Today’s article is one many European owners will identify with, getting out of your timeshare when no longer being able to use or travel due to illness. Yet they are expected to continue to pay the yearly and often risings maintenance fees regardless, Mrs B a MacDonalds owner that Inside Timeshare has been working with for around 6 months is a classic case. She and her sister owned at the Dona Lola Club, they purchased around 15 years ago, due to illness both of them were unable to use or travel, even to the resorts in the UK for the past 11 years. Yet they continued to pay the maintenance year on year.
MacDonalds would not let them surrender, despite their ages (both over 80) and the fact they are both unable to travel. Eventually they signed up with a company to get rid of the timeshare, this was duly done and recorded by a notary, (we have the documentation). Unfortunately MacDonalds do not recognise the transfer and have sent in a debt collection agency to recover the unpaid maintenance. (The case is with the Financial Ombudsman).
Is it fair that people such as Mrs B and Ralph Marble should be tied into something they can no longer use or even afford?
Once again Irene Parker has sent the following article on the case of Ralph Marble and his Diamond Resorts membership.
Should those with Debilitating Medical Issues be required to pay Vacation Maintenance Fees until they Die or until the end of their Descendant Lineage?
By Irene Parker November 14, 2016
Mae West, German Immigrant turned Vaudeville and then Hollywood star famously said, “Less is more.”
Today, we ask timeshare developers, ARDA, TATOC, RDO this simple question:
Is what happened to Ralph Marble alright with you?
Surely not even Wall Street, venture capitalists and private equity investors think the situation that exists, requiring those with serious illnesses to pay maintenance fees for vacations they can’t take, is all right? If they do, there is something deeply wrong with our society.
According to the interview,
Marble told Washington that he tried to cancel his timeshare membership several times to no avail. Marble was told they couldn’t let him out of his membership, even though he disclosed to them that he had a medical condition.
Diamond Resorts International responded with a letter stating, “We are unable to grant your request, a surrender of ownership.”
Statements from Marble’s membership show that maintenance fees have gone up every year.
The first initial payment was $200 a year, but the last bill he received was for $684.
Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group only handles timeshare cases, and he says Marble’s story is not uncommon. “It’s not intended to let anybody out and it’s intended to be a lifetime obligation.”
The timeshare industry is a billion-dollar industry, and once you join many say you can’t get out.
And if you think that you can sell your timeshare, Finn says think again. “The resale market for timeshares is nearly non-existent. Your timeshare must be paid off, and most are completely worthless.”
Marble said he attempted to sell his timeshare twice. “They turned out to be bogus, they went off with our money,” he told reporter Washington.
The good news for Marble was that Diamond Resorts International did let him out of his contract after we (the reporter) contacted them.
Is the media our only hope?
Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:
“At Diamond Resorts International, we regularly work with our owners who find themselves in difficult health, financial or other circumstances and are seeking to relinquish their ownership. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, earlier this year we announced a program called Transitions by Diamond Resorts that will launch in the coming months. It is intended to formalize the process for owners in good standing who wish to relinquish their ownership without having to resort to third party timeshare relief companies.”
Mae West also said, “Your line isn’t low enough to trip me.”
Public awareness is our goal. Prospective timeshare buyers should ask:
- May I take the unsigned contract and have a timeshare lawyer review it?
- May I see a five year history of maintenance fee increases?
- Please provide details of a secondary market. In the US, owners can call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask, in advance of signing a contract, whether a secondary market exists for the timeshare you are considering.
To find out what your timeshare is worth, check Sharket: https://sharket.com/
For those Diamond Resorts owners in Europe, there is at least a ray of hope, Diamond are putting into place ways that people can surrender their membership. They already have a programme whereby those over 75 can be released.
They also allow for those where a partner has died and the remaining member can surrender, there is also provision for those in financial difficulty and illness to also hand back. Much of this may be due to the changes in the timeshare laws within Europe, which have strengthened legislation in favour of the consumer.
Inside Timeshare also asks the same question as Irene, is it right that people such as Ralph Marble and Mrs B be locked into paying for something they no longer have any use for, especially when maintenance has been paid when never used?
I think we all know the answer to that question.
It now remains to be seen what the trade bodies ARDA, RDO and TATOC have to say about this, after all it is their own members who are making life difficult for owners such as these. Surely, there must be a way forward, it does the industry no good when matters like this get into the news, giving the impression that it is an industry solely interested in getting your money. At least for Ralph his nightmare is over, thanks mainly to the publicity and help from News 6 and the story from Eryka Washington.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for another insight into the world of timeshare in the USA. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.