A great person I know asked me about a Dave Ramsey recommended company named Timeshare Exit Team. – Source
It seems I’m not the first journalist to get asked that question.
Knowing nothing about the company I did my usual look at the information available.
The company says it is located in a number of states.
Their page on their website for the Dallas office actually shows the Regus logo in the window.
You get the idea. It seems to go on.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a virtual office. It is an inexpensive non-permanent location to meet consumers. However, it is not representative of where the company is physically located.
According to one Linkedin listing, the representative for Timeshare Exit Team in Dallas is a “Regional Consultant.”
That makes me wonder if representatives are not company employees. The word consultant could be interpreted that way. The Timeshare Exit Team website says, “Your personal Regional Consultant will walk you through the timeshare exit process for your specific situation.” – Source
Red flags would really be raised for me if the job of the regional consultant was to meet prospective clients face-to-face to enroll them. That could have an alterior motive to avoid a particular law I’ll talk about later in this article.
However, this help wanted advertisement for a consultant in New Jersey seems as if it could be a staff position.
Timeshare Exit Team appears to actually be a company named Reed Hein & Associates, LLC. They are registered to do business in Georgia, Missouri, and Texas under the name Reed Hein & Associates. However, in Texas, the managing members of the LLC are Hein Sons, Inc. and Makaymax, Inc. instead of Trevor Hein and Brandon Reed. The State of Washington lists Hein Sons Industries as an investment company governed by Trevor Hein and Makaymax as a holding company governed by Brandon Reed.
A court filing included below provides this overview of the company structure.
“Defendant Reed Hein & Associates, LLC, is a Washington limited liability company with its principal place of business at 3400 188th Street SW, Suite 300, Lynnwood, Washington 98037 (“Reed Hein”).
a) Reed Hein’s Managing Members are Brandon Reed and Trevor Hein.
b) Makaymax, Inc., is a 60 percent owner of Reed Hein. Makaymax, Inc., is a Washington corporation with its principal place of business at 3400 188th Street SW, Suite 300, Lynnwood, Washington 98037.
c) Hein & Sons Industries, Inc., is a 40 percent owner of Reed Hein. Hein & Sons Industries, Inc., is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business at 3400 188th Street SW, Suite 300, Lynnwood, Washington 98037.
d) “Timeshare Exit Team” is a registered trade name in Washington for Reed Hein.”
The following list Trevor Hein as governor in Washington.
LSI Credit, Inc. appears to be a credit repair company that also sells debt settlement services.
The Hein Group of Companies says Trevor Hein is located in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. A court filing stated Hein is a citizen of Canada.
What They Do
Timeshare Exit Team (Reed Hein & Associates) says they are “the industry leader in helping people exit their unwanted timeshares.” – Source
What People Say
It is a given that when you assist consumers you are not going to please everyone all of the time. A company can do the best job in the world and still have an unhappy person or two.
The public statements and complaints about this company run from the best to the worst. The 89 reviews on Yelp are a good example of this.
Here are some samples:
“I deeply regret ever contacting this company and find it hard to believe that Dave Ramsey would actually recommend this organization. I feel that I not only wasted money on a timeshare but I also blew thousands more trying to get out of it.”
“I was told to not pay maintenance fees and for 2 years I didn’t, then I was asked to bring my account current any they DID pay the late fees, but it was still an unexpected large payment to bring the account current. I was then told my account would need to be transferred to another company in order to complete the exit at a cost of $500. This goes against their original sales pitch of no additional fees. Still nothing. So now, 3 years in, I’ve paid all my fees and lost the benefit of actually using the timeshare.”
[Note: The advice to stop paying sounds like a debt settlement approach.]
One of the higher rated reviews was three stars but said “I recently contacted Timeshare Exit Team (Reed Hein & Associates, LLC) to get me off my timeshare contract, they were courteous and willing to help. I signed a contract and I had to pay a deposit of 1500 dollars and told I will be contacted after 2 weeks. 3 weeks passed and I have not heard from them, I tried calling several times to request canceling the contract because I felt this is going to drag for some time I eventually talked to a representative of timeshare exit team and let them know my intentions of canceling the contract and refunding my deposit of $1500. I will be updating this review as I get new information.”
A one-star rating said, “NOT a good choice! Dave Ramsey has led everyone astray–after more than THREE YEARS, not a damn thing is happening except they took our money! Expect to have a different person handling your file every month, and nobody knows what’s going on. We have given up trying to contact them, and are going to brave it alone.”
Another one said, “I’m not impressed and quite frankly, am surprised the Dave Ramsey show still endorses them. Finding success stories from The TimeShare Exit Team are few and far between.”
