In 2019, we published an article that covered the BBB’s constant efforts to diminish timeshare exit fraud in Missouri. Around the same time, the consumer driven platform also issued a warning about a local Springfield operation, Relief Solutions International LLC (RSI). For years now, the high amount of traffic through America’s heartland has created a number of unethical business transactions that prey on travelers.
Tourists that buy into timeshare resorts are often retargeted by resale and cancellation services within the same region. Ironically many don’t catch on. But the BBB has caught on to the techniques of RSI and issued another warning last week (Feb 2021). The main issue stems from the agency’s failure to completely exit timeshare contracts within marketed deadlines.
The misleading guarantees have resulted in thousands of vacation owners waiting on relief while they’re still on the hook for timeshare payments and fees – specifically thousands of dollars in annual maintenance costs. In their statement, the BBB referenced over 100 complaints from timeshare owners in Canada and across 33 states. While RSI claims to deliver for most, these customers said they spent thousands for nothing in return.
BBB Provides Testimonials From Former RSI Clients.
One eastern St. Louis resident told the BBB that he signed a contract with Resort Solutions International in early 2016 after being lured into one of their sales presentations (like timeshares do). The local hotel meeting quickly turned into a $10K transaction that was said to get him out of two separate timeshare agreements.
Apparently, RSI told him that he would be free and clear of his timeshare contract within 12-18 months. After canceling one contract on his own and waiting 2 years for RSI to provide any type of value, he requested his money back. But they only offered a partial refund. According to the BBB, this offer was made because RSI wasn’t able to exhaust “every avenue to help him exit his remaining timeshare.”
Another gentleman in Long Island, New York told BBB he gave $20K to RSI in July of 2018 to escape his multiple timeshare agreements as well. The same type of hotel sales pitch persuaded him to hand it over. As of today, it’s stated that he’s been denied a refund and is still paying on his perpetual timeshare obligations.
What Does the BBB Have to Say About it?
Michelle Corey, the BBB’s CEO in St. Louis, is tired of the timeshare industry crippling Missouri. “It appears these consumers have been more than patient with this company,” she said in a written statement to the News-Leader.
“If [RSI] cannot deliver on its promises of getting them out of their timeshares in a certain time frame, then they should issue refunds.” We agree, which is why we request eligibility forms. “Stringing them on for years only hurts the customers who continue to pay maintenance fees for those timeshares,” Corey continued.
Records from the Missouri Secretary of State also raised a few eyebrows. Apparently, RSI stems from a firm launched in 2008 by the name of Searchlight Advisors. State records show the name was changed to RSI in 2012 before the company was “technically terminated” in June and July of that year.
No Comments Lead to a Rebuttal From RSI.
After the BBB initially mentioned them in their 2019 consumer warnings, RSI immediately took action to refute the claims. They pushed blame on one of their elderly clients due to missing power of attorney forms for their inability to get rid of the timeshare. Now that the spotlight is back on their company, Bart Cummings and Russell Turner appear to be scrambling to explain themselves.
What The Owners of the Company Had to Say:
“RSI, LLC is a Missouri company [that] currently employs about 50 Missourians and it has done so during the course of the pandemic. The number of customers who complain is minuscule compared to the number of happy customers who are no longer burdened by their timeshare contract,” Turner claims.
The company’s website says, “RSI does provide timeshare owners with a valuable service and will only request payment for the service RSI provides.” In other words, customers aren’t paying for outcomes.
Turner continued by saying, “It is a common practice of billion dollar timeshare pushing companies to encourage consumers to file complaints against small businesses like RSI. Timeshare exit companies are not the problem. Such companies would not exist if there was not an enormous amount of fraud occurring within the timeshare industry committed by the behemoth timeshare pushing entities,” he said.
Will RSI Be Able to Escape Conduct This Time?
While he does have a point, piling additional burdens on vulnerable timeshare owners isn’t the best look. In fact, the part owner of RSI seems to be responding in order to push the attention onto the timeshare developers.
“We humbly suggest that it would be a wiser use of resources to attack this problem at its core as opposed to attacking those who are attempting to cure this devastating financial problem which affects millions of Americans,” he said.
Turner’s rebuttal went on to point out how RSI contributes “substantial financial support” to a non profit organization that is “dedicated to assisting defrauded elderly people” and “reducing the burden on the government.” Aside from the nobility, we’re not sure if it’s enough to get Michelle Corey off RSI’s back this time around.