Aussie pensioners fight to escape 99-year timeshare
At some point in our lives most of us sign a contract.
Probably several times.
It might be for a loan or a workplace agreement.
But rarely if ever – they are for 99 years.
I mean, what’s the point of that?
But that’s the long term reality for many Australians who claim they didn’t realise they were signing up for 99-year terms when they took out timeshares on holiday apartments.
“It’s only now you get the agreements and start looking at them that you see in the tiny writing down the bottom that it’s 99 years,” Stacey Vickers told A Current Affair.
She is helping her mother Pat Mathers “escape” a timeshare contract with Classic Holidays at The Beach House at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast.
But it could be worse.
In New Zealand, timeshare operators have signed people up for 999 year terms.
Should the timeshare holder in the holiday apartment not live for 99 years or in the New Zealand case 999 years, then the debt goes to the estate so it passes on to the family whether they want it or not.
In the 1980s you couldn’t walk the tourist strip on the Gold Coast without being hounded by sales people urging you to buy into a time share resort.
For a yearly fee it provided holiday makers with free accommodation for one week a year.
But now in an age of Airbnb, the timeshare model is collapsing with many people trapped in to contracts that they say are sending them broke.
And so it is for Ms Mathers who is in her late 80s and said she is too ill to travel anymore.
But she still has 70 years’ worth of holidays to take.
“All I want to do is get rid of it,” she said.
That’s why Mark Allison from Exit Timeshare Now set up his business helping timesharers to escape their holiday nightmare.
“The cost of staying there and paying your maintenance fees is more expensive than you’d pay to stay in a four or five star hotel,” he told us.
With many time share clients now elderly he is finding, “they’ve not used their accommodation for five, seven, 10 sometimes 20 years, yet they’ve paid their fees”.
Each month Ms Mathers has $900 taken out of her old age pension.
“They take so much out of my pension every month until I have it paid off,” she said.
Ms Mathers only has another 70 years to go.
And should she die before then Stacey will take over the debt.
“I don’t want it,” she said.
It could be worse.
Ms Mathers might have signed up in New Zealand.