More still, “Dave endorses The Timeshare Exit Team so I decided to use their services. It’s turning out to be a total scam.” – Source
A five-star rating said, “They did exactly what they didn’t say they would do. So please waste your money and go into contract with them.”
It looks like feedback is primarily negative regardless of what the rating is.
BBB A- Rating
The BBB gives Timeshare Exit Team an A- rating and they are an accredited business. The pattern of complaints creates a concern. The BBB says the company has had 181 complaints in the past 3 years but 62 percent of those have been in the past twelve months. – Source
The BBB website says they have received 354 customer reviews with an average of a four-star rating. The reviews here are happier overall than on Yelp.
The reviews also paint an interesting picture that the process for getting out of the timeshare is to voluntarily stop paying on the timeshare. For example, Janet B says, “Before we signed contract and gave them $ they assured us that if we stopped making payments on the loan it would not affect our credit. This was totally untrue first it showed disputed on our report and then default. Also the company that works with them to correct our credit report did not do that.” I wonder if that company was LSI? – Source
Dolores B gave them a four-star review and said, “It took many months before it was finally settled but I am out of that timeshare! I did not have to pay any maintenance fees during that time!”
Dave Ramsey Endorsement Seems Conflicted
Having spent all this time reading about what the company does, I’ve come away with the impression clients are advised to stop making payments on their timeshare in order to negotiate a way out of the obligation.
The irony is that seems to fly in the face of what Dave Ramsey advises. Dave says, “Basically, a debt reduction service promises (for a fee) to help clean up your debt mess by working with your creditors. Usually, those promises come in one of two forms: debt settlement and debt consolidation.
Debt settlement companies take the money you pay them and use it to negotiate with your creditors to reduce or eliminate what you owe. The problem is, they charge way more than you would pay if you just settled the debts on your own.” – Source
Dave also says, “But if you end up settling for less than the original amount of the debt, there will almost always be a negative reflection on your credit score.”
Here is what Dave says about settling debt.
So it seems Dave is saying if you are just trying to get out of your timeshare because you don’t want to pay it anymore, you shouldn’t. Can’t say I agree with him on that point.
Timeshare Exit Team is the subject of a number of ongoing lawsuits in just Federal court. This does not include all the other state courts actions may be pending in.
In the case against them by Westgate Resorts and a large number of other plaintiffs, the complaint says, “Through TET’s promises on its websites and myriad paid celebrity endorsements from the likes of Glenn Beck, Steve Harvey, and Dave Ramsey, Reed, Hein, and Parenteau make false and misleading promises purporting to operate a “consumer protection group” offering a “100% guarantee” to relieve timeshare owners of their obligations, including owners of Westgate timeshare interests. If TET is unsuccessful in cancelling an owners’ timeshare interest, TET promises to return their money.”
The complaint seems to support the debt settlement approach when it says, “TET simply redirects to TET the money the owners would otherwise pay for their annual maintenance, taxes, or mortgage payments to their timeshare company, resort, or developer.”
The lawsuit says, “TET representatives have publicly stated that the company’s business plan is to “break” contracts between timeshare developers such as Westgate and the individual timeshare owners.
To accomplish TET’s goal to “break” those contracts, TET’s representatives, without any cognizable factual or legal basis for doing so, instruct owners to stop making their required payments to their timeshare companies. TET’s representatives know that by giving owners this advice, owners will breach their valid and enforceable agreements with their timeshare company, resort, or developer. Identifiable owners of Westgate timeshare interests have followed this very advice from TET’s representatives and Westgate has been damaged as a result.”
You can read the full complaint below.
What strikes me is if the allegations and complaints by consumers is true, then how is Timeshare Exit Team not running into trouble with the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rules prohibiting up-front fees for debt intervention? Since the service provided by Timeshare Exit Team is a modification of the debt the consumer owes, it seems like these rules settling or reducing the debt would apply to them.
As the FTC says, “If you provide debt relief services, the new Rule says you can’t collect any fee from a customer until you meet these three requirements:
- You must have reached a successful result for your customer. You must have renegotiated, settled, reduced or otherwise changed the terms of at least one of the customer’s debts.
- There must be an agreement between your customer and the creditor. Your customer must agree to the settlement agreement, debt management plan, or other result reached with the creditor due to your service. According to the Rule, the agreement from the creditor must be in writing, although your customer may agree to it orally. You can’t take your fee in advance by getting your customer to agree to a blanket “pre-approval” of any settlement you might be able to negotiate in the future.
- Your customer must have made a payment to the creditor. Your customer must have made at least one payment to the creditor or debt collector as a result of the agreement you negotiated.
