Time share sales: hard sell or scam?

Jake Azman/Shutterstock
Jake Azman/Shutterstock
Even though Igor Pavlovic and his wife consider themselves experienced consumers, they say that nothing could have prepared them for the sophisticated and aggressive sales pitch for a Wyndham time share that they recently endured in San Antonio.

The couple had been lured into a formal presentation with promises of “free” dinner and show tickets. “Once we got there, two salesmen gave us a high-pressure sales pitch,” says Pavlovic, a retired information systems consultant from Palm Beach, Fla. “Of course we liked the offerings and savings, but there was no way for us to verify their claims.”

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You can probably guess what happened next. The Pavlovics bought a time share and then tried to cancel it. Even though the salesmen had promised that they could get a full refund “at any time” before using the benefits, the contract said otherwise. Now they were on the hook for $18,000, which didn’t include $650 in annual maintenance fees.

“It was all a lie,” says Pavlovic. “A scam.”

A look at the time-share industry’s numbers suggests that there’s a reason behind the assertive marketing techniques. The recession hit the industry like a wrecking ball hitting a flimsy condo. Sales dropped from half a million units in 2007 to 353,822 in 2011, the last year for which numbers are available, according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), an industry trade group. That has made a business already notorious for hard selling sell even harder.

The Pavlovic presentation raised a few concerns, including the aggressive techniques employed and the alleged misrepresentation of the cancellation terms, according to Orlando-based time-share expert Lisa Ann Schreier. “It’s horrible,” she adds. “Just horrible.”

But calling it a scam might be going too far, she says. After all, Wyndham offers real vacation resorts in some of America’s most popular destinations. It’s just that Pavlovic’s time share was sold to him in a way that he believes is less than honest, and that many of the benefits, such as low rates for accommodations, didn’t meet his expectations.

A Wyndham representative says that the company did absolutely nothing wrong. After hearing from Pavlovic, the company reviewed his transaction. “The investigation into Mr. Pavlovic’s claims showed no indication that the sales representative engaged in any improper activity or violated any of our comprehensive sales compliance policies,” says Lisa Burby, a spokeswoman for Wyndham. “In fact, we have never received any consumer complaints about this sales representative that suggest he does not follow company protocol.”

Last year, Wyndham’s San Antonio sales center conducted more than 15,800 tours. Of those customers, less than one-quarter of one percent complained about their experience, according to Burby. “While we strive to have no complaints,” she says, “we believe that this rate, which is well below one percent, is a positive reflection of our company’s dedication to our service philosophy.”

But talk to travelers who are accosted by time-share salespeople on the Las Vegas Strip or International Drive in Orlando, and you’ll hear another story.

Jennifer Moore, an attorney from Minneapolis, says that she recently sat through a sales presentation in Las Vegas in exchange for “free” tickets to a show. When a representative insisted that she would have paid less for her vacation if she’d owned a time share, she ran the numbers and proved the salesman wrong. She left the presentation despite his objections.

Another time, she accepted tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando in exchange for attending a time-share presentation. At one point during the event, she and her husband were left alone in a room to watch a video. “I mentioned to my husband that our time-share rep looked really tired and maybe sick,” she recalls. “A few minutes later, we were walking through the property and the salesman told us he had chronic fatigue syndrome, so that was why he looked so tired. I guess they monitor those spaces, eh?”

The time-share industry is trying to shed its reputation for high-pressure sales tactics. ARDA members are required to sign a code of ethics that says solicitations should “not convey a false sense of urgency through reference to or use of false conditions, restrictions or time limits.” It also stipulates that time-share companies provide “fair, meaningful and effective disclosure” of the terms of the purchase.

“Our members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation resort development,” says Howard Nusbaum, ARDA’s president.

Although the time-share industry’s self-reported customer satisfaction numbers are high — they held steady at 83 percent in 2012 and have fluctuated between 82 percent and 84 percent over the past decade — Nusbaum says that the industry is concerned about the negatives. To that end, it runs a Web site, VacationBetter.org, that’s designed to help consumers unfamiliar with time share and vacation ownership.

But to some experts, time-share sales will always be associated with fast-talking guys in cheap suits, ethics codes and rhetoric notwithstanding. The best defense: not being afraid to say no when you’re faced with an overly enthusiastic sales presentation, and a basic knowledge of the law.

