They promised us Paris, but $18,000 later …

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Even if the vacation club she bought didn’t work out, and even if the “free” trip to Hawaii never materialized, Tali Buchman figured she’d always have Paris.

Buchman and her husband attended a timeshare sales presentation by Shell Vacations Club, a timeshare club operated by Wyndham.

“When we got there, we were received by one salesperson who sat with us for one hour at a table,” she remembers.

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If they invested in the “club” now, the rep promised he’d sweeten the deal. “He offered us 3,500 points per year, as well as two bonus round trip airfare flights anywhere in the US, as well as 15,000 bonus points. We were told that the 15,000 points would be enough to take our family of four to Paris for two weeks, and still have points left over,” she says.

The points, the salesman explained, could be used for airfare as well as hotel during our stay. But the bonus points needed to be used during the first year. The points system is explained on this FAQ page.

But wait! There’s more! The club also offered them a “free” Hawaii vacation.

The Buchman’s decided this was too good a deal to pass up. They shelled out $18,000 for a club membership, thinking they’d be going to Paris in a few weeks, and maybe Hawaii later in the year.

They thought wrong, and now Buchman wants me to help her retrieve the money.

“When the time came for us to book the tickets and hotel, we learned that 15,000 points was not enough to fly us all there, let alone stay in a hotel for two weeks,” she says. “This was of great concern. It was the only reason we bought the plan in the first place.”

Of course, after a timeshare investment is not the time to find out something like this. Also, and perhaps more importantly, you don’t want to make a purchase because of the bonus points, but because it’s a good investment. The bonus should be … well, a bonus.

“We spent hours on the phone with Shell asking them for a refund based upon the fact that we were grossly misled by our salesman,” she says. “They offered us nothing other than an extra few months to use the 15,000 points, because those expire within the first 12 months.”

Buchman says she is “very unhappy” with how they were treated.

“To top it off, the free trip to Hawaii was hardly a trip at all. It required that you leave on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday, but you can’t stay longer than one week. So, I guess they want you to fly there and fly back immediately? It’s a joke — except the joke is on us,” she says.

Again, the time to find out about the limits on an offer like this is before signing on the dotted line. But Buchman already knows this.

I asked to see the paper trail. The result was even more maddening than the offer of a “free” trip to Paris or Hawaii; a representative simply restated her complaint without offering any kind of resolution.

The Buchmans could have taken the $18,000 and booked a nice Hawaii vacation, followed by a trip to Paris, and had money left over to go shopping. But the Shell Vacations offer was simply too enticing to pass up. I can see their point. The membership allows them a certain number of days at a network of 24 resorts, which, I admit, looks like a great deal.

At this point, the family has several options. More appeals could result in a supervisor giving the Buchmans enough points for their Paris vacation. I’ve seen that happen in similar cases. They could also dispute their credit card charges, although I’m willing to bet that their contract is airtight and the promises made during the sales presentation are in no way documented.

Or I could get involved, contacting Shell Vacations to push it for a full refund.

But here’s my problem: I think when I hear Shell’s side of the story, it will tell me it delivered exactly what it promised in writing. It will probably tell me that the promised vacations in Paris and Hawaii were “misunderstandings” between the salesman and the Buchman family.

I recently spoke at length with someone who runs one of the largest vacation club operations in America, and he says every last customer interaction is recorded. “Customers lie,” he told me, adding that a “vast” number of his club customers were “totally satisfied.”

And there’s the problem. We don’t yet have the Shell Vacations side of this story because I haven’t decided what to do with this case.

So what would you do?

Should I mediate Tali Buchman's case with Shell Vacations Club?

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86 thoughts on “They promised us Paris, but $18,000 later …

  1. It’s sad that these folks were so unsophisticated as to spend 18k without doing due diligence.. I say mediate for several reasons

    1. Given the sketchy nature of the industry, I am inclined to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

    2. A comment like a “vast” number of his club customers were “totally satisfied.” is telling. That sounds like industry misdirection. I’d expect something stronger like almost all.

