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Timeshares: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Shocking Reality Behind the 8.1 Billion Dollar Timeshare Industry

  • Time shares have grown into an 8.1 billion dollar industry, with nearly 10 million households owning one or more types of timeshare
  • Often sold aggressively by big hotel chains and companies like Wyndham and Westgate Resorts
  • Rebranded as vacation clubs or vacation ownership plans, including floating weeks that can be used any time throughout the year or time share points which can be redeemed in a number of resort properties owned by the same company
  • Sales reps are known to lie about the ease of making reservations and the total cost of the timeshare
  • Many timeshare agreements contain a clause absolving the developer from responsibility for anything said by a sales rep
  • Buyers often have 3-10 days to rescind their signature, however this is difficult if they signed on vacation as their time may expire before they get home
  • 85% of timeshare owners regret their purchase.

Warning: The Dangers of Timeshare Ownership

  • People regret buying a timeshare due to the upfront cost averaging around $24,000 and rising maintenance fees of up to $3500 a year
  • Customers are pressured to upgrade their timeshares for an additional fee
  • Many agreements contain a perpetuity clause which binds the owner to an on-cancelable lifetime obligation
  • Resale websites often list timeshares for free
  • Inheriting a timeshare can be difficult and requires filing a disclaimer with the court within nine months.

Personal Finance Guru Endorses Timeshare Exit Company Shut Down After Paying 2.6 Million Dollars in Restitution

  • Timeshares are difficult to exit due to the paperwork involved and a whole industry has grown up around the concept of timeshare exit
  • Dave Ramsey, a personal finance guru, actively endorsed a timeshare exit company which was later sued by the Washington State AG and shut down after paying 2.6 million dollars in restitution
  • Local stations have been allowing companies to purchase fake segments that look like news but are in fact ads
  • Consumers are misled into paying exorbitant fees for services that often do not deliver what they promise.

Beware the Dangers of Timeshare Purchases: Exit Companies an Unreliable Solution

  • Timeshare exit companies are often scams that exploit people
  • The shame should be on those companies, not the people they victimize
  • If considering a timeshare purchase, don’t do it and warn others against it
  • If already stuck with one, try to give it away for free or contact the company to see if they’ll take it back
  • Exit companies have been met with sporadic legal action, but new ones pop up quickly
  • Timeshare Exit Squared offers an alternative solution at a high cost.

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foreign[Music]season our main story tonight concernsvacations a wonderful time to realizethat you're in love with someone orrealize that you are absolutely not andbe honest you knew in the TSA linebefore the flight keep the streamingpasswords for as long as you can but dogive back his grandmother's ringspecifically we're going to talk abouttime shares and some of you might bethinking hold on are you going to tellme that they are a scam because surelyeverybody knows that and it is true thatthe sketchiness of timeshare vacationshas been a punchline on TV for years these aren't free vacations theseare time sharing deals they're totalscams these timeshare people they don'tstop until they sell you something theythey prey on the weak and gullible I eatyou perhaps you and your yellow friendwould like to set up a timeshare plandon't do it Sandybam yeah suspicions about timeshareprograms are so ubiquitous they can getlost in children's programming and lookobviously SpongeBob was never going tosay yes to a timeshare otherwise they'dhave had to change his theme song tothisohwho lives in a pineapple under the seaexcept for one week a year when he's ina studio in Key Westyeah it's still good but doesn't quitehave the same ring to it does it butdespite Decades of mockery on TV TimeShares are a much bigger business thanyou may think they're actually an 8.1billion dollar industry with nearly 10million households owning one or moretypes of timeshare and they can be soldby big hotel chains like Hyatt andMarriott as well as companies likeWyndham and Westgate Resorts but one ofthe things that may have obscured theircontinued growth is that they're notalways called time shares now in recentyears they've been rebranded as vacationclubs or Vacation Ownership plans andwhile traditionally you'd buy aTimeshare that consisted of one weekevery year at say a condo in Floridanowadays companies offer floating weeksthat can theoretically be used anytimethroughout the year or time share pointswhere you buy points that you can redeemin a number of Resort properties ownedby the same company but whatever youcall time shares the people selling themmaintain that they are not justexcellent value they are actively goodfor you here is a vice president atWestgate firing up his sales team in