Did Your Timeshare Fees Really Have to Go Up?

Our services are designed to assist frustrated timeshare owners by providing real cancellation solutions and strategies, that help them permanently resolve a timeshare obligation. While ownership can be costly, especially when purchasing a new timeshare with a front-end balloon payment that requires financing, consumers have an expectation of affordability.  It’s central to the value proposition for buying a timeshare in the first place.

Then fees go up.  At first, the incremental increases may not be objectionable; after all, it’s understandable that a large resort would have maintenance needs to keep the vacation destination in top shape for timeshare owners. But what would you do, if you received a written notice that the cost of your timeshare was going to double, or triple exponentially, for years?  That would change the way you look at timeshare ownership.

Do timeshare fees really have to go up, when you have hundreds of members paying monthly?  Are there any laws that limit how much more a timeshare can charge its members, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the option to increase costs?

What Reasons Do Timeshare Organizations Have for Raising Member Fees?

Natural disasters such as tropical storms, hurricanes and floods can cause millions of dollars in damage.  Many of our clients have shared that they believed any kind of damage would be covered, and compensated by insurance coverage, procured by the resort.  When you get into a car accident, your insurance pays for the damage right?

Unfortunately, within the timeshare industry, recuperating from collateral property damage isn’t as cut and dry.  Ask timeshare owners at Marriott’s OceanWatch resort, who saw a 17% increase in maintenance fees, in a single year.   Changes to coverage for hurricane damage in prone areas (i.e., coastal beach resorts) have been cited as the reason for the astronomical fee increase.

But for every example of timeshares ‘behaving badly’, there are shining service starts like Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort in Gatlinburg.  The resort lost much of the grounds and some of the structures in a 2016 wildfire.  However, the resort went public to state that the liability insurance, (which is paid in part by timeshare owners), would cover the damage and replacement.

The example of the Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort is rare, and refreshing to see in the industry.  If properly managed, with funds appropriately allocated for high quality insurance coverage, there should be no need for a resort to pass the loss and cost on to members.

Watch for Red Flags: Mergers Acquisitions and Timeshare Bankruptcy

One of the first warning signs of impending increases to membership or maintenance fees, is the merging of your timeshare, with another vacation membership club.   If you are lucky, it’s your timeshare that is acquiring another resort (a sign of relative business strength and reduced risk of steep maintenance fee increases).  It’s a red flag and warning, if your timeshare is the one that is being acquired.

Experts in the industry can predict when there is going to be a sharp increase to maintenance fees, for timeshare owners.  We would like to share three important red-flag signs that your timeshare is headed for trouble, and increased lease owner expense.

1. Rentals on Your Resort Are Cheap

Given the nature of the restrictive contracts involved in owning a timeshare, combined with the aggressive construction of new resorts in prime locations, demand for a timeshare is far lower than the supply.   This can be part of the business model for some successful resorts, who reserve a portion of their accommodation inventory for high-cost tourist rental.

If rentals are high in terms of cost, and low in availability, you may be able to breathe a cautionary sigh of relief.  However, if rentals are constantly declining in value, and there appears to be a low demand for suites and empty space, the next avenue of revenue collection for the resort, may be a substantial hike in fees.

2. The Timeshare Is Facing a Class Action or Expensive Law Suit

It sounds hard to believe, until you take a closer look at the BlueGreen Vacations case, where hundreds of angry owners have filed suit against the timeshare company.  But it doesn’t take a large class action suit to create a reverberating and sweeping increase of fees and costs for timeshare owners.  Sometimes, it can be as common as a child who is injured on the property, or inside a suite that is owned by multiple timeshare members.  When that happens, all owners can be equally liable, particularly if the property is a deeded one.

Nothing predicts the future of a maintenance fee spike, like legal action against your timeshare.  While we don’t advocate the purchase of timeshares in general, if you or a family member are shopping for one, beware of pending litigation as a warning of potential fee increases.  Despite liability insurance, it can still cost you.

3. Existing Owners Are Pressured to Buy More Weeks

When a timeshare begins to experience revenue problems, the first option they choose is to sell more weeks.  Have you ever spoken to someone who owns a timeshare, and bought extra weeks, only to find that the properties they were interested in (or dates) were consistently booked?  It’s a frustrating situation that many timeshare owners find themselves in.

How can that be legal?  Many timeshares guarantee that you are entitled to a set number of weeks, according to your contract, but they aren’t concerned at all, if it becomes difficult to use them.  Websites and YouTube are full of testimonials and complaints from timeshare companies that are notoriously famous for running this type of scheme against their members.  It’s how they bridge the revenue gap.

Essentially, the stance that many timeshare management teams take with their customers, is that you should “book earlier for demand dates”.   There are always some weeks available for booking, around the tropical storm season, and that is one of the harshest realities about customer service, and the business model that timeshares follow.

4. Assessment Fees and Upgrades

To maintain profitability, and stay current with competitors in the area, timeshares have to perpetually upgrade the resort.  This may mean adding a new spa area, a restaurant, watercraft and marina, or other amenities that will help them increase their resort ranking.  Consumers want to stay at a five-star resort, and have that experience; and it costs money to refresh, update and augment guest services, to achieve and maintain that ranking.

5. High Complaints and Owners That Stop Paying

Where there is smoke, there is always fire, and when it comes to online complaints, the most problematic timeshares are riddled with pages and pages of angry testimonials and discussions online, about service issues.

To protect your credit, it is never a good idea to withhold payment of membership or maintenance fees from your timeshare.  Contract law is figuratively on the side of the timeshare, and defaulting on any payments associated with your membership can quickly alter and lower the credit score you’ve worked so hard to build.

As an emotional expression of frustration, many owners do however, stop paying.  Again, to bridge the revenue gap, the resort is left with no other alternative than raising fees unilaterally for all members.  By raising fees substantially, the resort generally incurs more angry timeshare owners, who choose to default on their payments, and the cycle quickly becomes a downhill spiral in terms of profit loss, and fee increases.  No one wins.

Unfortunately, it is not until fees begin to climb that timeshare owners and vacation club members realize, how few protections they have built into the contract, to insulate them from rising costs.  And it is not until those costs become unmanageable or disruptive to the household budget, that owners start to take a hard look at what they are paying for, and whether it is worth it.

Learn why more Americans are saying ‘goodbye’ to the costly financial burden of timeshare ownership.  Call us at 1-800-587-EXIT or chat with one of our timeshare cancellation experts live, on our website.  We will answer any questions you have about the legal process of canceling your timeshare, what is involved, and why timeshare cancellation may make sense for your family.  Call us today.