Contracts with timeshares, vacation clubs easy to get into, often difficult to escape

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Timeshares and vacation clubs can be known for high-pressure sales. With the sun out and their guard down, vacationers can quickly find themselves on the hook for a lifelong commitment. While they’re easy to get into, these contracts are often difficult to escape.

Some predatory companies and scammers are taking advantage of consumers looking for deals on travel, according to customer complaints, reviews and other data from a new BBB study.

Many people have great experiences with their timeshares or vacation clubs. BBB’s study is intended to help consumers spot potential red flags and help businesses improve.

From 2020-22, BBB received thousands of complaints related to travel companies. Most commonly, consumers said they felt reality didn’t match the big promises made in timeshare pitch meetings. Consumers also reported their timeshares were nearly impossible to sell, and they felt misled about the amount of maintenance fees for their property.

Some unhappy customers turned to timeshare exit companies to sell their timeshares, only to find the exit companies didn’t follow through or failed to honor a money back guarantee.

BBB recommends careful research before working with any timeshare or exit company. Read reviews, get references and investigate the company before signing a contract or making any payments.

BBB tips for anyone considering a timeshare or exit company:

  • Research carefully. Extensively investigate timeshare properties, vacation clubs or exit companies before working with them. Check their BBB Business Profiles to see customer reviews, ratings and complaints that can help you make an informed decision.
  • Read before you sign. Thoroughly read contracts for language about lifetime commitment, heirs’ obligations, maintenance fee increases or guarantees. 
  • Beware of high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel like someone is trying to push you into a deal, walk away. 
  • Sell with the company you bought from. 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. 
  • Don’t pay fees up front. Be wary of paying timeshare exit companies all fees up front until services are rendered.  
  • Report it. If you suspect you may be the subject of fraud or dishonest business practices, you have a few avenues to report your case:

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or (217) 209-3972

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