Does the timeshare industry love ignorant consumers?

By | May 13th, 2013

parisvegasBusinesses like to say their best customers are educated ones. But that doesn’t necessarily apply to the timeshare industry.

After you hear Mike Seldin’s story, you might be forgiven for thinking that industry’s best customers are ignorant ones. And you might wonder which other businesses prefer to keep their customers in the dark.

Seldin and his wife attended a timeshare presentation in Las Vegas recently and purchased a trial membership that failed to deliver on its promises. But don’t worry, this story has a dramatic but happy ending.

The couple was hooked with the promise of free show tickets, which is the preferred bait of Vegas timeshare peddlers. Their two-hour, high-pressure presentation emphasized a VIP program, which the Seldins would have access to for their first two years of membership.

“One of the perks of the VIP program was that we would get limo transportation to and from the airport whenever we vacationed and also have use of the limo for short trips,” he remembers.

Too good to be true

Like most timeshare pitches, their saleswoman was persistent, hammering the Seldins with the benefits of buying now. They both liked the perks, but like any informed consumer, wanted to take a little time to think it over. That didn’t sit well with their saleswoman, who insisted on closing the deal then and there.

“She offered us a trial membership at the VIP level for two years for $2,700 which would then be applied to the same purchase price we were offered if we decided to buy,” remembers Seldin. “My wife has always been skeptical of time shares but this even sounded good to her. She kicked me under the table to indicate we should go for it. So we signed for the trial and were even given a limo ride back to the hotel.”

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The Seldins bought a trial membership in a timeshare without reading the terms of their purchase, because their saleswoman really wanted them to sign now. Hmmm.

You probably can see where this is headed, can’t you?

You’re not an owner

Almost a week later, the Seldins decided to try their trial membership. Under Nevada’s convoluted timeshare regulations, they had five days to cancel their contract, but their agreement allowed them seven days. So they logged on to the member website.

“The first red flag was the message, “You are not authorized to use this website at your membership level. Please call our travel representative for more information’,” he remembers.

Then things went from bad to worse.

“I then found out there were actually two VIP programs,” he says. “One for owners and one for trial members. I asked what the benefits of the trial member VIP program were. Essentially, the only benefit was that we would have a dedicated travel representative by phone to assist us with our travel plans so we wouldn’t have to go through different people each time we called.”

In other words, the persistent timeshare saleswoman told them a little white lie. While the VIP benefits existed, she wasn’t selling a trial membership in that program.


Seldin phoned the saleswoman and asked her about the inconsistency.

“She seemed to be unaware of the two different VIP programs and was pretty sure it was a mistake,” he says. “She said she would look into it but, since this was Saturday and corporate was closed, she may not have an answer until Monday.”

Related story:   Is this "convenience" just another scam?

Ah, but wait! Remember the cancellation period? If Seldin waited until Monday, he’d lose his $2,700. And he was starting to get a bad feeling about the whole operation.

“I then asked about the perks we were promised as VIP members, including the limo service. She said she could only speak for her property but that we would still be entitled to that in Las Vegas. No guarantees for other properties,” he says.

That did it.

“At that point, I was really beginning to feel we’d been taken,” he says. “I indicated that I would like to cancel the contract and she said she had no authority to cancel, only to sell, and she didn’t know the procedure for cancellation. She then said I should reconsider because ‘it’s still a great deal.’ Aside from the lies and misinformation, of course.”

Only at the 11th hour did the Seldins turn to their contract and read it from top to bottom. The agreement specified that they had until the seventh day to cancel, but that it had to be postmarked by midnight on the seventh day.

“Luckily, we have a post office by the airport with late night hours,” says Seldin. “We made it.”

They received a full refund. But other customers, they are certain, are not so lucky. I know they’re right because I hear from timeshare victims almost every day.

While the sales presentation that led to the Seldins’ questionable purchase may have violated the ethics code of the American Resort Development Association, the timeshare industry’s trade group, they would have had little recourse as a practical matter. Because even though their saleswoman danced around a few facts, their contract spelled it all out.

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When it came to the Seldins’ timeshare, ignorance was not bliss — a hard but valuable lesson learned.

And it begs a bigger question: Which industries truly benefit from informed consumers? Are there any in the travel industry that actively try to educate their customers? (I can’t think of any, but maybe you can.) How about outside travel?

Does any company profit from having knowledgeable customers, or do they do better when we act dumb?

Does the timeshare industry profit from our ignorance?

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  • polexia_rogue

    i could never go to a timeshare presentation. i have a hard enough time getting the “do you have time to take a survey” people off the phone.

    i would feel bad for the seller and probably end up signing out of guilt.

    but yes- the less you know the easier a time seller’s job is.

  • BillCCC

    I sat through a timeshare pitch(we received $125.00) in Las Vegas a few years ago. The property was lovely but the price was way too high. They started at $24,000 but by the time we were sent to the last salesman the price had dropped to $4,000. Online there were units selling anywhere from 1500 to 2500 at the same place. If that was the only cost it might have been attractive but the $550/year maintenance fee was the killer.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This is very straightforward.

    1. Any legitimate deal that is good today will be good tomorrow.
    2 If you aren’t given an opportunity to read the contract and the fine print…stay away.
    3. High pressure tactics have no place in legitimate consumer transactions.
    4. Any salesperson trying to use guilt is scamming you.

    My $0.02

  • Jeanne_in_NE


  • PsyGuy

    Medical care, my doctor really does want to educate me on options, treatment and preventative care.
    Evn within travel there are professionals that want educated travelers. Consumer advocates and travel journalists really do want to educate us to be better travelers. That and the movie industry, I learned so much about air travel by watching “Up in the Air”.

  • citizentraveller

    As I get older I’m finding it easier to deal with salespeople on the phone by terminating the call at my end. Sometimes I feel bad if it is a charity calling but I know that many charities these days feel obliged to employ high pressure sales people and a lot of the money donated goes on commissions and administration.

    However I would not dare to attend a something like a timeshare sales presentation in person
    due to a fear that I would be subjected to relentless pressure to sign up for the product. It would be interesting to know what percentage of attendees do sign up against their own better judgement. Unfortunately such sales techniques appear to be worldwide.

  • jpp42

    I don’t know a thing about timeshares, having heard enough from this and other sites to stay as far away as possible. But just to confirm, when you have a timeshare you are buying access to one week per year in the facility, right? So that “$550/year” maintenance really means $550 paid for just that one week of enjoyment of the condo?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, plus of course the “purchase price”. And you pay that $550 regardless of whether you actually use it.

  • Grant


    You’re a wise woman. Years ago, I had a boss who signed up for a presentation for a campground timeshare (Yes, there are such horrors). He was gonna get him a free black and white TV with a four-inch screen. I pleaded with him not to do it, but they weren’t going to buffalo HIM. No, sir. And, by God, he did come into work on Monday with that TV…… and a $7,000 campground timeshare.

