Life is full of mistakes and one’s venture into the timeshare world can be full of pitfalls. We have been enjoying timesharing for some 15 years and have made plenty of mistakes. We thought it might be helpful to look at the most common mistakes folks make and explore some solutions.
The first three that we’re going to discuss are probably the most common. We’ll call them the BIG 3. Subsequent posts will discuss the remaining 7 mistakes. Here is the list:
- Buying directly from the developer.
- Not understanding the timeshare system you own.
- Not looking carefully at those maintenance fee amounts before you purchase.
- Not using your timeshare every year.
- Neglecting to network with other timeshare owners.
- Bypassing the amenities and activities of the resort.
- Failure to think through problems when traveling with friends and family.
- Eating out for every meal on your vacation.
- Neglecting to research the area in which you are vacationing.
- Not reading reviews of the resort you are thinking of or have traded into.
Let’s get started with the biggie:
- Buying directly from the developer.
So number 1 is probably the biggest and most expensive mistake that people make, and yet it is the easiest to fall prey to –after all, most are “hooked” while enjoying the euphoria of their vacation. Timeshare salespeople can be extremely nice and personable—and some can be misleading and tell untruths. They offer you gifts and money and a way to enjoy more and better vacations. Most people venture into this timeshare presentation knowing absolutely nothing about timeshares.
There is tremendous pressure and arm-twisting to buy TODAY, or this great price will expire, never to re-surface. Probably 90% of these gullible folks have never heard of timeshare resales, allowing you to buy this same timeshare, or same number of points for about 10% of the amount that they’re trying to sell it to you for.
Does this sound like your experience? If so, don’t beat yourself up about it—now you know. You’re reading this website, TUG, Timeshare Forums and other sites that clue you in about buying resale. What’s done is done, so enjoy your timeshare and consider it a learning experience.
If you have not yet purchased a timeshare, the bottom line is say “no,” and then go home and do your research. If you have purchased one within the last few days, check the state laws on rescinding, do it if you can, and then do your research.
This is one mistake we did not make, but we came awfully close—I’m sure that Hilton salesman went home that night and had a stiff drink—and maybe quit in the morning! Four months later, we bought the same timeshare (resale) for about $6000 less and have been enjoying it ever since.
2. Not understanding the timeshare system in which you own.
This is probably the second biggest mistake that people make during and after the time that they have acquired a timeshare. It’s easy to see why, because most of the systems are complicated, and every one is different; thus, if you own in 5 or 6 different ones, like we do, it can be very confusing. We’ve met a lot of people who only buy in one system for this very reason.
The solution to this mistake is very simple—you need to educate yourself about your timeshare, and that takes work and time. Read all of your paperwork, and all mailings from your system. Then, go online and find websites that apply to your timeshare, to include the site of the company in which you own. Find out if there are user groups that you can join. Most are free, and you can pose questions and/or join discussions. Listed here are some that we have found very helpful with our particular timeshares—we check these frequently throughout the year as we plan our trips
- Disney Vacation Club
- Hilton Grand Vacation Club
- Red Week
- Timeshare Forums
- Timeshare User Group
- Wyndham Resorts Forums
3. Not looking carefully at those maintenance fee amounts before you purchase
This is a little bit like a “hidden cost,” because if you buy from the developer you are probably so caught up in the glories of the presentation and timeshare ownership that you neglect to realize that there is another fee that comes around once a year—the maintenance fee. Salesmen tend to sweep this one under the rug, and sometime after you get home you realize that maintenance fees are for life.
Even if you buy resale, you may not realize that these fees exist, or that they can vary greatly in amount from resort to resort. Gold Crown resorts tend to have higher maintenance fees, but not always. Resort management, where the resort is located, and kinds of amenities can have a lot to do with the fees you pay.
Again (not to sound like a broken record for those of you who remember what those are) the key is to be aware, and do your research before you buy. If you already own the timeshare, seek out the resort manager and ask questions. Read the yearly financial reports. Talk to owners at other timeshares when you trade in and compare costs. Read our previous posts:
We are not saying to always buy the resorts with lower maintenance fees, nor are we advocating NOT buying the resorts with higher maintenance fees. What we are saying is: Be informed, do the research, determine whether the fees are reasonable for what you get, and then decide whether you can afford it, and whether the resort will do what you want it to do for you.
So, as we wrap up the BIG 3, rest assured that you are not alone if you are guilty of one of these mistakes, or even all three. They’re the kind of mistakes that are so easily made when you go into a high pressure situation knowing very little– and you get caught up in the moment. Keep reading this site and other timeshare sites to guard against making or repeating these mistakes. And stay tuned for the conclusion of this post.