ST. LOUIS – Joe Mason’s timeshare trouble in Branson, Missouri, started innocently enough.

“When we first signed up for this, this isn’t a timeshare. We’re a vacation package, you know, a destination kind of package,” Mason said. “We’re not a timeshare at all. They preached that to us 100 different times.”

The Topeka, Kansas, resident is now fighting to get out of the deal.

“You broke the contract with us. We want our money back. And they won’t listen to us,” Mason said. “They won’t do anything about it. They’re just, keep paying us; you’re stuck in it. That’s it.”

Stories like Mason’s are peppered throughout the latest Better Business Bureau investigation into timeshares and vacation clubs.

“We’re really seeing that consumers feel they’re pressured into contracts that they don’t quite understand,” said Brian Edwards, a BBB investigator. “That they are signing up for these timeshares being told they are very easy to resell or get rid of, and it turns out these are often lifetime contracts that are very difficult to get out of.”

According to the American Resort Development Association, Missouri had the seventh-highest number of timeshare properties in the country last year. Since 2020, the BBB said Missouri’s timeshare industry has generated the third-most complaints nationally. The report found that timeshare exit companies often don’t follow through on their promises to help consumers.

“They’ve been able to unfortunately convince consumers to hand over several thousands of dollars,” Edwards said. “When, in reality, a lot of these exit companies have no more ability to help people get out of their timeshares than those people have themselves.”

Edwards and Mason share this advice.

“If they’re thinking about purchasing a timeshare, they should do their research online,” Mason said. “Stay away from deals that seem too good to be true; do their research, and don’t be pressured into buying anything. If people have a timeshare, and they’re looking to get rid of it, they should be contacting their resort.”

“Stay completely away from them,” Mason said.