    Run far! Run fast! :-)

  • LeeAnneClark

    I have never understood why anyone buys a timeshare. I’ve been to several timeshare sales presentations, and had no problem walking away from them. Why? Because they make no sense! They try to woo you with all kinds of financial shenanigans, but add up how much you are actually spending per year (payments, annual maintenance, other hidden fees, taxes etc.), and you can always get a really nice hotel room for far less…anywhere you want. Why would anyone want to lock themselves into one specific place at one specific time for every vacation? Aren’t there other places you want to see? Other times of the year you want to travel?

    And don’t buy into the myth that you can always swap for another location. Unless you are one of the few with a timeshare in a super-desirable location (which are also the most expensive), you might not EVER be able to find a swap-out to somewhere you really want to go. And even if you do, it requires so much time and effort that it’s just not worth the hassle. Why not just pick where you want to go for vacation each year…and book a room? Why let your timeshare “investment” dictate where you can go for vacation?

    And this malarkey about “ownership”…it’s just word games. All you “own” is a contract that forces you to keep paying, year after year, payments and “maintenance fees” on a room in a resort that you can use for one week every year. You don’t “own” the room. You can’t redecorate, right? You can’t put up family pictures, right? It’s just a room in a resort. You just paid to be stuck using it year after year, unless you are lucky enough to swap for someplace else. None of the other perks are worth the money either. Dedicated travel specialist? Find a good travel agent! Limo rides? Book a limo, for pete’s sake! Yeah, you gotta pay for it – but you are already paying for it. How many limo rides would $2700 pay for? And how many times are you REALLY gonna use it?

    Anyone who buys a vacation timeshare is a sucker of the highest order. Why would anyone want to make their vacation planning so limited, and so complicated?

    Never once has a salesperson in one of these presentations been able to show me, in REAL dollars, how a vacation timeshare would actually save me money on my vacations. Oh they pull out all the classic scam-words…”it’s an investment in your future!” Timeshares almost always end up money-losers over time. “It’s a great value!” Another joke. They purposely don’t mention all the hidden fees, or play it down as if it’s not real money you are paying, it’s just “maintenance”…HA. “You can pass it down to your children!” Yeah right, your kids don’t want to go to the same place year after year for vacation, nor do they want to spend absurd amounts of time trying to swap for someplace they do want to go…they’ll just book a room. “You can sell it at a profit!” Snort – ask any timeshare owner who’s tried to sell one if they actually made money on the sale – if they can sell them at all, it’s at a huge loss. In fact, that is likely the ONLY way to make a timeshare even close to worthwhile financially…buy one at pennies to the dollar from some poor suckers who fell for the presentation.

    How anyone can’t see through the scam is beyond me.

    I will offer one caveat…I know of ONE couple who actually were happy with their timeshare. They bought Christmas week at a resort in Costa Rica 15 years ago. And they’ve been going there…year after year, every Christmas, for over 15 years. But they bought it with the intention of going there, to THAT resort, every single Christmas. They are creatures of habit, and have no desire to spend Christmas anywhere else. And they intend to keep going there every year for Christmas, for as long as they can…which probably isn’t going to be much longer, as they are both senior citizens in failing health. We sat down recently and added up how much they’ve spent over the years on their timeshare, and compared that to how much they would have had to pay for comparable hotel rooms in other tropical locations, and the truth is, it has not been a good value. They could have traveled to all manner of exotic places every year for far less money. And meanwhile the resort has changed management several times, the facilities and grounds have deteriorated, the maintenance fees have increased, the room needs a makeover BADLY, the food quality has gone down, and something breaks in their room every time they go.

    But for them it was worth it because they have no desire to go anywhere else, they never have to make a reservation, they know exactly how much to budget for their annual vacation, and they always know where they’ll be over Christmas.

    If that doesn’t sound attractive to you, RUN, don’t walk, away from that pushy salesperson.

  • BillCCC

    I guess it also goes for the upkeep of the grounds and the amenities. But remember you also own 1/52 of that suite.

  • LadySiren

    I have to disagree with you, LeeAnne. I’m a happy timeshare owner. And surprisingly, there are quite a few of us out there. Now, I will say that you’re right in the fact that timeshares aren’t for everyone, and not every timeshare company is equal. But if you fit a certain set of circumstances AND you find the right company to work with, it can be worth it.

    I’m a Hilton timeshare owner. Because it’s Hilton and they trade into RCI, I’m never locked into just one location – I’ve got options in nearly every country in the world. So far, HGVC hasn’t failed me yet and I’ve used my timeshare repeatedly. The last time was a 12-person family reunion at Disneyworld. The property was very well-kept; very clean, high quality furnishings, nothing broken. This year, I think I’m going to trade into an RV, which my timeshare also allows. Our next Orlando trip (you can stop rolling your eyes RIGHT NOW, Raven), we’re going to trade into Disney’s timeshare group.

    It wasn’t actually *my* intention to buy a timeshare – my husband at the time and I were young and he loved to travel (we did travel a lot). Since it’s HGVC and they had properties in Hawaii, Orlando, Vegas, Florida, AND you could trade into RCI, it seemed like it was worth it. We went into it with eyes wide open – we knew there would be maintenance fees. We figured that once we purchased this, we’d never be able to recoup what we paid, let alone turn a profit. But the idea of being able to stay in Hilton-level accommodations at our leisure is what got us to buy, and it’s worked out.

    I don’t know that I would’ve made the same decision if it had been me solo, but now that I have my timeshare? I love it. My kids love it. But yeah, you absolutely have to do some research and understand clearly what you’re getting into, what your options are, and how they work. As I said, timeshares aren’t for everyone. But for a certain subset of the population (like my family), they’re terrific.

  • @LeeAnneClark:disqus I’m with you. I’ve sat through two presentations (one of which was DVC so it was low pressure). Every time I do the math, my ROI is 15 years down the road and I never assume that I will be interested in the same things then as now. The other thing I saw in the DVC presentation is that the contract specifies that the contract ends 30 years after the resort opens (not 30 years from the date you sign). So much for the pitch that I can will it to my kids…

  • jerryatric

    Many many years ago we bought a timeshare foreclosure. No incentives, chance to read the contract & little pressure.
    We have been using it mostly by exchanges to stay in Europe & the U.S. Cost of ownership $550. Cost to exchange $218 to $460 depending on when & where. So a hotel type room $218 for the week, in a 4 to 5 star property. We also use Getaways for the same costs – NO Maintenance fees.
    So educate yourself & then make a decision. Heavy pressure & ridiculous incentives – WALK AWAY.

  • Julie Northrop

    I’m not big on timeshare’s, however I’m glad that they got a full refund. I’m the kind of person that will stick to my guns, no matter how good the deal seems, if I feel I am getting a hard sell. The more insistent the salesperson is that I sign a contract, the more likely I am to say no. I don’t like a hard sell, and it really makes me wonder what the motive is of the salesperson (i.e., commission, meeting quotas, etc) to really have to push that sale. They should have stuck to their first initial reaction, because that’s usually the right one.

  • LadySiren

    Hehehe, if you saw my post above, you know I’m a timeshare owner. My ex-husband was really the one that wanted it and man, was he a JERK. We absolutely used his jerky-ness to our advantage.

