Over the past few weeks, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries from readers regarding cancellation of their timeshare contracts, known as relinquishment and making a claim. Today we give you some very basic information on these subjects.
Many owners are now getting on in years, their circumstances have changed, for instance they have retired and no longer want the expense of the maintenance fees. For some it is how they holiday that has changed, no longer using the timeshare or the exchange programs available.
Getting out of the contract is a minefield, there are many companies out there who promise to do this for you, some are genuine some are not. But all have one thing in common, the cost!
Before you even think about engaging a company to do this for you, it is always advisable to contact your timeshare company or resort first, just to check if they have a system in place which allows you to surrender your timeshare. This may just save you a lot of money and also gives you the piece of mind it has been done correctly.
Beware the companies that use the “bait and switch” methods, either promising a sale or cancelation, only to attempt to sell you another product when you attend the meeting, these will either be a holiday club or lifestyle package, promising huge discounts. All you will be doing is swapping one product for another, at a very considerable cost.
Then we have the proliferation of “claims” companies, many of these will offer a “no win no fee” claim. This is to get you interested in attending a meeting, then you will be subjected to a lengthy pitch as to how the claim will be processed. Then comes the crunch, the only way you can do the “no win no fee” claim is to pay them considerable sums to “cancel” your timeshare first.
The claim itself may never materialise and in many cases the owner finds out that nothing has been done and they are still liable for maintenance fees. Their particular timeshare company or resort does not recognise the company and will not deal with them. They are only interested in getting your money!
Club la Costa has issued numerous warnings about this subject, they have categorically stated they will not deal with these third party claims companies, only with the member direct. In fact CLC has a program in place whereby they will let out members for free. Maybe this is a move to stem the tide of claims that are now going through the Spanish legal system. But at least they are offering a way out which will not cost their members a fortune.
If you are unable to do this yourself then using a reputable law firm may be the only answer, but first you should always do your due diligence.
As for making a claim, in Spain the law is very clear, if the timeshare was purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and it falls foul of the timeshare laws, then you have the right to take it to litigation. The main points for a claim are:
- Contracts which are longer than 50 years, commonly known as perpetuity;
- Points or floating week systems, in may cases this also includes fractional.
- Deposits or any payments taken within the 14 day cooling off period, in many cases the courts have now extended this to any payments within 90 days of signing.
These are just the basics, there are many more points which a good lawyer will also use to bring the case to court, not just the timeshare laws, but also Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.
The process for making a claim is the Spanish Courts is not a quick procedure, it can take upto 18 months for a case to reach conclusion. Then this may be delayed due to the timeshare company lodging an appeal, this is all done to add frustration into the equation.
By taking a case to litigation through the Spanish legal system also requires the use of a competent registered lawyer, who also has the experience in this field. Not all lawyers will understand the complexities of timeshare contracts. A good example is one German client who decided to use a German lawyer registered to practice in Spain, just because he was German. This lawyer did not know timeshare laws, but because of the rulings by the Supreme Court he thought it would be easy.
This particular lawyer informed his client to stop paying the maintenance as soon as he took on the case. When the case eventually came up at the court in Maspalomas, he lost. The timeshare company argued before the court that the member was now in breach of contract as they had not paid the maintenance. The court agreed.
This particular client has now paid the original law firm which they rejected , to take proceeding against the lawyer for wrongful advice, plus to make an appeal using the relevant laws. A very costly experience for this client.
Over the past few years we have also highlighted several “fake” law firms, these tend to inform the owners that their timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be part of this. First they need an amount to file the case at court, using the “fake” procurador who has to be paid.
Then a few weeks later you get the good news that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Firstly, ask yourself this question, when is a director of a timeshare company going to plead guilty?
Now there is the matter of paying “tax” to get your money, this will usually be around 20% of the awarded amount, this is alway inflated to bait you in. Many of the documents we have received from readers who started to believe it, have been nearly three times what they originally paid.
If you believe that you have a claim and want to know more, then use our contact page, we will go through it with you and check if you do actually have a possible case. We will also let you know what the procedure is, the breakdown of the legal fees and what they are for. These do need to be paid to take a case to court, you will not find any Spanish law firm that will take these cases on without these costs.
Just want to cancel your timeshare, then again use our contact page, let us know what timeshare you own then we will be able to explain how you can do it yourself.
Remember, not all companies that contact you or you find on the internet are genuine, many have been set up with just one goal, to take your money and run. Do you homework, check, check and check again, not sure, then ask us. We will point you in the right direction.
In the Tuesday Slot tomorrow, we tell the story of US Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his experience with Bluegreen. It is another of those “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories involving either Veterans, serving military or law enforcement personnel.