KANSAS CITY -- A metro man finds himself trapped in a vacation timeshare that he never agreed to buy. As FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar explains, the timeshare belonged to his father who died more than 20 years ago. When the son tried to stop paying the yearly dues the timeshare corporation turned him over to a collection agency.
There's nothing better than a relaxing vacation in a tropical resort, or so thought Mike Kilkenny's dad Frank who purchased a timeshare in Cancun in 1989. But when Frank died two years later, Mike found himself responsible for a timeshare he didn't even want.
"I used it once back in the 90s," said Kilkenny.
But the resort was geared more to college kids on Spring Break than adults, so he never made a return trip. He said he tried to give the timeshare back to the timeshare company, Americas Travel and Vacation Club, but was told no. An employee told him he was now the new owner. Something Kilkenny said can't possibly be true.
"They didn't send me any new contracts to sign," said Kilkenny.
In fact everything, including the membership cards, are still in his late father's name. Kilkenny even had his brother-in-law, an attorney, call the timeshare company to argue his case. But employees refused to talk to him, saying he wasn't the owner. At that point, Kilkenny tried to sell the timeshare, but couldn't find a buyer. So for the last 18 years, he has kept paying the $200 yearly maintenance fee.
"I just bit the bullet and paid for it because I didn't want it to go on my credit report," Kilkenny said.
Then, three years ago, Kilkenny decided enough was enough and stopped making payments. That's when he started receiving phone calls from a collection agency.
So he called FOX 4 Problem Solvers.We talked to Kansas City real estate attorney Paul Sinclair about the predicament and were told that there is no legal way anyone can be held responsible for a contract they never signed. Armed with that knowledge, FOX 4 called Americas Travel and Vacation Club. But a woman named Darcy wouldn't talk to us, saying she could only talk to the owners.
So, we put Kilkenny on the phone. This time the news was good, the vacation club agreed to stop pursuing Kilkenny for yearly maintenance fees on his father's property. In fact, the vacation club employee told Kilkenny "there was no need to get the media involved." A smiling Kilkenny disagrees.
"Apparently I do have to go to the news because that's what it took to get someone's attention," Kilkenny said.
For viewers finding themselves in a similar predicament where a company is demanding payment on something you didn't order, ask to see a copy of the contract that has your signature. If they can't produce one, demand they tell you the case law or state statute that gives them the right to pursue you even if your name is not on the contract.