    Not only did we get them to bring the price down, we had no closing costs, and got to break the down payment into three installments. Then we got two round-trip airline tickets anywhere in the world, a 7-night stay in any Hilton hotel anywhere in the world, tickets to the Rockettes (we were in Vegas, they were touring), $50ish each in casino chips, free taxi vouchers, and more free buffets coupons than you could shake a stick at. By the time we were done, the sales team looked sort of dazed.

    He and I have been long-divorced but I got the timeshare and couldn’t be happier. :D

  • There is SO much to say about this particular story and the bigger situatiion.

    The phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, it is” can not be repeated too often.

    Timeshares are complicated products that can not be entered into lightly. I’ve been writing about, consulting on and educating people on them for the better part of a decade now and the number of “misunderstandings”, traps and problems just continue to grow.

    From the comments that this story has generated, it’s obvioius that more education is necessary and that education MUST come from an unbiased source that doesn’t sell, rent, buy, broker, list, transfer or otherwise partner with a timeshare entity.

    Timeshares can be wonderful vacation products for millions of people. Owners must have a keen understanding of how to use the products and must stay on top of the issues. Prospective owners must work with an independent, non-commissioned based expert.

    I’ve strived to be a catylst for positive change in the industry now and I’ve reached ONE conclusion: this needed change MUST come from the outside, as the industry is not going to change itself.

    For additional information, check out

  • Charlie Funk

    Thought at first this was a rhetorical question.

  • James Orth

    Actually I believe that it thrives on a combination of 3 things 1st is GREED people want something for practically nothing. 2nd Ignorance and lack of common sense, if something sounds too good then there is probably a catch. 3rd laziness not reading and understanding what you are signing.

  • emanon256

    Strange, it would not let me vote today, but if I could, I would vote yes.

    Mrs. Emanon and I used to go to time share presentations in order to get the freebies, but some of them get so nasty I vowed never to go again. Interestingly enough, the only good ones were Marriott’s. They were always very nice, had no pressure, and always told us to come back if we change our mine now, or later, or whenever, they don’t believe in high pressure today only sales. Every Marriott experience was like that. Sadly their maintenance fees were usually in the $2,000 a year range.

    I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but after some time we ended up buying a time share. We really liked how highly rated it was for exchanges, and we were told that there is no pressure, come back whenever you want for the same price, and the best part was that the contract stated that the maintenance fee would not go up more than inflation. It was $10,000 to buy it and even now after owning it for 10+ years, we pay $300 a year for 1 week at a 2 bedroom. We have never actually stayed there, we always exchange it. I did the math before we bought, and with maintenance fee, the membership fee to the exchange company, and the exchange fee, its still an amazing deal. We have gotten more than our money back and only stayed at very nice places. In fact, we made our money back in the first two years.

    Now comes the bad part and I why I don’t recommend buying one even though I had a good experience. A few years back the time share market became over saturated, then two years ago the company that managed our time share sold it. The new company is not taking care of it and it has been severely downgraded in the exchange companies, so while I used to always exchange it for a high end Weston or Marriott in a good location without any trouble, its suddenly hard to exchange it for anything at all and I sure don’t want to stay there in the state its in now. I then looked into selling it, no dice. Every one is bailing on my property, they are going on eBay for 1 cent. Now selling it for 1 cent doesn’t sound so bad, it had a good run. But it turns out I would have to spend several thousands in closing costs as the seller, even if I sell it for 1 cent. I called a company that accepts time shares as donations, and they said I would have to pay $5,000 in fees to donate it, but could only write off the market value which is1 cent. So now I am stuck payign $300 a year for somethign I can no longer use.

  • emanon256


  • John H.

    I attended a timeshare presentation in Rome, Italy.Free breakfast and free 1/2 day tour. Then —THE PRESSURE. I later wrote in an article that the man pressuring me
    to sign “was not wearing a shoulder holster.” Well, I got my point across and he could not sue me because in fact he wasn’t wearing one. But the Italian part and the suggestion of force made the organized crime connection. If not Mafia, the deal I almost could not refuse was at least organized criminality.

  • TonyA_says

    I do NOT feel bad slamming the phone down on commercial call centers calling on behalf of “charities”.
    In my opinion, this is one big scam. A number of years ago, I met with some call centers in SE Asia that did outbound campaigns for companies that had deals with some of these charities. The “charities” gave the company a list of people to call (or disturb) while the company took a lion’s share of whatever they could collect. Of course these charities are questionable to begin with. Maybe an audit of their executive compensation, perks and expenses will reveal why they should be called charities for the rich.

  • TonyA_says

    The best way to help is to prevent ignoramuses from doing something idiotic. How to do that?

  • TonyA_says

    What a way to push your blog and books for sale.
    Based on Elliott’s rules, your post should be banned.

  • LeeAnneClark

    You have confirmed one of my points in my diatribe above: one of the few ways to make timeshares work for you is to buy them cheap on the aftermarket. But buying from a high-pressure sales rep? BIG mistake. Kudos to you for exploiting the loophole in the system. Sounds like you got yourself a good deal.

  • emanon256

    We had this crazy politician in Colorado who got a bunch of laws passed that really screwed the state and benefited him and his rich cronies. He was so good at wording the laws to make them sound like they were good, when they were not. He also started a charity and somehow convinced a lot of religious people to support it. Last year he was found guilty of tax evasion as it turned out the sole purpose of the charity was to help him and other rich people evade taxes. He is now suing the court system for millions for sending him to jail. And he was only there for 40 days or so.

  • Charles B

    Does any company profit from having knowledgeable customers, or do they do better when we act dumb?

    Any company that still places value on quality of service or quality of product will profit from knowledgeable customers. Unfortunately those companies are becoming more and more rare. And then again, there are plenty of folks who would call their customers dumb for not insisting on getting the cheapest deal instead of getting the best product for their money.

  • EdB

    Hmmm. $550/year maintenance fee. 1/52 ownership. That is $28,600/year in maintenance! Sounds like a place that needs that much maintenance every year is a run down dump! :)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Spam. Never believe what a timeshare salesperson says.

    Here’s an excellent clue, right in this comment, as to why we should all stay away from timeshares: “Owners must have a keen understanding of how to use the products and must stay on top of the issues”

    Who wants to waste hours upon hours gaining a “keen understanding” of how to use their vacation dollars that they’ve signed a contract to spend for the next couple of decades? Who wants to spend their time “staying on top of the issues” just so they can pick from a limited number of venues to go on vacation?

    Wanna go on vacation? Spend your hours researching the different places that interest you, research the location you pick, then book a hotel room! That sounds like a WAY better use of your time than learning the ins and outs of a system that is designed to get as much money as it can from you while limiting your choices on where you can go.

    Or get a referral to a good travel agent, and let them do all the research.

    Either way, you’ll likely pay less, and you don’t have to sign a contract. You go when and where you want. No stress. Have a great vacation! :)

  • m11_9

    The are (edit: It could be argued that one is) thriving on the backs of all the victims of this system to take advantage of the resale world. (obviously you are doing someone a huge favor taking over their maintenance contract.)

    It’s still distasteful, and possibly a ponzi scheme. What would happen to the resort company and your annual fees if they ran out of new suckers paying full price for units?

