How to Cancel a New Timeshare Contract

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Companies selling timeshares seem to be everywhere--at the mall, at the beach, at restaurants and even in your mailbox, always offering something that sounds fantastic. The concept is simple. You tour their facilities, listen to a sales pitch, and get something for free. Many people don't know what they're getting into; the sales pitches are high pressure and the photos of resorts are beautiful, and they sign on the dotted line. They soon realize that they made a mistake and want to cancel the contract, but it's not always that easy.

Act quickly. The laws differ by state, but timeshares have a rescission period, a time in which you are allowed to change your mind. The rescission period is usually very short; in some states you're only allowed four days grace, so you need to act right away. The deadline is included in your contract. Read your contract carefully and follow the instructions for rescission.

Send a letter. You cannot cancel your timeshare over the telephone or through email. Canceling in person is possible, but remember that you'll be dealing with the same people who talked you into the contract in the first place. The best way to cancel is through registered letter. That way you'll have a copy of when it was sent and will also be able to trace when it arrived. Keep a copy of everything for your records.

Call the company. If the grace period has passed, you can try to negotiate with the company. Remember that you signed a contract and that they don't legally need to let you out of it, but if you explain the circumstances they might cancel. Be polite when speaking with the representative; if you argue they'll fight back. Remember that they are the ones who hold the power. If the place where you bought the timeshare doesn't help, call the company headquarters and see if they will listen.

Contact a lawyer. As a last resort, you might want to obtain legal help. Search in your area for someone who is familiar with timeshares and real estate laws. Since timeshare pitches are high pressure, a lawyer might be able to build a case. The case most likely won't go to court. The lawyer will represent you and negotiate with the timeshare company. Don't expect to get off scot-free, you signed a contract with the company and they're going to want to make something. You'll also have to pay the lawyer.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Owners' Advocate is an organization that may be able to help you out. They aren't lawyers, but they are experienced in helping people out of timeshare contracts.
  • Remember that a timeshare purchase is legally a real estate purchase and will be treated as such in the eyes of the law.

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