    3. You can successfully get some of the money back. These industries, much like roaches, do not like being exposed to the light of day.

  2. Mediate, just don’t expect much. This is a scam, basically its a super expensive, and immensely limited gift card that you buy with real money but cant spend like real money. Personally, I wonder were such unsophisticated people get $18,000 to spend on a vacation/travel club. They could have just bought the actual travel for $18,000 to both Hawaii and Paris. In the future just buy the trip.

    1. Well, they could have scraped up the money it any one of several ways:
      – They could be retired and took the funds out of their nest egg. $18k isn’t really that much if you have decently prepared for retirement.
      – These deals often offer to include financing. (At horrible interest rates, of course, since the collateral is not worth much.)
      – It doesn’t take much to get $18k in credit card limit, no “sophistication” required.

      1. So you think people who have prepared well for retirement, knowing all the planing and discipline that goes into that would just write a check, etc for such a scammy vacation/travel plan?

        Yeah it does it takes good financial sense and expertise to keep a FICO score with that kind of available credit.

  3. I have a very difficult time believing that this couple did not do basic math before buying. And that they did not get all these promises written in the contract before signing. Regular readers know that these clubs are often scams and salespeople promise everything you want to hear to get you to sign the contract. These people deserve some of their money back—but as they did not even do basic research they too hold responsibility for this debacle.

      1. An expensive lesson. As I said they too hold responsibility—not all of it but some of it. They did not get the promises in writing, they did not look at the bottom line, comparing money they are spending with what it would cost to buy. They may not hold all the responsibility but they do hold some of it. We will never know if they signed out of ignorance or greed. But either one gives them a share of responsibility.

        1. I guess that’s just a fundamentally different way of looking at something. If someone is scammed they deserve to get all of their money back. It’s like if I leave my car door open and someone steals it. Was that stupid? Yes. But I still deserve to get my car back from the thief, not most of the car, all of it.

    1. I don’t have a difficult time believing that this couple did not do basic math before buying. That is why there is a small group of individuals that believes that the masses are idiots; therefore, is incapable of doing anything in their lives (i.e. selecting schools for their children; selecting their retirement options; etc.)…and ONLY the government knows better.

  4. I say don’t mediate any more vacation club sob stories. Instead, make a blanket statement on the site, repeatedly, that every single one of them is a scam. In big, bold letters.

    1. Well, unlike the sketchy “travel clubs” he’s mentioned recently, this is a part of Wyndham, a large travel conglomerate; who knows? They might actually do something!

      1. Agreed…and even though this sounds just as sketchy as the rest, I can see why the buyers seemed readier to trust a timeshare under the Wyndham name.

      2. I have friends that belong to the Wyndham timeshare network (I don’t know if it is this one specifically) and they love it. They did understand what they were getting into, however.

  5. You should mediate (although it probably won’t do any good), for the simple reason that daily commerce would be utterly impossible if you cannot trust the word of the person on the other side of the proverbial table.

    A few points:
    – I know the last time I went to a timeshare presentation, the salesperson absolutely refused to let me take a copy of all the terms associated with the points home so I could read it before signing. (FWIW, it was a company that was later acquired by Wyndham.) This is a loathsome practice that should not even be legal. (It didn’t work on me, of course, but not everybody is so persistent; they may choose to actually believe what they are being told.)

    – That 24-hour Hawaii vacation, if true, is indeed a joke. You should mediate for that reason alone. If that’s in writing (the OP should be able to provide you those terms), that’s indeed cause for a nice public shaming. That’s utterly ridiculous; nobody is going to call an overnight stay in Hawaii a “vacation”, guaranteeing that nobody will ever take advantage of that deal.

    – While wires do get crossed, and you only have one side of the story, unless the OP is fabricating the sales presentation out of whole cloth, the promised points weren’t going to be good for anything to do with Paris, unless it’s the “Paris” of some benighted US state; it shouldn’t have even come up in any context (either the bonus points or being mentioned during the part about what you can buy with your annual points.) Given the reputation of timeshare sales presentations, the idea that the heavily commissioned salesperson would completely make something up is not far-fetched.

