BBB issues alert over timeshare resort company
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is issuing a nationwide alert in regard to Platinum Resort Services, a company which claims to offer services to those interested in buying, selling or renting resort and timeshare properties. The company, which has been given an "F" rating by the BBB, claims an address in downtown Minneapolis, but the BBB has determined that's a virtual office address and the company has no physical presence here. Customers allege that after paying upfront closing costs to Platinum Resort Services, the company has failed to disburse proceeds from claimed sales or rentals of their vacation properties as agreed upon.
"This seems to be yet another case of a timeshare scam," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. "The company makes big promises, collects upfront fees, and then when the time comes for them to 'pay up,' they find convenient excuses to delay and keep customers at arm's length."
Platinum Resort Services claims to be "a team of experienced Property and Vacation Ownership Agents." However customers who have complained to the BBB say the company has failed to honor their promises and charged them for services which may not have been provided. Four of the six complainants allege the company has failed to pay them proceeds - in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars - from resort properties the company claims it has sold on their behalf. Two other complainants allege the company agreed to act as a broker by renting their timeshares to others and paying them rental fees. Both of those complainants also state the company failed to follow through with promised payments after collecting upfront fees.
In one case, customers who believed they had sold their rental property purchased another property. However, they now find themselves in the nebulous position of possibly owning two properties and paying associated monthly fees for both. These customers state they have been told the person they were talking with at Platinum Resort Services is no longer employed there and the operator fielding calls for the company would not let them speak to a manager.
The company has responded to complaints brought to its attention by the BBB, but two complaints have been closed as unresolved. Three more are pending. In their responses, the company has stated they "do not receive a commission until a property is sold or weeks are used." Even if that claim is accurate, consumers are out the money they paid the company upfront and left with only the company's word that their properties were sold or rented. Another recent response from the company regarding a timeshare they were supposed to rent states that the customer's filing a complaint with the BBB is what's causing delays in payments and goes on to say that if the customer wants their refund they must first close their BBB file.
"This is simply another delaying tactic," adds Badgerow. "People who are having issues with this company should feel free to file complaints with us. They should also file complaints with their state Attorney General's Office and at www.ic3.gov."
The BBB advises people looking to sell their timeshare properties to always:
Be realistic. In regard to timeshares, it's generally a buyer's - not a seller's - market. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises often prove to be false.
Investigate. Don't be dazzled by a fancy website or one that has photos of exotic locales. Use a business you can trust - check out free BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org.
Watch out for upfront fees and requests to wire funds. Many complaints to the BBB regarding timeshare resellers involve situations where people were told they needed to wire "escrow funds," or that they just had to pay taxes or closing costs and their timeshare would be sold. Never wire money to someone you don't know.
Confirm licensing requirements - Verify where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, confirm that with the state licensing board.
Get the facts on the figures - Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
Don't fall for the hard sell or an offer that sounds too good to be true - Don't agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don't allow yourself to be pressured.
Employ common sense. If a company is located in Minnesota, why are they asking you to wire money across borders?