By Mike Rush
Highland, Illinois (KSDK) - In this tough economy, many of you may be downsizing and getting rid of non-essentials like timeshares.
A viewer has a warning about a problem surrounding the sale of timeshares that cost her dearly.
It's not much, but a camper is how Rhonda Hemker and her family prefer to vacation.
"We would rather be out, out in the woods and camping instead of in a hotel. I know it's weird, but that's the way we are," she said.
Which is one of the reasons the Highland, Illinois family is selling the timeshare they bought in Branson.
"We've had it for ten years and we've used it once," said Rhonda.
Rhonda and her husband used a California-based company called Executive Vacations to help them find buyers for their timeshare.
Rhonda did her research on the company because they'd been taken before.
"Paying people that say it's sold and then you send the checks and then you never hear from people again, so we were very leary," she said.
There wasn't a lot of information on Executive Vacations, but Rhonda thought it a good sign she didn't find any bad reviews. So they paid $1,500 to the company in advance for closing fees. The check cashed. Rhonda called for an update a few weeks later.
"And that's when I found out that her phone number had been disconnected. And immediately I got a sick feeling in my stomach," she said.
Executive Vacations appears to have fallen off the face of the earth.
When 5 on Your Side called, we couldn't get through or find a working website. We sent an e-mail that went unanswered.
"I think they probably got enough money for whatever they were going to do and took it and ran," said Rhonda.
She doesn't expect to get her money back, but she does want to warn others. And now, she'll try to sell her timeshare herself.
"We just don't want anybody else to be out. Times are tough and it's hard," she said.
The Better Business Bureau gives Executive Vacations an "F" rating.
The BBB offers this advice for those selling their timeshare:
-Contact the BBB and the state Attorney General where the reseller is located.
-Deal only with licensed real estate brokers and agents, and ask for references from satisfied clients.
-If you must pay a fee in advance, ask about refunds. Get refund policies and promises in writing.