  • DavidYoung2

    Yes, the less you know the easier it is to scam you. But simple math works every time. Take the purchase price and multiply by 52 (if you’re buying a week) and that’s the ‘sales price’ of the condo they’re trying to flop on you. A friend paid $28,000 for a week in Maui – x 52 = $1,456,000 for a one bedroom condo. They were selling in that same complex for $380,000.

    To add insult to injury, the annual fees add up to more than it costs to rent a comparable hotel for the week. Timeshares are for suckers….

  • jerryatric

    I don’t see your logic. I’m simply taking advantage of the Timeshare system! If I stay @ a 4 – 5 Star property for under $250 for the week, I am taking advantage of the system itself.
    It’s been mentioned elsewhere that you attend the timeshare to get something for “free”. No such thing. GREED is what motivates people & timeshare sellers depend on it.
    SO they never run out of “suckers” your words.

  • LeeAnneClark

    So maybe I’ve found the second person who’s happy with their timeshare. :) Although you did kind of make my point for me: there is a very limited demographic of people for whom timeshares make sense. And unless you know exactly what that demographic is, and that you fit cleanly into it, they are a losing proposition. How many people can actually make that determination while being pressured by a skilled sales rep into signing NOW?

    I do want to ask you a question, though. Have you ever really sat down and figured out exactly how much you have spent on this timeshare over the years (and that means everything – payments, maintenance, taxes, utilities, trade costs, any other fees…the whole kit and caboodle)? Have you done a side-by-side comparison to see how that compares to what it would have cost you to stay at some really nice places that were not part of your timeshare network? Did you really save money?

    I’d be willing to bet that you could have done some pretty awesome vacations, anywhere you wanted to go, at properties at least as nice as the ones you stayed at, for less money. And even if you did save money, I’ll bet it’s not all that much. And your vacation options were severely limited. Just knowing that you were locked into Hilton/RCI says it all to me – I’ve been to some pretty amazing places around the world that didn’t have a Hilton/RCI property anywhere nearby. Sadly, you couldn’t go to those places.

    What seems to have made this work for you is that you are satisfied with the limited location choices. You seem to enjoy traditional American tourist zones – Orlando, Hawaii, Vegas. If that’s the case, then this clearly was a good deal for you…those places have so many timeshare properties you can almost always find something to trade into.

    But haven’t you ever wanted to see Bali? Or Bora Bora? Or Belize? And that’s just the B’s! We stayed in an amazing thatch-roof cabin in the rainforest in Belize for $69 a night. The food was all prepared by the owner family, and we dined communally with the other guests. We did tours to Mayan ruins, we went spelunking, scuba diving, tubing down a river…one of the best vacations of my life. Not a Hilton to be found for miles.

    In Bali we rented a 4-bedroom villa with a maid and a chef. Four couples fit in there nicely, and every night we had the option of going out to dinner, or having our dinner prepared for us (and cleaned up!) in our very own kitchen. Grand total: $450 per couple per week! We got a private driver for $15 a day, who drove us around to all the best sites. Yes, there are Hiltons in Bali – but they were triple or more the cost of this place. And no private chef!

    Well, I guess it’s clear I just don’t fit the narrow demographic. I’m way too independent. But I’m glad that there are people it actually works for. I’d hate to think EVERYONE who buys one is a victim!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Wow. I think the world is about to end. I actually agree with you! Must be the first time.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Worse. That’s 28k per unit.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m with you. There is a small subset of travelers who should buy timeshare (on the resale) market. For most folks these are terrible investments. Otherwise why the high pressure.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    So which is it. Is he a white knight doing someone a favor or opportunistic by “thriving on the backs…”

    I’d say that his involvement in the secondary market does not increase the sale of these investments and thus it’s perfectly ethical.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Joe_D_Messina

    But timeshare “ownership” is unlike anything else where that term would be traditionally used, differing to such a degree it’s hard to actually call it ownership at all. With most of the newer timeshare developments, you don’t even actually “own” part of a specific unit, so you can’t even show anybody what specifically you own. And whereas one of the advantages of ownership is typically the ability to sell your property, there is virtually no market for timeshare resales, at least not at a level where the original owner can recoup his investment.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And there you go…someone else making my point again. :-) That’s similar to what happened to my friends who bought the timeshare in Costa Rica. They’ve been going for 15 years. First ten years were great. Last five? Not so great. The whole property has deteriorated so badly that it only has 2 stars in TripAdvisor now, and has way more negative reviews than positive. This year they may not even go. And yet they are still paying for it. How many more years will be they stuck paying money for something they don’t use? Doesn’t sound like a money-saver to me. Sounds like a money-sucker.

    Also, I can’t help but question your math. You spent $10,000, and used it for 10 years. That’s a thousand a year,. Add in the $300 maintenance…you actually paid $1300 a week to stay in a 2-bedroom. And that’s not counting the other fees you mentioned: membership, exchange, etc. So how much did you REALLY spend? And what kind of hotel rooms could you have gotten on your own by spending that much per week? I’ll bet when you look at it that way, it really wasn’t such a good deal after all. And now…every year it gets worse.

    Still sounds like a scam to me.

  • LeeAnneClark

    As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t redecorate and put up family photos, you don’t “own” it. What you “own” is a contract dictating that you must pay for its upkeep, but only get to use it one week a year. That’s all you “own”.

  • TonyA_says

    Sounds like the management is living like a king.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I disagree that he has done anything unethical. The system itself is what’s unethical. Jerryatric just saved some poor schmuck from losing even MORE money, and now gets to enjoy the benefits of what someone else paid. Not his fault the suckers fell for it to begin with. Until timeshares become illegal (not likely to happen), this is simply a loophole in the system that allows a very few people to actually be able to own a timeshare and not lose money. And even so, I still don’t think it makes sense. You still have the whole limitation on where/when you can travel. There are SO many amazing places to visit in the world, I can’t imagine anyone limiting themselves.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And that right there is the key to the whole system.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Glad you’re happy with your purchase, but what specifically do you get for your investment that a non-owner couldn’t? I can take a vacation on any schedule I choose with no need to swap dates, trade properties, or pay additional maintenance fees. (I pay zero if I’m not actually staying someplace, which certainly isn’t the case with any timeshare.) There are luxury accommodations open to me all over the world. I’ve stayed at deluxe-level resorts at Disney with the exact same amenities their timeshares have. And, since many timeshare developments now actually rent to non-owners, I might even be staying at the same property you are, only I’m not on the hook for anything beyond that one stay.

  • TonyA_says

    equivalent to a poor man’s hedge fund or investment manager :)

  • $16635417

    Hah! Timeshare companies will probably spin this as how important it is to sign up at the presentation to take advantage of all the extras presented, review when you get home and if you find it isn’t for you, how easy it is to cancel!

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Resales are the only timeshare sales I’ve ever seen work out well. We have some friends who have a couple of those that they paid next-to-nothing for. In essence, it’s sort of beating the timeshare industry at their own game at the expense of the unfortunate souls who got roped in to the original sale and got burned.

