Timeshares: a public service announcement

A short while back, one of my mom’s friends asked her to pass on a message to me:  the friend wanted to know if I’d like to buy her timeshare.

After an initial moment of disbelief, I replied hell no and took great offense that this person would insult my intelligence for even posing such a ridiculous offer to me as if I was some ignorant old world barbarian.

Begin rant:

I can’t believe that it’s 2018 and I’m having to write this, but here goes.

Apparently, there are still quite a lot of grown ass adults walking around modern day society who, in all their years of living, have not learned important facts about timeshares and why they should be avoided like the Plague.

To begin with the absolute basics so everyone is on board:  What is a timeshare?  A timeshare is an ownership model where a piece of property is used as a vacation home by several different people who take turns inhabiting it.  Example:  you buy a timeshare at a beach house on the South Carolina coast.  For a week or so every year, that beach house is yours to use.  After you leave, another family who also purchased a timeshare in the same house arrives and uses the property for their allotted time, and so forth.

Basically, you pay a chunk of money to a company who owns a house, and you share the use of that house with dozens of other people who also paid their own chunks of money for the same rights.

Sounds pretty lame right?  Even if I was completely unaware of any of the many pitfalls of timeshares (which I will go into shortly), I would never entertain the thought of paying money for an arrangement like this.  First of all, who the hell wants to vacation in the exact same place each and every year in perpetuity?  How boring would that be by the time year #3 rolled around?  No thank you.  Also, why would I want to pay to share a house with a bunch of strangers who I don’t know anything about?  What if they’re a bunch of dirty slobs or people who smoke cigarettes indoors or deviants who have nightly orgies in the house?  Do you really think an underpaid cleaning service working for a faceless property owner is going to clean all that up adequately?  Hell nah.  Hellllllll nah.  At least with a hotel, if you discover it’s substandard you never have to return to that same property again.  You’re not bound to it contractually for life.

Timeshares are not only one of the worst financial decisions a person can make, for most normal people they’re one of the worst life decisions a person can make.  Once you sign the contract, there are generally two ways to get rid of the timeshare:  either transfer it to another person or die.  Reselling a timeshare as a private owner is very difficult to do, and it’s even a challenge to give away a timeshare for free.  Which means the most consistent way to get rid of a timeshare is death.

Think about that.

Want some real time evidence?  If you’re looking to make some bad decisions, go here and you can choose among a variety of timeshare resells that you can get for one dollar.  **Seriously though please don’t do that.

Why are timeshares one of the worst things in existence?  Here are some reasons:

1) Once you sign an agreement and acquire a timeshare, it’s not easy to get rid of.  As mentioned above, other than death, the only other method is to sell it to some other fool who has never been warned about timeshares.  Though with information easily found online, there are fewer suckers out there than there used to be.  If you somehow unload your timeshare onto someone else, I hope it’s not a friend because they will hate you forever once they learn what has happened.

2) Maintenance fees and taxes.  Buying a timeshare isn’t a one time lump sum payment.  Whether you actually use the property or not, you are responsible for annual payments of maintenance fees.  These payments never end and invariably increase as time goes on.  It is because of these fees that remorseful buyers often cannot give away their timeshares for free.  No one wants to add a recurring annual expense of significant dollars to their lives which only ceases upon death.

3) Lack of flexibility.  Do you enjoy eating the exact same thing for dinner every day?  Neither do I.  I also don’t like the idea of being forced to vacation in the same spot every single year.  To be fair, there are ways to exchange timeshares with other timeshare owners so you can mix up the locale once in a while.  Let’s be real though:  do you really want to go through all that every time you want to take some time off work?  Sounds like a complicated pain in the ass that is totally not worth my time or energy.

If you’re ever invited to a timeshare dinner, do yourself a favor and don’t go.  In exchange for a sales pitch and several soul crushing hours of your life that you will never get back, you usually get a complimentary fancy meal and some other free gifts like gift certificates or amusement park tickets.  These are high pressure presentations given by trained salesmen who are very good at what they do.  Unless you are the rare type of person who is unnaturally immune to peer pressure and aggressive sales tactics, it’s not worth the risk.  Stay away.

To provide some balance to this post, I will acknowledge that there is a small portion of the population that may benefit from having a timeshare.  If you enjoy vacationing in the exact same place year after year, do not like change, are content with an inflexible schedule, don’t mind the hassle of switching time slots or locations with other timeshare owners on the occasion you do want something different, and are okay with being locked into a contract for life, then you may want to consider looking at one of these on the resale market.  Really though, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I highly doubt any of you fit this profile.

So what if you’ve already bought a timeshare and you want to get rid of it?  Sorry, but this article isn’t for you.  As far as I know, you’re stuck with it, and my deepest condolences.  I wrote this for the reader who somehow, against all odds, has never heard all the warnings about timeshare scams.  I hope that you use this information to avoid making a terrible decision.

Want to have a great vacation on the beach?  Stay at a hotel.  You pay your money, you get a nice room for a week, and you leave.  End of transaction.  Easy, clean, and simple.  You can’t put a price on freedom, and I’d rather pay a little more money than get financially shackled for life.

End rant.



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