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Timeshare Nightmares

Timeshare Nightmares: Don't Let This Happen to You

If you’ve booked a trip to Las Vegas, a Florida vacation destination or the Mexican Riviera, the odds are that upon checking into your hotel, you’ll be offered anything from free breakfast, lunch or dinner to Disney World tickets just for attending a “90-minute sales presentation.”

If you agree, by sheer magic, 90 minutes will morph into half a day or an evening, and could — doesn’t have to, but could — place a financial harness around your neck that will be difficult to remove if you sign their timeshare contract, for that’s what they want you to buy, a vacation timeshare.

“Right after signin`he contract — or years later — most will come to realize that buying the timeshare was the worst financial mistake of their lives,” says Scott Morse, director of operations at Resort Release. The Rockford, Ill.-based company, rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, is dedicated to helping owners “become free from the never-ending expense that timeshare ownership means.”

A timeshare is a property — typically in a resort condominium development — where buyers acquire the right to use a unit or a similar accommodation for a specific period of time, typically a week or two once a year. So, each condo will have many owners, each acquiring a deed for their fractional interest. With other properties, a buyer has a right to use the property, but does not actually own a share of it. Finally, some timeshare companies just sell points that may be used at properties all over the world.

Worldwide over 20 million people own timeshares, according to market research firm Ragatz Associates. While there can be valid reasons to own one – such as forcing yourself to take a vacation with the family as you paid to use your little piece of paradise — at some point, many owners will regret ever hearing the word timeshare.

A Bottomless Pit into Which You Pour Money

If you tend to speak like a 2-year-old — when every word uttered is “No!” — then it’s probably safe for you to attend a timeshare presentation. But for anyone else, the chance at a free lunch or theme park tickets may not be worth spending hours of your time listening to sales claims such as, “It’s a great investment which will increase in value, beat ever-increasing hotel rates, yield family fun, and can be left to your heirs.”

Statements such as those are red flags, says Morse, because the reality is something else entirely.

“One of the many lies is that these are investments and can be sold for more than what you paid for it. This is complete nonsense as they are never a financial investment. They are a bottomless pit into which you pour money forever, and most have no resale value. With their never-ending yearly maintenance fees, they become the most expensive hotel rooms you could ever book.”

In fact, some owners are willing to give them away in order to stop paying these fees, he points out, adding, “Just search ‘Buy My Time Share for One Dollar.’”

Brandon Haber