Companies that offer to resell your timeshare may sound like a sure thing, but thousands of customers say they were ripped off. And state officials have done little to stop it.
Timeshare Registry International
Opened on: March 25, 2004
Closed on: Sept. 23, 2011
Location: 2672 Bayshore Blvd., Dunedin, 34698
Better Business Bureau rating: F
Business website: Inactive
Former insurance salesman Chris Mazzone said he started Timeshare Registry International in 2004, after he learned the timeshare resale business at U.S. Vacation in Largo. He said he closed the company because buyers dried up and he did not feel comfortable selling advertising.
The Florida Attorney General's Office has received 152 complaints against the company. Many of them allege salespeople promised buyers or advertising methods that would guarantee a quick sale.
Actions against this business
Fined $4,000 in July 2009 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for not having a cancellation period stated in contracts.
Name: Chris Mazzone, managing member
Mazzone sold insurance before a friend told him about timeshare resale. The friend worked at U.S. Vacation in Largo, a company the Attorney General's Office later sued for false and deceptive practices.
Mazzone says his salespeople were honest, but acknowledges the industry is "full of liars."
"The problem ... is that there are a lot of people out there promising things they can't deliver," said Mazzone.
Name: Susan Cox
Cox, of Richland, Washington, says she has paid more than $10,000 to a number of Florida timeshare resale companies, including Vacation Property Resellers in Largo, Timeshare Registry International in Dunedin, and Resort Property Depot in St. Petersburg. She owns timeshares in Las Vegas, Florida, and Canada that she never visits.
Cox has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a terminal bone cancer. She has had eight surgeries to remove cancerous bone, and has lost most of her hip. She spends most of her time in bed or in a wheelchair. She says she was under the influence of heavy painkillers when the salespeople called.
"They took advantage of me" she said.
Timeshare Registry International has generated 152 consumer complaints to the Florida Attorney General's Office since 2009. Search a database of Pinellas and Hillsborough county companies that have been listed in two or more complaints to the Florida Attorney General.
List of all the companies in this report
How we did this story
The Tampa Bay Times started investigating the timeshare resale industry in June 2011.
The newspaper reviewed more than 2,000 consumer complaints against Tampa Bay area companies and tracked down their offices across two counties in an attempt to interview owners and employees.
The Times interviewed more than 100 people, including company employees, victims and government officials who oversee or investigate timeshare resale companies. It also reviewed thousands of pages of court documents and licensing records and closely examined the criminal histories of employees at more than a dozen local resale companies with customer complaints.
The complaints reviewed are those recorded by the state Attorney General's Office, which operates a fraud "hotline" and accepts and categorizes complaints that come in by phone, email and letter.
Contact reporter Will Hobson to suggest further timeshare resale story ideas.
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