The greatest hope of anyone who’s gone through timeshare troubles is to have someone influential on their side — a force that will lobby for their rights, understand their financially vulnerable position, and recognize the manipulation they’ve been through.
Ideally, this force would also have the authority to resolve their timeshare issues so that they can once again enjoy vacations without feeling indebted to their timeshare provider. Could ARDA-Resort Owners’ Coalition be the one to do this?
The American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition, or ARDA-ROC, is a non-profit organization that describes itself as an advocate for timeshare owners. This branch of the trade association known as ARDA conducts lobbying at local, state, and federal levels to protect timeshare owners from falling victim to unfair policies.
But is ARDA-ROC really protecting consumers and enhancing vacation ownership? Or is it all talk? Let’s explore the disparity between what ARDA-ROC states it does versus what it actually does.
ARDA-ROC is an extension of the American Resort Development Association that specifically focuses on the protection of timeshare-owning consumers. This non-profit organization claims to be the “first line of defense against legislation” that has the potential to be detrimental to timeshare owners.
ARDA-ROC started in the 1990s with a mission to grant owners the freedom to enjoy their timeshare experiences without the stress of drastically rising maintenance fees and other unwarranted restrictions placed upon ownership.
The association asserts their dedication to fighting injustices and scams by sharing legal victories on their website. Some notable accomplishments include:
From these accomplishments, it would seem that ARDA-ROC is invested in saving timeshare owners’ money and protecting their privacy. While these are definitely worthwhile contributions, one of the biggest issues that timeshare owners face is not being able to escape ownership when it no longer suits their lifestyle or budget. Successfully exiting ownership is notoriously challenging and nearly unattainable for most.
Let’s dive into ARDA-ROC’s stance on timeshare cancellation and how much help they actually provide consumers who are interested in making an exit.
While ARDA itself isn’t shy about prioritizing the financial wellbeing of the timeshare industry, ARDA-ROC’s position as its consumer-friendly branch would presumably mean that they’re concerned about major issues that timeshare owners face.
One of those issues is the inaccessibility of timeshare cancellation. Their response to this problem was to create the Coalition for Responsible Exit, a directive of resources and information pertaining to timeshare cancellation.
The Coalition for Responsible Exit provides basic step-by-step knowledge about the cancellation process, albeit spun from a moderately pro-timeshare industry perspective. ARDA-ROC believes the best way to go about timeshare cancellation is by honoring the wishes of your timeshare developer. This is made evident in their advice to first contact your timeshare resort when attempting an exit.
They claim that this is the “safest, easiest, and most cost-effective solution”; however, most owners trying to cancel a timeshare with a huge developer like Hilton Grand Vacations or Wyndham would probably beg to differ.
The Coalition for Responsible Exit also has a very assumptive view on timeshare exit companies, placing emphasis on how a large sum of them take money from their customers without actually providing any services. The coalition urges consumers to be very skeptical about working with third-party companies because many of them have been the “subject of criminal and civil investigations.”
While it’s true that third-party scams run rampant in the timeshare industry, so do scams from many major timeshare companies — but they would never speak on this as it’s an obvious conflict of interest.
ARDA-ROC has pushed for policies that crack down on timeshare exit companies. For example, they supported a piece of Texas legislation that sought to provide more contract requirements and increased penalties for timeshare exit companies that commit fraudulent acts. While this particular pursuit is honorable, the fact that the Coalition for Responsible Exit places more emphasis on limiting exit companies than actually providing cancellation options for unhappy owners is suspicious.
Coalition to Reform Timeshare has also provided us with another reason to question the legitimacy of Responsible Exit when they revealed a statement from ROC’s chairman Ken McKelvey. According to Reform Timeshare, McKelvey has admitted that ARDA-ROC’s primary goal when creating this program was to provide timeshare companies with the opportunity to upsell and upgrade their owners’ memberships.
ARDA-ROC’s insistence on staying loyal to your timeshare provider and unabashed intentions to upsell customers who are trying to seek cancellation seems like their way of maintaining the relationships they have with major developers and timeshare resale companies that just so happen to be ARDA members.
While ARDA itself directs much of their attention toward sustaining financial prosperity for timeshare developers, ARDA-ROC very convincingly markets itself as an association for the common people. But before buying into their semblance as the pinnacle of consumer protection in the timeshare industry, we first must acknowledge how they source their funds.
According to their website, ARDA-ROC is funded by 1.6 million individual timeshare owners that contribute to their advocacy and legislative efforts. These voluntary contributions, however, may not be as voluntary as they want you to think.
Take a look at the breakdown on your most recent timeshare payment. It’s very likely that your developer could have a membership with ARDA — as 95% of the timeshare industry does. If that’s the case, then you will see a $5-$10 charge put toward ARDA on your bill.
Any contribution that you did not consciously choose to make is certainly not voluntary. Luckily, you can easily opt out of making donations to ARDA.
But if your timeshare developer slipped this donation onto your bill thinking you wouldn’t notice, you might have a bigger problem at hand. Actions like this should not warrant continued trust in their business and should be added to the list of reasons why you should consider timeshare cancellation.
ARDA-ROC is a sister company of ARDA that claims to be looking out for the best interest of timeshare-owning consumers. They claim to advocate for policies that save timeshare owners money and protect them from fraud. But are they willing to protect an owner whose best interest may involve timeshare cancellation? The likely answer is no.
Though ARDA-ROC acknowledges that discontinuing ownership may be the most responsible choice to make in some situations, their Coalition for Responsible Exit does not actually provide consumers with valid exit options. It’s merely a collection of rudimentary information that makes cancellation seem a lot easier than it actually is. They do not acknowledge how challenging it can be to successfully achieve termination or how timeshare developers are often the biggest obstacle in achieving it. What’s worse is that they use it to try to manipulate timeshare owners into upgrading their membership when all they really want is to get out of it.
If you are serious about escaping ownership, it’s time to do more than opt out of a donation to ARDA. It’s time to contact Centerstone Group. We are a full-service advocacy group that provides our clients with a time-tested resolution process. We can help you make a smooth exit even if your timeshare developer has told you it’s not possible. Contact us for a free consultation and see if you qualify for our services.