Getting into a timeshare is easy, but getting out can be hard.
Companies across the country are making a business out of helping people ditch their timeshare contracts.
Oneyda Molina hired a timeshare exit company in hopes the company could help her.
Molina and her brother bought a timeshare for their mother 18 years ago.
Molina says the property in Sint Maarten, on the Dutch side of Saint Martin, went mostly unused by her family.
“It’s better to go on a cruise, you have everything included, better than to fly over there,” Molina said.
The company Molina hired advertises they can help “eliminate unwanted timeshares.”
Responding to every consumer complaint
She paid the Timeshare Exit Team of ReedHein and Associates roughly $4000. In exchange, for a process they said would take between “90 and 180 days” to free her of all responsibility from the timeshare.
The company also promises a “Money Back Guarantee.”
Nearly two years later, Molina says she rarely hears from the company and when she does she says she gets excuses.
“That somebody got sick who was interested in buying the apartment, but that is not my problem,” Molina said.
We reached out to the Timeshare Exit Team and in an emailed statement CEO Brandon Reed told us, “Since 2011, Timeshare Exit Team has successfully helped more than 20,000 consumers find a path out of their timeshares. Most of these people were unhappy with their timeshare purchase and faced numerous traps, loopholes and maintenance/other fees. Developers sometimes succeed in making the process of getting out of a timeshare even harder and more complicated for consumers than we initially anticipated, as in the case Oneyda Molina. We completely understood Oneyda’s frustration at this situation and have reached out to make sure we’re on the same page with the status of the case, as well as to promise that we’re doing everything in our power to expedite this process. Stories like this illustrate why we launched the Coalition to Reform Timeshare, which is shedding light on the deceptive, anti-consumer tactics that the timeshare industry is using. We’re going to keep fighting because no one deserves to feel trapped in their timeshare.”
For now, Oneyda is still on the hook for the annual maintenance fee. Her yearly maintenance fee has jumped over the years from $435 annually to $754 each year.
According to the company’s website, the “Money Back Guarantee” only applies after three years.
Molina is now waiting to find out if the company holds up their end of the bargain.
“Get me out of the timeshare, I don’t want to continue paying,” Molina said.
Molina’s case is not unique, the Florida Attorney General’s Office says in 2019 they received 170 complaints from consumers who hired timeshare exit companies.
Consumer experts warn consumers to beware because the companies don’t always deliver.
“We’ve seen numerous timeshare exit companies guarantee consumers getting out of their timeshare contracts and never end up delivering,” Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman said.
There are ways to get out of a timeshare without losing money.
“More timeshare companies now have deed back programs to make it easier for timeshare owners to get out of their contract, 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,” Gilman said.
When it comes to hiring a company to help you exit your timeshare, the American Resort Development Association says be skeptical of companies that promise to modify or cancel your contractual obligation and be wary if you are asked to pay upfront fees.
As for Molina, after her timeshare experience, she has a warning for other consumers.
“In my case, I would say that this is a rip-off,” said Molina.