Timeshare Lawyer – What to Look For
Let’s say you’re in a timeshare, and you found out it wasn’t the deal you were promised. Like millions of other people, you thought you were getting a free vacation—and all you got was a day-long sales pitch. You were promised the moon, and told how great your life would be with a timeshare. Maybe they made a bunch of false promises about how much the timeshare was worth or how it would work. Now you’ve found out it wasn’t true, you’re stuck with maintenance fees, and you want out.
That’s when you hire a timeshare lawyer. If you’re ready to hire one, call us at 657-845-3100 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may be able to help.
So what should you be on the lookout for when choosing a lawyer?
Unrealistic legal schemes.
Sadly, this is extremely common among timeshare exit attorneys. In fact, part of why our law firm takes these cases is because we think many other attorneys in this area in particular are taking advantage of their clients. We’re a consumer protection law firm and help protect consumers against all kinds of scams. To see other lawyers running what is basically a scam damages the reputation of our entire field. We actually started out suing companies online that were running “free trial scams” (those fake Oprah or Shark Tank ads you see online that get your credit card and bill you every month without permission). We moved into car title fraud, solar panel fraud, and a number of other kinds of claims.
When we saw what was happening to timeshare victims, and what other lawyers were doing, we wanted to offer a real service that could really help.
So what is it we have such a problem with?
Many attorneys are simply writing a letter saying you’ve exited your timeshare. To the average person, if an attorney tells you you’re out, why wouldn’t you believe them? The letters look official and use “legalese” (what we call complex legal language nobody understands, even other lawyers). They will charge thousands of dollars to write this letter, and then tell you to stop paying the timeshare company.
But that doesn’t legally do anything. The only way writing a letter alone can get you out is (1) if you’re within the very short period after you sign when you can cancel the timeshare at will, or (2) if the timeshare company responds and agrees you’re out. Under the law, you haven’t actually gotten out of your contract just by writing a letter unless the contract says you can. So when you quit paying your maintenance fees, the timeshare companies foreclose on your timeshare and report you to credit agencies. Now you have a foreclosure on your credit and the cost of that in increased insurance costs, rent or mortgage costs, etc. could be more than your maintenance fees ever were.
Other lawyers will tell you they have a “deed” method, where they will deed your timeshare to someone else or another company, and now you’re free. Again, this isn’t going to stop your credit from being destroyed. Some lawyers have even gotten into a lot of legal trouble over this.
In our opinion, the only real service a timeshare lawyer should be offering you if you want to exit is to “go to the mat”—i.e., to fight the timeshare company on the law, usually in arbitration, until you either get a settlement or get a legal judgment saying you are out of the contract (and an award for damages if applicable).
Timeshare exit firms are not attorneys.
You will almost certainly see ads for “timeshare exit firms” if you’re looking around for ways out of your timeshare. These aren’t law firms – they’re companies that promise to have a legal way to get you out of the timeshare. Usually they tell you to start paying the maintenance fees to them instead of the timeshare company, and then have you send a long series of letters over a long period of time (a couple of years). At the end, they tell you “congratulations! You’re out!”
This isn’t real, and if you think about it, you’ll see what they’re doing. Why does it supposedly take so long to write all these letters? Because the long you pay the timeshare exit company the maintenance fee money, the more they make.
Attorney Generals for several states have cracked down on companies doing this. Some have been shut down. Often they charge just as much as a law firm would. One company, Timeshare Exit Team, made millions before having to shut down. The owners had originally been rain gutter salesmen who decided one day to start charging people to get out of timeshares.
Nothing against selling rain gutters—but that’s not a lawyer. Timeshare exit companies aren’t licensed, and they’re not able to go to court or fight in an arbitration.
Some of these timeshare exit companies will say they have partnerships with lawyers or will hire one for you. Unfortunately, many of those lawyers are the same ones just writing rubber-stamp letters that have no legal effect.
A timeshare exit attorney needs experience in both arbitration and court.
What you really need for a timeshare exit is what is called a consumer protection attorney. This is a kind of attorney who specializes in fighting businesses who have treated consumers unfairly. This kind of attorney almost exclusively does a mixture of lawsuits and arbitrations, depending on what the contract with the business says. Consumer protection attorneys are fighters. Some attorneys draft wills or contracts, or help with the paperwork to close on a home. Fighting a company isn’t about paperwork—it’s about learning how they mistreated you, finding the laws that protect you, and making that case to an arbitrator or a judge.
For example, you’ve probably heard of a lemon law attorney—an attorney who helps people who’ve bought cars that turn out to be junk. That’s part of consumer protection law. We take on a number of different kinds of cases, including timeshare cases.
Our firm has a team of attorneys who have both courtroom and arbitration experience. Our founders, Mr. Kneupper and Mr. Covey, both started out working on giant lawsuits for millions of dollars between corporations. They learned there, and left and built a firm focusing on helping regular people instead. Now we have a team of lawyers from some of the top law schools in the country. We’re handling hundreds of arbitrations at any given time, and train our attorneys to be fight hard for their clients.
In a timeshare case, the attorney has to look for things that violate the law. Fraud, false promises, breaches of the contract—things that show that the customer didn’t get the deal they thought they would. Every state has different laws, but they all generally have some kind of protection for consumers.
Most timeshare companies put an arbitration clause in your contract, which means you have to go to arbitration instead of court to sue them. Arbitration works a lot like a shortened version of a lawsuit. A private lawyer is appointed to act like a judge and decide the case. Then the attorneys have a hearing (usually over Zoom) before the arbitrator and present their sides of the case. You would testify as a witness, and there may be other witnesses as well. There are exhibits and evidence just like in court.
How much arbitration experience does the timeshare lawyer have? How many cases in court?
When you’re picking a timeshare lawyer, this is the key thing you should be focusing on. Do they actually do arbitrations? Will they do one in your case?
A lot of being a consumer protection lawyer is about making clear that you will fight to the end if the other party doesn’t settle. Most of the time you will come to some kind of agreement before the end. But if you don’t, you have to be willing to fight. Big businesses know which attorneys will actually fight to the end and which won’t. They actually keep track of what we do (and if they know your attorney won’t fight, they know not to settle). In fact, it’s an open secret that many big companies share that information with each other about what plaintiff’s lawyers do in private databases. If your timeshare attorney has no experience doing arbitrations, or never goes to the end and actually has the hearing, how can they help?
We can’t promise a win and can’t make guarantees. That’s another huge red flag, and you see it with timeshare exit attorneys all the time. Would a football coach ever tell you he could promise to win a game? A good attorney won’t promise to win, but they’ll promise to fight hard for you. In our experience, how good your case is (and how good your evidence is) makes a big difference. If we think you can’t win we’ll tell you. But what we see with timeshare companies is often blatant fraud during the sales presentations, and it’s often targeted at the elderly. They don’t have a good reputation, and in many cases, they don’t have a good defense. And often their contracts are vulnerable to attack exactly because of that fraud.
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 email@example.com. We may be able to help.