theweirdest possible way why are we herethe save lives those whoSE occasions are most likely to have aheart attackyou're just like a doctor nurse firemanpolicemana lifeguardthey all save lives and you all do ittoo you're right timeshare sales peoplesayresourcesvalley during the initial outbreak ofthe pandemic we New Yorkers would loudlycheer for all the time share salespeopleas they came back from work we do thatat 6 p.m and then if we still had someenergy left we'd throw a few claps tohospital workers at seven for whateverthey were doingbut the fact is timeshares don't savelives in fact in many cases they can them up because they are incrediblyeasy to get into but as you will seeincredibly hard to get out of so tonightlet's talk about time shares let's startwith the first thing that you probablyalready know about them that they tendto be sold in person aggressively andwhile you're already on vacation Oftenby suckering people into agonizinglylong sales presentations with thepromise of a free gift there are so manyhorror stories out there like the womanwhose parents was objected to a sevenhour sales pitch that ended with themspending more than ten thousand dollarson a timeshare or the person who signsan agreement following a five-hourpresentation because quote I'm adiabetic after five hours I just gave inI needed something to eat and I do getthat listen to a timeshare presentationis dead last on the list of things thatI want to do for five straight hoursright after watching avatar the way ofwater telling children that their pethamster was eaten by their other pethamster and that neither one ever knewthe child in question existed and ofcourse hearing other people talk aboutwatching avatar the way of waterthe problem is though once you are inthat room companies can go to extremelengths to get you to commit on the spotjust watch as that Westgate executiveencourages his staff to stop at nothingto make a saleour number one person in Orlando ownedseveral weeks of timeshare you know youshould own at least one week yourselvesand if you don't lie and say you dodon't let these people leave herewithout buying somethingI don't know what is more alarming therethat he knew a camera crew was filmingand still instructed his sales team tolie or that he knew that and willinglywore that shirt because what the isthat thing it looked like someone ate aPersian rug and then threw up on it helooks like the mascot for divorcelying is actually a key strategy formany timeshare sales people they willlie about everything from the ease ofmaking reservations to the total cost ofthe timeshare according to a lawsuitagainst Wyndham salespeople even had anacronym Taft which stood for tell themany freaking thing and come on at thispoint just say because it's onething to lie it's another to do thatwhile talking like a middle schoolerwho's in the car with their mom butstill trying to sound hardbut the thing is lying is basicallyallowed in this industry many timeshareagreements contain a clause thatabsolves the developer fromresponsibility for anything sale repssay it's often referred to by attorneysas the salesman's license to lie clauseand look I get that sales repscustomers constantly it happens to meevery time a hobby pocket employee tellsme you look so cool but you wouldn'texpect them to be able to lie aboutsomething as objective as how much athing will cost now the good news isdepending on where you made yourpurchase you can have between three andten days to rescind your signature butremember a lot of people sign up fortimeshares on vacation so that time timeMay expire before they get home or havea chance to have a lawyer look at thecontract and this would be less of anissue if people generally loved theirtime shares but a study found that 85percent of timeshare owners regret theirpurchase which is a rate of regret onpar with people who bought teacup pigsonly to realize that teacup pigs don'treally exist what do exist are baby pigsthat grow into a 90 pound piece oflifestyle that can suffocate your catand at this point let's talk about whypeople might regret buying a timeshareand the first major reasonunsurprisingly is cost because TheUpfront cost for a one-week annualtimeshare vacation can average aroundtwenty four thousand dollars but that isjust the beginning because on top ofthat come other expenses likemaintenance fees which typically go upevery year and at high value Resorts canrun from twenty five hundred to thirtyfive hundred dollars per year and youare on the hook for those costs whetheryou use your timeshare or not whichactually brings us to another majorproblem because if what you bought ispoints or a floating week plan you stillneed to book time at your Resort whichcan be unexpectedly hard just listen tothis man explain his attempts to book avacation at the Westgate timeshare thathe bought in Branson Missouri six yearsearlier the first year I call a month inadvance to say you're calling you'regiving us a very short notice so yeartwo they called six months in advanceyou are calling too early year threethey called two months in advance butwe're told they called too late yeah youcan still go but uh we have to chargeyou like any other person so