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What is a Timeshare Shill?
This article defines a Shill in the Timeshare Industry, as they run rampant on the Forums and other Social Media!

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What is a Timeshare Shill?

To start off, we will simply define the term Shill:

Noun: An accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.

Upon reading the above definition, your mind is likely already imagining how such a tactic could be used in the Timeshare industry, specifically on the realm of Consumer reviews on sites like TUG and other social media.  They are an extremely common occurrence for us, thankfully they are very easy to identify and are dealt with quickly in most cases!

Why do Shills Exist?

There is really only one answer to this question, and that is to add legitimacy to a Scam or other terrible business venture or pitch to as mentioned above, may sway a customer or two who was previously only marginally skeptical, but now after reading a "customers" rave review, could choose to move forward with doing business with said company.

At this point, if you do not know the mantra on TUG of:

you should after the completion of this article, go read the other articles located in the TUG Advice section!  

Fact is you WILL encounter scams and other skeptical businesses in the Timeshare Industry, on TUG we have THOUSANDS of threads on the forums where folks come to inquire and educate themselves about various entities in this industry.  TUG has been around for so long, and the forums so active, that in many cases these forum discussions wind up ranking higher on Google and Bing search results than even the companies being discussed own homepages!  

In situations like this where a TUG discussion thread ranks so highly, the company in question has a few options at its disposal!  The most common is to have someone pretend to be nothing more than a happy customer, and post a reply that gives rave reviews about the company and its business practices in the hopes that any potential customers that are searching for said business and come across the post, will see that at least one "satisfied customer" exists and if they were on the fence about moving forward with working with them, will be more inclined to do so.

How does TUG combat this?

In nearly all situations, the company in question has huge red flags that indicate folks should steer clear of.  These include (but are not limited to)

  • Claiming they have been in business for years, but the website was built a short time ago
  • you were contacted via a cold call out of the blue
  • they charge upfront fees 
  • they only want you to pay with a money order, or wire transfer
  • their offer sounds too good to be true 

note a detailed article on Timeshare Scams and fairy tales is located here:  Timeshare Scams Revealed

Thankfully most threads about companies one should avoid doing business with, are answered by helpful TUGGERS who identify the red flags for the potential customers very quickly.  Thus giving them the information they need to make a smart business decision (and not get ripped off).

So if TUGGERS already warn folks, why do Shills exist?

Great question!  They participate on these threads in an attempt to look like an existing customer that has been perfectly happy with their dealings and experience!  Thus it becomes a thinly veiled "rebuttal" to the warnings provided by other savvy TUGGERS against doing business there.

Sadly, many folks simply want to believe the offer they are being pitched is legitimate, since in most if not all cases its exactly what they want (and need) to hear in regards to their Timeshare!  Be it an amazing resale/rental price offered, a way to "exit" from their timeshare, or in more recent cases, a way for owners to get back money they had previously sent to a scammer in a form of a "recovery" scheme.

This industry is full of individuals who want nothing more than to part you and your money!  There is simply no way we can educate every single Timeshare owner and make scams go away, but we have been doing it since 1993, and will continue to fight this fight for many years to come!

You are making all this up, can you show me an example?

While there are countless examples of this on the forums, this most recent one is perfect:


So is every positive review from a Shill?

Of course not, the TUGBBS forums have more than 1 million posts, and there are countless millions of other posts on forums all over the Internet that represent valid consumer reviews of companies (not just Timeshare related).  Its likely that 99.9999% of those are valid customer reports!

Sadly the Timeshare Industry seems to have a significantly higher % of individuals who as mentioned above, want to part you with your money, and will use any tactic at their disposal to accomplish this task.  

TUG exists to provide you with the information you need to make an educated decision about your Timeshare, because educated Timeshare owners are FAR less likely to be scammed out of their money!

If you need a checklist of how to deterimine if a Company that contacted you is Legitimate, you can read this article here:   Is this Timeshare Company Legitimate?

We hope this article helps anyone who is doing research on a Timeshare company!

Feel free to stop by our Timeshare Community Forums if you want to ask specific questions, with more than 65,000 other Timeshare owners and experts, no question goes unanswered!


Why become a TUG member?

There is an extended TUG resort reviews database here on this web site available only to TUG members. There are over 4000 resorts covered by this database now and growing weekly. The reviews also include pictures of the resorts, general resort information and a list of owners' email addresses who are willing to answer additional questions regarding the resorts not covered by the detailed reviews.   This is a quick way to see how our members rate the resorts which they have actually stayed at. It has become a valuable source of information to use when planning for exchanges.


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page updated July 2013  by B Rogers - Send email regarding this page to tug@tug2.net