The Federal Trade Commission and Wisconsin Attorney General have filed suit against several timeshare scams about exiting the contract, according to a press release from the FTC on November 22, 2022.
Timeshare scams are notoriously high-pressure techniques with distorted reality, time-extended torturous presentations, ever-ratcheting complicated bonuses, and other confusing benefits.
The pain of going into a timeshare deal is matched by the costs, aggravation, and confusion of getting out. The desperate owners are often elderly and anxious to spare their families from the need to dispose of these toxic assets. Timeshare scams are long-term answers to vacation desires.
This reminds me of my two-burner chilling. It is so spicy it burns going in and …
The Missouri-based scam sued in this has operated under several names, including Square One, Consumer Law Protection, Premier Reservations Group, Resort Transfer Group, and Timeshare Help Source.
According to the release, the complaint alleges the defendants harm consumers in numerous ways, including:
- Making bogus affiliation claims: The complaint alleges that the defendants’ sales pitches falsely employed logos of legitimate timeshare companies and trade groups to lead consumers to think their services are endorsed or “authorized” by significant timeshare companies.
- Deceiving consumers about their options: According to the complaint, the defendants falsely told consumers that they could not exit a timeshare without paying the defendants an excessive amount of money. They also threatened consumers to buy their service on the day of the sales pitch, or they will never be able to exit their timeshare.
- Stoking baseless fears about how heirs may be affected: The complaint notes that the defendants use concerns that consumers’ heirs will be saddled with ever-increasing maintenance fees after the consumers die as an incentive to pay for the expensive exit services. States have procedures allowing heirs to disclaim any timeshare inheritance.
- Failing to give consumers promised refunds: The defendants’ sales documents include a “guarantee” that if the defendants do not deliver on their promises, consumers will receive a full refund. When consumers call to request refunds, the defendants cite non-existent litigation, the COVID pandemic, or other phony reasons why they haven’t secured the timeshare exit and then deny nearly every refund requested.
- Pressuring consumers to sign contracts with non-negotiable and unenforceable terms: The complaint alleges that the defendants pressure consumers to sign contracts that say consumers are not allowed to cancel. Including such a contract term violates the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule, which guarantees consumers the right to cancel a contract like this within three business days of the sale.
The promise of relief comes with no guarantees, and often minimal follow-up or follow-through after a hefty deposit is extracted.
It’s a shame that what starts with an urge to help create a great family bonding opportunity ends with depressing, abusive results in timeshare scams.
Dante’s Fourth Ring of Hell is reserved, on a week-a-year basis, for the timeshare scammers, coming and going.