Finn’s latest battle is a deceptive practices class-action lawsuit filed against Festiva and the Zealandia Holding Company on behalf of people who bought into a timeshare resort previously known as Celebration World Resort, in Kissimmee, Florida.
Between 2008 and 2011, Festiva sold “upgrades” to some 900 timeshare owners to increase the number of points they had. They could apply those extra points to reserve time at other resorts at other times of the year through a points exchange company called RCI.
But when the resort was sold to Zealandia, the new owners refused to honor the upgrades. “Our clients are all clearly victims,” says Finn. “The loss of points is considerable,” says Finn. “They lost about 80 percent of what they thought they had. That’s a significant kick.
“Hopefully at the end of the day these timeshare owners will get what they bargained for,” says Finn who is also a former chartered accountant. “And hopefully they will get their legal fees paid for too.”
Finn has hundreds of clients who’ve found themselves chained to extremely restrictive timeshare contracts. “A lot of clients come to us and say just get me out of this darned thing, I don’t care if don’t get any money back, just get me out,” says Finn.
So many people are regularly ensnared by problems with timeshares that the Finn Law Firm now devotes a substantial portion of its practice to helping consumers untangle themselves from timeshare shackles.
In the last two years alone, 1,500 people hired the Finn Law Firm to get their money back or get them out of their contract. Finn’s team has managed to extricate about half of them from tricky contracts signed in ultra-high-pressure sales schemes. “That may not sound like much but I am very proud of that success rate,” says Finn. “When you look at these contracts, I am telling you, there is no way out.
“The first thing we tell people to do is to stop paying the monthly fees,” says the very affable and easy-to-understand Finn. “We have people in our office that will make sure that doesn’t impact on their credit rating.
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“Most of these people get no value for their purchase,” says Finn. “The maintenance fees seem to go up every year, and for cost of the fees, you can jump on Travelocity and book yourself a nice vacation at a nice resort anytime or anywhere you want.”
Michael D. Finn is the lead attorney at the Finn Law Firm in Largo, Florida. Since 1970, Finn has been providing legal services with a focus on real estate law and timeshare-related matters.