“Time-share contract rescission periods vary from state to state and country to country,” says Schreier, the time-share adviser. “Once a consumer is past the legal rescission period, the odds are not in their favor of getting their money back.”

That’s what happened to Pavlovic when he tried to cancel. Under the Texas Timeshare Act, he had five days to get a refund on his time-share purchase, and he missed the chance.

Still, after I asked Wyndham to review his complaint, the company allowed him to cancel his contract — an unexpected but welcome resolution to this case.

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68 thoughts on “Time share sales: hard sell or scam?

  1. I went with “Just being sold enthusiastically” over “scams,” simply because it’s closer to my perception. My grandparents owned a few timeshares, and some of my best childhood memories are from vacations I shared with them. They willed that timeshare to my parents, who have used it (with me, my wife, and my child) to travel all over the country, and even for my folks to travel abroad.

    Simply put, I cannot place time shares in the category of “scam” universally. Then again, my family’s ownership of this timeshare dates back to an era where perhaps things were less competitive (read: shady sales tactics) and more consumer-friendly. So maybe that’s the difference.

    In the handful of cases I’ve sat through a presentation for the sake of ‘free’ tickets or ‘free’ vacations, the sales tactics are absolutely deplorable. Even if the time share itself is not a scam, the sales tactics of high-pressure, limited-time-offer, moving-target total cost-of-ownership, and other shady practices certainly border on that. Thankfully, I’ve had the very real ‘excuse’ to say “no” based on a lack of funds–I simply cannot afford the ticket price, no matter how ‘cheap’ they make it out to be.

    LOL–the reason I’m taking a ‘free’ vacation is because I’m too poor to pay for it! And I’m not stupid enough to buy something I cannot pay for!

    1. Here’s why it’s a scam. If you’re at all flexible regarding when you want to rent a condo owned by a timeshare owner, you can rent it yearly for less than the maintenance fee.

      1. At certain resorts, it is not cheaper to rent for less than the maintence fee. My grandparents & parents both own timeshare units at Sarasota Sands in Florida. It’s a RIC (?) property and have owned since 1981. We had a lot of vacations and I even got married on the beach there last year. The only sad part is we are tied into our weeks and we vacationed there for years instead of going other places. My parents reflect that they wish they would have gone west to show the kids more places. The years we don’t go, we have no problem breaking even with our friends or family renting the units for the maintence fee.

        1. Agreed. I’m lucky that my timeshare is pretty flexible (we’re Hilton owners) and we can trade in any time we want with other large timeshare networks…heck, we can trade into Disney Vacation Club units (woohoo!). Also, the years we don’t use our unit, we can put them up on ebay and usually make back our fees. Timeshares aren’t for everyone but they sometimes work out.

        2. RCI — that’s the one my grandparents went through, though my parents have since converted it to something else. (I’m not sure that it was a beneficial move to make, but not my money, so what do I care?)

      2. @twitter-114359317:disqus is right–it’s not always cheaper to go piecemeal. Often, but not always. And there are many, MANY people for whom flexibility in dates is difficult, if not downright impossible. So I don’t think the product itself is a scam…

  2. run away, fast as you can. don’t take their prizes or tickets.

    Buy a resale if you really have to own one, but don’t pay much since the annual maintenance will be near to a weeks stay by itself. many used units are given away by people fed up with paying the fees, so hold out until they are near free (see ebay for tradeable units that are low cost).

    There is no bleeping way they are worth 10k+, many have deeds that expire, you don’t even own a permanent piece of real estate..

    1. At the end of a long presentation (about 3 hours into a 90 minute presentation, that’s right) the woman was trying to sell us a trial (at a high price) and I remarked that I liked timeshares and even the notion of a maintenance fee because otherwise, it’s a ponzi scheme.

      Her face turned red. “We’re not a ponzi scheme!” she protested. I said that the maintenance fees were a business sustainable model and she protested again “We’re not a ponzi scheme!”

      It’s one of those responses from her that scared me about buying on the resale market.

      Think about it: They sell millions points every weekend and the traditional ones sell a year’s worth of ‘weeks” also every weekend. They need to build more resorts for those sales but… are they? All those weeks of maintenance fees, do they go into actual week’s worth of units that people want to use?

