E28: Timeshare holidays – a good idea?

Now holidays are finally possible again, you might consider buying into a timeshare holiday plan. Perhaps you’ve been invited to a seminar to find out more.

Timeshare is where a property has a divided form of ownership, usually in holiday units.

If you invest, you are allocated a certain number of weeks each year. These days, you buy a membership that entitles you to a number of points you can use at different properties.

Beware! The consumer organisation Choice surveyed three hundred and fifty people and found a high level of dissatisfaction with their timeshare investment. Choice crunched the numbers and found timeshare can be more than ten times as expensive than buying holidays!

They found timeshare owners had a long list of complaints including: up to 99 year contracts that they can’t exit, warnings that any debts will be passed onto their children, restrictions on booking at desirable times of the year, fees that increase annually, requirements to book at least a year in advance for peak times, and confusing and complex contracts. Not to mention hard sell tactics.

ASIC also surveyed a smaller number of participants and found “a high level of discontent overall”. ASIC warned timeshare is a sticky product, easy to get into but hard to get out of.

Patrick Verray, finance specialist from Choice, says the timeshare sector is largely immune from strong regulation and reinforcement. The organisation has drawn attention to breaches of the law and is lobbying for tighter regulation.

Choice advises avoiding timeshares, and booking holidays as you need them.

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