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You planned this trip a long time ago.  You anticipated this day for weeks or months, and finally the plane is about to land.  You arrive at this airport every year, and every year the same things shock you.  Rather than disembarking through a nice, air-conditioned ramp, you get dropped off in the middle of the runway, amazed that the distance to the gate is at least a quarter of a mile.

As you clear customs, you can’t hide a smile as to how primitive things remain here, and yet you keep coming year after year because you love Mexico.  As soon as you walk out, you are bombarded with 10 muchachas inviting you to their special resort, a resort of your dreams—a resort that will introduce you to a concept called “timeshare.”

There’s no obligation other than 90 minutes of your precious time, and they offer all kinds of frills, including cash.  One of the amigos looks very sincere, and doesn’t seem to push or yell as the others do.   You sympathize, thinking he is new, and the next thing you know you are sitting in a private limo watching your kids, who are obliviously happy sipping their coca colas, compliments of the amigo and the resort.

timeshare

As you enter your hotel lobby for check-in, you are told that your room is not yet ready because this year they overbooked by 30%—a typical Mexican error that by now you are accustomed to.  So you take everyone out to a late lunch and enjoy the view.  A few hours and many drinks later, you really don’t care that the room is not to your liking. After all, how many hours will you actually be there?

You finally unpack, get everyone situated, and begin to relax.

A Spur of the Moment Decision

In the morning you are awakened by a phone call from the same nice amigo, who today sounds loud and obnoxious and reminds you that you are late for your presentation.  You look at the clock and see that it’s not even 8:00 a.m.  But the cab is waiting outside, so you frantically pull on your jeans and rush out the door, cursing the day that you agreed to this arrangement.  

You arrive at the timeshare resort, where your promised breakfast consists of beans and potatoes.  You respectfully decline their offer to eat, and instead settle for a cold cerveza. After all, it’s almost 8:30 and you are on vacation.  You are shown luxurious rooms, restaurants and a beautiful spa that can all be yours for a small fee.  No more overbooking and other inconveniences at the hotel every year.  You can now own your own room!

To introduce you to the concept of timeshare, a salesperson skillfully draws charts, calculates numbers and designs your future vacation plans for the next 30 years.  The agent assures you that this purchase can be deducted on your income tax as a second residence. He also points out that your ownership is transferable to your children and other family members.  And should you decide to vacation anywhere else in the world, you can simply change destinations with one phone call.  

You start to hyperventilate when you hear that the price of this “great deal” costs more than the brand new Lexus that you just passed on. But then the agent explains how much money you will save over the years, the convenience of being the owner, and the 50% savings on all future accommodations should you choose to stay in their resorts at this or any other destination.

As you sip your third margarita and look over the numbers, you can’t help yourself.  To your surprise and amazement, you reach for your credit card and start signing.

All That Glitters is Not Gold

Fast-forward six months later.

You just received a schedule for the kids’ school year, with the exact dates of their summer, winter, and spring vacations.  You decide to book that holiday trip you bought and started paying for six month ago.  You dial the number and listen as the senorita on the other end pleasantly tells you that summer, winter, spring breaks, and major holidays must be booked one year in advance.  Yes, she understands your frustration and concern, but she is unable to help in this matter.

You then inquire about your discounted rate for the room and the availability.  When she quotes a price of $525 a night, you gasp for air and hang up the phone.   Next, you try several other options that were promised at the time of the sale, but they fail to generate any fruitful results.

But don’t be devastated just yet.  Here’s the good news:

Timeshare is a system that works very well if you know how to use it.  Yes, you need to call on November 21 of 2006 to book your room for Thanksgiving of 2007.  Rest assured that if you wait even one day, they will be sold out.  Also, plan on spending a few hours on the phone to get through because there are thousands of “owners” just like you trying to book their reservations for those same dates.

If you decide to bank your week in hopes of visiting a new destination, understand that it might not happen on the date or at the place you would like.  However, if you’re okay with booking a reservation two years ahead, you should not have a problem.

Know that your room comes with an annual maintenance fee, which usually runs between $500 and $900, depending on the size of your room.  This fee needs to be paid regardless of whether or not you use your week.

Most of all, be aware that what you are told during the sale is not always true.  For example, when we were suckered into buying our timeshare, we were told that the ocean was okay to swim in.  We later found out that was a lie; that the Pacific side of the ocean is too dangerous for swimming.

If you have a large family and plan to visit the same spot year after year, timeshare can offer some advantages if you plan ahead and know how to use the system.  However, if you are spontaneous and adventurous, don’t be in a hurry to pull out your credit card.  It may be a decision you will later regret.

If you decide to buy a timeshare, never do it on the spur of the moment.  Consider all the ramifications of such a major purchase and then shop, shop, shop!  There’s a huge market of second hand time-shares available on the Internet and through private parties, and these often offer much better deals.

If you need help or have any questions, please email me.  I learned a trick or two over the last few years, and would be glad to help you.

All the best,

Yana



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vacationliason wrote Aug 8, 2015
    • This is only a Mexico Experience and most of what you are saying does not happen on tours in the United States.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vacationliason wrote Aug 8, 2015
    • I want people to know that Vacation Ownership can be very cost effective and rewarding a experience. Number one you should NEVER buy in Mexico....just exchange there from the United States. Where you CAN own real property and exchange with more benefits! We do not stalk you at the airport or call your room...unless you don’t show up. Then we just charge the marketing costs that we put out for you back to you, that’s fair. If your going to make an appointment...be there. The developer pays to put you up, before you pay the $159.00 deal, he is pay’s $300.00 to $400.00 for your room, tickets, gifts and buying your presentation time. Your doctor would expect you to show for your appointment why not us? Most American resorts offer a continental breakfast, I assure you its not beans and potatoes! Lol..
      There is so much not right with this article from an American standpoint. I understand you are writing about your one experience in Mexico with this, but I do not want readers to get a misguided notion that this is going to be their experience everywhere...I assure you that is not the case! I am a Vacation Ownership Rep Consultant and I have been in this business for 25 years and counting, helping many owners all over the USA. I am RCI and II trained, I know weeks, points, deeded, rtu, you name it. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I am sorry for your horrible experience in Mexico.



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