Hundreds of timeshare owners from across the United States have each reported thousand of dollars lost to timeshare exit operations in southwest Missouri, according to a study from the Better Business Bureau.
According to a press release from the BBB, the study, titled “Timeshare Exit Trap: A Better Business Bureau Study on How Southwest Missouri’s Notorious Timeshare Relief Operators Victimized Hundreds of Timeshare Owners Across the U.S.,” reports BBB has logged more than 350 consumer complaints against 10 of the most active Springfield-area timeshare exit businesses between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 1, 2019.
“Clients of those businesses said they paid out more than $2.2 million for timeshare relief work that was either never done or never completed,” the press release states.
The BBB noted southwest Missouri has several timeshare exit companies due to its proximity to Branson.
“Many of these people are senior citizens desperately trying to unload timeshares with high maintenance fees they no longer need and no longer want,” Michelle Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO, said via press release. “Any business that would take these people’s money and then not follow through with its promises is behaving both irresponsibly and unethically.”
According to the press release, timeshare owners reported paying exit companies anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 while being assured they would be able to leave their timeshare contract.
“Several consumers said the exit companies turned their cases over to law firms or others that also failed to help them,” the press release states.
The report comes 11 months after a report from the BBB on the Missouri timeshare and vacation industry as a whole.
“That study reported questionable marketing and sales practices by some representatives of the timeshare industry, and noted that many timeshare owners were turning to timeshare exit companies to negotiate their contract cancellations,” the press release states.
Branson City Administrator Stan Dobbins said the city fully supports the BBB in this issue.
“We believe this is a state issue as many of these timeshares are not in the city limits of Branson but do affect our residents and guests,” Dobbins said via email.
“We would like the state to look at a licensing system for this industry, similar to how the real estate industry works.”
Branson Mayor Edd Akers said the city will do what it can to help visitors and residents.
“Unfortunately, we as a city, have limited ability to do so from specific industry bad faith operations” Akers said via email. “We will cooperate within our means to help solve any of these issues.”
Visit bbb.org for more information.