    – As a side-note, if 15,000 points won’t even buy you a pair of plane tickets to Paris, what does the puny 3,500 points annually that they’ve purchased actually buy? I can’t imagine it’s much.

    1. The Hawaii thing is true. I actually went to a Shell Vacations seminar thingy about 10 years ago and had one of the vouchers. You arrived in Hawaii around 4pm on Tuesday and had to fly home around 8am on Thursday. The flight times were preselected. You could actually stay longer but then you had to pay the cost of a regular vacation. For some reason, the voucher people let me change to a 4 night cruise and I actually got the cruise for an additional $300 total. So two people, 4 night cruise, and I only paid like $300 total. That wasn’t a bad deal, actually.

      And another time, my parents and I did a different club seminar and had vouchers for week long cruises and I was able to use them and get all three of us on my friend’s wedding cruise for $1200 total (6 night cruise) and we ended up being upgraded to a 3 person ocean view room. We think they did that because my mom is disabled and there were only 3 of us so it was cheaper to stick us in the 3 person room and resell a 4 person inside cabin. So that ended up being a good deal, too. $1200, 6 nights, 3 people, ocean view room.

    2. “…for the simple reason that daily commerce would be utterly impossible if you cannot trust the word of the person on the other side of the proverbial table.”

      I don’t even consider what people say, I look at the writing. Life works out pretty well for me.

      1. Sure you do.

        When you buy something, you trust that what the label says is true.
        You trust the register correctly added the price of your items (unless you add the prices of all of our groceries
        You trust that the scale to weigh your produce is accurate
        You trust that the expiration date on your milk is accurate

        1. “When you buy something, you trust that what the label says is true.” Regulated by various agencies depending upon the product.

          “You trust the register correctly added the price of your items (unless you add the prices of all of our groceries” Is regulated by a state agency such as the State Weights and Measurements. Attorney General, etc.

          “You trust that the scale to weigh your produce is accurate” Is regulated by the State Weights and Measurements

          “You trust that the expiration date on your milk is accurate” Is regulated by the FDA…all food in the US needs to be traceable forward (if something was found to be bad in a field of corn) and backward (a jar of peanut butter was found to be bad).

          If a diary under fills its milk containers, they can lose the school lunch money. If a food company under deliver the weight in their containers, they can get fines.

          You purchase a life insurance policy, it is regulated by the state Department of Insurance.

          You purchased investments, it is regulated by Federal (FINRA) and State (e.g. Dept. of Financial Institutions).

          You purchased a new home from a builder in Arizona, you are protected by the Registrar of Contractors.

          You purchased services from a licensed plumber, electrician, etc. in the state of Arizona, you are protected by the Registrar of Contractors.

          That is why the vacation club industry needs to be regulated.

    3. I wonder what the salesperson response would be to a request to take the contract away because “it is a condition of your trust fund (or inheritance) that all contracts above a certain value be approved by your lawyer”? Whether that’s true or not. Although I have said I am never going to a timeshare presentation again, I just might to use that line.

      1. It’s pretty simple; they simply won’t give it to you, and you’ll go home. They know the contract is all sorts of useless awfulness and anyone with the presence of mind to take it home probably isn’t going to sign. And if they actually believe you when you say all your contracts have to be reviewed by a lawyer, they’ll know it ain’t getting signed for sure, since any half-way decent lawyer is going to point out all the various and sundry ways in which it is terrible and doesn’t include what you were told it did.

        1. Yes. but it might be fun to watch them squirm. On second thoughts, not enough fun to sit through the presentation and all the BS.

  6. I voted ‘Yes” for you to mediate Tali Buchman’s case with Shell Vacations Club although it probably won’t do any good.

    Chris, if you really want to help consumers, it is time for you to do some heavy lifting by getting this industry regulated. I am not saying that regulation will make everything perfect but it will make entry to the market harder as well as having a way to police them.

