If you’ve thought about buying a timeshare or have already purchased one, you’re likely aware of the stereotypes that surround timeshare ownership. You’ve heard that many people are tricked into buying, that timeshares are never as heavenly as they’re presented to be, and that investing in one is not nearly as cost-effective as timeshare companies say they’ll be. We’re not here to tell you that all these stereotypes are true; however, there’s a reason why the timeshare industry gets a bad rap. It’s because some timeshare companies have repeatedly exploited, ripped off, and lied to their customers in order to get them to buy from them.
For the sake of customers who’ve been exploited and prospective timeshare owners who could be walking into a scam, here is a list of the five worst timeshare companies to buy from. These companies have sold their customers on services, perks, prices, and savings they often fall short of providing. The dishonesty and irresponsibility of some timeshare resorts and vacation clubs have prompted us to expose the five worst timeshare companies. In uncovering the shameful practices of these companies, we hope to help you make informed decisions about investing in timeshares.
Whether you’re willingly attending a timeshare presentation, receiving a monetary reward in exchange for going to a timeshare meeting, or are interested in investing in a timeshare property, you need to be informed about the process before buying.
Many people are persuaded into buying their own timeshare before they know all the responsibilities and expenses these properties entail. So before you put pen to paper and sign a contract for a timeshare purchase that you’ll eventually need a cancellation plan for, you should be aware of the five worst timeshare companies to buy from.
Known at large as Club Wyndham, WorldMark the Club or Shell Vacations, this vacation ownership company based in Orlando, Florida, has caused its fair share of customer complications. In August 2012, a disciplinary action was filed against Wyndham and their broker Craig Roberts for misinforming a Philadelphia couple about their timeshare properties. Roberts told the couple that if they decided they no longer wanted to own their three timeshares, Wyndham would buy back the property interest after two years.
However, this statement went directly against Wyndham’s policy that they did not offer buyback programs or provide resale assistance. This disciplinary action, which accused the company of not adequately supervising their salespeople, ended up fining Wyndham for $15,000 and temporarily suspending Roberts from practicing as a real estate broker.
Wyndham was also under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture for 29 consumer complaints between 2008 and 2013. They were accused of unfair trade practices and were charged over $800,000 for refunds, debt relief, and investigative costs over these practices. The indiscretions that Wyndham has committed have garnered them a score of 1.06 out of 5 and a C+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
Like Club Wyndham, the Las Vegas-based timeshare company Diamond Resorts International has found itself in hot water due to indisputably deceptive sales practices. In a 2017 settlement, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a $800,000 complaint against Diamond Resorts for providing misleading information during their timeshare sales presentations. This settlement was brought on by over 500 complaints from timeshare holders claiming they were misled about the amount their maintenance fees would increase annually, their ability to resell and rent out their timeshares, the existence of a Diamond buy-back program, and discounts on travel-related needs.
This wasn’t the first time Diamond Resorts has been caught using mischievous sales tactics. In 2016, The New York Times published an article divulging some of the most egregious lawsuits the company has been involved in. One involved a timeshare owner who, during a five-hour timeshare sales presentation, was pressured into giving up her existing timeshare deeds and threatened that her current maintenance fees would rise if she didn’t pay an upfront cost of $30,000 to upgrade her membership to Diamond’s points system.
Another situation the article reported on was a lawsuit filed in 2015 where 11 timeshare owners were convinced to upgrade their Diamond Resorts membership, only to realize that they couldn’t use their points to stay at the resorts they wanted and that maintenance fees increased despite being told by Diamond representatives that they would decrease.
Though the 2017 Arizona settlement forced Diamond to revise their sales methods and include specific disclosures about their timeshares during presentations, Diamond Resorts unscrupulous past speaks for itself. Regardless of what they state in sales presentations, Diamond does not have a buy-back program for their timeshares, and they have acknowledged that their members typically do not have the right to terminate their memberships. So unless you don’t mind rising maintenance fees, the inability to get out of your contract or sell your timeshare back, or their lengthy history of lawsuits, we’d suggest you stay away from investing in a timeshare with Diamond Resorts International.
A June 2020 lawsuit against Westgate Resorts shows that they are among the long list of timeshare companies accused of intentionally misleading customers during the sales process. This lawsuit claims that Westgate sales agents pressure buyers into signing a multitude of complex and misleading documents without giving the buyers time to read them over. Additionally, when buyers are given the paperwork affiliated with their timeshare, many sales agents were encouraged to hide documents disclosing buyers’ rights and the right to rescind purchase in a secret pocket that makes it almost impossible to find.
