When is a “review” not a review? Recent lawsuits have revealed a potentially disturbing practice of timeshare exit companies alleged to have manipulated online reviews to deceive potential customers.
As an example, just read the following charge made by the Attorney General of Washington State against Reed Hein & Associates (the company known as Timeshare Exit Team) in a complaint filed in February 2020:
Timeshare Exit Team “manipulate online reviews by hosting a false and deceptive online review aggregator on the TimeshareExitTeam.com website. Defendants’ ‘Timeshare Exit Team review summary’ purports to aggregate 1-star (Bad) through 5-star (Excellent) reviews from Google.com, Trustpilot.com, and Birdeye.com but omits more than two hundred negative (i.e., 1- and 2-star) reviews posted to those review websites. Through this deceptive ‘review summary,’ Defendants falsely represent and/or create the impression that no negative reviews of the company exist, when in fact hundreds of such reviews have been posted online including approximately one hundred 1- and 2-star reviews on the Better Business Bureau’s website.”
“Defendants also manipulate online reviews of Reed Hein’s services in order to attract and maintain customers, and discredit negative commentary by unhappy customers. This includes having employees pose as satisfied customers online and leave fabricated reviews describing positive experiences with Reed Hein.”Full Legal Complaint
Bluegreen Vacations v. Timeshare Compliance/Carlsbad Law Group:
As another example, read the following from a November 2020 complaint filed by Bluegreen Vacations against Timeshare Compliance, which alleges that they colluded with marketing partners, to create a fake online rating website:
“The Rating Website purports to neutrally ‘review’ various timeshare exit companies, but is actually an affiliate marketing scheme intended to advertise the services of TSC. The Marketing Defendants have contracted with Crader, Yuge, and Bigly to advertise the Marketing Defendants’ services on the Ratings Website.”
The complaint goes on to explain, “TSC engages with Crader to develop and create the TSC-related content contained on the Ratings Website. The statements contained on the Rating Website regarding TSC are false and deceptive.’
“Additionally, the Ratings Website states that its goal is ‘to help timeshare owners find a reputable timeshare exit company to work with’. This advertisement is false and/or misleading because the goal of the website is not to ‘help timeshare owners find a reputable timeshare exit company to work with’, the goal of the website is to drive consumers, including Bluegreen owners, to TSC.”Full Legal Complaint
For more information, read the full Legal Complaint for Bluegreen Vacations v. Timeshare Compliance/Carlsbad Law Group.
Want to know about the business practices of a timeshare exit company? You may want to check with your state government and with the Better Business Bureau to verify its business practices and complaint history. You can also always contact your timeshare developer, and work directly with them – they can help you discuss your options.