GRAND STRAND, S.C. (WBTW) — The Better Business Bureau has examined deception in the timeshare industry and warned consumers about timeshare deals, scams and timeshare exit companies.

News13’s Maya Lockett spoke with a Grand Strand family who experienced unethical business practices with a major timeshare company.

Tracy Whitlock, whose parents owned a timeshare, bought it in the 1990s through a company called Fairfield, which eventually merged with Wyndham. She said for the first few years, everything was reasonably priced.

“The maintenance fees kept going up. And here again, every time they would go, we would go to something, they would have to go this meeting,” Whitlock said. “And they would get talked into buying more points because they could get more of this and more of that. And what it was doing was remortgaging what they had, so they were never able to pay down anything.”

Whitlock said their timeshare was billed through a Wyndham Mastercard.

“If they couldn’t pay the entire thing, they would just pay a minimum balance. So here’s this credit card building up on in addition to the, to the fact that every time they buy into something or convinced to buy into something, they’re getting charged all this money basically as a mortgage refi to buy into this thing that’s not worth what they’re buying it for.”

The Better Business Bureau said timeshares and vacation clubs are known to hide maintenance fees and other costs, masking the full cost of timeshare ownership.

“There are reputable timeshare companies in Myrtle Beach, the Grand Strand, but just the deceptive practices that they use, we want people to stop and be aware of them before they sign a contract,” said Nicole Cordero, a BBB communications specialist.

The BBB received over 20,000 complaints about timeshare purchases, difficulty getting out of the agreement and aggressive sales tactics. 114 of those complaints reported to the BBB were about business located in the Grand Strand.

“They were hours long pitch meetings for consumers, then we got reports of high fees that people weren’t made aware of when they signed the contract,” Cordero said. “And finally, these consumers report having a lifelong obligation to these timeshares, so they just weren’t aware of that.”

Whitlock told News13 they signed a deed in lieu in 2019, which means they were able to transfer the title of the property back to Wyndham without paying the money owed.

News13 reached out to Wyndham on Wednesday, and they transferred our request to their partners Travel and Leisure. They told News13 Friday they are working to find out additional information about these claims.

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