August 8, 2016 9:27 pm
Updated: August 8, 2016 11:36 pm

Getting out of a timeshare is about cutting your losses

When the dollars was strong, many British Columbians jumped into the timeshare market. Now, those deals may not look so good. Consumer reporter Anne Drewa finds out if it's even possible to get out of these agreements.

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Buying into a timeshare in a desirable destination often sounds like a good idea, but many buyers quickly regret their decision after learning of extra costs and reading the fine print.

But for those looking to get out of their timeshare, the answer isn’t straight forward.

Kelowna’s Rick Tippett and his wife were one such couple who hit a road block when trying to sell their Las Vegas timeshare, which they bought for $10,000.

They thought at the time that it would be money well spent and they were getting a great deal.

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But soon after buying, they realized the timeshare’s point system would only allow them to make two bookings over seven years. Add to that mounting maintenance fees and a high U.S. Dollar, the Tippetts wanted a way out.

“It’s very difficult. The timeshare companies, this is their source of revenue. They are collecting monthly payments from you for a future product or future time which you may or may not use,” says Toronto based lawyer Newton Wong.

Wong specializes in contract law and says the reason it’s so difficult to free yourself from a timeshare is because many owners have signed a binding contract.

“Each one of those timeshares is structured differently,” says Wong. “They have different legal requirements, different contracts for different timeshares.  So, it’s very important to review the agreement and look at the terms and see if there’s a way to vitiate the agreement.”

That often means hiring a lawyer.

There are also third party companies specializing in helping consumers get out of their timeshares with success.

Essentially, these companies review your contract, often negotiating directly with the resort. For more complicated cases, a lawyer is often hired. The service isn’t cheap.  It can cost thousands and take up to 18 months for results.

“There are companies out there that will attempt to sell it, but it’s always going to be extremely discounted. Sometimes you can’t even giveaway a timeshare, because there are ongoing maintenance costs to it.”

The American Resort Development Association Resort Owner’s Coalition says if you want to sell your timeshare, the first step is to ask your resort developer, manager or owner’s association.

It also cautions consumers to be wary of timeshare resale companies.  The resale market is riddled with scams.

Avoid giving your credit card number or paying any money to a company until you have done your research.  It’s also important to understand  there are no guarantees a timeshare can be resold.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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