Tips on how to exit your timeshare — without turning to a company out to scam

Problem Solvers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Orlando resort that an elderly couple once loved was no longer practical for them. They wanted to stop using it, but were stuck in a timeshare contract with no exit clause.

It’s a common problem, but experts say don’t give up hope. There are ways (besides death) to get rid of a timeshare.

What you want to avoid is falling victim to a scam by a company that claims to have expertise in timeshare exit strategies and charges thousands upfront to help you — like Vacation Consulting Services, a Springfield company sued this month by Missouri’s Attorney General.

“It’s pretty remarkable the ends to which some of these companies will go to steal money from people and make these blatantly false representations,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said.

The Better Business Bureau even put out a study on how some Missouri timeshare relief companies have victimized owners across the U.S.

Schmitt recommended that, to exit a timeshare, your first move should be to contact the timeshare itself. Some timeshares actually will help customers exit their contracts — despite language in the contract that appears to preclude such help.

If that doesn’t work, hire an attorney who specializes in timeshares — like Russ Schenewerk of Branson whose office is less than a mile from several timeshares nestled in the Ozark Mountains.

He knows some timeshare companies make parting from them as difficult as possible.

“I’ve had cases where Wyndham required the owners to go to arbitration and to go to Florida to do it,” Schenewerk said.

Good attorneys do cost money, but you have a much better chance of success.

Any attorney you hire should have a deep understanding of consumer law, including the Missouri Merchandising and Practices Act, the Uniform Condominium Act and the Missouri Nonprofit Corporations Act.

Those laws, and similar ones in Kansas, allow attorneys to argue everything from unfair sales practices, false promises, financial exploitation of the elderly and even failure by the resort to disclose its financial status before contracts were signed.

They’re laws that could help you finally become free of something that’s become more of a burden than a benefit.

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