people don’t realize is that many states have strong laws that protect consumers from fraud. And fraud is something you can sue on in any state. If you were lied to in a presentation, and you are still in the statute of limitations, you can sue for that. Or if you have had your timeshare for years, but they’ve broken the promises they made (or stopped giving you the quality they promised), you can sue for breach of contract.
And there are also often a lot of ways to invalidate a contract under state’s laws. If you were induced to signed through fraud, for example, or if a clause is illegal.
Or if there has been some kind of important breach of the terms by the company. Just as an example, often the timeshare companies start making it as difficult as possible to actually use your points. If you have to wait two years to book a vacation, do you think it sounds reasonable for something you’re paying every year for? Is that what you were told you would get as part of the bargain? When one party breaches a contract in an important respect, in most states the rule is that the party that was wronged no longer has to perform their side of the contract.
All of these are legal arguments. Whether you can win them depends on a lot of things. How strong is your proof? Are you a credible witness (because it may be your word against theirs)? Can you show some kind of way they wronged you – proof that you can’t book anymore, or proof that you signed under duress? Can other people testify in your favor? A spouse or a friend who was there with you?
There’s no guarantee in an arbitration, just like there’s no guarantee in a lawsuit. But most lawsuits settle because there’s risk on both sides. If you win, you wouldn’t just be cancelling your contract. You’d ask for your damages, and those could be a lot. Many companies will settle just to avoid that risk. Some want to fight all the way to the end, and sometimes they win. But sometimes they end up losing and paying everything back, and more. We find that the “little guy” is usually a lot more sympathetic than a giant corporation. And especially in the timeshare industry, there’s lots of people who’ve had the same problems as you. Many of these companies have been sued by federal or state agencies. Their hands aren’t clean, and it’s widely known.
We can’t tell you what will happen, but we fight for our clients aggressively. Our law firm has hundreds of arbitrations going on at any given time. Our lawyers also work on complex class actions and on all kinds of cases protecting consumers. And if your maintenance fees on your timeshare are thousands a year, every year, and only going up, it’s probably worth the cost of an arbitration to try to cancel it.
If you’re looking for a lawyer to help try to get you out of a timeshare, call us at 657-845-3100 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may be able to help.