What is Timeshare?

Timeshares and the Time Share Industry

Ahhh yes….timeshares. It’s a grand idea that actually started in England back at a time (the 1960’s) when Europe was just started to realize that WW2 was over and that prosperity was back. The Cold War was ‘on’ but generally speaking the Western world economy was healthy, consumers had money to spend and they wanted to enjoy life.

In it’s original form, 4 families would band together and purchase a nice cottage somewhere, usually part of a condominium complex somewhere, and each family would take the unit for one quarter of the year…thus the term time ‘share’.

As the industry began to develop it’s own consciousness, the early timeshare industry entrepreneurs decided they could make even more money by dividing the time units up into weeks and selling the same unit 50 times (allowing two weeks for yearly maintenance). They also charged each timeshare holder a maintenance fee which was assessed whether they used the unit or not.

Timeshares seem attractive if one does not look at the small print of the contract. What really kills the deal, from the standpoint of the consumer, is the extra fees. It’s that simple. Two factors come into play here:

First of all… most people don’t read their contract for anything they buy and secondly… unscrupulous marketers take advantage of that fact. The end result is that the industry has gotten a bad name.

Timeshare properties are all over the world and, in a sense, they’re fun and not such a bad deal. That is, until you realize that the contract is very, very hard to get out of. It always has been that way and it’s gotten even to the point where consumer groups exist to help distressed timeshare owners get out of their timeshare contracts. Problem is…even many of these groups are scams.

When you buy a timeshare contract here’s typically what you can do with it:

Use it yourself
Rent it out to somebody else
Give it away as a gift
Donate it to charity
Exchange it internally within your organization (usually you can do this)
Resell it (technically you can resell…in reality, nowadays, it’s almost impossible.

There’s no doubt that people enjoy their actual time in a timeshare. Why not? They’re always in highly desirable areas, the maintenance has already been paid for so it’s always in good condition and the contract owners are on vacation anyway so naturally they’re in a good mood.

The problem comes when people realize that the total cost of a timeshare ownership, when you factor in all the extra fees, isn’t competitive at all in comparison to just shopping around for a good vacation deal on your own.

And this is made even worse by the fact that the timeshare sales process is usually extremely hard-core, AKA: “slick”. It doesn’t really hurt till you later realize what you got talked into.

Nowadays, with the economy in such bad shape in many areas of the Western world (where most timeshare customers live) it’s very, very difficult to unload a timeshare unit. In fact some people sell theirs for as little as a dollar just to get out from under the contract. Remember…even if you own the timeshare, you still might not be able to afford the other costs of going on a vacation.

Bottom line…timeshares are based on a decent enough idea. Just be very, very sure you’re not pushed into a deal you might regret later. They are few and far between but some timeshare sellers will let you read the full contract first before you buy. For you own protection…do it.

Remember that once you sign on that dotted line….that timeshare unit has just become yours virtually for the rest of your life whether you want it or not.