“You’ll be hearing from my attorney!”
People on TV shows often threaten each other with their lawyers, screaming that they will bury each other in paperwork or sue them until they are out of business. The real world is much less dramatic, but there are still situations in which you need a lawyer to help you.
A common time that many people need legal advice is when they are trying to complete a timeshare exit. As you are probably aware, the timeshare industry doesn’t make it easy for owners to cancel their contracts. Even where there is a clear contractual right to cancel, timeshare resorts will often employ unfair tactics to get you to delay or rethink your decision.
Or maybe you’ve already missed your deadline to cancel your contract because a salesperson misrepresented to you that you could cancel within 30 days when the real period was only five days. (Sometimes, they may not even mention that there is a cancellation period at all!) In cases like these, you might need someone who has experience not only with timeshare laws but how to use the legal system to protect the rights of consumers like yourself.
In this article, we will take a look at timeshare lawyers as well as how to go about finding and hiring the right one for you. We’ll also look at the cost of a timeshare cancellation attorney and how that cost can change based on the legal services you need. Finally, we’ll talk about getting an attorney as a part of a broader timeshare exit strategy.
Most people don’t often find themselves shopping for a lawyer. When you need one, though, where to start is often a difficult question. Unless you personally know a lawyer or have one in the family, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking for in a lawyer.
First, keep in mind that not all lawyers do the same thing. For example, a lawyer for Amazon.com might be amazing at corporate mergers or contracts, but they are probably not going to know much about timeshare law. The same goes for divorce, criminal law, or personal injury attorneys.
When it comes to timeshare contracts, what you need is a lawyer who specializes in consumer protection law, breach of contract, and/or civil litigation. Those lawyers aren’t the ones you typically see on TV or billboards. The best way to find these attorneys is through referral services like Martindale.com or Lawyers.com.
For example, let’s say you signed a timeshare contract while on vacation in Las Vegas. When you were in the timeshare sales presentation, the representative told you that you could cancel your contract within a year and receive a full refund. A few months later, you got your first bill for maintenance fees and special assessments. The number itself is shocking, and you know it will only go up in the future.
When you send a cancellation letter, the developer tells you that you only had five days from the signing of your contract to cancel, a fact not to be found in any of their disclosures. In this case, you should find an attorney. If you go to Martindale.com and search for “consumer law Las Vegas” or “breach of contract Las Vegas” you will find several attorneys listed.
Also note that both Martindale.com and Lawyers.com list “peer review” ratings for attorneys, meaning that they have professional ratings from other lawyers and judges. The best are rated AV, then BV, and so on. In this way, you can find an attorney who specializes in the kind of law you need and rest assured that they are well-qualified with a good track record.
Once you have found an attorney you like who is willing to take your case, you should still stop and think about the best way to proceed. Lawyers are known for results, not speed, and the legal system can be famously slow. Lawyers are also subject to ethical rules that require them only to speak with the company’s lawyers, creating another bottleneck.
Timeshare companies will often take advantage of this and drag out any process, particularly because their relationships with exit attorneys can be very confrontational.
Of course, just finding an attorney is the first step. The next thing you need to think about is what hiring a lawyer will cost. As you probably know, lawyers aren’t cheap. Fortunately, however, there are a lot of different kinds of fee arrangements that you can have. You must understand ahead of time how these work.
If your state allows lawyer commercials on television, you have probably seen ads that say things like, “No upfront fee! We don’t get paid until you get paid!” This refers to a type of legal fee called a contingency fee. The idea is that if you seek to receive money from someone that has wronged you, the lawyer helps you get it and then takes their fee out of that amount (often between 20% and 50%).
Most timeshare cancellation attorneys won’t do this, though. The fact is that you probably won’t get a big cash award from a timeshare developer in most situations, so it is hard for lawyers or law firms to make money on contingency awards in these cases. That leaves two other options: hourly fees and flat fees.
An hourly fee agreement is very common for civil litigation lawyers. This simply means that the lawyer keeps track of their time and bills for that time in 15-minute or six-minute increments. For example, let’s say that your lawyer quotes you a $250 hourly fee. Then, they force the timeshare developer to cancel your contract.
On the bill, it says that they spent 20 hours total on your case. That time was made up of writing a letter (half an hour), legal research (one hour), a series of phone calls (half an hour), and a negotiation with the developer’s legal department (another half an hour). All put together, then, your total fee would be $5,000.
Finally, attorneys who are extremely experienced in timeshare matters may be able to give you a flat fee. This means that their fee would be one number that would stay the same as long as your case isn’t too complicated. For example, a timeshare cancellation attorney may quote you a flat fee of $5,000 for getting your timeshare canceled under the terms of the contract.
They can quote you this fee because they have done the work so many times that they know exactly what it takes and can do it in a very efficient way. However, keep in mind that if the matter becomes more complicated, it may no longer be covered by a flat fee, and you may have to switch to an hourly fee, which could potentially cost you thousands more.
Timeshare cancellation attorneys can be a great resource, but their expense should make you think twice about hiring one right out of the gate. It might be easier and less expensive to first consult a timeshare exit company like Centerstone Group and see what your options are.
At Centerstone, we like using timeshare cancellation attorneys when necessary — so much so that we work with many of them regularly. First, though, we look at your situation and tailor a response to what you need, whether that is a contractual rescission, our proprietary pressure campaign, transfer of ownership, or further legal help.
If you do need a lawyer, we‘ve already done the work on finding the best ones and can recommend them to you. We’ve also worked out fee arrangements with those lawyers, so our clients don’t have to start from scratch in negotiating their own agreements. Because we also do much of the paperwork and other tasks ourselves, you will save by not having to pay an attorney to perform the work.
(Keep in mind, though, that any attorney works for you, not us, and the attorney-client relationship is with you. That means that when you hire an attorney with us, you are getting a second independent advisor on your exit team.)
Don’t take our word for it, though. We are an A-rated business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the testimonials of our satisfied former timeshare owners speak for themselves.
The legal system can be messy. Even lawyers will freely tell you that they don’t like situations where other lawyers have to get involved. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary. And when it is, you want to have reliable trusted advisors by your side to help you make the best decisions about your legal representation.
If you are trying to exit your timeshare and you’re not sure where to turn, contact Centerstone Group today. We will give you a free consultation and case evaluation so we can help you decide the next step you need to take.