"Eliminating" Maintenance Fees May Cost Thousands
LABELLE, FL. -- If you have received a letter from Resort Members Association, with an offer to "participate in a program that may eliminate Maintenance Fees for timeshare owners," beware you may be getting something different than you might anticipate.
Mailings are going out by the thousands to mailboxes around the country from a company called Resort Members Association of San Pedro, California. The "offer" says it's "only available to a select group of owners." It's postmarked from Fullerton, Ca. with a return address of 1621 West 25th St. Suite 157, San Pedro, Ca.
The company has offices in Orlando, Florida and Torrance, California at 2239 West 190 Street, and according to one BBB complainant, allegedly is an unregistered fictitious name for the real company, Time Share Relief, Inc. registered in Florida in 2008 and went out of business in 2009, owned by David MacMillan and Cindy Martin of Torrance, CA.
Another company with the same name is apparently unrelated to MacMillan's operation, also called Time Share Relief, Inc. and owners were Paco Gray and Nicholas Worlds, both of Tampa, Fl. That company went out of business in Florida in 2012.
This is a typical mailing, usually trying to get you to come to a local hotel for a high pressure sales presentation where in the end, you will be writing a check for fees to allow the company to either buy or market your time share resort condo.
They will not give you any information over the phone, but pressure callers to come in person to their hotel presentation.
A clue to a possible problem is the letter is unsigned. There is no record of the company being registered at the Secretary of State's office in California or Florida, where we received the letter. Another clue is they claim the offer is "For a limited time," and give a cut off date to call their phone number (888) 242-8706.
The phone number apparently changes depending on when and where you receive the letter. A second letter received showed (888) 453-9461 and included an "account number" of 9109206 under the heading of "Annual Association Notice" and again with a date to call them by.
The Central Florida Better Business Bureau and Southern California BBB says the company, is not accredited and has had 10 complaints about sales and advertising tactics since May 2012. According to BBB records Resort Members Association began business in March 2012, although as noted above they were not registered to do business in the state.
The operations manager is listed as Robert Podlesni and the company is listed as a title company.
Many people report getting mailings and phone calls from the company even though they don't own a time share and there is an allegation that it's website may contain malicious code.
Time Share Relief, Inc. - How They Operate
This company has had government sanctions against them for deceptive practices. According to filings by the state of Vermont, on eight occasions between 2007 and 2010, representatives of Timeshare Relief came to Burlington to solicit consumers to transfer ownership of their unused timeshares and thus relieve the owners of timeshare maintenance fees, taxes and other costs.
A number of consumers who met with the company understood the invitation to mean that the company would offer to pay them for their timeshares; in fact, they had to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars to transfer ownership of their timeshares. The Attorney General considered this to be a deceptive trade practice.
Many less than honest companies are trying to take advantage of timeshare owners, asking large fees from those who have been unable to sell their units due to the very large inventory of units that are now on the market for sale or being unused.
Not said in the original letter is that you will be charged thousands of dollars for "transfer fees" to give away your time share apartment or condo to the company. These types of companies may in turn attempt to re-sell to someone else, and often won't record the transfer, so the original owner is still on the hook legally.
Recommendation: Legitimate timeshare owner groups say not to pay anyone fees to sell or dispose of a timeshare, instead owners groups advise to literally give away for free any unwanted condo and pay an attorney a hundred dollars or so to do the paperwork. The owner's groups say it is unnecessary to ever pay anyone thousands of dollars to dispose of a timeshare or to pay a "listing fee" to place it on the market.
In Florida, and other states, it is illegal for companies to demand advance fees to list a property for sale or rent. Fee or commissions are only paid after a sale, not before.
Update: When this story was written, Resort Members Association was apparently not registered to do business in Florida. The company then filed with the Florida Secretary of State's office on October 16, 2012 to do business under the fictitious name "Resort Members Association" and disclosed the actual owner of the Resort Members Association is Donate Title Inc., of 2245 W. 190th Street, Torrance, CA.
Donate Title, Inc. filed with Florida on October 5, 2012 to do business, after Resort Members Association allegedly had been doing business since March 2012. It's owner is David MacMillan, 201 Spindrift Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. He is the same owner of Time Share Relief, Inc. that started business in Florida in 2008 and went out of business in 2009.
Update: On March 6, 2013 the Florida Attorney General's office sued four timeshare resale companies. See Timeshare Fraud story for more on how the companies took advantage of timeshare owners.
Update: In April we were receiving letters from Resort Notification Services, 5348 Vegas Dr., Suite 342, Las Vegas, NV. The phone number was (888) 983-4518. The letters says "We have attempted contacting you several times without success. This may be our last attempt." The letter was mailed from zip 33310 which is Fort Lauderdale, Fl.