  • Dutchess

    If you have any doubt whether this is true, watch the documentary “Queen of Versailles” it’s the story of the man who ran a multi-billion dollar timeshare business. He basically admits he targets less sophisticated buyers and used cheap and easy credit to put people into timeshares. They do it under high pressure, buy now or don’t come back tactics.
    I understand timeshares work for some people and there are values to be had but when you really do the math it’s a bad deal for most people.

  • emanon256

    Actually I kept a spreadsheet on it, though I don’t have it with me, so I am rounding based on my memory. In our first two years, we made back the $10,000 plus the fees. Basically, once we subtract the $10,000 initial cost, we were paying $450 a year on average for the membership fees, maintenance, and exchange fees. We typically stayed in a Marriott or Weston property which ran around $5,000 to $6,000 for a week in the same two bedroom if we paid cash rather than exchanged. We also stayed in a non big name all inclusive a few times which was just over $6,000 for a week in a two bedroom. So as far as where we stayed, we came out ahead. We basically came out at least $4,000 ahead each year we used it.

  • m11_9

    Neither, I do not judge, personal ethics must prevail. I was just bringing up a potential good side of buying a resale after mentioning a negative.

    Personally, I want nothing to do with it, even if I can get a good deal on one in the secondary market. The whole TS world is tainted by the destruction of the original purchaser’s wallet. My opinion only.

  • Dutchess

    Right, and how much do you pay per year for your hilton time share? How much was your downpayment?

    Usually, when you start doing the math you will see that value isn’t there.

  • Joe Farrell

    Timeshare ownership is exactly like owning a boat – the two best days of ownership are the day you buy and the day you sell . . .

    The too good to be be true thing applies everywhere . . . I bought an item on eBay. It had very competitive price and had free shipping. 3 days goes by with no shipping notice from the seller so I check in – what the seller says is: “this item is very large and will cost $32 to ship via UPS ground, when I add in the fees I will lose lots of money on the transaction. So I would like to cancel and refund your money, or you need to give me $20 more to cover my costs.”

    Who set the price? Who chose the shipping method and payment? I said told him tough, not my problem. This was an eBay megaseller and at first they sided with him until I sent them his email which basically said he made a bad deal. They STILL wanted me to ‘work it out with him.” finally I asked – what does that mean? You want me to violate eBay policy by renegotiating a deal with a guy who made a bad one because he is a good customer?

    I got my item and then received notice that the seller permanently blocked me from bidding on other options – oh boy – what a terrible thing. Six months later eBay kicked the guy off and closed his account – guess he did this alot . . .

    The only people getting a deal on timeshares are the salespeople and the time share company, everyone else is getting screwed.

  • Joe Farrell

    when a charity calls – I generally waste the telemarketers time. Is this a the charity or telemarketing company? Its 99% a telemarketer . . . second question – “what percentage does to the charity and where can I go online right now to verify that- Now. most telemarkers will hang up right here – but some are especially zealous, and tell you that its 95% or a 100% – I ask if they work for free? Are the calls free? Do they receive a bonus for what they raised? How much is it. .. to which I reply – how can 95% of the money get the charity if you get a 10% bonus?

    Its not a charity calling – and most of the big charities spend over 50% of money raised on a) raising money and b) overhead. United Way and the big charities like that- mostly expenses and overhead. . . .

  • Joe Farrell

    $28k = $2k to the sales person. $5k to the sales company. Then the rest to the unit owners . . . . best investments are REITS that build timeshares and contract the third parties to sell them. This gets them out of the liability for selling them

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My friend bought a timeshare at the Westin near Palm Springs. $1200 annual maintenance fee for me week. That’s 60k in annual revenue per suite.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Chris Johnson

    The timeshare might actually work for you, but for 99% of the vacationing public, it is a bad deal. Furthermore, even if a timeshare is something that works for you, the resale market is so glutted with timeshares you can likely purchase the same thing at a 90% discount from what you would pay at a presentation (of course, I don’t know when you bought). But I have a few questions – 1) did you ever use the plane tickets and were there any fees to use these “free tickets” 2) same question about the Hilton hotel stay, 3) while I’m certain you used at least some of the buffet coupons, don’t they give those out for free at the airport, among other places? and 4) even if you got the price of the timeshare down and only had to make three installment payments, don’t you have to pay maintenance fees every year as long as you own it?
    As soon as I saw the word “timeshare” on this article, I thought, this story is not going to be a pleasant one. There are timeshare people all over Atlantic City and I make a point to avoid them whenever I’m there.

  • TonyA_says

    But this is EXACTLY what is happening. Some real unscrupulous but smart shysters are conning innocent low IQ folks. That is why the government should step in to protect the populace. But that is a pipe dream. So you might as well make this scam totally illegal.

  • LeeAnneClark

    $6000 a WEEK? Wow! That’s a LOT of money…you can stay at a Ritz Carlton almost anywhere in the world for that much money. Those must have been some SERIOUSLY luxurious properties! I don’t know of too many Marriott or Weston properties that go for that much. You can get a lot of awesome vacations out of $6000 a week.

    Of course it doesn’t sound like it’s worth $6000 a week these days, so I guess that says it all, huh? Sorry it didn’t work out for you in the end. Timeshares rarely do, as you so aptly explained above.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well, as a boat owner myself, I am very familiar with the old adage about the two happiest days of boat ownership. And I’m here to tell you that we happen to be among the many exceptions to that rule. We’re on our fourth sailboat, and each one was sold at a profit (and we were sorry to see each one go, but excited about moving up to a larger boat). We are now the proud owners of the boat that we are going to head off into the sunset on, when we retire in a few years, to cruise around the Pacific. And we couldn’t be happier with our purchase. :)

    But getting back to timeshares…yeah, I fully agree with you. Everyone is getting screwed. Some people just don’t realize it.

    Kudos to you for standing up for yourself with the eBay seller.

  • emanon256

    I think the biggest reason for the price was the fact that it was a 2 bedroom suite. Right now a two bedroom at the Weston Maui (Where we stayed 3 times) is running just shy of $7,000 for a week if we went in December, which is when we always went. We also went to a ski-in/ski-out Marriott 5 times during peak ski season and right now a 1 bedroom is running $3,000 for the week (They don’t have 2 bedrooms, so they usually give us a 1 bedroom and a studio). I think their price is lower due to the drought.

    None of these places were nearly as nice as a Ritz, but I think its all about location and timing, we always went to good places during peak season. For example, the Ritz that we like in the mountains (and only stay at on points) runs $2,399 per night for a 1 bedroom during peak season and $999 for a standard guest room. A standard hotel room there (no kitchen) would be $7,000 for the week while the Marriott is $4,000 for a 1 bedroom and a suite each with a Kitchen for the week (The Marriott used to go for more than it is right now). So comparing 1 bedroom to 1 bedroom this December, Marriott is $3,000 a week, Ritz is $16,800 a week.

    Of course, last year, about 1 year after the new management, we were only able to exchange for a non ski-in/ski-out resort which was not very high quality. Checking their website, it would cost us $3,455 for a week, so I guess we still got a deal, but we also had to take a shuttle to ski and they had zero on-site amenities. Looks like we can stay there again this year too. Its just not as luxurious.

    So I think I was one of the lucky ones, though as the property declines, I probably won’t be able to exchange for anything, and will be stuck with an annual fee unless I pay to donate it.

