Getting out of timeshare contract tricky

Some exit companies don’t deliver on promises

SAN ANTONIO – For Solomon Choi, buying a timeshare in Las Vegas was fast and easy. Getting out of that timeshare has been a different matter.

“When I received the first annual maintenance and renewal bill, I was like, ‘Wait, this is a pretty big number,'" he said.

After six years, Choi's annual maintenance fees soared to $2,000. That’s when he decided he wanted out.

“Once you’re locked in, you are in for life in terms of these annual renewal maintenance fees,” he said.

Choi turned to a timeshare exit company.

Often, these types of companies make sweeping promises, including a guarantee that they can get you out of a timeshare contract. But that guaranteed exit comes with a hefty upfront price.

Choi said he paid more than $11,000 to an exit company that promised he would be rid of his timeshare within 18 months.

Consumer advocates say beware some exit companies, read the fine print carefully and don’t pay big upfront fees for promises.

“We’ve seen numerous timeshare exit companies guarantee getting consumers out of their timeshare contracts but never end up delivering,” said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports’ money editor.

So how can you get out of a timeshare without losing money in the process?

“More timeshare companies now have deed back programs to make it easier for owners to leave their timeshare,” Gilman said. “You can also hire a realtor who specializes in timeshares. But remember, timeshares are often a depreciating asset, so you should be prepared to take a loss.”

The American Resort Development Association says the timeshare industry has worked tirelessly to warn consumers about fraud in the exit industry and is committed to better communicating with owners about safe exit options.

As for Choi, he is still waiting to see if his timeshare exit company will hold up its end of the deal.

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