    In Arizona, a real estate timeshare salesperson needs to have a real estate license. The transactions are governed by the AZ Department of Real Estate. If you have an issue, you can file with the Dept. It is not perfect but a person has some protection.

    If the vacation club timeshare industry was regulated, at least the consumers can have some protection. Make the sales reps to be licensed as a stockbroker or etc. I mentioned stockbroker since that industry have a single nationwide license agency (FINRA).

    Regulation of this industry could prevent this stories like this one that we read on your blog on a regular basis.

    1. That’s naive. It won’t make it any harder than it is now. Their contracts spell out exactly what they promise to deliver. You think a license is going to stop pressure sales? Come on.

      1. I have been in the compliance industry (as a senior compliance office as well as a software supplier to comply with the regulations) and regulations do help.

        If vacation club sales reps are required to be fingerprinted, bonded, licensed, pass exams, etc., it will make it harder for a bad apple sales rep to jump from company to company especially the ones with disciplinary actions and fines against them.

        If vacation club companies are regulated, it will make it harder for them to close down and re-open under a new name.

        I don’t have time to list all of the reasons and etc. so we must agree to disagree over the value of regulating this industry.

        1. I agree, but for a different reason. Knowing that your ability to earn a living depends on retaining a license substantially reduces the incentive to engage in sketchy behavior.

      1. No really. Scams could not work if people just paid attention and stopped trying to get something for nothing. This is stupid tax, plain and simple.

        1. Scams could not work if people just paid attention and stopped trying to get something for nothing

          Tons of confidence men are ROTFLMAO right now.

    1. (I know you were not completely serious so this isnt aimed at you directly)

      There is a sign at the WalMart service desk warning people not to wire money to strangers. Should they just take the sign down and let the chips fall where they may?

  7. Mediate if just to have the process documented. This family’s predicament can be a learning experience to the larger whole… and hopefully they can still have a nice year of exploring our pale blue dot.

  8. YEARS and YEARS ago I learned these “vacation clubs” are scams — PLEASE SHOW COMMON SENSE AND DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH THEM. ANYONE WHO DOES IS A FOOL. WE TRAVEL ALL THE TIME AND NEVER JOINED ONE. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE WALKED OUT OF ONE OF THESE PRESENTATIONS AND NEVER WENT TO ANOTHER.

    ELLIOTT: DO NOT MEDIATE — PEOPLE ARE TOO DUMB TO HELP!!!!!! =====

  9. Yawn…. Another Monday and another ripoff case involving a travel club. How is it that these folks always manage to find you after the fact but can’t seem to find the infinite number of articles where you’ve called out these deals as scams?

    Go ahead and mediate but the next time I get taken by a 3-card monte scam in Times Square, I’m calling you…

  10. ANOTHER NOTE: WE WENT TO ONE AND THE PRESENTER NAMED THE NAME OF SOME IMPORTANT PEOPLE WHO BELONGED TO THE CLUB. MY HUSBAND KNEW THE EXECUTIVE NAMED AND ALSO KNOW YOU DO NOT ADVERTISE WHO BELONGS. HE REPORTED THE PRESENTER AND THEY WERE IN VERY DEEP TROUBLE.

    1. Hi Chris:

      Noama’s keyboard seems to be defective. It’s stuck on Caps Lock. Can you help mediate to get it fixed? Thanks!

      FROM ALL YOUR READERS

  11. When things sound too good to be true, they most likely aren’t true. My sympathy to the people who fall for such blatant scams, but I don’t know how much more that people like you can do to inform them of the dangers.

  12. Chris, you said it all already: “The Buchmans could have taken the $18,000 and booked a nice Hawaii vacation, followed by a trip to Paris, and had money left over to go shopping.” They didn’t take the obvious route because…well, I really don’t know. I vote No. This should serve as a lesson, albeit an expensive one. In the alternative, you could try to get their money back and then let them know that I own a bridge in New York I’ll sell them…

  13. I want to say “STUPIDITY TAX” but I get the feeling these folks were suckered by a smooth talking swindler-artist who gets a hefty commission on whatever snake oil he sells.

