Why is the internet so full of news of timeshare scams? Everyone has some story of being ripped off or coerced into buying something they didn’t want. Let’s straighten things out by first working out exactly what timeshare is and what it is NOT.
Timeshare is “the arrangement whereby several people have the right to use a property as a vacation home under a time-sharing agreement.”
Timeshare is an opportunity to stay at resorts and hotels which would normally be beyond your holiday budget or to feel like you own a holiday home for a fraction of the cost. Timeshare also creates a reason to take your holiday instead of putting it off because of other commitments. There are pros and cons and timeshare is right for some but not others.
So why do so many people think timeshare is an absolute scam?
Firstly, their idea of timeshare is wrong. Timeshare is not an investment; the very definition above gives some clues here. Timeshare is not an ownership; people who have a timeshare have “the right to use a property”. Does that sound like something you can sell for a profit? There is a resale market for timeshares, but imagining you will get the same rate as a top company, which must charge you for staff, marketing and resort developer costs, is ludicrous.
The second complaint I hear about timeshare being absolute scam is this; “They forced me to pay $10,000 for something I don’t want!” Who are these people? Timeshare is not a magical force which causes you to lose all sense of what you want and how your finances are shaping up. Timeshare salesmen may occasionally be pushy, but are that many people so meek that they are literally forced to hand over their credit card? I imagine them cowering under desks, in tears, scared not to buy, with big demonic salesmen towering over them as in some kind of comedy caricature. Shall we start providing assertiveness courses for people who can’t say no to a holiday scheme they don’t even want? Indeed, those who do not have enough investment capital or do not need a vacation property of any sort, have the power to simply say no and leave a timeshare presentation, even if that would mean saying no to a luring presentation freebie.
Third, the aforementioned resale market…well here we have a problem. There are a great deal of scams occurring in the resale market, but mostly for sellers. Anyone looking to do the very sensible thing of buying a second hand timeshare can get very good rates.
For sellers – a little research should enable you to discover if a timeshare broker is legitimate.
Here are some rules to help you avoid resale timeshare scams:
1) Be sceptical of resellers claiming the market is great and they have hundreds of buyer requests.
2) Don’t make an agreement over the phone, instead get all information about their offer in writing.
3) Research the reseller thoroughly. Do an online search for complaints and check with the timeshare users’ group.
4) Only do business with licensed real estate brokers and agents.
5) Pay only after your unit is sold, never pay upfront fees.
So, timeshares offer the right choice for some people and are entirely unsuitable for others. The main thing is to buy from an established company or from a reputed reseller. Remember, luxury holidays aren’t cheap and often timeshares aren’t either. Do the math and see if it’s right for you.
Photo: Justine V.