As timeshare companies have continued to sell substandard products over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of timeshare exit companies. Not all exit companies, however, are created equal. On one end of the spectrum are companies like Centerstone Group, which has accreditation by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an excellent rating on the BBB website, and many positive customer reviews.
Then, there are less reputable companies. These companies, like Timeshare Termination Team, take money from desperate timeshare owners without providing the necessary services and support. In June of 2021, Timeshare Termination Team, a Denver-area timeshare exit company, shocked its customers when it suddenly ceased doing business and stopped communicating with the customers that had signed expensive contracts and paid them to help with their timeshare exits.
This article will take a closer look at the Timeshare Termination Team fiasco and what happened to cause it to go out of business. We’ll also look at some potential red flags to watch for when evaluating which timeshare exit company to hire.
Timeshare Termination Team (TTT) was set up in Greenwood Village, Colorado, in 2011. It was owned and managed by a husband and wife team, Brian Wilbur and Holly Wilbur, who came forward claiming that they had successfully canceled their own timeshare contract.
For a time, it appears that Timeshare Termination Team operated as a legitimate business in Colorado, and the BBB reviews from 2019 (the earliest available) are more positive than negative.
According to previous BBB reviews, TTT advertised a “money-back guarantee” if they did not get their customers the promised timeshare exit. It’s not clear, though, if this guarantee was ever actually valid. As of the time of this article, the Timeshare Termination Team’s website seems to have shut down along with the rest of the company’s operations.
As time went on, it became clear to anybody watching closely that TTT was headed for trouble.
Public record shows that, by early 2021, TTT was attracting serious and expensive legal problems. TTT and its affiliated marketing entity, Vindaloo Travel Network LLC, were sued by a large developer in federal court in Miami, Florida.
That developer, Bluegreen Vacations, alleged in its lawsuit that TTT and Vindaloo were falsely advertising the ability to break Bluegreen unit owners’ contracts. Bluegreen’s complaint also alleged that TTT and its affiliates were inducing owners to divert payments from Bluegreen, causing legal damage (e.g., lost money) to both Bluegreen and the owners.
In June of 2021, TTT had lost multiple legal motions before the Miami federal court. The legal setback on its own was bad enough, but it came on the heels of TTT’s ever-increasing legal bills. Defending against a lawsuit in federal court is incredibly expensive. Consider that even a conservative estimate of a lawyer’s fees would be $250-$300 per hour, and likely more in a complex action like the one in which TTT was sued.
Even under those fees, a company like TTT would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees just to defend itself. Losing the case could mean a judgment of millions of dollars as well as bankruptcy. Given these facts, it may not seem surprising that TTT disappeared virtually overnight.
And that’s exactly what happened. TTT shut down its business and closed its office in Colorado. When it did, it left scores of its clients — many of whom had paid TTT thousands of dollars — in the cold with no way of getting a refund or their promised timeshare exit.
One customer, featured in a story by a local newscast in Denver, reportedly paid over $14,000 to the company. When she tried to find out the status of her case and/or get a refund, she found the TTT offices abandoned. Her story, unfortunately, is not unusual.
As of the summer of 2023, TTT has not re-opened and the lawsuit appears to be still pending in the federal court system in Florida.
What happened to TTT’s customers is terrible. They had already been victimized once by a high-pressure sales process and steadily increasing maintenance fees and assessments from timeshare resorts. Then, they were hurt again when they lost money paid to TTT. We feel for those owners, but you can learn from their experiences, which reveals red flags for any exit company.
According to the Miami lawsuit, TTT told its customers to stop paying money to the timeshare developers. Presumably, this advice was given to make the developers think twice about refusing to negotiate with owners to take timeshare units back.
Any company, however, that instructs a timeshare owner to stop paying fees and assessments to a timeshare resort is giving that owner very bad advice in the best-case scenario. In the worst case, telling an owner to stop paying fees is likely a scam that will only multiply their problems.
Failure to keep up with payments will just cause owners more legal headaches, including foreclosure. Even worse, if you owe money to a timeshare company, they can get deficiency judgments against you. Once they have a judgment, they can put a lien on your other property, like your home or business, and sell that property to pay themselves.
At the other end of the spectrum, Centerstone Group will often transfer units to a receiver in order to ensure payments to developers. That way, none of those bad results will come about for our clients.
Simply put, if an exit company tells you to just stop paying your fees, assessments, and/or mortgage payments to a timeshare resort, that is a sign that the company you are working with may not be the best choice.
Whether or not a company charges an upfront fee, a money-back guarantee can give you a lot of comfort. It’s very easy to say the words “money-back guarantee.” It’s quite a bit harder to actually follow up on that promise, particularly when you’re a company that has a lot of legal bills to pay. When a company offers you a money-back guarantee, it’s helpful to pause and think, “How would I actually get my money back, if it came to that?”
Some companies, like Centerstone Group, offer an escrow option. In other words, you put a payment into a neutral third-party account, and that money is only released to the exit company after it has done its job. That way, if the company fails to follow through, you know exactly where your money is and have a better chance of getting it back should something unexpected happen.
Escrows are not the only way to ensure a money-back guarantee, of course. But the point is that if your timeshare exit company can’t answer the very basic question of where your money is going, you should think long and hard about whether they are trustworthy.
As an aside, keep in mind that no matter who your exit company is, attorneys do not generally offer money-back guarantees, and you probably won’t get back any money you’ve paid to them. You may have seen television advertisements for lawyers with contingency fees (e.g., “We don’t get paid unless you win!”), but that is not at all typical in this area of law.
Of course, not all companies or people that get sued have done something wrong. Frivolous and wrongful lawsuits do exist, and good folks are involved in court all the time. So, you shouldn’t avoid a timeshare exit company just because they have been involved in a court case.
But if you are looking at whether to use a given timeshare exit company, you might want to pay attention to a couple things. First, look at how many lawsuits the company has been involved in. More lawsuits should make you look harder at a company. Second, take a close look at what the timeshare exit company was doing in those lawsuits.
For example, if you see that numerous customers or vendors have sued the company for not paying them, that is an excellent reason to stay away. Furthermore, if the company has engaged in repeated, frequent, or frivolous litigation, it may be a sign that this particular company is one you don’t want to work with.
Keep in mind that, in most cases, lawsuits generate publicly available documents outlining both allegations against companies as well as evidence uncovered in those lawsuits. If you find that a company is involved in a lawsuit, some more digging can give you insight into the potential problems with that company.
Even if pending cases don’t conclusively show that an exit company has done anything wrong, heavy-handed litigation by rich timeshare developers may result in multiple lawsuits being filed against a company. In some cases, this may lead to a company being litigated into bankruptcy. Therefore, numerous excessive lawsuits against any company can also be a cause for concern.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask a timeshare exit company about pending lawsuits. A trustworthy company will understand your concerns and should be willing to answer basic questions about the health of the company. If they won’t, consider going somewhere else.
If you are saddled with an unwanted timeshare, you have probably learned through experience that it can be very tough to make sound, informed decisions. Though you can never be 100% about anything at the beginning, it helps to look at all of the relevant signs and ask whether they indicate an exit company will help you or make your problem worse.
For its part, Centerstone Group is a company that has workers with decades of experience in the timeshare industry. We are also a BBB-accredited business with an A+, 4.8-out-of-5-star rating, and a large collection of stellar reviews. If you are looking at timeshare exit companies, contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation.