When we discuss timeshare ownership with our clients, we often compare it to the psychology behind buying a gym membership in January. It is the start of a new year, and you want to make some changes that will impact the quality of your life. You buy a membership at a fancy, luxury gym with all the amenities you want, and you start to go daily. That dedication lasts about a month on average, right? By the second month, you may be going to the gym three times per week. By the third month, maybe once per week. Six months later, more than 70% of people stop going to the gym altogether, even though they are paying monthly fees. You arrive at a place where you know you have the membership if you want it, and you intend to use it, but then life happens and you get busy. You stop using the membership, but you keep paying the fees. Does that sound familiar? It is a very similar situation when timeshare owners dont get value from a property membership they are not able to use on their terms.
If you are a nodding your head, you are not alone. It is human nature to want to improve our recreational and lifestyle, and so buying a membership to a vacation club or timeshare seems like a great way to make vacation time a priority. After all, if you are entitled to those weeks, somehow or another, you will find a way to use them because you are paying for them.
By the time our clients are ready to cancel their timeshare, and consult with our legal team, many of them have stopped using the property for a variety of reasons. We share the top ten reasons that timeshare owners do not get value from their vacation property.
1. No Time
If you are a busy professional, finding time to take a vacation once or twice a year can be a challenge. Millennials and Generation X buyers (aged 20-45) may purchase a timeshare thinking that ownership will help them prioritize vacation time. Unfortunately, in most cases, the strategy doesn’t work, and between family, career and other obligations, the timeshare sits underutilized.
Personal schedules change, but securing your scheduled weeks at your timeshare requires advanced planning, and rescheduling dates are not always flexible with many vacation membership clubs.
2. Expensive Flights
Owning a timeshare means that you have a “free” place to stay, when you pre-book your time at the resort. However, the cost of food, recreation and your flights can add up, when you combine them with the monthly expense of owning a timeshare. Flights to many destinations are going up constantly, making travel costly and less convenient as a vacation option for consumers.
3. Bored with Location
The first time you saw the beach, the pool and the club house at the resort, you were enthralled. Part of that appeal is the novelty of exploring a beautiful new vacation location. How did you feel about your timeshare or resort the fourth or fifth time you spent time there? What about the tenth or twentieth time? The same place, sometimes the same time of the year? It becomes like the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day”, and over time, the repetition gets boring.
4. Property Maintenance
Just because you are paying maintenance fees, does not mean that the resort will stay looking new, luxurious and well-kept. In fact, one of the most common complaints is that while outdoor amenities are maintained for guests, the inside furnishings and facilities of timeshare resorts can become used, abused and dated quickly.
Think about it. The average timeshare can be like a hotel room, that may not be updated for years. They are professionally cleaned, but furnishings are rarely replaced, and take the brunt of wear and tear, as the home or condominium is used constantly. Chipped counters, worn floors, and beat up mattresses and upholstered furnishings can take some of the luxury out of your luxury vacation, while maintenance fees are used to keep the pool or beach inviting.
5. Financial Dispute
If you are in a dispute with your vacation resort, developer or timeshare management team, you can be suspended from accessing your timeshare until your fees are paid and up to date. Some disputes can be related to unfair increases in maintenance fees; it is unfair because the resort can increase maintenance fees (and your costs) at their own discretion. If you are trying to fight back against your resort, your timeshare will remain unusable until the issue is resolved.
6. Resort Community
You bought into a PG, family friendly kind of environment to enjoy with your children. After a few years, you notice that the environment has become less family oriented, more adult, or has changed in terms of resort culture to accommodate younger guests. Would you want your children around young adults who may be drinking excessively, or exposed to illicit recreational drug use?
While it sounds far-fetched, some consumers have found that a change in the culture of their resort community to be a big problem. If you wanted a quiet retreat, and your resort has become like a “frat house” party every night, you can try to swap weeks at another resort. Or, you may avoid using your timeshare completely, out of frustration.
7. Travel Advisories and Safety
If you purchased a resort membership in a foreign country like Mexico or the Caribbean, there may be changes to the social, financial or political aspects of that country, that may make traveling there unsafe. Increasing crime rates, drug trafficking, abductions and extortion are common in many popular vacation destinations, but can be a real problem cyclically in certain areas, to warrant a travel warning or Federal advisory.
Affluent Americans are a target when traveling to other countries, and terrorism can also impact safety for those travelling from the U.S. to timeshares in foreign countries. Travelers should bookmark the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs site for alerts and safety warnings, and check before traveling to any resort.
8. Purchased Another Timeshare
Some consumers “buy low” for their first timeshare, and quickly realize that a low-budget timeshare may not be the best location for vacationing families. The lower the cost of the timeshare and maintenance fees, the more likely consumers are to be dissatisfied with spending vacation time there. Amenities are not the same, and the club community may not be ideal for all travelers, particularly those with young children.
Consumers frustrated and let-down by their first timeshare purchase, can segue into another timeshare contract to get the vacation experience that they want. And they will keep paying monthly or annual bills on the timeshare they aren’t using, hoping to derive rental income, or perhaps sell or transfer the property to another buyer.
In a divorce situation, a timeshare is counted as a liability, and not an asset. Nonetheless, when a divorce is being contested, the timeshare may be “off limits” to either spouse, until ownership is determined. Divorce can also complicate timely payments of maintenance and membership fees, and create arrears that disqualify the couple from using the property.
Life can change in the blink of an eye, and personal health or physical abilities can impact how fit you are to travel, or how able a consumer is to enjoy the amenities that they are paying for at a timeshare resort. Some condominiums have stairwell access only; this will not longer work for seniors or individuals who may require assistive devices, like a cane, wheelchair or walker. Some timeshares may accommodate a change of suite, but many are fully-booked, and unwilling to move contract owners into other more accessible properties.
When you consider all the ways that your life, circumstances and needs can change, the one constant is that your timeshare will not change; it remains an inflexible contract that demands on-time monthly payments without growing to accommodate your needs.
If you have stopped utilizing your timeshare, call us or chat with us online to learn more about your timeshare cancellation options. Your contract isn’t a “life sentence”, and Aconsumercredit™ provides a legal pathway to timeshare cancellation that protects your credit, and ends the burden of timeshare ownership. Call us today.