    Also, $18K is too high for a stupidity tax, so yes, please mediate.

  14. $18000? I’ve planned many a trip for my family of four through the years and I’ve never come close to spending $18000. Granted, I’ve never been able to carve out two weeks of time either but I’m floored that they just didn’t go to a travel agent and have a very nice trip planned for them.

  15. Just a brief statement. I had a membership in Shell. It was so bad what was stated was not what was given. After trying to utilize for five years I gave the timeshare back ! (3500 to do this along with approx 23,000 I paid) I don’t honestly think this is a viable option. You’ll get nowhere we didn’t either. All they do is hide behind legalease. Stay away. Cancel, pay a fee and run as fast as you can.

  16. If the main reason they bought was the Paris trip how do they commit without having any of that in writing? And how much did they think a trip to Paris costs normally? They quite literally heard the salesman say “this is a great deal” and went along without thinking twice.

  17. I really really WANT to feel sorry for these people. I do. But, there’s that other more snarky side of me that is shouting into the wind, “Are you f*ing kidding me? Plunking down$18K in the form of cash, credit or first born child, without written guarantees of your discussion takes a special type of stupid!” Then, my Monday morning coffee kicks in and I think you should help them get something back, although I have doubts as to how much you’ll get, but heck even half is a lot of money.

  18. I think you should mediate just to expose this company and their sharp practices. Knowing this story is going to be all over social media is not what this company would want to see. We can’t all be sophisticated travelers otherwise you wouldn’t have a job Chris! (joke). And God knows i’ve made my fair share of mistakes. These people were led up the garden path and lied to – they deserve their money back.

    I just listened to a voicemail from an attorney in California telling me I would have a big legal mess if I didn’t call him. Yes, me and thousands of others. I blocked his number.

  19. You gotta be kidding me here. $ 18,000 and they didn’t even get an airplane barf bag. They could have easily taken two vacations with that kind of money (of course, then they wouldn’t have gotten the 3500 points per year after that which sound totally useless anyway). It blows my mind that people still fall for this stuff. I can only guess that vacation clubs with point systems are just a variation on timeshares, which have such a terrible reputation that they’ve essentially been reinvented as vacation clubs. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing basically, because just like timeshares, you still have to pay annual maintenance fees and special assessments (these resorts don’t maintain themselves after all). Sounds like another bait and switch. What I don’t get here is that vacation clubs proudly tout all the great places you can stay on their membership, yet I can just go on the internet and comparison shop from all the great places in the world to stay and pay when I feel like going. With a vacation club you have to pay something up front (a large sum of money), then pay every year whether you’re able to go or not. How does anyone think this is a good idea, and how does anyone not see how antiquated this concept is, now that we have the internet to comparison shop?

  20. Chris – I find it very interesting to read some of these complaints that you mediate, but it’s frustrating sometimes to see which cases you take on. I don’t think most people would spend $18k in a retail store without a lot of homework, so why is it okay to do so with a high pressure salesman because of the “bonus.” The one that really killed me was the woman who booked her honeymoon tickets with her married name, knowing fully that her passport still had her maiden name – and then was upset that she was denied boarding. I would love to see you concentrate more on cases where the failure is truly on the part of the supplier, and less on the buyer. I think these examples help increase pressure on the industry and reg. authorities to level the playing field. Just my two cents.

    1. I don’t think most people would spend $18k in a retail store without a
      lot of homework, so why is it okay to do so with a high pressure
      salesman because of the “bonus.”

      It’s not. That’s the point. Also, in a retail store you don’t have any where near the level of pressure and con job that you do in a retail store.

  21. Caveat emptor. Timeshare sales presentation are mostly con-jobs. They have been around for decades. “A sucker is born every minute.” Mostly a greedy sucker. The time-worn cliche, “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam.” Did this couple just come out of hibernation?

