If you are reading this article, you are likely one of the legions of timeshare owners that need to get out of their contracts. You don’t want to pay monthly maintenance fees for the rest of your life. You don’t want the pressure that comes with having to take vacations (which should be restful) with a certain company, subject to that company’s rules.
Lots of people want the same thing you do. So many, in fact, that there are a lot of companies offering timeshare exit services. These companies know that canceling a timeshare on your own can be hard at the best of times. They offer to handle the situation for you, making it easier and potentially more successful. Not all exit companies are created equal though.
The now-shuttered Timeshare Exit Team provides a cautionary tale of what can happen when you work with a company that isn’t reputable. Their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of F and a lawsuit filed by the Washington Attorney General shed light on the ways this company victimized unhappy timeshare owners. Let’s take a deeper look.
A Brief History of Timeshare Exit Team
The Washington Secretary of State’s records show that Timeshare Exit Team — first called World Travel Seattle LLC — was formed by Brandon Reed in 2012 in Kirkland, Washington. The next year, Trevor Hein changed the name of the company to Reed Hein & Associates LLC. Timeshare Exit Team advertised itself as a company that helped people exit unwanted timeshares.
According to the Washington State Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Timeshare Exit Team represented that it could force resorts to take back timeshares. At the start of the lawsuit, though, Washington alleged that only about half of the requested exits had been accomplished. There was also concern that the exits accomplished may not have been proper, leading to foreclosure and other legal problems for timeshare owners.
How Did This Happen? A Tale of Inexperience, Bad Endorsements, and a Huge Lawsuit
According to the publicly filed allegations of the Washington Attorney General, Timeshare Exit Team itself did not have any prior experience in the timeshare industry. Before starting Timeshare Exit Team in 2012, Hein and Reed sold rain gutter systems.
When one looks at the history of this company and its failures, the “why” of this disaster becomes much clearer. As we’ll see below, Timeshare Exit Team had a number of serious problems with their business that were magnified by an ill-considered commercial endorsement. When these problems were exposed by the state of Washington, Timeshare Exit Team was forced to start making amends.
1. Timeshare Exit Team’s Alleged Poor Business Practices
Hein and Reed’s lack of experience in the industry made them ineffective at securing releases for their clients. Simply, they didn’t have the inside knowledge of the industry that it takes to achieve a successful exit. Perhaps realizing their lack of experience, Timeshare Exit Team’s business model matched unhappy timeshare owners with “vendors” who had more experience, but perhaps not the experience those particular owners needed.
For example, if a timeshare owner needed to file a lawsuit to get out of an unconscionable contract, Timeshare Exit Team would contact an attorney who would then represent the timeshare owner. It does not appear that Timeshare Exit Team had any control over the vendors it selected to help timeshare owners.
Some of the exit practices were legally risky. For example, some timeshare owners were allegedly advised to stop paying maintenance fees and mortgages, or even to ignore communications from timeshare resorts and homeowners’ associations (HOAs). This then resulted in foreclosure proceedings against timeshare units, causing more legal problems for timeshare owners.
One of the biggest problems with the Timeshare Exit Team model was their huge upfront fees, which were sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Timeshare Exit Team did offer a money-back guarantee for its services. But according to BBB complaints, people often had difficulty getting these refunds, when they did get them at all. Communication shut down, the website was shuttered, and people were left out in the cold.
- A High-Profile Endorsement from Dave Ramsey Elevated Timeshare Exit Team and Gave Them Access to More Timeshare Owners
Despite their lack of qualifications, Timeshare Exit Team scored a big endorsement from media personality Dave Ramsey, host of a popular financial advice program. The mention of the company on the Dave Ramsey show was acknowledged as Timeshare Exit Team’s “most profitable endorsement.”
Ramsey’s words would turn out to spell catastrophe for desperate, vulnerable timeshare owners. It opened the way for even more of them to find their way to Timeshare Exit Team, which hurt even more people, necessitating the lawsuit filed to the Washington Attorney General. Though it should be noted that Ramsey later walked back his endorsement, by that time the damage had already been done.