      Simultaneously, the woman slipped and said we weren’t going to rent at the timeshare next year. “Availability is up for this resort!” she quipped which undermined the trial package she wanted us to try. If availability is low, then what good are the points for units I can’t get into? How many new owners are fighting for the same units? It’s like overselling airline seats.

  3. A timeshare may not technically fit the definition of scam, but much like horseshoes and hand grenades, it’s close enough. I have to wonder about a legitimate product being sold by shady and deceptive practices. After running the numbers on a few timeshares, I was appalled at how expensive they really were.

    A few years ago I was at the Planet Hollywood, then a Starwood hotel. The front desk told me to go to such and such desk to obtain my Platinum amenity (a welcome gift for being a frequent guest of the chain). When I got there, it was to sign up for a timeshare presentation; and pay for the privilege. I was pretty pissed and declined. They were shocked. Oh well. Not my problem.

    Another time, a bankruptcy client of mine had a timeshare that he paid $45,000 for. A few years later, it was selling on the resale market for $3,000

  4. Captain Obvious says “If the timeshares are such good deals, why do the people selling them have to use subterfuge to get people to attend the sales pitches, why do they have to use high-pressure time-limited sales tactics once they have the marks^H^H^H^H^Hpotential new owners in the pitch, and why are the contracts and processes around the contracts always rigged to make them so hard to cancel or back out of?”

  5. I was at a time share in Orlando 15 years ago for free tickets to Bush Gardens in Tampa. I had zero intention of buying walking in. I was there for the tickets. We were required to give them 90 minutes. The extreme high pressure sales was amazing to me. After repeatedly saying no they kept bringing over another “higher” representative to give me an even better deal. I told them that they could give it to me for free and I would not take it. This did not even stop them! about 60 minutes into my 90 minute

    requirement they brought us on a “tour”. We were their captive for another hour because they took us on a golf cart as far away from our car they could get us. I have never been so mad in my life. The free tickets were not worth it. Having said this, years later I went on another time share presentation in Las Vegas for more free tickets (apparently didn’t learn my lesson). This time there was no pressure at all, we were practically on our own. We even got out before our required time to be there. I do not remember the Las Vegas timeshare name but the Orlando high pressure one was Wyndham.

    1. I said no the the Nigerian who promised me twenty-eight million dollars to help him take money out of the country. Still a scam.

  6. I went to one of those once (a Fairfield, now Wyndham)… Some background: my wife and I are successful IT professionals, and we could, if we wanted, actually BUY a similar unit instead of a timeshare, but we do not do so. We also have friends who own timeshares and genuinely enjoy their experience; of note here is that both make enthusiastic and frequent use of the exchange capabilities offered.

    I’m not sure which group of people the particular pitch we were given was designed for, but it certainly wasn’t us. After the routine facility tour, which was nice enough, it was on to the sales pitch. The rep started pitching a membership, offered in various levels of “points” good throughout the Fairfield system, but with maintenance fees tied to our “home” resort. I asked the simple question: “Why buy in at an expensive place with high maintenance fees (the beach area we were at) vs. buying in in the middle of nowhere? Aren’t points points?” No answer.

    I then said, “Could I please have a copy of the system guide to take home to read?” (This was the “catalog” of the worldwide resort network, along with a copy of all the rules for actually using the points.) She outright refused. (DING! Scam Alert! Perhaps it wasn’t as easy to exchange as she said it was?)

    She displayed financing terms that were a bad joke for somebody in our financial situation. (I could have gotten a lower rate by putting it on a couple of Visa cards.) Clearly these loans were not as collateral-secured as a normal real estate loan.

    When it was clear that we weren’t going to buy, she turned us over to “somebody that usually works the customer service desk” to give us a survey. After going through several routine questions, he dropped the classic Car Salesman line: “What would we have to do to get you to buy today?” So, clearly he lied to us: he doesn’t work a single minute in “customer service” he was a “closer.”

    My response: “I would never buy deeded real estate after a two-hour sales presentation.” His response: “Well, what if we offered this deal to you?” (He then scribbled some more numbers down, detailing a deal that our first sales rep had already said they don’t like to sell anymore because of Customer Satisfaction issues.) I responded I wouldn’t buy it even if it were free. And then we stormed out.

