FLORIDA TIMESHARE COMPANY ACCUSED OF MONKEY BUSINESS BY BRITISH ZOO OWNER
Florida timeshare company Sea Oats Beach Club changes 20 year ownership contract to 'forever' without asking the owners, leaving them with expensive, unwanted commitment.
Joy and John Palmer were no strangers to timeshare in 2001 when they bought a membership at Sea Oats Beach Club in Englewood, Florida. The couple had visited Florida 11 times before attending a sales presentation on the beach resort on Manasota Key.
"We knew what we were doing," says Joy. We loved Florida and knew we would be back with our kids and grandkids. The most important thing for us was that the contract duration was 20 years. Timeshares can be a burden when they last for longer periods, as people's vacation habits change considerably over time."
Joy, who owns a wildlife park in the UK, was therefore stunned to find that her contract was changed from the 20 years she had agreed to, into a contract that tied her into membership (complete with expensive annual fees) forever.
"They told me that they had voted at the AGM to change the all the ownership term lengths to perpetuity. They tried to present it as them doing us a huge favour. That's just bananas. I am 77 now and won't be travelling back there again. We planned this carefully around the deal we were offered. I don't walk as well as I used to, and I don't need the stress of that kind of long distance commitment, let alone the expense of a timeshare week I am not using."
Joy, whose husband John sadly passed away 9 years ago is dedicated to the park she owns and takes great pride in the fact that the animals are rescued from zoos or inappropriate environments. “Our animals need constant care,” says Joy, “and I didn't need this stress. I tried contacting Sea Oats to say I didn't want this extension. I wanted my membership to end on the originally agreed date."
Sea Oats Beach Club refused point blank. They told Joy that the vote had approved the change for all members, and she was committed 'in perpetuity' whether she liked it or not. "That's when I really began to panic," says Joy. "They refused to acknowledge their actions as being anything other than generous in extending the contract forever. In the end I had to get a timeshare exit firm to help me, and I am fully aware that a huge amount of them are scammers.
“Thank goodness I found one that wasn’t.”
"Joy was very lucky," explains Suzanne Stojanovic, spokesperson for American Consumer Claims. "US timeshare companies are notoriously difficult to exit from. What Sea Oats did by extending the contract in her absence was legal and covered in the small print, but Joy was 'gibbon' a terrible shock to find she had been saddled with the commitment forever. Thankfully there was a happy ending for her as her contract was able to be relinquished.
"People need to consider very carefully before buying a timeshare, particularly in the USA," continues Stojanovic. "Timeshare contracts 'In Perpetuity' are still popular, and this kind of commitment is exactly what Mr and Mrs Palmer were taking care to avoid.
"The other thing to be aware of is that part of a US timeshare management fee covers property tax, so there is no chance to stop paying or you are in the unenviable position of owing money to the government."
Joy is now free of the unwanted timeshare, and back to running her wildlife park.
If you need help with a timeshare issue, get in touch with our team. We are here to help.