far theNasir has spent more than fifteenthousand dollars for a timeshare they'venever spent a single night in within aserious complaint to Westgate they weretold they would have an easier timeusing their timeshare if they upgradedto a better plan for an additionalfifteen thousand dollars yeah that's notgreat is it being asked to pay fifteenthousand dollars is something thatyou've only seen in pictures is not atimeshare that's an expensive andremarkably Niche only fans accountbut westgate's response is pretty commonacross the industry once you buy aTimeshare the pitch is you really needto upgrade to get the most or possiblyany thing out of your purchase and theseupgrades are a fundamental part of thebusiness model at one investmentconference Marriott stated that everythirty thousand dollars spent on thepurchase of a new timeshare shouldgenerate an extra 20 000 from upgradesafter just five years so it's hardlysurprising the company's frequentlypressure people to pay for upgradessometimes with the exact same aggressivetactics that got them to buy thetimeshare in the first place customersof Windham Resorts have said thatwhenever they go on vacation they'd beforced into so-called owner updatemeetings where they were then pressuredto spend more like this woman the 76year old Widow is deep in debt and whenmore than 175 thousand dollars after sheclaims she was repeatedly tricked andharassed into buying time sharepointsFord's also claims in our lawsuitWindham sales reps told her things toconvince her to buy more points thatended up not being true if I would justsign it then they could lower theinterest ratesis that in fact what happened nonoshe says Windham sales people also toldher the company would buy back any extrapoints she didn't use and that too shelater found wasn't exactly as it hadbeen explained were you surprised todiscover that very surprisednot only surprisedhe may need to bleep this out I was madas hell wowwow she is pissed there I know Matt ashell might not sound that extreme to usdelinquents on HBO but coming from a 76year old woman in Tennessee that'sequivalent of a child screaming through a bullhorn at anelementary school it's that level ofintensityso between fees and the constantpressure to pay for upgrades you can seehow people might end up regretting theirpurchase even those who initiallyenjoyed their timeshare might end upwanting to get rid of it either becausethey're getting older and not wanting totravel as much or they're just gettingtired of going to the same place but theproblem is whatever your reason forwanting to leave a timeshare you willsoon realize it is very hard to do thatand that is because many agreementscontain a so-called perpetuity Clausethat means that the purchase as well asall those regular maintenance fees are anon-cancelable lifetime obligation whichis ridiculous a contract for a vacationshouldn't be harder to get out of than Scientology where's Shelley bythe way I'm sure she's fine but uh whereis Shelley now some developers claim tohave programs where they'll take a timeshare back but there is a lot of fineprint there including the fact thatthey're often only available at thedevelopers discretion and could involvepaying a significant fee which sometimescan be equivalent to two years ofMaintenance fees and if the companywon't take it back good luck because itcan be hard if not impossible to sell atimeshare in fact the resale site redweek shows a number of them being soldfor literally zero dollars and keep thatin mind anytime anyone says that atimeshare is an investment Investmentsare supposed to gain value a time shareis as sound and investment as opening ad-lane Maxwell themed restaurantdealies when you're here you're indangerand all this actually gets one stepworse thanks to something that's oftenframed as a selling point for timesharesit's a great feeling to know that ourgrandchildren when we're not around yeahand we'll be enjoying it it will be ourLegacy to them even as wepass on it's something that we cancontinue to give to our children it's agift that will keep on giving Beyond usnow that we have two children it's kindof exciting that we know that ourcredits will never go to waste it willstill be in our family through our voiceokay one of those boys seems happy aboutthat but the other one does seem pissedand much more interested in the upsidedown construction truck that he'sholding and he's honestly right becauseif there's one thing to take away fromthis episode it's that if you have achoice between a time share and anupside down truck take the truck everytime at least you technically own thatbut given everything that you've seen sofar you won't be surprised to hear thatmany people aren't super keen oninheriting a timeshare and what you cantechnically decline it that can be muchmuch harder to do than you might thinkwalking away does take work namely youmust file a disclaimer of Interest withthe court saying that you reject thetime share you only have nine monthsafter the death of your loved one tofile it and even then it's not thatsimple you see when the first person inline rejects the time share it goes tothe next in line and then the next andthe next every single person has to