Timeshare Woes, Or My Greatest Financial Shame

By on September 7, 2016

Timeshare woes. Ugh. Yep, this is the blog post I’ve been dreading for months. The one that’s going to be physically painful to write. I mean, you might have to forgive any typos or grammatical errors on my part. I don’t want to dwell on this topic one second longer than absolutely necessary. This is the one that will detail the moment I regret most in the annals of COD history.

I guess I can’t put it off much longer. This is the one where I finally come clean… dum da dum dum…about our timeshare.

No! Oh, the shame! Oh, the embarrassment! How could two intelligent, relatively frugal people possibly be duped into buying one of the WORST products ever in the history of the world?

Ugh. I don’t really have a good answer for that.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Let’s backtrack to the beginning. Mr. COD attended a counseling conference about four and a half years ago. Apparently the hotel he booked for his conference was in the Hilton family, so of course the booking agent on the phone had a “great offer” for him. This was Mistake #1 in the whole process: listening to the agent’s spiel. I mean, it’s all very Adam-and-Eve. Serpent in the garden, the whole deal.

The deal was a few nights’ stay at a nice hotel in Myrtle Beach for a discounted price. All we had to do was attend…you guessed it…a short sales presentation during our stay. After that, we would also receive a voucher for a free night at a Hilton hotel of our choice.

Mistake #2: agreeing to the initial Myrtle Beach stay with the sales caveat instead of just finding a great deal on Groupon or some other travel site. There are myriad ways to travel on the cheap, and while this deal was okay, it wasn’t really anything special.

I was incredibly adamant that we would never ever ever ever buy a timeshare, so I reasoned that we’d be perfectly safe. We could handle a sales pitch without getting trapped. I knew perfectly well that timeshares were a scam. Doug Heffernan of King of Queens taught me that. We could handle this. Famous last words.

We loved the hotel. Our beach-front view from the room was wonderful. It would be a terrific place to celebrate our second anniversary.

Our sales presentation was the second day in town. We got ourselves a bit lost finding the place, which made me super crabby by the time we found it and parked. I was really not in any mood to listen to a sales talk. Mistake #3: not turning around the moment we couldn’t find the sales site. Oh, if only I could rewind to that moment in the car!

Alas, we got there and dutifully sat down across from a lovely lady with a Southern accent. I had anticipated a big room filled with fellow travelers stuck listening to one salesman droning on. Nope. These guys are smart. They put us alone with the salespeople.

Mistake #4: letting this sweet blonde woman charm us with her accent and her story of how she has these amazing timeshares for all her kids. We let her convince us that the amount we spent on hotels every year for vacations and visits to family was equal to the cost of the timeshare. (We neglected to notice that there are no Hilton hotels near any of the relatives we have to visit.)

Mistake #5: enjoying the tantalizing photos of the many timeshare locations worldwide. Mr. COD and I do love to travel and knew we would continue to make it a priority. The pictures our sweet little saleswoman scrolled through lulled us into a luxurious, vacationing state of mind. Much more susceptible to stupid financial decisions.

Welp, anyway, we fell prey to this sales rip-off. We walked out of that office, new timeshare “owners”…not two hours after I was grumpily insisting we would never buy a timeshare.

Returning to our hotel in a kind of post-shopping daze, we discussed all the reasons we should feel okay with the purchase. We dreamed of using our points some years to give a nice trip to family members. Another idea was to sell our points to someone every two or three years to help pay the fees. We figured that spending this much would force us to take vacations every year, which was important to us.

Why Our Reasoning Was Wrong

  1. We’ve been trying to give points to friends and family, but no one has taken us up on it. Logistically, it hasn’t worked out for any of them. Perhaps it’s too much of a hassle for them to coordinate the dates and locations with us.
  2. Selling points also has not worked. Lots of websites let you sell a week at your timeshare. No one has bought any of ours yet (we haven’t tried that hard yet, so maybe it’ll happen someday).
  3. We love to travel and don’t need to be coerced into a trip!  We would have traveled anyway, without this program. We could have used Kayak and Groupon and other travel sites.

Other problems with the whole timeshare concept: location, extra fees, lifetime commitment. Our “home” base is Myrtle Beach, which is about a two-day drive from our home. We loved the flexibility of being able to use points for other resorts in the Hilton family, but… surprise, surprise! Extra fees apply when reserving any place that’s not our home base.

Lifetime Commitment Trap

It sounded so amazing at the time: you pay for the timeshare once and then enjoy it for a lifetime (and beyond). You can deed the property to your kids after your death. The problem with this: it dooms you and your beneficiaries to paying the yearly “maintenance” fees forever. Why would I want to subject my kids to that burden?

To me, this is the absolute worst part of the whole sham. We paid off the principal balance early in order to minimize our interest payments (generally a wise idea). However, we’re still on the hook for yearly maintenance fees, which are about as much as we’d spend on hotels anyway. Plus, we still have to factor in the transportation costs for each trip. So it’s not as if we really prepaid for our vacations; rather, we’ll be paying double for them.

I absolutely hate this product and the feeling of being trapped. If we can be a cautionary tale to anyone, that’s why I’m writing about it now. The idea of having wasted so much money on this (and continue to have to do so) makes my blood boil.

Escape Routes Barred

In case anyone is wondering, yes, we have heard of Timeshare Exit Team. Unfortunately, since we’ve already paid the principal, all they could potentially get us out of is the yearly maintenance fees. I don’t even know for sure if they can do that sort of thing. It just seems as if we would be hurting ourselves more by calling them.

We’d pay a couple thousand dollars to have them get us out of the contract, but we wouldn’t recoup what we’ve already spent. I detest this system so much, I would actually choose this route and cut our losses. Mr. COD insists we may as well take vacations for a few more years. We’ve inquired with the timeshare company about selling ours, but the amount they offered was pitiful.

So, here we are. We made a stupid, spontaneous purchase, and we both wish we could go back and change it. But for now, we’ll keep it and make the best of it. This past summer, we returned to Myrtle Beach with our little boys. It was an enjoyable trip, although the kids were too small to do much besides swim in the kiddie pool.

Our view was lovely!

Visiting the rays at the aquarium (our only outing away from the resort).

Monitoring kids on the balcony…not so relaxing!

I could vent all day about timeshares, but I’ll just stop here and sign off with this: Don’t buy a timeshare. Ever!

Conquering Financial Fear

By on August 18, 2016

Financial fear is a real stumbling block, and for us, changing our financial defaults has had a lot to do with conquering fear. That fear is one of the reasons that many of us drag our feet when it comes to asking the hard questions about our money.


Taking A Risk And Dealing With Self-Doubt

By on July 19, 2016

300 and counting. About five times a day. That’s approximately how many times I have already questioned my sanity in deciding to stay home this next school year with my kids. I hate these doubts, but taking a risk naturally brings some doubt to mind. Am I doing the right thing? What if this is a mistake?