BBB INVESTIGATION: Vacation fraud shows unethical and deceptive practices
Published 11:42 am Friday, May 5, 2023
From the Better Business Bureau:
Timeshares and vacation clubs are often synonymous with high-pressure sales. With the sun out and their guard down, vacationers can quickly find themselves on the hook for a life-long commitment. And, while they’re easy to get into – these contracts are incredibly difficult to escape.
An investigative study by Better Business Bureau: Vacation Fraud: Predatory timeshare/vacation club sales and exit businesses and related scams, examines patterns of customer complaints, dollars spent and lost, customer reviews, related scams and more.
● Timeshares are nearly impossible to sell, yet exit companies profit from hefty fees on big promises.
● Consumers often feel misled about the amount and frequency of fees charged for maintenance.
● Scammers copy high-pressure sales tactics to trick buyers.
● Imposters use the address and amenities of a timeshare or vacation club, combined with the owner’s personal information, to trick victims into paying bogus fees.
Statistics (reported to BBB about timeshare sales, vacation clubs, timeshare exit businesses and related scams):
● Close to 30,000 complaints with $32 million disputed
● Almost 10,000 negative reviews
● 1,160 BBB Scam Tracker reports with losses of $3.5 million
BBB has monitored deception in the timeshare industry and warned consumers about timeshare exit companies for nearly half a decade. But skilled sellers continue to con buyers into unfavorable deals that often worsen when desperate investors offload purchases through the timeshare exit industry.
BBB urges the timeshare-related industries to self-regulate by establishing and following ethical sales practices.
Timeshare companies of all types should cease high-pressure sales tactics at pitch meetings and ease restrictions for longtime, non-delinquent customers who wish to cancel their timeshare.
BBB tips for anyone considering a timeshare or exit company:
● Extensively research timeshare properties, vacation clubs or exit companies and thoroughly read contracts for language about lifetime commitment, heirs’ obligations, maintenance fee increases or guarantees.
● Beware of misleading or high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel like someone is trying to push you into a deal, walk away.
● To sell a timeshare, contact the resort directly and see if they have a resale or buyback program.
● Be realistic about what you can get for your timeshare. Most of these contracts are not investments and may return considerably less than you paid.
● If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There are deals to be found on travel, but scammers know consumers want to save money and take advantage.
● Be wary of paying timeshare exit companies all fees upfront until services are rendered.
Visit BBB.org to check out a business or register a complaint, BBB Scam Tracker to report a scam and bbb.org/travel for more travel tips.