We like hearing about positive experiences within the timeshare industry. In fact, we have a list of resorts that really go out of their way to provide good service for their customers. These shining stars tend to be older timeshares, or grandfathered contracts from an era when timeshares really cared, and when they were the most affordable vacation option for families. Unfortunately for every positive story we encounter, we find at least ten people who have been through what our clients frequently describe as a ‘bad nightmare’ experience with their resort. Despite the size and profitability of the timeshare industry, doesn’t it seem strange that there isn’t a lot of investment in customer service professionals that can respond to negative online comments, in a timely way?
If you were to look at all the complaints that American consumers have against timeshare companies, one trend quickly emerges; the timeshare rarely responds or addresses the concerns of their customers. In our professional opinion, there are good, bad and really bad experiences to be had as a timeshare owner.
The Good and Rewarding Parts of Timeshare Ownership
For some people who own a timeshare, paying on a monthly basis compels them to enjoy the vacation time they are entitled to. This is certainly true for business owners, executives and other professionals who previously found it difficult to prioritize much needed time-off from work. Having a timeshare reminds you that vacation time matters, and since you are paying for it already, it makes sense to use what you are paying for.
Many timeshare owners get to know other families who frequent the resort. Much like owning a vacation home, over time you get to meet other people, and form friendships. One of the great draws to timeshare ownership, is the sense of community that owners feel, after they have frequented the same resort for a few years. You also get to know the management and staff, who can assist you or provide advice about local entertainment, shopping destinations and more.
When reward structures, points and exchanges work they way they should, a timeshare can be a great way to trade up for other exotic destinations. While the waiting period to exchange weeks at partner or reciprocal resorts can be long, it’s often worth the wait for timeshare owners. Some vacation membership programs allow owners to exchange weeks for resorts in Europe, or exotic destinations like the Maldives, and exclusive resorts.
The Bad Aspects of Timeshare Ownership
Did you know that our expert team of timeshare release consultants at Aconsumercredit™ frequently read timeshare complaints on popular forums, resort websites and on consumer feedback sites like Trustpilot? When we see a surge in complaints from a particular resort, we want to learn more about what is really going on, and why timeshare owners are facing difficulties. It helps us to stay informed about issues at different resorts and vacation clubs.
By browsing the online complaints consistently for the past twelve years, we’ve drawn some accurate conclusions on what the experience can be like, for some timeshare owners. We also have learned that many resorts use a variety of tactics, to discourage the conversation about timeshare release; they simply stop communicating with their customers. Unfortunately, the outstanding bills and accrued late-payment charges and interest, continue to add up during the stalemate.
Another negative aspect of long-term timeshare ownership, is that you can’t really predict the performance of the resort or property management team. What was once a new and beautiful resort, can quickly fall into disrepair, if proper funds are not allocated for maintenance. Politics and the region can also impact the quality of your vacation experience, and this is a risk with resorts in third-world countries.
It may be safe on the resort but being a tourist in a community that is impoverished or experiencing political turmoil, can limit your activities off the resort. Imagine being told that it is not safe to leave for excursions, tours or even for shopping? If it sounds surreal believe us, it happens often enough to concern many timeshare owners. But when it does happen, there is nothing they can do to change it, except by attempting to swap weeks with another partner resort.
The Really Bad Consequences That Some Timeshare Owners Experience
The 2017 hurricane season created so much damage to popular resorts, that some timeshare owners are still not able to access their timeshare. During situations where there is a dispute between the insurance company and the resort, timeshare owners can be left in a limbo; you’re still required to pay all the fees (of course) and on time, but the resort will not accept reservations or permit use of the premises, if it is deemed unsafe due to disrepair.
How would you like to be ‘locked out’ and prevented from using something that you are paying for every month? Another consideration is that resorts who do sustain damage, and who are not fully compensated for repairs by the insurer, can seek funding from the existing timeshare owners. This comes in the form of an assessment fee, which is divided equally among timeshare owners.
If you are finding the costs of timeshare ownership burdensome, imagine getting a bill in the mail for several thousands of dollars. It happens to timeshare owners far too often. In our experience, timeshares can be unforgiving when it comes to levying assessment fees on members. They revert back to the timeshare contract, which clearly outlines the responsibilities of the owner, which include random assessment fees that they can do little to nothing to change.
Maintenance fees are the biggest cause of a transition between an affordable timeshare, and one that creates a financial burden for families. While the need to pay maintenance fees too, is outlined clearly in every timeshare contract, the amount by which the resort can raise those fees, is not regulated in most states.
Financial mismanagement can result in a capital shortfall of the funds required to upkeep, or improve the vacation property. While most timeshare companies are sensitive to fee increases, and try to avoid them in order to retain full occupancy, some clients have reported dramatic increases that have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in time, depending on the expense management and financial needs of the resort.
Bankruptcies of timeshare resorts don’t happen that often, but when they do, owners generally find themselves shut out of the information loop. Resorts can voluntarily close due to financial issues, place the timeshare for sale, or merge with another large resort chain. In that scenario, the merger is often the best result for timeshare owners, who sometimes gain access to new flexible offers, and expanded exchange programs with other luxury resorts. Owning a timeshare can feel a lot like a one-sided relationship; if things are going poorly for you, they have little empathy for your situation. If things are going badly for the resort, you have few legal options.
That is our take on the good, the bad and the really bad aspects of owning a timeshare. If you have had a similar experience, connect with us on Facebook and share your story. Part of our commitment to advocating for timeshares, is learning more about the circumstances that some owners have to deal with. And if you are exploring your option to negotiate a contract release from your timeshare, call us at 1-800-587-EXIT for a free consultation.