  22. I’ve been pitched these vacation clubs a few times now, and it just never makes any sense to me why anyone would pay that kind of money just for access to hotel/airfare “discounts”. With the advent of the internet, there are so many options available to get a good deal – and they don’t require for you to cough up a large sum of money up front. During the pitch, they always ask me how much I spent for that trip I’m on – they always agree I got a great deal. Exactly! So why do I need to spend thousands of dollars with them to save a few bucks? Total scam. And like you said Chris, for $18k they could have planned a trip to Paris AND Hawaii, with money to spare.

  23. I voted “yes” just to see what really is going on. Is this really Windham or it US Airlines? Can Windham be shamed into a Cris Elliott refund?

  24. Timeshare is not for everyone. I have owned one for 15 years and have traveled almost every year using it. There is definitely a learning curve to using it. Once you learn how to use what you purchase it can be a great thing if you travel or plan to travel a lot. The main thing that I love about it is that instead of staying in a cramped hotel room, we stay in mini apartments with full kitchens. That way we save money while we are traveling on food expense by having our coffee, breakfast in the unit. We recently took a week long trip and stayed in a beautiful suite with a full kitchen for $200 dollars exchange fee. We couldn’t have gotten two nights in a regular hotel for that amount. So it isn’t a scam, you just have to figure out what you are doing and not sign on the dotted line at the presentation. Personal responsibility.

    1. When you add your total yearly timeshare fees with the $200 exchange fee, how much did that week actually cost?

      I have gone to Hawaii at least once a year for the past 5 years and spent at least a week there each trip. I also spend at least 2 weeks a year in Europe mainly at B&B or farmhouse accommodations. In Hawaii I always stay in roomy condos with full kitchens mostly ocean front where I can hear the waves on the shore at night and some where I could literally step from my bed onto the sand. I have never paid more than $199 a night for these condos (plus taxes), usually less. I don’t belong to any time share or travel club. Just think of all the money I didn’t waste the years I was not able to travel that I would have had to pay to the time share or club.
      .
      You are right, time shares are not for everyone.

      1. I did say that it isn’t for everyone. That is great that you can travel that way. I am not a fan of the B&B. Ok, so when you go to Hawaii you are paying on average $200 a night for 7 days. $1400.00. My maintenance fees are about $800 a year for my unit. For this. trip that would make it $1000.00. However, this is the 4th trip that we have taken this year. So, one maintenance fee and then the exchange fees. I have taken 4 trips with a total $$ outlay of $1600.00 for accommodations. With one maintenance fee and then the exchange fees for 28 days of travel that gets my nightly rate down to about $58 for a suite with a full kitchen. My whole point is that it isn’t for everyone, but if you learn how to use it, it can work. And, to your point of when you aren’t traveling things being wasted….there are options to not lose your time. In the 15 years that I have owned my timeshare, I may have lost one week of time. It does take a little effort to use, but for me it is completely worth it. It isn’t a scam just because people don’t understand how to use it.

        1. I agree that you have to figure out what works for you. There are those who just want a place to stay. There are other who want certain amenities. View and location for others are key to where they will stay. The one and only timeshare sales I sat through still has me laughing. What a joke in the exchange properties. We were at a 4 star property and they were showing us 2 star exchanges thinking we would eat it up because those places were right on the beach. Suckers are born everyday and that is why these timeshares exist.

          1. You know I could have a conversation about it except for your last comment about suckers. Again, it isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t make people who do use them and do get value out of them Suckers. Maybe, I could argue that if you pay for a 4 star hotel then you are the sucker. I wouldn’t, because if that is how you like to travel and it works for you then great!! Have a wonderful day 🙂

          2. Sorry, but most who buy into these, just like the OP’s are suckers. It isn’t 100%, so you are in the minority who it works for. I know too many who are stuck with a lousy deal but they are to blame. Out of all who I know who have timeshares, I only know one who has a good deal and actually uses it like you do, so I know they can work, but I also know that a lot of the accommodations are not very good. We aren’t talking Hyatt we are talking Quality Inn level.