It is illegal to front-load your fees. If your customer has multiple debts enrolled in your program and you’ve settled one of them, you may collect a portion of your full fee – as long as you also have completed the three required steps in connection with that debt. The new Rule gives you two options for calculating your fee if your customer has enrolled multiple debts.”
Timeshare Exit Team Client Agreement Exposed
In another lawsuit, the client agreement signed by the consumer for the services of Timeshare Exit Team was part of the exhibits.
As you can see, the consumer was charged $4,935 immediately upon signing the agreement it is non-refundable except as the agreement states.
The page above describes the conditions in which a refund would not be available. One of those situations is “If the CLIENT delays or does not properly or timely respond to REED HEIN’s requests, then the Guarantee is void.”
The exhibit is a wealth of information and a consumer complaint to the State of Washington Attorney General office.
You can read the full exhibit below.
The complaint that goes with the exhibits above can be found here.
The approach of the timeshare companies seems to be the same as that taken by business cash advance companies who go after debt settlement companies for tortious interference between the company and the client.
Another complaint just filed on December 5, 2018 against Reed Hein & Associates, Timeshare Exit Team, Mitchell Reed Sussman, Mitchell Reed Sussman & Associates, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, Brandon Reed, Trevor Hein, and Thomas Parenteau. This lawsuit was filed by Orange Lake Country Club and Wilson Resort Finance.
The complaint states, “Defendants Brandon Reed (“Reed”), Trevor Hein (“Hein”), and Thomas Parenteau (“Parenteau”) control Defendant Reed Hein & Associates d/b/a Timeshare Exit Team (“TET”) and serve as driving, integral figures in TET’s scheme described herein. Through TET’s website, advertising, and paid celebrity endorsements from the likes of Glenn Beck, Steve Harvey, and Dave Ramsey, Reed, Hein, and Parenteau make false and misleading promises purporting to operate a “consumer protection group” offering a “100% guarantee” to relieve timeshare owners of their obligations, including owners of Orange Lake timeshare interests. TET falsely promises safe, legal, and permanent exits regardless of whether any legal or factual basis exists to cancel the timeshare contract. TET also falsely claims that it can make or force timeshare companies to take back timeshare interests. If TET is unsuccessful in cancelling an owners’ timeshare interest, TET promises to return their money.”
The complaint also says, “The instructions from TET’s representatives are then furthered by TET and the attorneys retained by TET: Defendant Mitchell Reed Sussman d/b/a Mitchell Reed Sussman & Associates (“Sussman Law”) and Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, P.S. (“SGB Law”). In general, the timeshare owners never meet any of these attorneys. TET deliberately conceals the identity of these attorneys from its customers to ensure they can only obtain information about the status of their purported timeshare “exit” from TET. Moreover, TET deliberately misleads customers into thinking that TET is a law firm by selective use of the moniker “Hein, Reed, & Associates,” and falsely conveys to customers that it employs attorneys by referring to outside attorneys it claims to contract with as “our attorneys” and in other ways.”
The complaint makes an interesting allegation about the strength of the refund guarantee. The court document says, “Thus, owners are hamstrung both by TET’s directions not to make their payments or to communicate with Orange Lake, and by SGB Law and Sussman’s furtherance of TET’s instructions by sending demand letters instructing Orange Lake not to contact its own customers. TET’s “100% guarantee” to refund the owners’ paid fee if TET fails to “exit” the owners from their timeshares is rendered worthless because TET considers foreclosure and other adverse legal consequences to the owners to be legitimate “exits” such that no guarantee is owed. Orange Lake owners have been lured into breaching their valid contracts with Orange Lake, subjecting them a forced “exit” of their timeshares through foreclosure and/or liability for breach of contracts exceeding the value of their fees paid to TET. In the end, only TET and the attorneys it hires profit, after providing no actual services, and Orange Lake is damaged.”
You can read the full complaint below.
Finally, another case filed in 2017 was filed by Welk Resort Group against Reed Hein & Associates, Timeshare Exit Team, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, and Ken Privett. This case was filed in California.
This lawsuit claims Timeshare Exit Team is “a fraudulent scheme designed to induce Welk owners to breach their contracts with and payment obligations to Welk—all while steering them to instead pay $5,000, or more, to TET, which TET then illegally splits with its lawyer co-defendants.”
A description of at least one marketing effort is alleged in the complaint. It says, “Despite being well-aware of the contractual relationships between Welk Resort Group, the Association, and their vacation owners, TET markets itself to Welk owners through radio and internet advertisements—and in person at events such as the San Diego County Fair—claiming to be a “Consumer Protection Firm” offering a “100% guarantee” that Timeshare Exit Team will “dissolve [their] timeshare contract … Safely. Legally. Forever.”
You can read the full complaint here.