The same lawsuit accused Westgate Resorts of selling timeshares that were frequently unable to be used as advertised. When scheduling a trip during their allotted time, hundreds of timeshare-owning customers were unable to book even 12 months in advance. Those who were able to book often received a unit that was far different from the one they were originally sold.
This recurring phenomenon is a result of Westgate’s business model that oversells timeshare units so that too many people are assigned to the same unit and are competing for their vacation spot. Though it’s not uncommon for timeshares to have overbooking issues, the scale to which Westgate has committed this violation should warn potential customers against buying their timeshare vacations with Westgate Resorts.
A lawsuit settled in 2020 revealed that Holiday Inn Club Vacations had sold several timeshare units at Orange Lake Country Club in Florida that were extremely challenging to book and had maintenance fees with significant annual increases despite their sales representatives claiming they wouldn’t. These timeshare owners were led to seek third-party legal help in order to pursue rescission from their timeshare contract with Holiday Inn Club Vacations.
Frightened that they might lose the lawsuit, Holiday Inn eventually agreed to take back the timeshare units and allow these customers rescission from their contracts. In the process, they were inclined to develop a policy for allowing these customers to sell their properties back to Holiday Inn Vacations Club.
Though the company insists that working directly with developers is always better than seeking rescission help from third-party companies, this seems like a distraction from the truth. Countless negative reviews on Holiday Inn’s Better Business Bureau profile will tell you that they are a deceptive company to purchase timeshares from. Likely the only reason they bought back these units was to save their reputation and make future customers believe that Holiday Inn has a convenient buy-back policy, which is probably only true for a miniscule percentage of their customers.
Aside from a class-action lawsuit where Bluegreen Corporation was convicted of reporting a number of timeshare delinquent accounts as foreclosures, which violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Florida debt collection laws, this timeshare company has a reputation for being unresponsive. According to the Better Business Bureau, Bluegreen has a score of 2.28 out of 5, and many customers have reported the timeshare company as being unresponsive and unhelpful in situations where the customer is wanting to get out of their timeshare contract.
Bluegreen has also proven to be uncooperative while partnering with other businesses. Bass Pro Shop had a longstanding partnership with the Bluegreen Corporation, allowing them to conduct marketing activities within their stores. But in June 2019, Bluegreen was charged with more than $40 million in settlements for engaging in high-pressure sales activities at various Bass Pro Shop locations. They were also guilty of contract violations and missed commission payments. Needless to say, Bluegreen’s careless business practices are not worth entrusting your time-sharing dollars to.
The five worst timeshare companies we’ve discussed have issues ranging from lack of convenience and access to dishonesty in the sales process to repeated legal violations. All in all, these companies do not offer the flexibility, convenience, and financial payoff that timeshares claim to provide to you. Before buying a week-long timeshare unit with one of these companies or continuing your contract with them, consider if this is really how you want to spend your money and vacation time. If the answer is no, it may be time to pursue a timeshare cancellation.
If you currently own a timeshare with one of these five worst timeshare companies, or any other timeshare provider whose policies are making it impossible to escape your contract, Centerstone Group may be able to help you.
We are a full-service advocacy group that specializes in resolving timeshare contracts for those who’ve been a victim of fraud, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation during the timeshare sales process. Our group of experts have years of experience within the timeshare industry and have a thorough knowledge of navigating release for our clients. With the help of one of the most comprehensive, time-tested resolution processes in the timeshare exit industry, Centerstone Group will gladly assist those who’ve been manipulated by deceptive timeshare companies.
If you’ve been romanced by the appeal of popular timeshare companies like Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Diamond Resorts International, Westgate Resorts, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, or Bluegreen Corporation, do your research before you jump into a purchase. These companies may have big names, but they have even bigger problems, like major overbooking issues, unresponsive customer service agents, inconsistency within the timeshare selling process, excessively aggressive sales tactics, inaccessible timeshare availability, and a general lack of convenience and flexibility in the vacation planning process. If you’ve already been a victim of one of the five worst timeshare companies we’ve listed, or need assistance escaping a contract that another timeshare company has trapped you in, contact Centerstone Group today and we’ll guide you through the timeshare cancellation process.