Timeshares are even worse than I thought

On the latest episode of his show Last week Tonight, John Oliver explains why timeshares (where one buys a period of time, say a week or so a year, on a property at a resort) is a terrible idea. He says that timeshares have been so widely ridiculed that pretty much everyone who bought one is now embarrassed that they got suckered into doing so. But they should also be skeptical of companies that say that they can get them out of their timeshares, for a fee of course, because they can be scams.

I was once staying at a hotel and was invited to attend a presentation in one of their hospitality suites with the promise of a free gift or lunch or something in return for sitting through a presentation. Such ‘free’ offers are always a warning sign and since I knew about timeshares, I declined. Besides, I couldn’t see the appeal of committing myself to go to the same place every year. But on another occasion my in-laws visiting the US went to Atlantic City. Being unaware of timeshares and this kind of pressure sales tactic, they succumbed to such an invitation and had to endure a long high-pressure sales pitch. My father-in-law finally managed to get away by repeatedly saying that he had to consult his son-in-law (me) before he could make any purchase. It was not true, of course but it worked to get the salesperson to finally let them go.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    A friend of mine from uni was once accosted by a timeshare salesperson in the street. He and his then-girlfriend, now wife, were offered a WEEK in Spain, free, on the proviso they spent a day being sold at. He accepted. They were flown out to Spain, and had an agreeable week in a nice apartment, self-catered, near a beach. The sale day came, they rode a coach out to some remote location, and were shut in a windowless room with a bunch of other people and were presented to for some time. Then a salesperson had the two of them in a room on their own.
    As he relates, his partner simply declined to talk at all, merely looking at him and raising her eyebrows whenever addressed. He, on the other hand, was happy to talk -- to describe how this really wasn’t the sort of holiday they’d usually go on, how they had no interest in visiting Spain ever again now they’d seen it, and on and on at length about how the sales people were entirely wasting their time. As he tells it, they got quite upset, but by the end of the day everyone piled back into the coach and went back. They had an agreeable rest of the week, and indeed to my knowledge have never been to Spain since.
    I think he appreciated the opportunity to get one over on them. I know people often think they’ll be able to resist high pressure sales tactics, but crumble when actually put in the position. With this guy however they had very much picked entirely the wrong target.
    To be honest, in 2023 I’m amazed anyone over the age of about 15 doesn’t instantly say “no thanks to scams” when they hear the word “timeshare”.

  2. Jazzlet says

    I think it really does depend on the property, and on what kind of holiday you enjoy. My SiL and BiL have a timeshare built in an abandoned slate quarry in Langdale in the English Lake District, which they bought some time in the 1980s. They are walkers and have been going to the Lakes for over fifity years so by the time they bought the timeshare they already knew they would be happy to return, indeed now they are retired they go somewhere in the Lakes several times a year. The property, both the building and the grounds are well thought out in terms of privacy, management of the water from all of the rain is both practical -- the river rose at least 60cm overnight when we were there in January -- and beautiful, it is all carefully maintained -- again in January there were a couple of guys clearing moss from the gutters (it slides off the rooves in heavy rain) of the buildings to stop them getting blocked and causing damp walls -- internally the buildings are again beautifully designed, constructed and renovated as needed. You can do many walks staight from the door to the summits and ridges they loved in their younger days to the lower level walks they they usually do now they are in their later seventies, and of course there is the car if they want to visit somewhere too far to walk. In their forty odd years of going there they have never yet had to resort to the Pencil Museum on a rainy day. They do go other places too, but still look forward to the timeshare week in the Lakes and still find different walks to enjoy.

  3. Jazzlet says

    sonofrojblake it is pretty amazing, all the lodges are slate faced with lot of exposed wood, but with all you could want in the way of appliances, fancy bathrooms, a drying room which inevitably in the Lakes in March gets a lot of use 😉 mature thoughtfully planted grounds including rreally old oaks, and all that glorious walking on the doorstep. The only “problem” with it is no dogs, which is why we (me and me bloke) went a few times in the early ninties, but then not again until this year.

  4. says

    I never would have heard of “timeshares” in the first place, were it not for all those TV and radio ads for schemes to “get out of your timeshare.”

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