Timeshare Users Group, otherwise known as TUG, is a website for timeshare owners and prospective buyers to interact with other consumers and get advice on managing timeshare ownership. TUG provides an online forum and claims people can have unbiased conversations about their experiences owning a timeshare.
The Timeshare Users Group wishes to be seen as a provider of helpful and free services for people with confusion, complications, or timeshare questions they might not be able to resolve with their timeshare company. All this would be fine and dandy if it were actually true. TUG may actually have incentives to push certain timeshare companies and ideas about ownership in order to sell listings.
The problem with this is that they are simply not living up to the idea that they advertise. They may be committing the same misleading actions as many fraudulent and manipulative timeshare companies by not providing their members with a well-rounded view of what timeshare ownership is really like. By neglecting to point out the wrongdoings of major timeshare developers, TUG may be contributing to the manipulative nature of the timeshare industry.
TUG’s founder Bill Rogers started the company after enduring a disappointing timeshare purchase back before information about timeshares was readily available on the internet and social media. This purchase was initiated by an exchange company that he and his wife used to trade in their luxurious 5-star property for what they thought would be an exciting new vacation opportunity.
But when they arrived at their new place, they saw that the amenities were not as advertised. Everything at the property was rundown and looked as if it hadn’t been updated in decades — a harsh contrast from the flashy pictures they saw on the listing. From this moment, Bill realized there needed to be a place for consumers to get honest information and advice about owning a timeshare.
Timeshare Users Group is now an online community with tens of thousands of members. A membership with TUG not only provides a connection to other timeshare owners through an online owner discussion forum. It also gives members access to TUG’s timeshare marketplace.
But does their existence as a seller of timeshares disqualify them from being a truly unbiased source for consumers to learn about timeshares? Let’s dive into how TUG’s facade as an impartial third-party service for timeshare information may be a ploy for pushing timeshare sales and preserving the reputation of major timeshare developers.
On their homepage, TUG claims their devotion to providing consumers with “the truth” about timesharing. But directly underneath this claim is a link for the TUG marketplace. The problem with this is that providing a truly transparent perspective about timeshare ownership while simultaneously pushing timeshare sales can be a conflict of interest — especially when you align yourself with major timeshare developers like Marriott, Wyndham, and Diamond Resorts International.
TUG’s free online forum tugbbs.com provides a multitude of articles on the best timeshare to buy for your lifestyle, location preferences, and budget. The website also gets you connected with timeshare owners from any popular timeshare developer. TUG members come to the online forums with specific questions about timeshare services, like how certain point systems work, how weeks are traded, and which resort locations are the best.
Though the website is mainly focused on navigating ownership, TUG does provide advice on how to get rid of timeshares. TUG encourages two main routes for ending your timeshare ownership: finding a new owner on the resale market or giving ownership back to the resort.
While these options are a possibility for some timeshare owners, TUG underestimates how challenging it is to sell your timeshare on the resale market. In reality, many timeshare owners will not achieve a successful or profitable resale due to contract limitations and the competitiveness of timeshare resale markets.
TUG also claims that there is a significant number of timeshare companies with buyback programs that allow owners to simply give or sell back their property. This too is an oversimplification, as most timeshare developers make it nearly impossible to give or sell your timeshare back to them. The few developers that do allow it require owners to be current on all maintenance fees and have the balance of their mortgage paid off — a luxury that many pressed-for-money timeshare owners do not have.
What you will hardly find on these online forums is a disparaging word about any of the major timeshare developers that TUG provides information on. TUG focuses little attention on avoiding scams for prospective first timeshare buyers. And why is this? Likely because there is incentive for TUG to promote major timeshare developers, even the ones that are notorious for pressuring innocent people into unwanted timeshare purchases.
As you may know by now, timeshare scams are a dime a dozen. There are many developers that use manipulation and deceit to get people to make hasty timeshare purchases. But when the topic of timeshare scams is discussed on the TUG website, they tend to shift focus onto exit companies, which are their competition within the timeshare industry.
They warn about exit companies that reach out to timeshare owners with promises to buy their property or help them achieve a successful timeshare sale. TUG insists that the aim of these exit companies is to collect a large upfront fee for their services, only to walk away without actually selling your property.
It’s certainly true that there are illegitimate exit companies making false promises to desperate timeshare owners. It’s also true that no timeshare owner should ever pay an upfront fee before their property is successfully sold. But TUG’s emphasis on exit companies being the real enemy to the timeshare industry causes reasonable suspicion. You’d think that if their real goal was to provide timeshare owners with unbiased advice on navigating or exiting ownership, they’d also want to warn them about predatory timeshare developers. But instead, TUG moderators choose to censor content on their site and ostracize and ban users who share information about successful timeshare exits they’ve achieved through other outlets like timeshare exit companies.
TUG’s online forums seem to provide limited advice on avoiding unwanted timeshares in the first place. This is most likely because they want to stay in the good graces of major timeshare companies — and the large pool of consumers who own timeshares with them. Instead, TUG answers questions and resolves issues for these developers as if they were an unofficial customer service team. Does this make Timeshare Users Group a bad company? No. But it may disqualify them from providing truly unbiased services to consumers.
When you find yourself thinking “Do I Want to Buy a Timeshare or Not?” TUG may not be the best resource to use. Though they provide some useful information about what resorts are the best and how each points program works, they won’t tell you the worst timeshare companies to buy from or the realities of vacation ownership. As made evident by their online marketplace, TUG prioritizes selling timeshare units and keeping the timeshare industry profitable. Because of this, they’ll always side with large timeshare developers over the best interests of timeshare consumers.
If you’re looking for advice on how to get rid of your timeshare, the Timeshare Users Group may only provide you limited resources on how to do so. Because if your timeshare provider doesn’t have a buyback program and you haven’t found luck on the timeshare resale market, their help ends there. For better luck escaping your contract and freeing yourself from an unwanted timeshare property, Centerstone Group is here. We are a full-service advocacy group that specializes in helping our clients resolve their timeshare contracts. Contact Centerstone Group for a free consultation.