    While maybe it’s better somewhere, I can only conclude that the pitch was targeted towards the uneducated and/or stupid, because that’s no way to sell something to somebody with more than a handful of brain cells floating around. (It certainly doesn’t relate to targeting less well-off demographic groups! I routinely get postcards inviting me to land auctions in the mountains, so I can build the mountain retreat I’ve always deserved… Who on earth buys land in the middle of BFE with pretty much zero opportunity do do research beforehand?)

  7. Guys, there is no such thing as a free lunch, free dinner, or free show tickets. Ask yourself this question when accosted by these slimy-salesmen: “Is a $50 dinner worth two hours of our time in a stressful environment?”



    1. Corollary to that. After enjoying your high-pressure, two-hour presentation, is this still a place you want to come back to visit, year after year, to relax?

    2. We went to a time share presentation in Mexico. We were staying in Riviera Maya and we were offered private transport round trip to Cancun, breakfast in Cancun as well as heavily discounted tickets to Chichen Itza and Xcaret. It was worth a morning’s presentation to spend the day in Cancun and get the tickets. You just need to be savvy consumer.

  8. FYI Chris,
    I keep getting “unresponsive script” warnings today. I’m using Firefox, but it also happens with Safari.

  9. I would say that Timeshares are not scams per se. They are offering a real product in terms of a timeslot at a resort or whatever. However, the rules around usage of most timeshares are very complicated. What people need to remember is that a timeshare is exactly that: you are buying a “share of time” at some resort somewhere. You are not buying bricks and mortar. Realistically then, one needs to look at the cost associated with the timeshare vs actually buying a vacation week (or whatever) at a resort. If you pay many thousands of dollars up front for the timeshare PLUS annual “maintenance fees”, ask yourself whether it is really cost effective, given your personal circumstances. In many cases, it is not cost effective. The timeshare corporations (and sales people) know this all too well, hence the aggressive sales techniques.

    1. Most forget that one also pays property taxes.

      Besides that, there are even some people wanting to give away timeshares in order to get out of the maintenance fees and taxes.

  10. “Even though Igor Pavlovic and his wife consider themselves experienced consumers…” Unfortunately, they have a mistaken impression of what an experienced consumer is.

    Buying a time share is akin to buying the Brooklyn Bridge. If you are alive and aware, then 1. You realize there is no “free dinner” and 2. Time shares have negligible re-sale value. All the rest of this column is filler and fluff.

    1. Maybe now they can consider themselves experienced consumers, because they were anything but when they let themselves be pressured into buying the timeshare…

  11. I don’t think they’re a scam, per se, but I don’t think they’re value either. It’s up to the consumer to be halfway aware of their surroundings. Want to buy a used car but don’t like high pressure? Don’t go to a lot. Buy directly from the owner. If you’re the type to give in to high pressure, don’t put yourself in that situation. If you can laugh these silver-tongued salesmen off, then go get your dinner tickets or whatever. But really, is it worth your precious vacation time? If you want to eat it / see it / experience it that much, buy the tickets outright.

  12. I went to a time share presentation in Vegas and they were just as nice a people you could expect UNTIL I starting saying no and boy did their “wonderful” attitude change and they started to bring the “big boys” in. One thing that changed it was when I said that I might be interested if I could pay for the time share right up front rather than over time. That brought them to a quick halt and they “stumbled” around telling me that would not be possible. I found out the time payments had an 18% interest fee !!!! Also when I asked about using my “timeshare” in Hawaii, every year, they hemmed and hawed until I found out you could only reserve there once every 4 years. I did get to finally leave with my 2 tickest to see the show “Mama Mia” but “wasted” 2.5 hours of my day.

  13. A savvy friend showed me a brochure for a time share in Costa Rica. The company was offering (FOR THOSE PRE-CLEARED) free, round trip air travel, and a 4 night stay at a sample unit, as long as all the “conditions were met.”

    The brochure listed no conditions. A few requests for the “conditions” went
    ignored, and finally, after repeated requests, a three-page document was
    offered. It turned out that there was a requirement for the traveler/potential buyer, to spend at least six hours each day inspecting the properties. Anything less would be cause for having to pay for the airfare and the accommodations. The amounts weren’t
    specified. My friend didn’t go.

    He, and I agree, felt it was a scam. If one didn’t purchase a unit, the company would bill the potential buyer for the sales trip.

    Caveat emptor… have eyes in the back of your head… read the small print.

