John Oliver takes on predatory timeshare and timeshare exit industries

Originally published at: John Oliver takes on predatory timeshare and timeshare exit industries | Boing Boing


I always knew that timeshares were a scam but that bit was the big revelation to me watching the segment- that these contracts last forever and you have to do serious work to avoid inheriting them. Insane that the laws work this way.


I went to one of these sales events because we got free tickets to Disney World or something. We were confident going in because there was no way we could afford a time share, and basically told people that going in. Haha.

Seriously though- Time shares should be made illegal, or made so you have to renew the contract every year. No way it should be some sort of perpetual lease/rent/WTF you call it.

While we are at it, Payday loan types also should be made illegal -OR- cap the amount of money you have to pay back. If you borrow $500, cap it at $750 or something.

Both of these things are out right evil in the money they extort from people.


A fellow student from my classes at the University of Florida used to do this with his girlfriend just to get the Disney World tickets or similar stuff. Granted, folks who have to attend lectures almost every day have built-in stamina. :man_shrugging:

Also, :+1: for the Rachel Dratch appearance!


Not to mention that some time shares also turn into eventual shitholes because the “owners” are like landlords, only even less likely to take care of needed repairs, or to do the needed deep cleaning that should be required between occupants. I’ve heard horror stories.


“M’Wanda”… “Yes, M’John!”


And the sketchy van with the “M’OFFICE” plate…
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Timeshares, for those who think MLMs aren’t enough of a drain on money and time.


I actually wonder how that’s even legal- and indeed if it’s the same here in Canada. Not that I have any interest in a timeshare. It just seems like a hotel room that is always the same, in the same place, and will likely cost much more in the long run.


That’s one aspect that I just never understood. I get the desire (for those who can afford it) to own a real vacation home, because they can make it their own, spend weeks or months there, come and go as they please, and have a real “home away from home” in a place they love. But a vacation apartment or hotel room that you use one week a year and don’t even get to customize or keep your stuff in? Even if it didn’t cost more than a stay in a hotel, and even if you didn’t have any trouble reserving the specific week you want, what’s the advantage? Who takes an annual vacation to the same hotel every single year?


Timeshares are like organized religion. Once you start asking tough, rational questions, it doesn’t make any sense.
People who I have known that have timeshares will be like “I can use my timeshare all over the world!”
To which I ask “who’s stopping you from going anywhere in the first place, and how much does it cost you monthly/yearly for the privilege?”


13 states already prohibit payday loans. Others limit loan amount already or limit total interest charge.

In my state, payday loans are legal but are capped at 25% of the borrower’s monthly net income.


How is it that timeshares manage to be that sticky in the event of death?

Obviously someone’s contractual obligations in life can bleed their estate dry if it comes to that; but isn’t there a significantly higher bar for them to become someone else’s problem?


The fact that selling timeshares and locking people (and their decendents) into almost unbreakable contracts is legal, says all you need to know about the state of capitalism.

Fuck You, Pay Up should be the motto on our currency.


Uhhh… So… My family had a timeshare at Westgate in Florida. We’d go for a week every year, alternating between spending time at Disney World and Universal Studios. I thought nothing of it. I have childhood memories of passing tapes around the van (mostly taking turns with Queen, but there were times when we were all about to Starlight Express soundtrack) and sleeping on the floor next to the sliding door. As we got older, it felt like a big deal when we got to invite a friend along. My dad was even able to change things up one year and get us a stay in Mexico.

Things got weird in adulthood. Even though my parents were obviously duped into the timeshare, they never once considered an upgrade or even modest alteration to their deal. They brought my wife and me out a year or two into our marriage. The condo we stayed in looked exactly the same as when I was last there, nearly two decades ago. It was the age of easily affordable HD TVs, just not in our unit. We were on the edge of where the WiFi could reach. This was in the forgotten lands of the place. But I suppose it was fine as somewhere to sleep and eat.

I don’t know if my parents still have the timeshare. No one has used it in years. And at this point no one wants it. Mainly because it’s a timeshare, but also because it’s a timeshare in Florida. (I have fond memories of Florida, but right now it’s on my Do Not Visit list.)


By claiming it’s an “asset” – they are pretending it like inheriting a condo that has association fees. Or for that matter inheriting property on which you have to pay property tax.

But it is clearly not a tangible asset like real estate and you have little or no control over it. It’s a contract, like your neflix subscription, and you should be able to cancel it at any time. And if you inherit a condo but refuse to pay your association dues, what is basically going to happen is that the association will put a lein on your property and eventually repo or auction it to pay your debt. But a timeshare that may have zero market value isn’t like that.


Do you know if it’s some combination of relative antiquity and the whiff of ‘real property’ that lets that con work in this case; or is there not actually much that would stop you from dressing up more or less any peon-tier contractual obligation as an ‘asset’ and trying to make that work?

Because, especially with the less overt ones(eg. ‘points’ across a variety of resort locations vs. something that actually resembles a marginal flavor of ownership over a very specific unit) there certainly seems little to distinguish them from practically any more or less adhesive consumer contract one might be stuck in.


We did the same thing some time in the 1990s when we were young and poor, just to get the tickets to some show like SeaWorld, Universal, or Disney (I don’t remember which.) Totally NOT WORTH IT. We wasted 3 or 4 hours of our vacation time in their psychological pressure cooker, and damn near bought into one.

Just buying the tickets would have cost so much less mental stress. I can’t say it enough: stay away from the “free” offers. They are staffed by professional con artists who know exactly how to read people and push their buttons. You have to be a lot stronger than you imagine to resist.


My aunt and uncle have two - one in Atlantic City and the other in the Bahamas. They go for a holiday in AC every year. Once I went on a Caribbean cruise with them, and from the deck of the ship my aunt pointed out the building where the other one is located. I get the feeling they’ve only been there a few times, and I’m not gonna ask how much of a money drain it’s really been. :grimacing:

Watching John Oliver’s report, the moment that struck me was the person who signed up because they’d been stuck in a sales pitch for five hours. A diabetic signed up for a timeshare because of a need to escape and eat some food. :woman_facepalming:t4: Can’t folks be brought up on charges for preventing people from walking out? WTH.


There was an old episode of South Park that really drove home the inescapable horrors of the hard sell.