Ask RedWeek / January, 2019

Are timeshare exit companies legit?

I keep getting calls from timeshare "exit companies" so I can learn about ways to get out of my timeshare. Are these companies legit? If not, what steps do you recommend I consider when I'm ready to move on from my timeshare travel?

This question is all too timely, since timeshare exit scams continue to tarnish the industry's reputation and victimize thousands of owners. This type of unsolicited call is just one of many schemes that fraudulent outfits use to ensnare owners who are vulnerable to "get out of your timeshare" pitches. For the price of a free lunch at a midtown hotel, these companies also ask owners to pay several thousand dollars for their exit services, many if not all of which are illusory. RedWeek has attended several of these boilerplate operations from companies who insist they "legit." That's a red flag, right off the bat.

In addition to attending presentations from scammers, RedWeek also attends numerous sales presentations from brand-name developers and third-party travel clubs so we can keep track of what is happening to consumers in the marketplace. The scammer presentations are usually a hard-sell timeshare pitch in reverse, designed to get owners out of contracts — instead of into them. In most cases, the scammers do nothing more than pocket the upfront fee, then they disappear, change their name and create a new website to launch the scam all over again.

As a consumer-focused company, RedWeek has also written many stories to help timeshare owners avoid getting scammed by so-called "exit, transfer or cancellation" companies that offer contract cancellation services (supposedly) for owners who are desperate to dump their timeshares. Unfortunately, despite our educational efforts, these scams continue to proliferate, usually preying on older owners who are ending their travel years and eager to get out of their contracts and maintenance fees.

The Orlando Sentinel, the hometown daily newspaper for most of the major timeshare developers, just ran a long story on the industry's legal efforts to shut down exit companies that are pocketing multi-thousand-dollar upfront fees from owners who fall for their cancellation pitches — but get no relief from their timeshare obligations. RedWeek assisted with the story by providing the Sentinel with background information on secondary market issues.

This is just the latest news story, in major national publications, on the traumas that owners endure when they go outside legitimate channels to divest their timeshares Most of the time, owners don't know they've been had until long after they've already paid for exit services that never materialize.

Exit companies, who advertise heavily on Internet and radio platforms, promote the idea that timeshare owners are victims of one-sided contracts that obligate them, for life, to keep paying for their travel contracts. They offer vague legal advice and sometimes work with lawyers who paper developers with demand letters to cancel contracts. Some exit companies even offer "guaranteed" refunds that, in many cases, are impossible to collect.

In addition to participating in a new "responsible exit" program with ARDA, the American Resort Development Association, several US developers are independently filing lawsuits to crack down on exit companies that, the developers allege, are interfering with customer contracts and offering phony exit services. Developers are also encouraging state and federal prosecutors to pursue companies that take advantage of timeshare owners on the secondary market.

You Can Pursue More Legitimate Exit Options

If you need to get out of your timeshare, you do have better options available to you:

  • Owners can post their timeshares for rent or sale (simultaneously) on RedWeek for six months for under $100. That's an ideal way to test the rental and resale market for your ownership.
  • Owners can also list their intervals for sale or rent with real estate brokers who specialize in timeshares. (Most of the legitimate resale brokers list their clients' properties on RedWeek.com.) But brokers won't take all timeshares — they tend to focus on properties sold by the major timeshare brands, and have high commissions.
  • Owners at older legacy resorts, where a local timeshare board manages the resort, should always contact their resort manager to research options for rent or resale.
  • Owners at brand-name timeshare chains — Wyndham, Hilton, Disney, Marriott, Diamond, etc. — should call their owner services department to investigate exit options. Most of the majors will readily take back a deeded week at high-destination, high-value resorts. Some, such as Marriott, will buy back your timeshare for 10-15 percent of the original value. But none of these outcomes are guaranteed. They are always dependent on what you own, where you own, and whether you've paid off the mortgage on your timeshare.

RedWeek gets many calls and emails from owners seeking help in selling their timeshare. We help when and where we can. We also keep improving our site to make rental and resale transactions safe and secure for all parties. But the onus is always on owners — or their relatives — to do their homework so they make smart decisions about their travel and timeshare issues.

About the author

This answer was provided by RedWeek contributor, Jeff Weir. Jeff is a California-based journalist who has covered California, Congress, and the White House. He also has roots in Silicon Valley, where he directed public relations and marketing programs for high-tech companies. He is also a timeshare owner and member of RedWeek.com.

34 Comments

  • Avatar for eva51
    eva51
    Jan 08, 2019 (11 months ago)

    If I do nothing and die, does this obligate my heirs.

  • Avatar for clarec11
    clarec11
    Jan 08, 2019 (11 months ago)

    Has anyone ever tried to sell or get out of a timeshare with Pueblo Bonito in Las Cabos Mexico?