fileall of that paperwork it's true everysingle person and timeshare paperworkclearly isn't what grieving familiesneed it is pretty upsetting to thinkthat there might genuinely be a marketfor sympathy cards that say I'm sorryfor your loss but also move fast if youdon't want to get stuck with the fees onyour dead mom's Hilton Head two bedroomand all of this brings us what might bethe most surprising thing heretimeshares are so difficult to get ridof a whole separate industry has nowcropped up known as the timeshare exitindustry you may have seen ads on TV forthe more upbeat segments on localstations like these for a company calledtimeshare termination team where theycan get astrong endorsementwell timeshare termination team has ahundred percent success rate joining ustrusted advisors Brian and Holly Wilburwith the first steps you need to take tolegally get out of your timeshare I'llbe honest I know I said this before tooI didn't think this was possible but itactually is now that sounds pretty greatdoesn't it the basic pitch of exitcompanies is for an upfront fee they'lleither resell your timeshare or get youout of your contract and given howcritical they are of the timeshareindustry you might assume that they arethe good guys in this storyunfortunately they are very much notwhich you probably already suspectedafter that woman claimed a 100 successright because that's one of thosephrases that's just an automatic redflag like endorsed by Dr Oz or Forbescover model it just immediately raisessuspicionsalso you should know well that surelooks like the news crucially it andalthough shows you just saw aresponsored content programs we did astory on them a couple of years ago andit's where local stations will allow youto buy your way into fake segments thatlook like news but are in fact ads weactually bought our way onto that exactshow on Denver 7 to sell a Naziblanket and if you missed that story goback and watch the whole thing becausethat was one hell of a sentence that'smissing about 21 minutes of contextanywayas it turns out timeshare terminationteam was even sketchier than our ThirdReich fleece because not not longafter that Denver 7's actual news teamhad this story to report Debbie hiredthe company in June 2019 in all she paidmore than fourteen thousand dollarssigned a contract a two-year contractthat ended this last June well under theterms of the con if they don't resolvemy issue I can get a refund two yearscame and went that's when she wentlooking for answers so I came to came tosee them and it's empty the signs arestill up on this office in GreenwoodVillagebut there's no employees the furnitureis gone wow first I'm not sure it wastotally necessary to force her to goback and knock on the glass of a clearlyempty office but I'm very glad that theydid but second that is a 19th centurysnake oil salesman level scam they justdisappeared one moment they were therethe next they were suddenly gone with nowarning like a ghost or a TV show on HBOMaxeverything's fine at this companyeverything's fineand unfortunately that is by no means aone-off as one consumer Advocate puts itI don't like generalization so I'll saythat 99 of them don't do what they saythey will or Worse are out and out scamsbut you know what I do likegeneralization so I'm happy to saytimeshare exit companies are total a lot of follow to say basicpattern that you just saw they'll chargean upfront fee and then either stallindefinitely Or fully disappear and theyare taking advantage of people on amassive scale in Missouri one group ofcompanies stands accused of deceivingconsumers into paying more than 90million dollars for exit services thatwere not delivered and while that caseis still pending all of these othercompanies have gone under in recentyears and I know that these exitcompanies might seem immediatelysuspicious to you now but they haveslick marketing and have also beenendorsed by some supposedly financiallySavvy people in fact Dave Ramsey thepopular personal finance Guru who to hiscredit has been a vocal critic oftimeshares actually gave one exitcompany a ringing endorsement time sureexit team will get you out of theirtimesharenow you're going to pay them money to dothat that's what they do and they chargeyou up front and they give your moneyback guarantee if they don't get you outbut they'll get you out well that soundstrustworthy doesn't it and after all whywouldn't you take the word of a manwhose look and general Vibe answers thequestion what if Billy Joel and Dr Philhad a kid and it sucked butbut not long after that the WashingtonState AG sued timeshare exit teamclaiming among other things that themajority of his customers either did notreceive their promised exit received onethat caused them unanticipated negativeFinancial or other consequences orreceived an exit that the customer couldhave obtained for themselves the companyeventually shut down but only after itwas forced to pay 2.6 million dollars inrestitution and if you're thinking anyof that gave Dave Ramsey pause forreflection you should know it did notbecause after Inside Edition did asegment covering timeshare exit teamsissues and questioning his endorsementof them he pushed back like this I