Consumer Reports: Timeshare contract caution
If winter weather has you dreaming of a warmer vacation spot, maybe you’re considering a timeshare. It might sound like a good option, and buying one is often easy. But getting out of one of those contracts can be tricky. That's where timeshare exit companies say they can help.
But as Consumer Reports reveals, those exit plans aren’t always foolproof.
Exit companies often make the sweeping promise that they can get you out of a timeshare contract, but that often comes with a hefty upfront price. Consumer Reports and others say consumers need to beware of certain timeshare exit companies, some of which have reportedly taken money but offered nothing in return.
So how can you get out of a timeshare without losing money in the process? More timeshare companies now have deed-back programs to make it easier for owners to leave. You can also hire a realtor who specializes in timeshares. But remember, timeshares are often a depreciating asset, so you should be prepared to take a loss.
The American Resort Development Association says the timeshare industry is warning consumers about fraud in the exit industry. ARDA also says the industry is committed to improving communication with owners who want to understand safe timeshare exit options. It has launched a public awareness campaign at responsibleexit.com.
TOP TEN CONSUMER COMPLAINTS OF 2019
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 111,530 consumer complaints in 2019. The Consumer Complaint Unit received 67,964 complaints and the No-Call Unit received 43,566 complaints.
The Attorney General’s Office has dedicated staff to take complaints and work actively to mediate complaints between complainants and businesses or individuals. In certain cases where mediation is unsuccessful and there are credible allegations of potential violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the Attorney General’s Office has investigators to investigate instances of fraud and lawyers to file lawsuits when applicable.
“The Attorney General’s Office strives to be a fierce advocate for Missouri consumers, and the Consumer Protection Section works every single day to mediate complaints between consumers and businesses and go after fraudulent businesses or individuals whenever possible,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “From suing prolific robocallers to going after crooked contractors, taking action against scammers kept us busy in 2019 and will remain a top priority of the Attorney General’s Office in 2020 and beyond.”
Consumers who wish to file a complaint can do so online at ago.mo.gov or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222.
Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2019 by industry were:
1. No-Call Complaints (43,566)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 43,566 complaints from consumers regarding No-Call violations and illegal telemarketing calls in 2019. Complaints involve phone calls to Missouri residents by businesses or organizations soliciting the purchase of goods or services, despite that resident signing up for Missouri’s No-Call list.
2. Solicitations/Publications/Subscriptions (2,171)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 2,171 complaints from consumers regarding mail and phone solicitations for publications and subscriptions. These complaints generally involve the receipt of mail and phone solicitations regarding sweepstakes, lottery, and other solicitation scams. Most involved scammers promising a valuable prize or high-dollar award to entice consumers to send money, buy overpriced products or services, or contribute to a phony charity. Some consumers reported receiving a mailer that looks like an invoice or bill demanding payment.
3. Financial (1,503)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,503 complaints from consumers regarding disputes with financial institutions, debt collection companies and credit repair services in 2019. Complaints under this category involve loan servicing, foreclosures, debt collection, and other products, services, and practices by banks, mortgage companies, debt collectors, and other financial institutions and service providers. Our office mediates complaints on loan modifications and foreclosures and will attempt to defer fees or foreclosures when appropriate. Debt collector complaints range from harassing collectors who threaten and repeatedly call attempting to collect a debt. Complaints regarding banks and financial institutions involve the imposition of fees and other charges occurring without notice to, or the consent of, consumers.
4. Automotive (1,500)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,500 complaints from consumers regarding automobiles, automotive dealers, and automotive repair shops in 2019. Automotive complaints often involve failure to deliver titles in a timely manner from the dealership. Other complaints involve shoddy repair work and service issues.
5. Retail/Wholesale (1,210)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,210 complaints from consumers regarding retail and wholesale companies. Most of the complaints involved purchases made through the internet, telephone, or mail and involved late deliveries or products that were never delivered. Other complaints involved the purchases of appliances, furniture, and other items with warranty problems, that were defective, or that did not work as advertised. Other retail-related complaints included issues with rebates, coupons, and gift cards.
6. Communications/Technology/Online Services (1,144)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,144 complaints from consumers regarding communications, technology and online services in 2019. Many complaints related to telephone cramming and billing practices where consumers received a phone bill for services that they did not order or were charged unauthorized fees on their telephone bill from third parties. Other complaints related to billing disputes and misleading promotions.
7. Real Estate and Construction (1,136)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 1,136 complaints from consumers regarding home repair, construction, and real estate in 2019. Complaints involving home repair contractors are among the most common type of complaint received by the office. These types of complaints involve storm chasers going door-to-door asking for money up front and providing little to no work, contractors who accept upfront fees and do not provide any of the work, shoddy workmanship, and/or fail to honor home warranties.
8. Timeshares/Travel Clubs (985)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 985 complaints from consumers regarding timeshare exit companies, time share companies and travel clubs in 2019. Complaints involved allegations that companies promised to resell timeshares and failed to do so, that companies failed to provide deeds for time shares that consumers purchased, and that companies charged undisclosed fees or unexpectedly and continuously increased fees for maintenance and other related services. Complaints also involved the sale of travel club memberships that promised discounts, opportunities, or services that were worthless or far less than promised.
9. Health (747)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 747 health-related complaints from consumers in 2019. These complaints involved healthcare industry complaints, including billing issues regarding hospitals and doctor visits, supplemental purchases, and disputes regarding health insurance payments.
10. Identity Theft (504)
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received 504 complaints from consumers regarding Identity in 2019. If someone takes your personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, credit card number, or bank account information and uses it to commit fraud, then you can become a victim of identity theft. The Attorney General encourages consumers to check their credit report, guard their social security number, shred receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, and anything else with personal information.