    Also, if I didn’t have the time share, I would not be staying in these $3,000+ a week places. I would be staying in a small room for much less. So it is still costing more than I would have spent.

  • Daddydo

    The Seldins are the luckiest people in the whole world of Time-share fraud. When I am bored in the Caribbean or Mexico, I go to a presentation, get the free whatevers and waste the sales person’s time, just to teach them a lesson about screwing with my clients. that portion of the travel industry are vultures. And the worse part, there are very few rules to fall back on.

  • m11_9

    understood..I ‘unwound’ my comment a bit above as it was a bit harsh, but in my personal ethical stance I want nothing to do with this system. I do not judge anyone but myself.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well then it’s a shame things have deteriorated, because it sounds like you were one of the few who actually managed to get a good deal out of a timeshare. I hope you are able to figure out what to do with it going forward so the ongoing maintenance fees don’t end up sucking out all the savings you got out of it over the years. I wish you the best of luck finding a solution!

  • emanon256

    Thank you, I do too.

  • kmwcary

    You shouldnt’t lump all of the travel industry in with the timeshare low lifes. In terms of seeking to educate your customers, exhibit A is Rick Steves. He sells tours, on which the guides help people figure out how to use local transport and get around on their own. He also sells guide books, one in particular telling you how to do it yourself. His website is loaded with free info, plus he’s now offering free audio guides. See

    I also like Intrepid Travel. They don’t exactly set out to educate you, but if you take one of their tours they help you figure out how to navigate whichever country you’re in by yourself. Or combine one of their itineraries with a good guide book and you should be fine.

  • Lindabator

    Even worse are the all-inclusive resorts that also sell timeshare units – when you stay at your timeshare (for more than the resort costs by the week!) it is room only – no food, no drinks, not a single goodie you enjoyed at the resort. Just foolish!

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’d probably get kicked out of a timeshare presentation for laughing or calling BS on all of the promises. Or y’know, just general snarking of the presenters.

  • Extra mail

    Timeshares have been in existence so long now that I find it hard to believe anyone even listens to the presentations any more much less buys them. I go to several different charity auctions every year and there is ALWAYS a time share usage up for auction because the owners never use them and, because they are donating the use of their time share, they at least get to take a donation write off on their taxes. I don’t care what I’m offered for the value of my time to listen to a presentation – it’s just not worth it.

  • Extra mail

    And, if you don’t want to spend lots and lots of time researching the place you want to visit, go to a trusted travel agent. I have become good friends with the travel agent I used for my honeymoon years ago and she has yet to steer me wrong on a vacation I wasn’t sure how to book. I’ve spent a lot less money, time and frustration using her expertise to travel than I would have spent on any timeshare that I was locked into forever and a day.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Have you ever been pinned down for one of their sales presentations? I went to an all-inclusive in Cozumel a couple years ago, and they had a great deal where you received a certain number of “resort points” depending on your length of stay that you could redeem for tours, special dinners, massages, etc. During the check-in process you get an appt. with the tour manager to figure out what you want to use your points for, and book them. It actually worked out great for us – we got hundreds of dollars of stuff for free!

    But they are so sneaky…first they sit you down with the timeshare sales rep. You THINK it’s the tour manager, in fact they call themselves tour managers, but the next thing you know, you are getting the hard-sell on buying a timeshare.

    And oh they are SO good at making it sound attractive! I am always impressed by the creative wording they use to hide what the actual costs are. But when I pull out my calculator and start showing THEM what their numbers really mean in actual dollars out of my pocket, they suddenly aren’t so nice anymore.

    A few pokes on my calculator and pointed questions got me in front of the REAL tour manager in no time flat.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And this, in a nutshell, is what makes timeshares such a bad idea. Buy a timeshare, and for eternity you’re going to be trying to game the system to book a vacation at a desirable place at a time that works for you, within limited options.

    Don’t buy a timeshare, and the entire world is open to you, limited only by how much you want to spend.

    Why is this concept so hard to grasp?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well, if you can keep yourself quiet and control your snark until you get the freebies, once you get the freebs, unload! That’s what I’ve done. Well, politely, of course…I just whip out my trusty calculator and add up how much it REALLY costs per year for that one week, and then compare that to, say, a luxury villa in Tuscany for a week. That usually gets me walked out. But meanwhile I got the freebies.

    And just the fact that they give away so many freebies kinda says it all, doncha think? I mean, who do you think is PAYING for all these freebies? Why, it’s John & Sue Newlywed, who got snookered into buying a timeshare at full price because darn it, they’re grown-ups now and they love taking vacations and they can pass it down to their children someday and spend years coming to this 3-star resort in Atlantic City every year, and besides they’ll be able to trade it up for a beachfront resort in Maui and even get LIMO rides from the airport!

    I don’t feel at all bad about taking the freebies. I see it as doing my part to help collapse that predatory industry.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Several factors, I think. First off, some either don’t ever catch on to the fact they made a bad financial deal or won’t admit it. Secondly, there is a huge allure to “owning” something. (And that applies outside of timeshares, btw. I spent a lot of years wishing I owned a place in one of my favorite destinations, only to eventually decide I’m far happier to be a renter just because I don’t want to spend my stay doing little fix-it projects or being ticked about some stain on the rug somebody had caused.)

    Plus, emotions come into play more for some people. LadySiren’s post pretty much boiled down to “We’re happy, so it was a good choice for us.” The reality that the exact same level of happiness could have been attained for far less cost just isn’t going to register. She either believes she receives something unique or that there are additional obstacles to traditional renting.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t understand the taint. The original purchaser makes an incredibly poor deal and wants to get out of it. If you’re effecting a “potential good side”, where is the taint?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m wondering why someone down voted this. This reply is perfectly reasonable and even toned.

  • Miami510

    I have renewed faith in this readership… only 1% voted “no.”

    P.T. Barnum said it years ago (and I bet the Seldens have read it before) “There’s a sucker born every minute.” After I read the contract for a “free” vacation to inspect a condominium in Costa Rica, I went looking for an eleven foot pole (Because that was a contract I wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole).

    We all know that something that seems too good to be true… probably is.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Except that its not just low IQ people who fall for these scams. I personally know brilliant engineers, senior executives at major corporations, Chief Counsels, and literally a who’s who that have fallen for this scam. I can assure you, none of them fall in the category of ignoramus.
    Not everyone is good at math, not everyone is good at saying no. Anyone can fall for a scam.
    As far as protection goes, there are any number of ways to protect the buying public, including fraud prosecutions, better disclosure laws, etc.
    As as making it illegal, just in this thread we have emanon and Ladysiren who are ( or were) happy timeshare owners. Neither of whom as ignoramus’

  • Miami510

    Don’t feel bad about hanging up… enjoy it ! ! !
    I say something like, “Gee… could you call back later… the police detectives are still here taking photographs and the coroner hasn’t yet released the body.” Then after hanging up, I have a good laugh.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That usually gets me walked out.
    Next time, sit as far away from the exit as you can, so if they walk you it, everyone in the room sees.