  14. We own two timeshares and love them. We rented, walked ourselves into the office and sat through a low key presentation. Five days later, we went back to the office an bought our first. Our experience was unique. We bought the second 12 years later at a different resort from the same group with just a little more pressure. Both are in Cancun.
    But we see the time share sharks everywhere looking to give away valuable dinners or tours. Having no plans to buy another and sometimes a free afternoon, I have often suggested to my wife that we experience a presentation. She says life is too short so we have never gone. Maybe this year.

  15. Many years ago I was in London, my first visit. I was offered a half day tour of the city and a lunch at the Hilton. I knew there would be some sort of sales pitch but thought “what the heck.” I did get a great orientation to London and then a nice buffet lunch. And then….the sales pitch. They tried to sell me property in Florida. Were they crazy??? I am from Seattle and have no interest in Florida. I suddenly “had” to use the restroom, and quickly exited the hotel.

  16. I’ve talked about this time and time again, and commented on nearly every timeshare related post you have, Chris. It’s important to get people to understand! 🙂

    I used to work for a company that sold timeshares in Branson, MO. I also sold vacation rentals in timeshare properties to people who were members of the company’s vacation club. I’ve heard all the bad things, and all the good things, and I have a decent understanding of how timeshare works.

    Timeshares are not scams. They are a legitimate business, and they benefit some people who like to travel a certain way. The problem is that not everyone likes to travel that way, therefore the timeshare concept is not right for everyone. People attend the presentations because 1) they’re genuinely interested in that style of vacation or 2) they want the freebies – tickets, meal vouchers, what have you. Without being prepared for what they are up against, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all, and trying to understand what the sales folks are telling you. Yes, it’s high pressure sales, and if you don’t have the confidence to stand up to that and hold your ground you’re going to end up buying something you don’t need or want.

    I put together a handy tip sheet about timeshares for people who are on vacation (which, incidentally, is the worst time to consider a purchase of something as high dollar as a timeshare) where they may be invited to a presentation. I’ve received a lot of positive response from it. The tip sheet can be downloaded here: http://www.journeysbysteve.com/AWordonTimeshare.pdf

    Good article, Chris.

  17. Your own greed! Your lured to a presentation by the offer of “FREEBIES”. Don’t want the hard sell, not really interested in a Timeshare? DON’T GO! Simple.
    We went to a time share, reviewed the offer, measured the cost to buy in, & maintenance fees, & just said no. Salesman tried very hard but I just said no. Either give me the certificate promised or I will call Head Office from my cellphone & I started taking loudly about complaining to local authorities. After some prospective attendies heard me, they started leaving, & I got my “gift”. Never again!
    Not a scam, just HARD sell tactics. These guys are trying to earn a living – the hard way.

    1. I”m not sure what the difference is. You had to resort to threats in order to get what was promised to you.

  18. Never, EVER go to a timeshare presentation. We own quite a few of them — many purchased on line for a pittance. Years ago it was not a bad deal but now they are totally worthless. And the maintenance fees are ridiculous. My husband and I went to
    one and (he is a mathematician) he knew they were lying about the numbers and he told them so. They bring in people who try further to make deals and sometime you just have to GET UP AND WALK AWAY. SO, no matter what they offer you, DO NOT GO!!

    1. We’re thinking about buying one on ebay. We rent a very nice unit for about $700 in shoulder season in Florida. The maintenance fees though are often about that price for the same unit so it makes me wonder if it’s worth it. Also, is there any (significant) advantage to buying Wyndham points for a, say, resort in Florida versus Tennessee all other things equal where the points in Tennessee are lower?

  19. Believe it or not, there is something good to say about timeshare sellers.
    About a year ago, my wife was able to get us several free days at a Wyndham property in Orlando in exchange for sitting through their presentation. We opted for a points purchase where we could use them anywhere in their network. We were planning to use it to see different places in the US and, because of her lousy credit, put everything in my name.
    Less than two months later she took her own life and, of course, vacation plans went out the window.I ask them to cancel the contract even thought it was well past the allowed dates, It took a while but they not only cancelled the contract but returned all the money I’d paid to date. This cancellation is still sitting on my credit report but at least I’m no longer responsible for the account.
    Once in a while, companies will do the right thing.

