Less than 48 hours after issuing a strongly worded public warning about a timeshare-liquidation firm owned by Springfield businessman Travis Dibben, the Better Business Bureau was at it again.
Bureau offices in Springfield and St. Louis issued a second alert about a Springfield timeshare-industry company, this time telling buyers to beware Martin Management Group.
Timeshares are real-estate arrangements in which several joint owners pay for the right to use a property as a vacation home. The owners split the time they spend at the home, thus the properties are called “timeshares.”
Timeshare liquidators promise that they can extract timeshare owners from their continuing obligations, such as annual maintenance fees.
The Bureau “is advising consumers to use caution” when dealing with Martin Management Group and its owners, Steven Albert Martin and David Lee Martin, a statement released Wednesday said.
The News-Leader Wednesday reached out to the Martins’ company and the Martins personally by phone, email and social media. The newspaper has yet to receive a response.
According to the Bureau’s statement, its investigators recently collected a number of anonymous accounts from consumers detailing allegations against Martin Management Group.
Consumers said that the Martins’ company collected thousands of dollars in payments from them. The consumers signed contracts with the Martins’ company providing for timeshare agreements to be liquidated within a specified time.
The Martins’ company then breached those contracts, according to the Bureau statement, failing to provide agreed-upon services and failing to communicate adequately when consumers raised concerns.
On Wednesday Steve Austin of London, Arkansas told the News-Leader about his issues with the Martins’ company. His comments dovetailed the testimonials collected by the Better Business Bureau.
Austin said that in April he met with Martin Management Group officials in Springdale, another northwestern Arkansas city.
“There were a bunch of people running around, all professional-looking,” Austin said. “They did a seminar on how to get rid of your timeshare, and I paid an amount of money and I never got one service from them.”
Austin said he gave Martin Management Group “more than $2,000” in a bid to get out of a Florida timeshare agreement.
Within 20 days, Martin Management Group had ceased communicating with him, he alleged. Austin tried calling the company’s main switchboard, to little effect, he said. Company officials gave him numbers they said were for their personal mobile phones, he told the News-Leader.
Those officials did not respond when he called those numbers.
Austin said that on Aug. 23, he received an unsigned email in which Martin Management Group apologized for its delays in rendering service, which was to be complete by Oct. 22. Otherwise, Austin said he was supposed to get a 100-percent refund.
He read the text of the email to a News-Leader reporting, saying that the company wrote, “We had to restructure our entire organization, which has left us behind our preferred schedule.”
The email also said that the Martins “would definitely fulfill that obligation” to liquidate his timeshare.
The email also alleged that the Martins’ company had attempted to call Austin, but that they had no working phone number on file for him, Austin said. That rankled him.
“In my job, I have to answer the phone 24/7,” Austin said. “There’s no way I wouldn’t have answered that call.”
Martin has not had any further contact since the email, he said. He is working with the credit-card company he used to make his payment to Martin Management Group to dispute the charge.
The Bureau’s customer testimonials released Wednesday included an account by a woman in New York state whose husband, a chief in the New York City Fire Department, died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Bureau alleged that she paid the Martins’ company $18,000. Her five timeshares have not been liquidated, she alleges, and she has had no refund.
“No one lifted a finger,” she told the Bureau.
The Bureau reported that Martin Management Group, in business since 2004, according to Missouri Secretary of State online records, has had 13 public complaints in the past year.
According to the Bureau website, in six of those cases the company has not responded when the Bureau made contact to mediate the issues.
The Martins’ company has an “F” rating, the lowest rating the Bureau hands out.
Online court records show that in 2010, Platte County Circuit Court entered a tax lien against Steven Martin in the amount of $1,076. The records show that a date of satisfaction of the debt to the Missouri Department of Revenue is “not yet on file.”
The Martin Management Group website was functioning Wednesday, telling potential clients, “We get the weight off your shoulders.”
(story shared by Springfieldl News-Leader. Read the original article here )