  • Avatar for thomasc538
    thomasc538
    Jan 08, 2019 (11 months ago)

    Thanks. Nice to see a company that has no ax to grind telling it like it is. As an older couple, we have enjoyed our Marriott time share for many years. However, there comes a time when we just can't travel as much as we would like. Your insights regarding this subject are very much appreciated.

  • Avatar for dougl156
    dougl156
    Jan 08, 2019 (11 months ago)

    Thanks for an objective view of the timeshare exit conundrum. An article on (tax deductible) donation of the ownership of one's timeshare to a non profit organization for resale or fund raising purposes might be useful.

  • Avatar for cindyb700
    cindyb700
    Jan 09, 2019 (10 months ago)

    I hold my mother's power of attorney am finding it very difficult to sell her 4 properties! As she is in the advanced stages of Azheimer's, she can no longer travel. I have resorted to renting the weeks whenever possible, but the maintenance fees are still a major drain on the money that she has to pay for her care. It is frightening!

  • Avatar for jeff_reports
    jeff_reports
    Jan 09, 2019 (10 months ago)

    Responding to eva51: To the best of our knowledge, according to lawyers who handle exit issues, heirs are in no way obligated to assume responsibility for their parents' timeshare contracts. That's always an individual choice. Best to check with your timeshare company, or resort HOA, on this issue. Also check with your accountant or personal attorney.

  • Avatar for lancec13
    lancec13
    Jan 09, 2019 (10 months ago)

    Responding to clarec11: Many have tried to get out of Pueblo Bonito. It is likely a Right-to-use or membership rather than deeded property. It can usually be done by simply stopping payments since you do not own anything. The resort might start hounding you with collection calls and letters but those can usually be ignored.

    The other option is to list your unit for sale or giveaway here on RedWeek or other legitimate timeshare resale web sites. Just be realistic in what your asking price is. Most units in Mexico have a zero resale value.

  • Avatar for bobsr
    bobsr
    Jan 11, 2019 (10 months ago)

    I want to place for every time I place for 14,99 wheb I go to finish it show much more money how do I solve that

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jan 11, 2019 (10 months ago) • Updated Jan 11, 2019 12:50 PM

    Robert H.: Please click on the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of any page if you have questions about your account or making a payment.

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  • Avatar for joanm528
    joanm528
    Jan 22, 2019 (10 months ago) • Updated Jan 22, 2019 01:54 PM

    I am not sure what to do next regarding my Manhattan Club membership. I have been an owner over 20 yrs. When my husband died in 2012 I simply could not reserve a room and I gave up, plus have not paid my fees. I got threatening letters from them which I ignored. I own a studio every other year. I am now 3 fees in the rears. I have health issues and would like to get out without costing me anything, help. JoanM

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  • Avatar for sophiav6
    sophiav6
    Jan 22, 2019 (10 months ago)

    My options are completely open in regards to where to vacation. I would like to see what is available for particular dates. Is there any way to search by date?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jan 22, 2019 (10 months ago)

    Sophia V.: On the search page (https://www.redweek.com) enter a location. It can be as broad as North America. Once the results come up, use the tabs at the top of the list to filter your results by date, unit size, price, etc. If you have further questions, please use the "Contact Us' link at the bottom of any page.

  • Avatar for terryc314
    terryc314
    Jan 22, 2019 (10 months ago)

    I have 3 timeshares I want to sell in 2020. Let me know how to post them for sale on Redweek?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jan 22, 2019 (10 months ago)

    Terry C.: You can go to this page to get started: Sell My Timeshare (https://www.redweek.com/sell-my-timeshare)

  • Avatar for janets686
    janets686
    Jan 27, 2019 (10 months ago)

    I have an appointment with Resort Relief today has anyone uned them before. Their ad says they are top rated BBB.

  • Avatar for benc158
    benc158
    Jan 29, 2019 (10 months ago)

    I want to rent an ocean front at Wyndham royal vista in pompano,, Florida, for the week of feb 29, 2020 to march 7, 2020. I am having a problem navigating the website for dates beyond 2019. Please advise.

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jan 29, 2019 (10 months ago)

    Ben C.: There are currently no rentals for 2020 posted at this resort. You can sign up to be alerted as new postings are added by going to the "Posting Alerts" link at the bottom of the rental list. If you have further questions or need assistance, please use the "Contact Us" link at the very bottom of any page.

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  • Avatar for sonniar2
    sonniar2
    Feb 15, 2019 (9 months ago) • Updated Feb 15, 2019 08:45 AM

    So glad I found and read this site. Thank you for saving me from paying $$$ to Exit Legally to get a refund for the cost and maintenance fees of my Wyndham timeshare. I almost fell for this scam.

  • Avatar for dickh68
    dickh68
    Feb 15, 2019 (9 months ago)

    I recently spoke with a company purporting to help folks escape their onerous timeshare obligations and was quoted an upfront fee of $8,750, which I cannot afford. The only guarantee they would make was to secure a “give back” and “attempt” at recovering some of the monies originally paid for the timeshare (in our case $34,000). If unsuccessful after 36 months at securing the termination by “give back,” our $8,750 would be refunded (if they are still in business!). I am wondering if this is typical practice by all these so called timeshare exit companies?

