Over in Australia, a 66-year-old widower is desperately trying to get out of a timeshare contract she can no longer afford and has not used in years.
Her and her husband signed up to a timeshare agreement in 1996 but since then the annual maintenance fees have gone from $153 a year to $912 a year, which has made the timeshare completely unaffordable to the lady who has lost her husband. In addition to this the timeshare contract will not end until 2084, which means she faces paying more than $53.000 in fees until the contract ends. The retiree’s daughter has also stepped in to help her mother as when she dies, the contract will be passed down to her children and so on until it is paid off in full. The pair have been trying to reach out to the timeshare resort for help, but after they asked to see copies of their legal agreement, the resort just fobbed them off.
The resort has been firm in their response so far and have explained that the resort accepts no liability or obligation to end her contract and she must continue to pay, or she can sell it. The problem is, who wants to take on an expensive timeshare with a contract that can be passed down to your children and grandchildren when you die.
Timeshare in Australia
Just like the rest of the world, the timeshare industry in Australia has been dwindling, mainly because of the high rising maintenance fees. But also because people have found easier more accessible ways to holiday. The Australian market is however heavily regulated and timeshare resorts must adhere to strict regulatory guidelines. For instance, resorts must be registered to issue financial contracts and must have 14 day cooling off periods. There is one big problem though in that contracts are often extremely lengthy, meaning people can be stuck until they die, and unlike Europe, these contracts are in perpetuity, meaning they get passed down to your children in the event of your death, even if they do not want it. So essentially your children could be paying for something they do not want and will never use.
In 2019 The Australian Securities and Investment Commissions released a study on the harm timeshare schemes were doing to customers. In which they discovered that there was a much higher level of discontent amongst owners and people felt they were not getting the expected value from their membership and they had experienced financial stress and hardship because of changes to fees and personal circumstances. The report also went on to say that the way in which timeshares are sold was unscrupulous as consumers were subjected to high pressure sales tactics and coerced into signing up to lengthy contracts.
People who enter into timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these types of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between. If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a timeshare or a ‘holiday points’-based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.