Scams To Watch Out For When Buying A Timeshare
Timeshares might sound like a great idea at first. After all, you get to visit lots of exotic locations for an affordable price, and you can use your points to give your friends and family the same opportunities. The problem is that in reality, timeshares are a losing proposition. Don’t be tricked by these scams into paying too much money on something that’s essentially worthless! Here are the scams to watch out for when buying a timeshare:
1. The “all-inclusive” timeshare resort.
Many timeshare resorts claim to be an ‘all-inclusive’ resort. They let you buy into their timeshare program, but then they will take your money and lease you a vacation time share at a different resort. They may even charge you additional fees that you never agreed to pay, like cleaning fees or resort fees, and they may even kick you out of the time share at the end of your vacation if you run low on funds. The problem is that other resorts have their own set of costs associated with them and each month those costs are added onto your guest fee in addition to other expenses that guests normally incur when staying there. So the resort you are told is an all-inclusive resort, really isn’t.
2. The upscale condo salesperson.
Some salespeople actually offer a timeshare without having owned a timeshare before, but with the promise that they know how to get you an immediate sale and will also help improve your position in the timeshare for later resale purposes. These people are known to tell a lot of lies about their knowledge of timeshares and can be very convincing at first. Yet once you purchase one of their timeshares, they have no interest in your success and will not provide any support or other knowledgeable assistance unless you sign up for additional services that could put more money into their own pockets (see below).
3. The cash-for-keys scam.
Some timeshare operators, known as “Keyshare Resorts”, will allow renters to sign a contract for a timeshare for a lower price than what the advertised price is and then sell them the keys to the unit by telling them that they can use the unit whenever they want. But, in reality, once you hand over payment for the keys to the property, you have no control over who may be staying there or how much they will spend on those stays. If you are not aware of this when you first sign up for a timeshare, it’s very easy to fall victim to this scam.
4. The hidden fees scam.
There are many hidden fees when dealing with timeshare companies that you need to be aware of when deciding if a timeshare is right for you. These fees can sometimes be rolled into the cost of the unit, so it’s important to review the contract carefully and ask questions about everything before signing anything. The most common fees you’ll encounter include:
Resort Fees – These are the fees that are assessed to your timeshare each month in exchange for the privilege to stay at the resort. If you do not pay these, then you may be removed from the property and your costs will be much higher.
Maintenance Fees – These are costs that you pay when it’s time to maintain or upgrade your unit. They can be hundreds, even thousands of dollars per week, depending on the time of year and other factors. If maintenance fees aren’t paid, then your unit will not be taken care of. In some cases, it can lead to eviction from the property.
Booking Fees – These are fees that you pay to be a member of a timeshare association. They may include time-share subscriptions, annual dues, and special membership benefits.
Optional Dues – If you choose to purchase additional credits for other expenses, these credit hours may be significantly more expensive than the cost of just using the credits directly yourself. So even if an optional credit is cheaper than using something else on your own, you will end up paying twice as much in hidden fees and taxes. You can also burn through these credits quickly in order to cover unexpected expenses such as airfare or food during your stay.
Administrative Fees – These fees are charged by the company to process any new reservations or changes to your account before being charged. They also may be included in other hidden fees as well.
5. The timeshare resell scam.
When you buy a timeshare, you sign up for a contract that allows you to make future payments towards your unit, but with the option to stay in it for a specified amount of time or until it’s paid off completely. Sometimes, you can choose to put the timeshare on the market and resell it yourself so that you can try to recoup some of your costs and then buy something new. What you’re told when you’re signing up is that other timeshare owners are interested in buying your timeshare. Yet once you put your unit on the market, chances are very small that you will actually sell it to another owner because most owners just want to use their timeshares themselves. If chosen, these owners will likely charge much higher rates than what they paid for their units initially; so if they do want to buy it from you, they will be looking for a great deal. In some cases, they won’t even show up to make the purchase. Many timeshare companies use this as a means of driving up the cost for their customers who are trying to sell their time shares. It’s not until after you have tried selling your timeshare that you’re then told about ways to sell it off quickly by using their services.
6. The Inflated Sales Pitch
While there are indeed legitimate timeshare companies offering great deals, you should be very wary if a salesperson is trying to sell you a timeshare at a vastly inflated price. If this happens, the easiest thing to do is walk away. It’s unlikely that the salesperson will follow you, but if they do, don’t let them back in your life. If it’s not worth the money for you, then it’s not worth the salesperson’s time or yours.
Buying a timeshare is a major purchase, and it’s important that no matter what you do, you follow your instinct. Trusting your gut has never been more pertinent than when buying a timeshare.
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