  • Avatar for calic3
    calic3
    Apr 19, 2019 (7 months ago)

    Lol .this article is so funny!!my 74 year old mother was scammed over and over trying to sell her timeshare.Resorts do not buy back timeshares except maybe Marriot.Timeshares are worthless pieces of air that drain hard working people of money but I do disagree with this article after losing thousands of dollars trying to sell the timeshare we did find a exit company we paid a little over 3,000 and after all the scams we were finally done with this nightmare!!!and by the way remember redweek works with the resorts not the person who forks over thousands in useless fees and taxes!!!!

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Apr 20, 2019 (7 months ago)

    Cali C.: Just to clarify, RedWeek is not affiliated and does not work for any timeshare resorts. We are a marketplace to buy, sell or rent a timeshare. Many people use our website to rent a timeshare from an owner so they can experience all the amenities of a timeshare resort without the commitment of timeshare ownership.

  • Avatar for jefff382
    jefff382
    May 23, 2019 (6 months ago) • Updated May 24, 2019 11:06 AM

    Couple things to add is that Redweek does have skin the game in that they do try and rent or sell timeshare. However, you can go to e-bay look at Timeshares for sale and filter less than a 2 bucks and see plenty. Sorry to say the value of timeshare are no longer what they were in the past simply because of the internet. Just like Redweek and many others trying to sell or rent. What I have found are that most timeshare owners whom have looked to rent to sell have ended up spending hundreds and if not thousands trying without success plus time and frustration. This is more the case than not. Now as Jeff indicated if you have a very desirable location and week. Then you might and say might have a chance. Also, its very rare to see or know of anyone that does not have a perpetuity agreement in there Deed. This does go on forever and since you have a deed if something happens to the owners then it gets attached to the estate and someone has to take it. Usually the person handling the estate. Either way just understand your options as I received a timeshare that 5 years ago from my grandparents death and I had to take it in the estate. There was no other option in court due to the perpetuity. Then I listed it for sale and not even a chance of it selling. Then hired a Timeshare Cancellation company and yes, it cost me about 3K, but in 6 months poof gone! For the time, headache and money I had already spent in Maint. Fee's this was well worth it and a set amount! Worked great! Just think you have to have to look them up and make sure good BBB ratings on them.

  • Avatar for debbied432
    debbied432
    Jun 03, 2019 (6 months ago)

    We were scammed into buying Vidanta Mayan Palace in MX over a year ago when they lied to us about literally everything. Now it seems MTS Mexican Timeshare Solutions may be scamming us to pay them 1700 for getting rid of it when I’ve already stopped paying and told Vidante we are letting go of our membership entirely. Do we really need MTS and are they just another scammer?

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  • Avatar for christinek150
    christinek150
    Jun 11, 2019 (6 months ago)

    Can you tell me anything about RTX Voyager. I think they are more like a pyramid scheme where you give family and friends invites and then you receive points for their vacations.

    The company is poorly operated and someone advised contacting the Attorney General. Not sure which one to contact, the state where it was purchased, the state I live in or the federal level?

  • Avatar for ellenk187
    ellenk187
    Jun 16, 2019 (5 months ago)

    Will Summer Bay in Clermont work with me to take it back ?

  • Avatar for desireef14
    desireef14
    Jul 01, 2019 (5 months ago) • Updated Jul 01, 2019 07:31 PM

    SONNIAR2 if you are still out there. I'm stuck in Wyndham too and I almost feel for an exit company also. What did you end up doing? How did you get out?

  • Avatar for georgeg369
    georgeg369
    Aug 20, 2019 (3 months ago)

    I see a lot of comments that need answers. We would all benefit from these Answers. Is someone contacting these commentors? Just Asking how this works!

  • Avatar for binac2
    binac2
    Sep 25, 2019 (2 months ago) • Updated Sep 26, 2019 08:52 AM

    has anyone used Timeshare.lawyer to exit their time share if you have I would be interested to hear about your experience and if they are reputable. Or if anyone can recommend a time share exit company as I am looking to get rid of my Time share.

  • Avatar for minetter3
    minetter3
    Nov 20, 2019 (3 weeks ago) • Updated Nov 20, 2019 06:47 AM

    we have a time share with RCI we got in Cancun, would this be the same as a deed or membership, since I don't actually own property, would like to get out of this, could we just stop paying. or do we need to seek a time share exit company

  • Avatar for maryr939
    maryr939
    Nov 30, 2019 (2 weeks ago)

    We have less than two years to pay on my timeshare. We were pressured to buy this and have had awful experiences when we stayed at RCI properties. This is not at all as was described in the presentation. I have been researching exit companies and am unhappy at the thought of paying more to them than what I owe. However, I am medically disabled and our income has taken such a hit I feel there is only option is not to pay the rest of what we owe. What steps can I take to exit this program?