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Beware the pitfalls of timeshare holidays

At this time of year it can feel like everyone but you is heading off on holidays. Lazy summer days on the beach or by the pool – it can be hard to take all of those glorious holiday snaps in your Facebook or Insta feed!

The envy can make you pretty vulnerable to making a snap decision to jump into a timeshare holiday. But before you do – stop and take a look at what you’re really paying for.

Buying holiday time

  • Ever seen an ad featuring an idyllic resort photo and the promise of a free holiday?
  • Or gotten a phone call offering you a free holiday in exchange for attending a short seminar?

Timeshare takes more than your time!

  • That ‘short’ seminar you have to attend to claim your free holiday? It’s probably no less than 4 loooonnng hours. Of high pressure selling!
  • Selling what, you ask? Timeshare holidays. This is when you buy into the right to holiday at a resort, villa or apartment for a set period of time each year.
  • ‘No obligation to buy!’, they’ll say. But chances are you’re feeling highly pressured to do just that.

How do timeshare holidays work?

  • You can buy timeshares in Australia or overseas. And once they’ve got you at their free seminar, the promoters often use high pressure sales techniques to get you to sign up on the spot.
  • Buying into a timeshare is a long term commitment that can be difficult to sell.

There’s two types of timeshare schemes.

  1. Specific time period schemes that give you a holiday there for a stated time period, such as one week a year.
  2. Points-based schemes where you buy points/credits that you can redeem at a number of different resorts or holiday properties.
  • Timeshare schemes can vary wildly in price – it depends on how much time or points each year you’re getting for your cash, when you’re allowed to use them, and the location and standard of the holiday accommodation.
  • Be sure to look into when you’ll be able to take your holiday. And if you can’t make the dates that are allocated to you – can you swap them, or sell your holiday time to someone else?

Don’t miss the hidden costs

  • As well as the buy in and annual cost, you’ll also need to pay ongoing maintenance fees for the property – even if you don’t use it.
  • There might also be an annual membership fee.
  • You’ll need to cover these costs for the whole time you’re in the timeshare. If you don’t your timeshare might be forfeited – and you might not get a cent back.

Thinking of going to a seminar?

Here’s some tips to keep in mind:

  • Despite what they might say – you don’t have to sign on the dotted line on the day
  • If you do sign you have the right to a 7-day cooling-off period. Or 14 days if the operator is not a member of the Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council (ATHOC).
  • Be sure to grab a product disclosure statement, read it carefully and understand the terms and costs before signing up.
  • If you do sign up, but later decide you don’t want to go ahead with the purchase – tell the company in writing before the end of the cooling-off period.
  • Be sure to consider both the upfront and ongoing costs of the timeshare – then compare these with your other holiday options. Make sure you include the travel, food, entertainment and other costs associated with all options.

And just remember – if a deal seems too good to be true – it probably is!