  • TonyA_says

    Just like most scams out there, the few that get in early might be able to enjoy something. And if you did then lucky you. If you went to presentations decades ago, then you do not have history to make a decision and to be named a fool for not knowing. But gee, this is 2013 and I have read complaints about timeshares since who knows when. In fact many of these timeshares have surfaced as another old scam product called vacation clubs. Anyone who still falls for this scam TODAY has to have his/her head examined.

  • TonyA_says

    Sounds like you bought something in an open market not in a high pressure presentation :)
    The best way to have real price discovery is have an open market where everyone can bid and buy (not in some shady hotel presentation by shysters).

  • TonyA_says

    You are not PLAYING anything. You are just a buyer and someone is a seller in a FREE and OPEN market. You are simply buying at the market price. High pressure selling is not part of a fair market.People are cajoled to pay MORE than the fair market price.

  • TonyA_says

    LeeAnne my question is WHY do people even attend these high pressure selling events? Don’t they have some responsibility for putting themselves in a room so they can get fooled? Are they willing victims?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    All but one of the timeshare owners I know purchased within the past 10-15 years. Personally, I think they all got scammed. And I can prove it mathematically. The point is that even today, very smart, well informed, sophisticated people can get taken by a time share presentation.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey that’s my point. I am not a genius. But I remember Clint Eastwood’s
    great line “Mans got to know his limitations”. That is why you cannot make me attend those seminars even if you pay me. People cannot have it both ways. No such thing as a free lunch (or dinner). If you visit the house of the devil, he might just tempt you.

  • m11_9

    It is all about the bigger picture. I do not wish to be part of such a harmful system that steals from people, so the best way I can see to make such a system fail is for good people to turn their backs and not support it in any way. Allowing it and its victims to crash, would make the world a better place.

    Of course it does a quick favor for the victim to have you take over his maintenance fees, but in the big picture, you have only allowed an abusive system to live another day, devouring more victims.

    I am just suggesting that good people should not be part of it. Sorry to not be making sense.

  • LadySiren

    Well first, I kind of resent everyone generalizing those of us who chose to buy into a “scam” as rubes. I’d never actually planned on buying a timeshare but my ex thought it was a good decision. Now that I own it? I’m pretty happy with it and emotion doesn’t really come into play – it’s a good value for my family for a variety of reasons.

    Do I think I’m a rube? Absolutely not. I also don’t think this is for everyone; as I said previously, for a small subset of the population, timeshares are great. For everyone else? Not so much. But to lump everyone who decides to push the buy button as irresponsible or having been scammed is insulting and narrow-minded.

    Could I have paid less for vacations all these years? Maybe, but I already had the timeshare thanks to my ex. And yeah, for us there are some barriers to traditional renting, thanks to the large size of our family and the fact that we tend to take extended family with us when we go (and often foot the bill for them).

    Dutchess, our down payment was fairly low – $700ish, I think? You’ll have to forgive me, it’s been forever since I thought about it. I could go pull out my contract but that would require me to get off my lazy butt, LOL.

    If you look at my post below, you’ll see that my ex was to put it mildly, a jerk. He got the price of the timeshare down, got the price of the down payment reduced and then broken into three installments, and got them to pick up closing costs.

    Timeshares are a YMMV situation. From what I’m reading in the comments, they aren’t appealing and won’t work for 99.9% of Chris’ readership. I happen to represent the .1% that they do work for, much to everyone’s dismay.

  • LadySiren

    Thank you for being one of the few reasonable voices! I appreciate it.

    We do stay to exclusively US destinations when we vacation (for now). I would eventually like to do some international travel but not until my kids are grown. At that point, it’ll make more sense for us to look outside of our timeshare circle.

    You’re absolutely correct that it’s hard to make smart decisions in the face of crazy, relentless pressure from salespeople. My ex was one of those people who could stand up to the terror tactics of the sales guys, so it worked out okay. On my own? Heck no.

    One of the reasons this works for us is it forces me to use the value of what I have (and continue) to pay for. We have a whole horde of kids and we’re always uber busy (I tend to the workaholic side and our kids do lots of athletics). Vacations tend to be pretty far down on the priority list in terms of time and money. Since we’re already sinking money into the timeshare, it does force me to go ahead and use it – something I’m grateful for because I sometimes forget that I need to take time out to just relax. And given our vacationing style, it’s much better for us to have expansive accommodations.

  • LadySiren

    1) and 2) Yes, sort of – we gave them as gifts to a couple of friends for their honeymoon. They couldn’t afford to take a honeymoon so they were truly grateful.

    3) Probably. We used to get comped a lot because of our play style so we didn’t really need them – we ended up giving them to friends we were traveling with. 4) We do, which kind of sucks but for reasons that most people won’t be able to fathom, it’s actually a good thing in my eyes.

  • Molly

    A friend of mine asks the telemarketer if they would mind holding on for a minute while she finishes something. Of course they agree. She then simply sets the phone receiver down (line still open) and goes about her business (ie, takes a shower, does her email, cooks dinner, etc) and never picks up the phone again. After a few minutes they hang up. :)

  • Molly


    I also disagree with you.

    Yes, I agree that probably most timeshares are bad investments but if one does their homework, and reads the contract carefully before signing, it can be a great deal.

    I have three friends who own timeshares and get a lot of value out of them:

    One friend bought his 25 years ago (at the height of timeshare scams) but knew how to read a contract very carefully. He was 30 years old at the time, and figured it would work for him. I don’t know his initial buy in, but I think it was about 15K and he does pay $500. a year maint fee. He uses it every year and is allowed to trade it for a week at other timeshare places, and has only visited the one he actually owns about 5 times. Every year he and his wife go to a very upscale resort in a place they’d like to visit and have a great 7 night vacation staying in places that would probably cost $400 – $700. per night.
    So if you take his $15K investment, and divide by 25 years, it’s $600. per year, plus the $500. so for $1100. a year he gets a vacay that would cost him an average of $3000 – $4000. Additionally, he’s about 45 now and plans on continuing to do this for the next 30 years, thus amortizing that initial investment down to the $400. level.

    Another friend of mine who lives in LA, bought a very pricey timeshare in Napa Valley that gives him one week per year. However, the deal with that contract is that he is allowed to stay in the condo (at any unit, not only his) last minute if there is an vacant unit, at a very cheap price. Being that he owns his own business, and most of it is done online, he and his spouse can decide in the middle of the week to get away last minute for a long weekend, for a couple of hundred dollars for three nights at a place that would be more like $700. per night. They go there about five times a year and feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth.

    My third friend, I don’t know the details, other than he owns a timeshare in Switzerland (his wife is Swiss) and they use it to their advantage and are very happy with it.

    My point is, yes, Buyer Beware….there are way too many scams out their. However, timeshares can be very good, and the younger you are when you buy in, the better the value of them.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ok. I think I understand.

    Where we part company is that I do not believe that abandoning the resale market would have any impact on original sales. Even if everyone bailed on the resale market, the original seller market would be untouched.