  20. I voted with the majority but my views on timeshares is based on their useage, not the sales process. I have “entertained” swapping my vacation rentals on Sanibel Island with people who own time shares. But in each case over nearly 20 years, the unit and/or the complex, and/or the destination was NEVER available for the dates I suggested. Which leads me to believe that the “vacation any where in the world” promise is an empty one. I, myself, would never consider buying a time share as both the sales tactics and the losing proposition of ownership would be disincentive enough. But my additional apprehension is that I would not get to “travel any where in the world” and would be stuck with a singular week and singular destination given all the limitations on ownership and exchanges.

    1. If you can plan 13 months ahead, or less than 1 month ahead, it could work, but most people can’t plan like that, I would say.

      Always complicated.

  21. About 15 years ago, Marriott seemed to have a two-tiered timeshare promotion program. The first tier offerered highly discounted stays at one of its resorts if you agreed to sit through a timeshare sales presentation. The second tier program (apparently offered to those it deemed were creditworthy and sophisticated travelers/consumers) made attendance at the sales presentation optional.

    We were offered and accepted a less than “rack rate” stay at the Marriott in Palm Desert. We were given a very nice, new unit along the golf course, plus coupons good for discounts on meals or other purchases at the resort. We had no interest in buying a timeshare, and while we were told when the sales presentation would take place, weren’t encouraged, let alone pressured, to attend it and we didn’t.

    About a year later we received and accepted a similar offer to stay at the Marriott near the airport on Kauai. When we checked into the hotel, I was asked to come back to the lobby as soon as possible to meet with a staff member involved with the timeshare program. Even though I repeatedly told her that we weren’t required to attend the timeshare presentation under the terms of Marriott’s offer to us, she got extremely annoyed with me because I refused to do so.

    We’ve never received a timeshare promotion offer from Marriott since then, so I assume she “blacklisted” us.

    1. I stayed at that Marriott in Palm Desert (or a sister property). They asked me to attend a time share presentation but didn’t insist and were pretty nice about it. Of course, I was staying on a regular rate so they had no right to insist.

  22. If one wants to take a vacation why have it pre paid and have to go to the same place or an equivocal (?) property. Why not just plan a vacation and be able to go wherever you want to. I would not like going to the same place all the time except Orange Beach, AL and even there I can get different properties at different times. I would think a time share is more expensive to own then just renting one for a short time.

  23. If Wyndham allowed him to cancel his contract after the allotted time period, then I suspect they did so because they didn’t want to be investigated by the Texas DA’s office. Something seems fishy to me.

  24. We get 2-3 pieces of timeshare mail every few months. They promise great stuff, but I’m definitely never going to attend one because the free “stuff” could cost me thousands later on. I don’t like the hard sell and have heard what these sessions are like – worse than trying to get off the new/used car dealers lot. Timeshares? Never, ever.

  25. This link looks like spam to me. I clicked on it and found nothing pertaining to the topic at hand, just teacher lesson plans for sale.

  26. The sales people are trained on hitting every possible emotion impact. I sat on one and remember vividly entering the demonstration suite all clean and sparkly from the tiles to the glassware, then the sideroom simulating a typical hotel, bland, lights darkened some with the salesperson verbally painting a picture of is this what you want or this and turns with a wave of the hand walking back out into the sparkly room, this could be your families experience.

    I spotted it immediately and I had to laugh and walked ASAP.

  27. Okay, late to the party here and probably going to be in the minority, but here goes.

    I’m a timeshare owner. Yup, I said it. I’ve had mine since the mid-90’s and I *love* it. We’re Hilton timeshare owners and I’ve used my timeshare repeatedly for trips to Vegas and Orlando. When we had our family reunion in Disney a couple of years ago, it was invaluable – we couldn’t have afforded as much of what we did on that trip had it not been for my timeshare.

    All of that being said, the sales process was painful. High-pressure, delaying tactics, guilt trips…you name it, we suffered through it. However, my ex-husband was a d-bag in the first degree, so in the end? It was much more painful for the Hilton sales guys than it was for us. Thanks to my ex, we ended up negotiating down the price of the timeshare, had no closing costs, and as bonuses got two round-trip airline tickets anywhere in the world, a seven-night stay in any Hilton hotel, tickets to the Rockettes, $100 each in casino chips, buffets out the wazoo, and taxi vouchers. The poor sales guys looked dazed by the time we signed on the dotted line.

