Hundreds of timeshare owners – from at least 46 states – have lost thousands of dollars each to timeshare exit businesses that set up operations in recent years in and around Springfield, Missouri. That is a key finding of a four-month Better Business Bureau investigation of the controversial industry by BBB Serving Eastern & Southwest Missouri & Southern Illinois. The results were published in a study entitled “Timeshare Exit Trap” (BBB.org/TimeShareExitStudy).
The study highlights several cases where timeshare owners paid timeshare exit teams anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 after the businesses assured them they could get them out of their timeshare contracts. Several consumers said the exit companies turned their cases over to law firms or others that also failed to help them.
The report concludes that seniors and timeshare owners on fixed incomes “are falling victim to timeshare exit companies at an alarming rate. Many of these companies either do not have the ability or the ethics to follow through with promises to extricate their clients from the often-burdensome lifetime timeshare contracts.”
The Better Business Bureau recommendations are:
- For consumers wanting to get out of a timeshare contract, BBB advises they first reach out to the timeshare operators who own or manage their timeshare to see if the business offers a deed-back or exit program. If such a program is not available, consider consulting with an attorney for advice.
- While BBB generally discourages hiring a third-party to negotiate timeshare relief, consumers who go that route should be very careful in selecting a timeshare exit strategy and negotiating timeshare exit contracts.
- If a consumer decides to contract with a third-party for timeshare relief, beware of making upfront payments for the work. Ask if they will put the money in an escrow account until the exit company makes good on its promises.
What to do if you believe you have been a victim of a timeshare exit company:
- Complain to the company directly.
- File a complaint with BBB.
- File a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.
- Contact the attorney general’s office of the state where you live, and the attorney general’s office in the state where the business is located.
- File a complaint with your local U.S. Postal Inspection Service office online.
For more information about this company and more tips, you can read the full story here.