    I would agree with you that our actions should not further or encourage and unethical behaviors

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ah, but that’s the rub. You may not know that you’re entering the Devil’s Den. Timeshares discussions are common place for travelers. Not so for non-travelers. And the timeshare folks aren’t stupid. They cleverly disguise the promotion to avoid using the work timeshare as its a tainted word to some
    4 years ago I was staying at Planet Hollywood (then a Starwood Hotel) in Vegas. After checking in, the front desk told me to go to so and so to get my Platinum amenity and welcome package.
    Long story, short, it was to sign me up for a timeshare. I was pissed. I said no thanks and left.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    They don’t always know.

  • TonyA_says

    But they will know before they sign on the dotted line, correct?
    Are they held in a room against their will?

  • Chris Johnson

    Thanks for the reply LadySiren. If the timeshare concept works for you, that’s great. You seem to be the exception rather than the rule though, but if it allows you to afford vacations you couldn’t otherwise, all the power to you. I’m just skeptical about the concept in general because I have a bunch of friends and relatives who own timeshares and with one exception, they are all ready to just give them away or pay someone to take it off their hands, and none of them can even seem to do that. As for the one exception, he comes from a large family of many brothers and sisters, and they have it worked out such that it gets used by somebody every year while the maintenance fees are divied up as a minimal annual expense to each of them. He and his siblings make it work, somehow.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    With all due respect, I never called you a rube. That was your term. And I see no one dismaying over your good fortune. And, truly, yours is a case of good fortune, given it was never your intent to get a timeshare in the first place. It may work great for you, but once you were in you had no choice but to make it work for you.

    But your initial post had zero details and all the vague generalities of a timeshare presentation. Example: “My kids love it.” The presentation I sat through years back was all about how much my kids would enjoy it. High level accommodations that they don’t have to pay for–darn straight they’d love it. Why wouldn’t they? I could buy a fancy car for twice the sticker price and they’d love that, too.

  • Mel65

    I’d say no, they benefit from our greed. What part of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” do people fail to recognize over and over and over again in their desire to get something more for less?

  • PolishKnightUSA

    This is a common timeshare sales technique: Start out with a nose-bleeder price and then bring it down to appear to be a bargain.

    Here’s a quick way to get rid of all the vampire salesmen (It got me escorted INSTANTLY out of a presentation). Use the words: ebay and “ponzi” scheme.

    They’ll fret and argue with you over how a timeshare bought on ebay is worthless without their special incentives for direct buyers and you can observe then that the timeshare therefore has a zero resale value. Then express your concern that they’re selling more inventory than building in areas you want to vacation and availability is an issue.

    They’ll panic about anyone overhearing ANY of that and will get you to the door, pronto.

    Even where I think a timeshare currently has value on the resale market, I cringe about a lifetime obligation to a deed where I have no control over the association fees and cannot dump the property at will. With conventional real estate, you can allow the property to go into foreclosure or a tax lien sale but timeshares appear to be deliberately designed to prohibit you from escaping.

  • Timeshare Advocacy INTL

    Spot on article. These are the kind of stories that we at TAI see on a daily basis. Timeshare companies want you to know as little as possible about what they’re selling so they can use deceptive sales tactics, like the “VIP membership” discussed above, to get the sale. If you own a timeshare and are at your wit’s end on how to get out, visit our website and see if we can help. We’ve cancelled thousands of timeshare contracts to date, and our services are backed with a 100% money back guarantee.

  • Maya

    Sure, they love ignorant consumers. Innocent travelers get lured into buying a timeshare and pressured to sign a contract that doesn’t include any of the promises made by their salesman. People decide to buy a house or a car and do their research before purchasing one. However, no one ever gets up one day and decides to purchase a timeshare, so they have no idea about timeshare before purchasing one.

    Please check out my Facebook page and kindly like and share it with your loved ones.

  • Most of people who have purchased timeshare contracts become excited about the travel possibilities express by a sales representative. These possibilities usually are never used. By this time you probably realized that you spent thousands of dollars on a timeshare that is not what you or your family need. Regardless of the reason why you feel you need to cancel a timeshare, you need to know some basic steps to dump it fast and avoiding any possible scam from timeshare sharks. People need to avoid scammers resorts, that’s why they need to know wich ones are the scammers. Villa del Palmar is an example of a fraudulent resort: Villa
    del Palmar

  • Charles Berger

    The best thing to know about timeshares:

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!


    Buying a retail timeshare is setting a big pile of money on fire.

    1. Your trades cost money on top of the maintanence fees. By the time you add up the opportunity cost of buying it, the maintenance, and the trades, you have paid for a luxury hotel room.

    2. Uncertainty. You can never be sure that a trade will be available in the place you want to go. You may spend all the money and end up no closer to Mickey. You can probably get a trade for a place in the Catskills though….

    3. Fees. There are yearly maintenance fees. Typically $500-750 a year. On top of the purchase price.

    4. Buying points? Congrats. You just bought the right to contend for vacancies at the time share company. If they devalue them in the future, then you -might- get that place in the Catskills.

    Timeshares are overpriced, but worthless

  • Without a doubt, timeshare cancellation is the best option to get rid of an unwanted timeshare. Once the timeshare contract is properly cancelled, there are no further financial obligations attached to the resort, which means:
    No more calls
    No more timeshare maintenance fees
    No more timeshare debt
    No more special assessment fees
    Know more about fraudulent resorts:

  • BarbaraFletcher

    Time shares have always been a bad buy. But for those who really feel they need one I make one recommendation: Never buy from the developer. Always wait for timeshares to appear on the secondary market, usually at half-price. People like you get excited at the new developments and jump right in, only to become disillusioned later and dump the property onto the secondary market, at a loss, for a patient, informed buyer to take advantage of.

  • MoDare

    Only morons and suckers buy timeshares. End of.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Pretty much… I have been lucky enough to experience a few timeshare presentation and leave without signing a contract… it is a well-oiled persuasion machine.

    Even if you think you are a rational person who is just there to listen and get your free dinner/tickets/whatever… you will still find yourself thinking, hey, you know, maybe this is a good deal.

    No, they will not actually physically stop you if you get up to leave the room… but psychologically, they may as well be doing that. First, once people “invest’ some time towards getting a reward, you escalation of commitment, known as the suck cost fallacy, where people figure they should stay not to waste that initial investment. That keeps them there, at the table, talking.

    The sales teams offer ever more complicated incentives in direct reactions to whatever reasons the prospect gives to no buy. An elaborate pageant of guides, agents, and managers is staged to make the prospect think that they are getting a much better deal than others. A barrage of well-tested psychological manipulations are used.

    Once they are in the room, only the strong-willed escape. As to willing victims, I would compare it to being told and believing that you are going to be swimming with harmless nurse sharks, put you get put in the pool with Great Whites. Are surfers in seal-like wetsuits willing victims of shark bites? Are sunbathers who don’t use enough sunscreen willing victims of third degree burns??

  • Grace Evans

    The timeshare industry has been into the lion’s mouth for the last couple of years, and it has generated lots of controversy and discussions in many forums and blogs on the web. However, since we’re living an economic downturn, anyone would expect that the timeshare sales collapse, but instead of that the sales seem to be increasing… but this comes with a trap: timeshare scams are increasing too. That leads us to the question: then, why keep people investing on timeshares?

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