Timeshares can seem like a dream, but when financial or family issues change your plans, you need to know you can get out of that vacation ownership contract. You may want to sell your timeshare, hire a legitimate timeshare resale company or try one of several available timeshare relief options that can free you from the burden of annual maintenance fees and interest charges. But with so many bogus timeshare exit companies hawking their services, finding the right help can be confusing and risky.
Some timeshare exit companies claim they can extract people from their contracts, but it’s unclear exactly how they do it. They may offer a legal loophole, say they are inventory recovery agents or attempt to circumvent the contract altogether. In most cases, they ask owners to pay exorbitant upfront fees—up to thousands of dollars. And in many of those cases, people never see the promised results.
BBB has received hundreds of consumer complaints against Missouri-based timeshare exit companies since January 1, 2016. The consumers reported they paid between $1,000 and more than $30,000 to these companies to get out of their contracts. Many have been waiting more than two years for their cases to be resolved.
The most common complaint against these firms was that the business didn’t do what it said it would do. They often told consumers they could end their contracts through a legal procedure known as “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” The problem is that most states’ law doesn’t allow for that. Some of the scams also used scare tactics and false promises to lure consumers into paying for their services.
In most of the cases BBB has investigated, the companies either lacked the proper licensing or insurance and were not registered with their state’s regulatory authorities. Others allegedly didn’t have a legitimate business address and some even charged credit card charges without delivering services. Some, such as the Springfield-based CCS Group, were dissolved by the Better Business Bureau after it became clear that the firm wasn’t doing what they claimed to do.
Another problem is that some timeshare relief companies advise consumers not to pay their timeshare bills, a strategy that can have long-term consequences. Some timeshares report non-payment to a credit bureau, and that can damage your credit score.
If you’re looking for a legitimate way to relieve yourself of your timeshare, choose a company that has experience advising clients on the various relief options. Quality companies also educate their clients about things their resort might pitch as a solution and don’t smear or discredit other 3rd party services. The best companies are transparent with their clients and provide clarity in an area that can be chaotic for those in distress. That helps them build trust and develop a strong relationship. They also explain the pros and cons of each option, so they can help their customers make the most informed choice. They can also advise clients on the laws in their state, which may allow for a more effective solution to their timeshare issue.