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Buyer’s remorse. You aren’t getting what you paid for – lots of unfulfilled promises, interminable roadblocks in scheduling your vacation, escalating maintenance fees, minimal assistance from the timeshare company. This is not the bonding family vacation experience you envisioned. You want out.
Often too late, a timeshare buyer reads the contract’s fine print only to discover a “hidden” arbitration clause. Arbitration may sound like a reasonable term or avenue of resolution, but what does it mean to a timeshare buyer?
The forced arbitration clause is often a clever ploy, couched as a term of the contract, that essentially strips you of one of your most basic democratic rights – the right to dispute your case in a court of law. Instead, your contract forces you into private arbitration, a forum often cultivated by the very corporation you oppose – with an arbitrator they prefer, in a location they choose, and with costs you are forced to share. The binding arbitration generally does not allow appeals. Rather than a public forum with evidentiary requirements and issues aired transparently, you may find yourself in a biased, confidential hearing with weak judicial safeguards and a diminished ability to argue your side of the case. Moreover, the confidentiality and lack of documentation weakens accountability and allows companies to settle their dishonest tactics in private.
To add more salt to the wound, timeshare buyers discover they are the only contract party to have waived rights. Despite their intimidating and deceptive sales techniques, the timeshare developer still retains the right to sue you, to damage your credit, to assess further fines and costs and prolong your misery.
Though many of their deceptive practices have become public, Wells Fargo recently ducked behind a highly-restrictive forced arbitration clause to hide its varied schemes to defraud customers. Despite the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) fine of $185 million, the bank has been able to evade accountability and to divert many cases from court into private arbitration hearings.
Timeshare buyers with bona fide complaints about unscrupulous sales techniques and resale issues have turned to the CFPB in the past, but the bureau – and by extension, consumers – face radical changes under the current Administration. Originally created to protect the rights of consumers from deceitful financial practices, the Bureau established itself as a Washington agency that placed consumer interests above those of lobbyists. Unfortunately, the CFPB appears to be one of the government regulatory agencies headed for the chopping block. Congress recently repealed the CFPB rule that forced arbitration clauses could not bar consumers from joining class-action suits that would otherwise allow their “day in court” regardless of arbitration clauses.
YOUR LEGAL PROBLEMS ARE NOT INSURMOUNTABLE!
Despite arbitration clauses and other legal hurdles, chances are good that your timeshare developer is exposed legally in ways that are relatively straightforward and provable. You owe it to yourself to hire experienced, competent counsel. At the Aaronson Law Firm, we have over 80 years of combined legal experience. And we are willing to sue, if necessary, in the interest of getting your timeshare cancelled. Contact us today for your free consultation.