Your Travel Agency

The Timeshare Swamp and Your Client

Written By: Tom Ogg



Joanie and I fly in and out of Puerto Vallarta to our home in Punta Mita frequently. I am always in awe at the number of people once they have cleared customs leave the immigration hall and enter the “Shark Pit” get stuck dealing with timeshare sales people.


The “Shark Pit” is where there are dozens of timeshare salespeople all trying to trick visitors into thinking that they are there to help them. They will ask “Where are you staying?” and then when the potential time-share buyer responds that they are staying at this hotel or that resort, they will pretend that they are providing the transfer for that property. Of course, the real reason that they are hustling in the “Shark Pit” is to get you to attend a time share presentation.


They will offer gifts, money, sightseeing, dining, a free hotel stay, a Bahamas cruise, a Las Vegas vacation or myriad other incentives just to attend a free, no obligation presentation. “Look” claims the salesman, “You do not have to buy anything, just attend the presentation and keep the stuff. It is that easy.” Of course, once your client agrees to attend, they are committing a good part of their vacation to sitting through a high pressure sales presentation that takes hours and hours to endure.


The weaker souls tend to give in and buy what sounds too good to be true just so they can get out of the high pressure cooker that they have found themselves in. As for those that resist, the pressure is turned up and effort is made to close the sale using whatever method and/or incentive is necessary. An aggressive time share sales person can ruin what would otherwise be a wonderful vacation. Even if they are able to escape the presentation without buying a time share the sales person will continue to follow up until the clients depart for home.


Of course, timeshare sales people are not only found at the airport, but just about everywhere in a vacation destination. That nice man that offered to help you in the supermarket is probably a timeshare salesman. I recently checked into the the Sheraton Bouganvillas in Puerto Vallarta and once checked in, was accosted by two lovely ladies that turned out to be timeshare sales people for the adjoining Bouganvillas Vacation Club timeshare. Once I was aware who they were I looked up their property on and showed them that there were 61 timeshare resales starting at $500 for week 16 every year for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit they immediately lost interest in me.


Here is the Truth About Timeshares

The Upfront Cost: Depending on the condominium or resort, the upfront cost of a time share will generally sell for $15,000, or more for a week during the year. This is actually very expensive. Think about it. This makes the value of the property being divided up into timeshares about $780,000. If you look at comparable properties that are being sold as real estate the value may be well under that price.


Timeshares Do Not Appreciate: All one has to do if they are interested in buying a timeshare is review the timeshare resale websites to see that the value of a timeshare goes down, not up once it has been purchased. While there may be an isolated instance of timeshares appreciating, for the most part it is a money losing investment.


Timeshares Have Annual Maintenance and Special Assessment Fees: On top of the cost of acquiring a timeshare there are ongoing fees that must be paid whether you have used your timeshare, or not. And, timeshare fees always tend to increase every year. In fact, the fees are why so many timeshare owners are willing to sell their timeshares at desperate prices. Just visit and search timeshares and then select Price, Lowest to Highest. You will find numerous timeshares for sale for onepenny.


Timeshares Are Virtually Impossible to Sell: The timeshare aftermarket is just riddled with scams and problems. There are few buyers and lots of risks. The main scam is when a timeshare reseller finds an anxious buyer and asks the seller to front the closing costs (usually $1,000 to $3,000) and then never hears from the reseller again.


Real Estate Laws Are Different Outside the U.S: While that timeshare sounds like a fantastic investment, the country it is located in has its own real estate laws affecting the transaction, U.S. timeshare laws do not count. Of course, the timeshare sales person won’t mention anything about laws that affect the sale of timeshares in his or her country.


Here is the Necessary Disclosure to Clients

If you are sending your clients to destinations known to have aggressive timeshare salespeople, you should share the reality of timeshares with them, so that they will know what’s happening to them if they do get caught up in a situation. Explain that they will encounter timeshare salespeople at the airport, their hotel or resort, while shopping and in grocery stores. Share these concepts with your clients.


Never Respond at the Airport: Like Puerto Vallarta’s famous “Shark Pit” most airports sell space for the purpose of soliciting timeshare sales. While PVR and CUN seem to be the worst, it occurs just about everywhere. Simply advise your clients to just keep walking and never acknowledge anyone until they are at their point to catch their transfer or a taxi.


Be Friendly, but Aloof: When approached by someone pretending to want to help you be friendly, but suspicious. You will run into timeshare salespeople not only at the airport, but at the car rental counter, hotel lobby, grocery store, tourist areas like flea markets, malls and sightseeing areas, restaurants and bars that cater to tourists and just about everywhere else.


A Timeshare Presentation by Any Other Name: If you are invited to take part in a “Special Event” or a “Property Tour” or anything else that sounds like it might be a free event ask the person if this is a timeshare presentation. If they say yes or avoid giving you a straight answer, you already know that the person is quite willing to deceive you.


Never Say Yes: Unless you actually want to purchase a timeshare, never say “Yes” to anyone trying to influence you to take an action they are requesting. Only give whatever information that you are willing to if you do say yes to subject yourself to a timeshare presentation. Never give your cell phone number, address or any other information that the timeshare presenter can use to follow up with you while on your vacation.


The Timeshare Resale Market: If you are interested in buying a timeshare there are hundreds of thousands of timeshares being sold in the resale market. People that have purchased timeshares and don’t use them and are sick and tired of making annual administrative and special assessment fees are pretty much willing to just give them away. And yes, in some situations people will actually pay you to take a timeshare off their hands. Always check the resale market for the property that you are going to go to a presentation for. This will arm you with the information that you need in order to make a great deal.


It is Your Vacation: Vacations are expensive and do not happen frequently enough for most people. Consider this before you allow your vacation time to slip away while some hard sell closer wastes hours of your prized vacation time.