The Better Business Bureau is encouraging Wisconsin residents who own timeshares to be careful about solicitations promising that they can help ease their financial burdens. As the economy has decreased the value of many time shares, maintenance fees have doubled and tripled, leading many people to consider abandoning their vacation investments.
A Call For Action volunteer received numerous calls from an organization claiming to be a nonprofit organization that could help her lower her maintenance costs.
When she arrived at a meeting they set up at a restaurant on Madison's east side, she was pitched on a different travel package, one that promised her more flexibility and more locations. Her cost would be roughly $5,000 plus the equity in her timeshare.
"What's happening is these fees are doubling and tripling, so now your timeshare, while it's gone down in value, your fees have gone up," said Kimberly Hazen, who runs the Southwest Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. "Now, people just want to get out. They just want to get rid of it."
Hazen said the hard-sell to the Call For Action volunteer, some of which was captured on videotape by undercover News3 staff, is even more concerning. The station is not showing the video or naming the company that solicited the volunteer until the station and the BBB are able to clearly untangle the management structure of this organization and figure out exactly who is in charge.
However, the BBB found the scenario concerning enough to warn consumers.
"I think the message is really, really be skeptical," said Hazen. "We've said it forever, if it sounds too good to be true, you really need to do your homework."
Hazen said any company that asks for money up front to sell property is problematic. The BBB also advises asking any business you're working with to provide a licensing number as most companies are required to be licensed to do business in Wisconsin.