I-Team: Couple warns consumers of timeshare with "no availability"
OGUNQUIT (WGME) -- A Maine couple says they spent thousands of dollars on a timeshare in Ogunquit with the intention of trading it to travel elsewhere, but every time they go to book a trip, nothing's available.
Susan Turnbow and her husband, Jeff, love to travel, but the timeshare that was supposed to deliver dream vacations throughout their retirement, she feels, has become a nightmare.
"Frustration," said Turnbow. 'Major, major frustration."
She said they were solicited back in 2013 by salespeople from The Falls at Ogunquit, which is owned by InnSeason Resorts.
For $5,000 they could own a week there every other year. Turnbow said they were told it could also be traded for other locations, which is how they intended to use it.
"They made it sound like, 'Well, this is a great way to go to different places and see different places and it's a lot less money, because you can trade all the time and we have all these great deals,'" recalled Turnbow.
It all started with bonus gifts just for attending the meeting, including four round trip airline tickets.
"I should have known it was too good to be true," she said.
Turnbow said the tickets were valid for two years, so she tried different locations, dates and times, but travel agents told her InnSeason Resorts and their affiliate, RCI, only had so many seats available.
"We could never get a seat," she said.
RCI claims to offer the world's largest vacation exchange network. Turnbow said she couldn't book a thing.
"I put in the dates I could go and then there wasn't availability," she said.
In September of 2017, the couple attended a workshop hosted by InnSeason Resorts. Turnbow took notes, and said the representative told her to try booking 60 to 90 days out, so that's what she did.
"I tried everything," she said. "I couldn't book."
They've spent hundreds in maintenance fees, but in five years, taken just one trip, said Turnbow. It was a weekend on Cape Cod. InnSeason Resorts said they used points. The couple claims they paid out of pocket.
"We need to get out of this," said Turnbow.
A spokesperson for InnSeason Resorts tells CBS 13 they had "no idea" there was a problem with these owners, and "it would be impossible for someone not to find a nice way to use their points."
The Maine Attorney General's Office said it's currently mediating two complaints against the business.
Meanwhile, RCI has an overall satisfaction rating of one star out of a possible five on ConsumerAffairs.com, based on 50 ratings submitted in the last year. Among the hundreds of comments are similar complaints about a lack of availability.
Back in 2009, the company settled a class action lawsuit alleging they rented some timeshares to the general public for profit, instead of making them available to members for exchange.
A spokesperson for RCI said, "We regret that Mr. and Mrs. Turnbow felt they were unable to use their membership in the way they had hoped, and we do not think it is indicative of the experience of the vast majority of our approximately 3.9 million members."
Paula Fleming with the Better Business Bureau said they received 1,709 complaints nationwide related to timeshares in 2017, and 1,561 so far in 2018, many about selling.
"For whatever reason, it's very difficult for many people to get out of it and therefore they are marketed to more often than not and they don't know who's legitimate," said Fleming.
The Turnbows are navigating those waters right now.
"I said, 'You can have it,'" said Turnbow, of trying to give the timeshare back.
She said they've hired a consumer advocate group, not to sell their timeshare, but to get them out of it. They may lose money, she said, but hope to keep it from happening to others.
"I just don't want anyone else to go through this, because it's very frustrating," she said.
InnSeason Resorts tells CBS 13 the Turnbows are delinquent on their account. The couple confirms that and says the advocates they hired told them not to pay or have contact with the company as they try to get out of the timeshare.