The American Resort Development Association – Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), representing over 1.5 million timeshare owners, recognizes U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell’s denials of motions to dismiss two separate Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO) lawsuits against exit companies. In both lawsuits, WVO alleged false and misleading practices by the exit companies that led consumers to pay large upfront fees for services the exit companies could not deliver on. In the first lawsuit, Judge Presnell denied the motion to dismiss from defendants, Reid Hein & Associates LLC, which does business as Timeshare Exit Team, and its three controlling directors. In the second lawsuit, Judge Presnell addressed each argument of the defendants, Timeshare Owners Relief LLC, Resort Legal Team, Gallagher-Clifton, LLC, Charles Gallagher, and William Stewart, Jr., and denied their motions to dismiss. The two lawsuits (Case No: 6:18-cv-02171-GAP-DCI and Case No: 6:19-cv-00476-GAP-EJK) were filed in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.1
“The judge sent a clear message in his refusal to dismiss these cases. Many exit companies are blatantly misleading consumers through false advertising and their failure to deliver on their promises,” said Robert Clements, VP of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel of The American Resort Development Association. “There are no laws that specifically regulate the practices of timeshare exit companies or protect the large upfront fees that consumers pay them. Even with a 100% money back guarantee, we’ve seen examples of exit companies going out of business or filing bankruptcy resulting in consumers losing the money they paid in advance. Without action by regulators, state attorneys general or law enforcement, we fear more consumers will be harmed. We urge consumers who believe they are a victim of an exit company scam to report it,” continued Clements.
Owners who have been unfairly taken advantage of or defrauded by an exit company should contact their state’s Attorney General (ConsumerResources.org), the Attorney General in the state where the business is located, their local BBB office, or local law enforcement. For additional help contacting these resources, consumers can reach out to the ARDA-ROC Consumer Support Team at 1-855-939-1515.
The timeshare industry, which has over nine million owners and generates over 540,000 jobs and $10.8 billion in federal, state and local taxes in the U.S., has become a target for unscrupulous individuals and companies. As a result, the industry has increased its engagement with owners who want to understand safe timeshare exit options, often directly through their developer or property manager, which may be available for exiting their product. This information can be found at www.responsibleexit.com.
Red flags of exit and resale scams for timeshare owners to be aware of are:
- Calls or emails claiming to have an “interested buyer” for a timeshare;
- Caller claiming to be a representative of ARDA or ARDA-ROC. Fact: ARDA and ARDA-ROC only responds to inquiries from owners after an inbound request – there are absolutely no unsolicited calls, emails or communications;
- A company promises to modify, cancel or transfer an owner’s timeshare for a large upfront fee;
- A company requests an upfront fee, or the wire transfer of money for a “service,” “tax” or other “requirement” for the sale or transfer to be completed;
- If an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
The ARDA-Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is a 501(c)4 non-profit entity funded by over 1.5 million individual timeshare owner’s voluntary contributions. ROC is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing vacation ownership through smart policy and sensible regulation. We advocate for local, state, and federal policies that enable the vacation ownership industry to thrive and provide consumers with an enriched vacation ownership experience. For more information, visit www.ardaroc.org.
1 Wyndham Vacation Ownership is represented by Alfred J. Bennington Jr. and Glennys Ortega Rubin of Shutts & Bowen, LLP.