    So yeah, the sales tactics suck but if you stick to your guns and learn to say “NO!” firmly, you’ll either walk away having withstood the worst they can throw at you or you’ll end up with a bargain. 😀

  28. What ever happened to – just stand up and walk away? Timeshares are great for the bubbas of the world that want to take all of their “pillers” and “eats” and beer along with them. The only legit in this here USA might be what Disney has to offer, but still, how often can you afford to use it?

  29. Chris, Suggest you try the hotlink on Journeysbysteve.com – I find nothing there except a requirement to signin / sign up.

  30. I know quite a few people who own timeshares, and except for one, they all want to get rid of them, but they can’t even give the damn things away. The one exception shares the timeshare among several extended family members and somebody in the group always manages to use it each year, usually trading for another location, and they claim it always works out. I’m still skeptical given how easy it is to compare hotel and resort rates online, for almost any destination. But good for them. Otherwise, timeshares make zero sense to me – it’s the equivalent of prepaying your vacation hotel charges for the next 20+ years. If it were presented to you in that way, would you ever buy? Of course not. It’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Furthermore, if a timeshare is so great, why buy at a presentation anyway? Just buy on the resale market, you’ll pay a far lower price and the maintenance fees will be the same.
    As for going to the presentations to get free stuff, I tried it and never found it to be worth the torture. The gifts are overhyped and ultimately nothing that great. But another friend of mine has it down to a science and does it all the time to get deeply discounted vacations, have his family eat for free, and hasn’t bought one yet. I have yet to master tactics like his and doubt I’ll ever try to do so.

  31. “Our members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation resort development,” says Howard Nusbaum, ARDA’s president. The problem is those “standards and ethical behavior” aren’t very high in the industry to begin with.

  32. Years ago when I was in Cabo, just before the big build of hotels and condos, there was a new condo timeshare project opening up. We were in San Jose and the condo was on the strip just before Cabo San Lucas. The pitch to get you to attend the sale meeting was that they provided free transportation and a meal. Many from our hotel went and at the fiesta that night at our hotel, they were laughing about the day’s event. If you didn’t buy into the timeshare after the presentation, then you paid for your transportation back (which the pitch never said roundtrip transportation, just transportation TO the presentation), which at the time was a $20 cab ride. Also, if you didn’t have your spouse with you, you couldn’t buy, as it required both, so those who came alone had to pay for the ride back, too.
    We also found out that these sales people don’t want you to be unemployeed which we were at one presentation, that we told a friend we would sit through since we were on his bonus time. That sales person wasn’t happy with us 🙂

  33. While vacationing in Myrtle Beach, S.C., we agreed to attend a time share meeting. (We were told that it would take no longer than two hours, and that we would receive free tickets to a dinner show.) We showed up for the “free breakfast” meeting. Five hours later, with the sales representative yelling at my 70+ year old aunt, for “discouraging” the sale, we left. I called and complained about the salesman’s behavior, and their obvious pressure tactics (getting a “manager” to come and give us a better deal?, we were given tickets to a seafood buffet. I will NEVER go to another time share sales pitch again. This was through Wyndham.

  34. Because of the numerous timeshare complaints, many people assure that timeshares are scams. Before making any purchase, it is important to read your contract very carefully, ask as many questions as possible, research the company and understand how timeshares work. Are timeshares scams?

  35. I suspect a lot of people end up buying timeshares not because they want them, but because they’re persuaded by the hard sell pitches that accompany many of the “free gift, just listen to our presentation” type offers. The salesmen will tell you that a timeshare is cheaper than staying in a hotel, “which can cost hundreds of dollars a day!” But of course, that is the nightly rack rate at an upper-end hotel, not the weekly rate. And of course, by the time you pay the weekly maintenance fee on your timeshare ($800) plus the amortized cost of the sales price, well, you’ve paid as much, if not more than it would cost to stay in a nice Hotel. They are just way too expensive for what you get.

  36. Many city space voters keep feverish lifestyles; that the
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  37. Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for
    others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel, timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership.

  38. Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise.

  39. Thousands of International travelers, particularly from the US and Canada, have fallen victims of timeshare fraud while vacationing in Mexico. Resort developers hire skilled salesmen to represent their timeshares as many different attractive packages, such as financial investments, deeded properties, or vacation clubs, just to increase their sales.

  40. 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?

  41. 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?

  42. Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise.

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