Ralph Marble says he has been paying for a timeshare with Diamond Resorts International since 2005.
But shortly after signing up he was diagnosed with a medical condition and no longer felt comfortable traveling.
‘I can’t afford to pay for something we can’t use,” Marble told News 6 investigator Eryka Washington.
“Have you ever used your timeshare for any vacation?” Washington asked.
"No. I didn’t want to take the chance of getting out and something happens," Marble said.
Marble told Washington that he tried to cancel his timeshare membership several times to no avail.
Marble was told they couldn’t let him out of his membership, even though he disclosed to them that he had a medical condition.
Marble also sent a letter explaining his medical condition, but Diamond Resorts International Resorts responded with a letter stating, “We are unable to grant your request, a surrender of ownership.”
Statements from Marble’s membership shows that maintenance feeds have gone up every year.
The first initial payment for the fees were $200 a year, but the last bill he received was for $684.
“So, you’ve been paying every year nearly $700?” Washington asked.
“Yes,” Marble said.
Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group only handles timeshare cases, and he says Marble’s story is not uncommon.
“Not a bit. It’s very very typical,” Finn told Washington.
The reason why?
Finn says the timeshare contracts are not written fairly and the provisions are not for the consumer, but
for the developer.
“It’s not intended to let anybody out and it’s intended to be a lifetime obligation,” Finn said.
News 6 has found dozens of complaints online about several time share companies, In fact, during our investigation 20 companies were filed to Florida’s Attorney General’s office just this year.
Many claim they were taken advantage of, misled, and lied to during what was supposed to be a 90-minute sales presentation.
Instead, consumers said they endured a 5-hour high-pressure sales pitch.
“They are showing you around the grounds and matching up with you physiologically. They are commission-based. They are commission-based, they don’t get paid if they don’t make a sale,” Finn said.
The timeshare industry is a billion-dollar industry, and once you join many say you can’t get out.
So how difficult is it to get out of a timeshare contract?
Finn says it is quite difficult.
And if you think that you can sell your timeshare, Finn says think again.
The resale market for timeshares is nearly non-existent. Your timeshare must be paid off, and most are completely worthless.
Through our investigation, News 6 found nearly a dozen ads for timeshares on eBay for $1.
Finn says consumers should be aware of companies claiming to buy or sell your timeshare.
“The resort is going to stonewall them just like they initially stonewall me,” he said.
“How realistic is it to believe that this guy can do something, I can barely do?” he continued.
Marble said he attempted to sell his timeshare twice.
“They turned out to be bogus, they went off with our money,” he told Washington.
The good news for Marble was that Diamond Resorts International did let him out of his contract after we contacted them.
Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:
"At Diamond Resorts International, we regularly work with our owners who find themselves in difficult health, financial or other circumstances and are seeking to relinquish their ownership. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, earlier this year we announced a program called Transitions by Diamond Resorts that will launch in the coming months. It is intended to formalize the process for owners in good standing who wish to relinquish their ownership without having to resort to third party timeshare relief companies."
If you have a timeshare contract that you want to cancel, there are a few things that you can do.
Ask the company you with, if they are willing to allow you to cancel your contract. Hire an attorney who will charge you a flat rate and do not go with anyone who charges by the hour. Finally, There are statues that protect seniors in Florida, that can read up on your rights.