The Timeshare Tell

by Alex Hutchins

Grand Mayan Resort, Los Cabos San Jose, Mexico

Imagine yourself in a restaurant, sitting at a table for 4, so close to the table behind you that if you pushed your chair back to stand up, you would hit the chair at the next table.  As you survey the room you see that all tables are full with 3 people:  a couple (of varying ages and descriptions) sitting opposite a male or female with open notebooks.  There is a wall of glass all around you, as each table has a view of the ocean.  It is very noisy as waiters scurry from table to table with drinks as either males or females (never both) lean against the wall looking from side to side as a rancher might do looking over the herd to be slaughtered.

It is an awesome spectacle . . .

Now,  imagine each couple with glazed-over eyes, dressed for a day at the pool, listening to the third person at the table smiling like a possum eating something that smells a lot like “shit,” like 2 deer standing in the middle of the road, with a blank looking, facing a pair of headlights bearing down on them.

It is a frightening experience . . .

And finally, imagine a 4th person approaching the table (the one who was previously leaning against the wall) and once there and seated, immediately starts talking like a “barker” at a circus while looking into the female’s eyes while writing, perfectly, upside down.  The words that flow from his mouth are with the same fluid movement as waves crashing onto a rocky shoreline and are pulled back out to sea just as fast in terms of understanding and meaning.  This upside down writing, is . . .

 “The Timeshare Tell . . .”

It is an experience unlike anything you have ever encountered before and perhaps a little worse, when experienced overseas, especially in Mexico at the typical tourist spots like:  Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, etc.

Timeshares while varying in dimensions are basically apartments or hotel rooms that are either studios or 1 to 2 bedrooms in size and can either be sold for a fixed week or can be sold for points that can be used anytime.  Each unit is sold 52 times (one time for each week of the year) with a contract that cannot exceed 25 years but which can be renewed 3 times for a total of 100 years.  Maintenance Fees that increase with the size of the unit, are paid either annually or upon use.  Exchange Fees are paid when owners want to use their week (or points) at another resort.  In order to make the exchange, owners must go through either RCI or II which manages the available inventory from their respective member resorts and it is to them that these Exchange Fees are paid.

The amenities at these resorts are literally beyond one’s imagination and all of one’s needs are, without exception, catered to for a fee which in many cases is substantial.  The average, middle class couple can live like the wealthy live for a week or two as long as they are willing the pay the per unit per week selling price of $30,000 to $75,000 along with annual or usage fees of $400 to $1,200 along with the cost of meals which is typically 2-3 times what you would be paying at home for the same or similar meal.  Then, there are the cost of taxi service, tips for everything, and excursions that range from petting dolphins to snorkeling to diving, to city tours ranging from $100 to $200 per person.

When buying a timeshare in the US, our salespersons typically leave crucial information out while assuming (quite intentionally) that couples new to the timeshare experience know just as much as they do; whereas, buying timeshares overseas, especially with our closest neighbors, Mexico; well, this sales force with flat-out lie to you.   Interestingly, most of the timeshare sales force is managed by an American and typically one with a degrees in finance or with an MBA.

Once timeshares are sold, they depreciate in value worse than buying a used car and driving it off the lot.  The typical profile for timeshare owners is married, both spouses working, combined income of $30-50,000, with an interest in taking 2-4 weeks of vacation, not just with each other but with family and friends.

When you purchase a timeshare, you are providing the builder with cash to build the next unit but that little detail is very seldom explained, because knowing it would mean that they resort they are showing you is basically sold out and the odds at vacationing there are against you which is why you must trade out and go somewhere else which basically costs you more money because the territory is unknown.

After a year or two of timeshare
vacationing, 75-80% of all
timeshare owners have their unit(s)
up for sale and builders have
 instructed their sales force
 to look for “fresh new meat.” 

Timeshares are typically sold for 1/3 their purchase value.

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