Are time-shares money down the drain?

A friend of mine is thinking about buying a time-share. I suggested that if he was seriously thinking about it, he should think again.

You’ve probably seen the ads on late night TV. “Own a fabulous time share in paradise for only a few dollars.” And you don’t need to worry about getting bored with the location you bought, because you can trade your time in Rogerville for time in Hawaii, California, Florida or the Bahamas. (Why do you think the industry came up with this trade out deal? Because everybody was so deliriously happy with their purchase and the time-shares were so easy to sell?) The promos sound great don’t they? Advertising messages usually do. They know how to play to our greed, our fantasies and our stupidity. And why do they do it? Consider hotel time shares that cost $10,000 per week to purchase. Lets see; $10,000 times 52 weeks per year equals $520,000.00 per room! Then they earn all the other associated maintenance, association and use fees as well. Do you think this could be profitable for the time-share company? Ya think?

If you’ve ever been to a high pressure time-share sales pitch where you are in a big room with other people who are regretting  having fallen for the “free stay if you sit through our pitch” ploy, you may have noticed an unusual  activity.  You might even have wondered, “Why, when someone buys a time share, do they announce the buyer overhead like they just won the lottery, blow whistles, uncork champagne and every body claps like mad?” Because hype sells. Excitement sells. “I can be special too” sells. “I want people to clap for me” sells. I’ve been there, and as I suspect you already know, I didn’t buy.

The bottom line is that the purchase price of a time share is only the tip of the financial iceberg. Hidden below the beautiful blue water is the monstrosity that actually keeps the beautiful white tip above water. There are the title charges, transfer fees, ongoing forever maintenance fees, taxes, , association dues and then the use fees for when you are actually in the time share unit. About two decades ago I had a friend let me “use” their time-share in Hawaii. By the time I was done paying the cleaning fees, the use fee and the nickle & dime whatever else they charged me fees, I had paid more than I would have had I stayed at a suite hotel on the island, complete with a kitchen and daily maid service. So I guess you could say that I have a bad attitude. (After all, you can say anything you like. I do. Right here in this blog.) That was my last time at a time-share.

In the interest of fairness, maybe things have changed in the last 20 years. Maybe they are all they are claiming to be. Maybe they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. My problem is that the advertising is the same, the promotion is the same and so I’m thinking that everything else might be the same too. But then again maybe I’m a little cynical. Ya think?

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