            Having sold accommodations for decades to clients, I know there are those who are satisfied with so-so places to stay and others want deluxe. You have to know your likes and you have to know what your options in exchanges are. You don’t stay at Hyatt at Incline then get up at the Calinda in Acapulco on an exchange.

            You sound like my mother regarding your view on deluxe properties. She stays at a $55 a night place, blocks from the beach and we stay at a $300-$700 a night place depending on the number of bedrooms we need that is beach front. You pay for location in water destinations.

          3. Just because someone doesn’t understand what they purchased doesn’t make them suckers or it a scam. I’m not sure where you are talking about so so places, I always stay at very nice resorts. I would put most of the places that I have stayed in the category of a 3 to 4 star hotel. As with anything, the quality can vary. I personally have never stayed in a bad place. Most are nice or nicer than most hotels I have stayed in. And, for me the added value of the kitchen makes it work for me. But, again…I wouldn’t pay the types of prices you quote to stay at the beach because it just doesn’t make sense to me. If you enjoy that, that is awesome!!! I wouldn’t call you a sucker for paying those kinds of prices. So for a week of vacation on the water, you are paying at the prices you quoted anywhere from $2100 to $5000. For one week of your vacation, I purchased a timeshare and have taken at least 15 vacations. It works for me. If what you are doing works for you, that’s great!!!

          4. So if they aren’t suckers, then they are stupid, but I don’t think the latter. The are just gullible people thinking and reacting before really having time to think it through. Dangle the extras, that don’t always materialize, in front of those who need to make a decision right now or lose those extras and smart people become suckers. Too many stories abound.

          5. I totally agree that people should make informed decisions. Timeshares do try to add all the goodies to make people make a impulse buy. And seriously, it isn’t for everyone. I know someone who bough one and has never used it.

          1. I won’t give you the exact figure, but I have owned it for more than 15 years and purchased for less than 10K. It is paid off. I have taken on average at least one vacation a year since purchase. I will take on average one vacation per year going forward. So for me it works. My point is, they aren’t scams….It just has to be for you. A lot of people purchase and have no idea what they are purchasing and don’t take the time to figure out how to use it and then say it is a scam. Just because it doesn’t work for someone, doesn’t make it a scam. That’s all.

          2. I appreciate that you decline to provide the exact number. I am sure though that you can also appreciate that none of the numbers you provide are usefull without that critical piece of information. Specifically, when you state that you paid $58 per room compared to someone else’s $200/nt, the comparison is invalid without considering the initial capital outlay

            But honestly the reason why I consider time shares a scam is a combination of

            1. High pressure tactics, and
            2. Recurring allegations of false information presented

          3. I am not going to share my financial details with you. Factoring in the amount that I paid for the unit only makes the nightly rate for this year go to about $70 per night. Again, there are a lot of happy people who own timeshare, I meet them when I travel. They took the time to learn what they own and know how to use it and they use it. Bottom line, if you use it, it is worth it. If you don’t and you want to travel a different way that is fine also. It is about preferences. That is all.

          4. Again, I appreciate you not wanting to give the specifics of your purchase. But the consequence is that it’s hard to accept your assertion.

          5. I have no reason to lie to you. I did state that I paid under 10k for my unit. And I did offer that I recalculated the price I paid into the nightly fee. Considering that I have owned for 15 years, I took the amount that I paid divided by 15 and the took that figure and added it to the $1600 for this past year. When I took that into consideration it only took the nightly figure for this year to $70 per night over the previous amount of $58 per night. I only share this to indicate that this works for me, I don’t think that it is fair to label it as a scam or the people who purchase as suckers.
            As with anything in life you need to do research, learn how to use what you have purchased. And finally like I have said…it isn’t for everyone. But again, just because someone purchased and doesn’t understand how to use it that does not mean that it is a scam. They are simply not informed properly. That is all. Have a wonderful day 🙂 P.S. I will be going on another vacation soon 😉

          6. Hi Katt

            I didn’t suggest that you are lying. I believe you. However, you could be making a mistake in your calculation as you did when you initially failed to include the cost of the capital acquisition in your nightly rate.

