How Did Timeshares Get Such a Bad Rap?

(The picture with this article is the New Hampshire timeshare my wife and I are currently staying in the week I wrote and published this article. The room has four beds, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room. The grounds have two clay tennis courts, indoor pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, great fitness room, two game rooms, a theater with a live production of the play Harvey, fishing, hiking trails, and an onsite restaurant. It cost us $591 for the week ($60/night) to trade my timeshare for this one. This cost includes our original purchase price of my unit in New Orleans, yearly maintenance fee, RCI membership fee, and the fee for the trade. The comfort Inn a few blocks away is $183/night + tax.)

Most of the time when I hear people saying bad things about timeshares, I discover the commenter has never owned a timeshare themself. They have no first-hand knowledge of timeshares and are simply repeating what they heard someone else say. The person they heard it from may or may not have owned a timeshare. This leads to a perpetuation of misinformation.

At other times the person didn’t qualify to purchase a timeshare or didn’t know how to use it, so they had a bad experience and blamed it on the timeshare.

Most people tend to talk about their bad experiences. Those who are having good experiences don’t tend to pass on that positive information. Bad news sells. Pay attention the next time you watch the news and see how often the newscaster tells a fun and uplifting story. 

But there is some merit to the bad taste timeshares leave with some people. But this blame does not fall on the timeshare. The chief cause of bad feelings about timeshares is the way they are sold! 

The tactics used by many timeshare salespeople are atrocious. The reason for the pushy sales is the huge commission made from each sale. For that reason, never go to a timeshare presentation unless you like that sort of thing or are truly considering purchasing a timeshare at that specific location. But, since timeshares are not location specific, don’t get caught up in a certain one. I go on vacation to have a good time. Pushy salesmen are not my idea of a good time. 

Those who trade their timeshare sometimes experience the high-pressured sales force when they check into a timeshare. That resort will frequently attempt to persuade you to attend a presentation to sell you an additional timeshare. Often this happens while receiving your “parking pass.” Tell them you have enough timeshares and have had a long travel day, you’re tired, and you want to get to your room to relax. You might have to tell them two of three times. Once you have your parking pass, you will usually be left alone to enjoy your vacation.

The resort will try to entice you to attend their presentation with a “free” gift. However, if the gift was truly free, they would just give it to you at check-in. It’s not actually a free gift—you must exchange your time to get it. 

If you choose to sign up for a presentation because you really want the gift, sometimes the salesperson will take you to a remote location, in their vehicle, so you can’t leave until they are finished with their presentation. Then they give you a very aggressive sales pitch that is often filled with questionable promises and finish by pushing hard for the close. If you say no or you tell them you will think about it, they bring in the second team. You will not be able to go back to your vacation unit until they are sure you can’t be talked into buying. You could be tied up for well over two hours. It is an experience you want to avoid unless you truly are interested in purchasing a timeshare at that location.

Not all sales teams are this aggressive; some are very pleasant. They may serve a meal in addition to your gift for attending. I recently attended one of the presentations to see how it was at that location. It was nice. I had breakfast and spent an hour learning about what they offered and there was no pressure. Some places are better than others.

I once gave a timeshare vacation to my mother and my son, Keith. They went together for a grandma/grandson adventure. The “parking pass” guy booked them into the timeshare sales presentation. Keith and my mom agreed to go because they wanted to get the $200 gift card for their time. 

When they arrived at the presentation, it was noted that a grandma/grandson combination was not the demographic they were looking for to buy a timeshare. They are looking for a married couple, over the age of 25, with enough income to cover the monthly payments of a new timeshare. Grandma was married, but her spouse was not present, and Keith was under 25 on summer break from college. I explain in A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare why these are not the demographics one should use to purchase a timeshare.

It was only after eating a nice breakfast and arriving at the sales meeting and being assigned a salesperson that the error was noted. Instead of wasting time with a big presentation that was not going to pay off, the salesperson just gave them the $200 gift card and went after another target. It turned out to be a great deal for my mom and Keith.

I have been to a few sales presentations, mostly when I was younger and wanted to get the free stuff they were giving away. But after I grew a little older, wiser, and wealthier, I no longer chose to trade my time for the gift they were giving, no matter the value. I preferred to get on with enjoying my vacation. There was also no way to tell which presentations would be aggressive and which would be pleasant. 

No one likes a pushy salesperson. Not when buying a car, boat, house, or timeshare. Avoid them and you will have a great time on your timeshare vacation.

If you want to buy a timeshare, do so by picking one up on the secondary market. This will avoid the push salesforce and the high retail price of vacation ownership. A timeshare that sells for $30,000 at the sales meeting can be purchased for $2,000 or less on the secondary market.

The secondary market exists because the wrong people are talked into buying timeshares by those pushy salespeople. Be sure you meet the qualifications I lay out in my timeshare book, if you do, you will be a happy timeshare owner. Here is a link to an article I wrote about some of the real qualifications you should meet before considering buying a timeshare

A great example is when someone gets talked into buying a timeshare who only has two weeks of vacation a year. They do not have enough vacation time to enjoy timeshare ownership. After going to a class reunion, a family reunion, a camping trip, and a visit to their mother’s house, there is no vacation time left to use their timeshare. 

Even if they don’t use their timeshare, they still must pay the annual fee for the property upkeep, also known as a maintenance fee. Paying a fee for something you don’t use is exasperating. Then they start bad mouthing the timeshare as if it was the timeshares fault they purchased something they didn’t have the band width to use. 

The right person who knows how to use their timeshare will have a great time taking their family on low-cost vacations to very nice places. It costs me less than $600 a week for top quality resort accommodations when I use my timeshare. This price drops with each vacation I take since the purchase price of my timeshare is included in this figure.

Get the facts from someone who is successfully using their timeshare, and there are lots of these people. They know how to make timeshare vacationing a success. Your uncle Bob’s neighbor, who has a timeshare he hasn’t used for the last five years, is not a source of useful advice. 

Before considering a timeshare, please read A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare so you can do it right and at a low cost. Do it right and you will have many years of family fun with your timeshare. Vacations are a terrible thing to waste. 

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