3. The State of Washington Achieved Some Justice for the Timeshare Exit Team’s Wronged Customers
Initially. Reed Hein viciously fought the Washington Attorney General’s lawsuit, denying the allegations and accusing the state of Washington of helping the timeshare industry with its lawsuit.
In September of 2021, however, the Attorney General reported that Reed Hein would pay $2.61 million to provide restitution to people who were harmed by Timeshare Exit Team as well as pay legal expenses. As part of their settlement with the state of Washington, Reed Hein agreed that they would pay $19 million more if they violated the terms of the settlement.
Most shocking was Reed Hein’s agreement to publicly apologize for its words and actions during the lawsuit, including its implication that the attorney general’s lawsuit was done at the behest of the timeshare industry.
The story of Timeshare Exit Team, the lawsuit, and the settlement should serve as a warning to any timeshare owner thinking about an exit. Flashy soundbites from people like Dave Ramsey are not enough to guarantee that a company will do a good job. Look at the company’s history, experience, and what its clients say about it before signing on the dotted line.
Timeshare Exit Team had a reputation for charging exorbitant fees upfront, with little or no results. (It also advertised a money-back guarantee that also turned out to be deceptive and was a big part of the lawsuit allegations against it.)
A good timeshare exit company will give you more payment options and won’t pressure you into turning over a huge chunk of money at the outset. Centerstone Group, for example, offers long-term financing and an escrow option that can help ease your financial pain.
How Centerstone Group Is Different
For its part, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) appears to have learned exactly the wrong lesson from the Timeshare Exit Team lawsuit and attempted to paint all timeshare exit companies with the same broad brush, disingenuously implying that all exit companies are timeshare exit scams and urging customers to talk to the management of their timeshare resorts about problems with timeshare ownership.
Given that the timeshare developers are the ones who caused the original problem, you should be extremely skeptical of their “advice.” Not all exit companies are the same. Centerstone Group has a fantastic record with the BBB. Even a quick look at our reviews and rating, for example, shows ethical business practices that work for its growing legion of satisfied clients.
First and foremost, Centerstone Group’s professionals have over 33 years of combined experience in the timeshare industry. Though an unwanted timeshare problem can seem like uncharted waters for most people, rest assured that we have probably seen it before.
Centerstone Group also has a unique three-pronged approach to ensure maximum chances of success in getting rid of your unwanted timeshare. First, it enters into a pressure campaign that involves both direct contact and smart use of social media to change a developer’s position. Sometimes, a pressure campaign can even include government regulatory complaints.
At the same time, Centerstone Group will see whether you qualify for a transfer process with a receiver. In the context of timeshare exit cases, a receiver is a person who takes over the financial and other obligations associated with your timeshare during the exit process. This particular feature of Centerstone Group’s strategy gives you peace of mind and control over your situation.
Finally, Centerstone Group realizes that some timeshare exit cases are going to be more difficult than others. Particularly contentious cases may require the aid or opinion of a lawyer. The most complicated may involve a lawsuit seeking a contract rescission or to address fraudulent behavior by your timeshare developer.
In these complicated cases, Centerstone Group has access to capable real estate attorneys who help you through your timeshare exit procedure. Unlike a company that simply drops your case off with a law firm and forgets it, Centerstone Group works in tandem with established law firms. They pursue parallel strategies at the same time to maximize your chances of success.
In the world of timeshare contracts and exit strategies, one size does not fit all. Centerstone Group will take the time to understand your specific contract and situation, then tailor our proprietary strategies for you.
You can always come to us for a free consultation to get solid information about your exit options. Then, we’ll help you use that information to make the best decision possible.
Move Forward With Peace of Mind
Getting out of a timeshare contract is rarely easy. You will likely experience some stress and discomfort getting out from underneath its heavy burden. Don’t let that stress cause you to make another poor decision. Companies like Timeshare Exit Team will only make your problem worse.
Centerstone Group, though, will do its best to fight for you. It also will do its level best to make the process as easy as possible. That means that you can count on Centerstone Group to act honestly and in your best interest.
If you are struggling to keep up with timeshare maintenance fees or other expenses caused by your timeshare, do not suffer in silence. Talk to Centerstone Group today and let one of our professionals assist you. We will help you make a plan and get you on the road to peace of mind.