            Additionally, as you further explained, itt became clear that you failing to include the foregone interest (15 years worth) had you not made the initial purchase. That’s why the specific numbers are important.

            Moreover, we cannot make a comparison between the places that you stayed against the places where Mark stayed because we have no information one way or the other. Different properties, different times of year…price comparison are meaningless without these details.

            As far as whether or not they are scams. We can only apply some financial principals.

            1. The harder the sell, the worse the deal
            2. Consistent allegations of misrepresentation
            3. The low utility that many seem to get from them
            4. The onerous, one-sided, deceptive contracts

            When I consider the totality of the situation, combined with my own experiences in being lied to and almost tricked into a presentation, I must conclude that a timeshare is a scam.

          7. Well, that is your opinion and your experience. There are a lot of other people who have had different experiences and have different opinions. So at this point we will just have to agree to disagree and I will say have a wonderful life 🙂

  25. I always find that you leave out one last option Chris. The State Attourney General’s office. I believe each state has this appointed or elected office. I do not care how legitimate and legal or slimey and sleezy an offer is, if you have been wronged in your own mind, fill out a complaint form. It is usally free. I have had Apple Vacations back down on refunding an absolutely non-refundable tour for a customer. I have personally had a free IPAD (16 whole gigs) given to me from an auto dealer with a you have just won ticket, and they went after a North Carolina Wal-Greens (lost that one) for lieing about health insurance. And this is a little WV office. They listen to the complaints of their constituants with out having to go out and hiring a 1000.00/hour lawyer. By the way, Tali, Chris is correct. Buy a time share for its ability to be used, (they may for some, not many be a great investment based on terms). Never for the bonus points which were the hook, and you swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

  26. While I am usually hard hearted about these things, I also say to mediate. And Buchman SHOULD dispute the charge – it may prod Shell into giving her at least a partial refund.
    I once spoke to a guy who used to work doing timeshares sales and he told me was told to lie through his teeth to get a contract signed, as the only binding contract is the one the client signs and then anything else becomes “he said she said”. He claimed he quit after a month because he just couldn’t lie to people.

    When will people learn if they don’t get it in writing, they aren’t getting it????? Don’t they realize that the exact reason they do not give you time to think over a contract (although I believe that by law you get 48 or 72 hours to cancel) is because once you do your homework, the deal isn’t such a deal anymore????

    1. The cooling off period for a contract is mostly an anachronism. It only exists if there is a specific law that mandates one. You see them most commonly when a merchant comes to your home.

  27. My husband and I got suckered into a timeshare presentation in Cabo San Lucas several years ago, and we kept saying no and the price got lower and we kept saying no, and finally the woman gave up and said “you really wouldn’t fit in here anyway”. What an insult!!! We have laughed over this many times–I guess we’re really not quality people!

  28. We were contacted by Massanutten resort a while back about attending a presentation there. We did. It was high pressure but we resisted. They still gave us the promised gift card and the free return visit to stay there for three nights (which we really enjoyed). They didn’t try to sell us anything when we returned. Even though we are not customers, it really seems that it’s a legitimate operation. Massanutten is not Wyndham however Wyndham is a respected brand. I can’t imagine they would be any different. Of course it is IS possible that the salesman forgot the script and offered something he shouldn’t have, and I think that’s the deciding factor. I think you should mediate and hear Shell’s side of the story.

  29. You can certainly try to mediate, Chris, but I think the LWs will have to sue before they’ll get anything back-and that assumes that they really weren’t given any of the bad news before they signed up and committed themselves. I don’t think that you’ll get anywhere.

  30. Sad to know there are still people who don’t know how to run a calculator and will fork over a large sum of money without the facts presented in writing. But yes please do help them; after all, they’re the ones who need your help the most!

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