don'tknow you could buy a story on InsideEdition I didn't I didn't think you arewith that I know you were a tabloid butI didn't know you were that lowor are you just so dumb that you didn'tunderstand you were on the wrong side ofthis argument on the basis of theconsumerso this is why timeshare is not on theair anymore timeshare exit team butguess who's still on the airmeand I'm sittingin a 300 million dollar paid forbuildingneck deep in cash you jerks yeahthat is champion of the working peopleDave Ramsey bragging about being neckdeep in cash to his own viewers who gotcaught up in a scam that he activelypromoted all while having his hands likethisa pose used almost exclusively bycartoon Super Villains plotting ways tokill Batmanbut the thing is there is no right sideto be on here timeshare companies andtimeshare exit companies are bothterrible one is a shitty business modelthat's somehow technically legal and theother is oftentimes an out and out scambut neither is good and it's veryimportant not to lose sight of the factthat beneath all of this are people whocan get victimized and in some casestwice if you watch a lot of storiesabout these companies it isheartbreaking just how often the peoplein them talk about how ashamed they feelabout falling for this nobody in myfamily knows nobody makes you feel badwhen you think you've done somethingthat's stupid well we bought thetimeshare which took us to the cleanersand it just made me feel stupid itdoesn't make me too good you know it'slike I I think I'm smarter than thatyeah I get that but to be clear theshame here should not be on the peoplewho were duped it should be on theindustries that exploited them told themany freaking thing they wanted to andabused their understandable desire justto take a break so what can wedo here well on the off chance thatanyone watching right now is consideringa time share don't do it if you knowsomeone considering it send them thissegment if you happen to inherit atimeshare get rid of it as fast aspossible and if it's too late and you'restuck with it you can try and give itaway for zero dollars online but thetruth is you'll only be someoneelse over them unfortunately the bestoption might actually be to call thetimeshare company and see if there isany any chance that they will take itback from you as for exit companies asyou have seen there's been sporadiclegal action against individualcompanies but by and large it is awhack-a-mole ecosystem when one goesdown another one tends to pop right upso the truth is the best bet right nowseems to be to make sure that we allwarn each other about just how upthis whole industry is or I suppose wecould go another way with it and if youcan't beat them join them so joining menow for a special sponsored segment thatshe may or may not have paid threethousand dollars for please welcome backto the show my lovely wife Wanda JoeOliverthank youhello there Moana hellono wonder I understand you have a newtimeshare product that you'd like toshare with us that's right I'm here tointroduce my new company timeshare exitsquaredyes theever timeshare exit company exit companywow fascinating wonder what doestimeshare exit squared do exactly wellwell let's say you're stuck in atimeshare and you go to an exit companyto get you out of the contract but uh ohthat company just took all your moneyand disappeared without doing a dangthing well timeshare exit Square canfree you from your timeshare exitcompany and get all your money back wowthat is amazing Wanda you are trulysaving lives just like doctors nursesand firefightersI am way better than all themall those people are scum compared to meI Spit on themwow as you should my wander now tell mehow exactly does timeshare exit squaredwork how does it work well's here majonthey pay us a quick and easy upfront feeof twenty thousand dollarsbusiness monthsyour timeshare exit company will deposita full refund to your bank count wowwonder is that guaranteed oh it's evenbetter than a guarantee it's a pinkyswear promiseI like it I like that that's whatsquared has over 9.3 billion happycustomers and a 200 satisfaction rate a200 percent you said that's right forexit squared customer another randomperson is all left satisfied wowI wonder that is incredible I'll behonest I didn't think this was possiblebut it actually isthere is depending on your definition ofpossible sure sure that's fair and ifyou run into any problems or delays justcall our hotline at 1-800 Flowers ohnice niceyeahto the timeshare exit squared officesand you know what how would someone dothat my wonder will all you have to dois drive up next to the timeshare exitsquared van and scream you're a 27 digitcase numberthing you need until we cross the borderinto Nogales Mexico that sounds veryreasonable but people should act fastshouldn't name a Wonder that's right butJohn this particular company is onlygoing to exist for the next three daysI haven't I haven't well I could sellyou one week a year for just fiftythousand dollars oh I like it and nobodyleaves here without buying somethingshe's right thank you so much my Wandathat's our show thank you so much forwatching we're off next week we'll beback after that good night thank you somuch