A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Timeshares Included in Social Buying Site Travel Deals

by on February 6, 2012 · 19 comments

I use the last blank page of my address book as a sort of former residence scrapbook where I write down the address of each of my old apartments. Since the start of college, I have racked up seven different addresses spanning 3 countries and 3 states. This has taught me that I may not be in a location for very long, and so I need to enjoy and fully experience the things I want to sooner rather than later.

Since moving to Texas in 2008 I created a Texas Bucket List where I detailed roughly ten experiences/places I wanted to see while living in Texas. When I saw the opportunity to fulfill one of these through a social buying site deal offering a trip to New Orleans at a crazy-great price, I got really excited. My friend had passed a deal along where you pay $89 for two nights’ stay at an upscale 3.5 to 4 star New Orleans hotel, plus you have the choice of a special gift (Complimentary $50 Visa Rewards card, or One Additional Complimentary Room Night). This was all valued at $408. You can start to see where the red flags were raised. With Mardi Gras coming up, it is clearly not the off-season for New Orleans where one might find a deal as sweet as this. Also, all travel social buying site deals I have ever seen have been for up to 50% off, not 78% off. I began to wonder, is New Orleans on clearance for any particular reason?

I figured it out by perusing around the website a bit more. This was a vacation property timeshare in disguise as a social buying deal.

Terms and Conditions Most Will Glaze Over     

Let’s be honest, most people get a glaze in their eyes when reading legalese so they decide to skip over it entirely and rely on the advertising and the fact that others have signed on before them and not faced disaster. Dealster.com, the advertiser of this deal, says on its About Page that it wants to offer compelling deals to consumers, which means “…you get the things you want at big savings and without a lot of fine print…” (italics are my own). My two pages of printed fine print clearly do not fit this bill. In this case, not reading the terms and conditions will leave you very disgruntled upon arriving at the hotel for your getaway weekend (er, most likely a Tuesday-Thursday per the fine print) when you learn this:

  • Your package does not include any applicable taxes, hotel service fees or regulatory surcharges (estimated at between $50-60 per trip, and an additional $30 per night in parking fees)
  • You agree to attend a presentation that will last a minimum of 120 minutes and married or co-habitating couples must attend the orientation and tour together
  • Your getaway is for the purpose of promoting the sale of vacation ownership plans

And if you are upset when checking in and decide to leave in a fit of rebellion, you may be very surprised with the “no show” fee that will be charged to your credit card. “Participants with confirmed reservations who fail to check-in on their reservation date or fail to reschedule at least two (2) weeks in advance of their arrival date shall forfeit their use of this certificate and be charged a one night “no show fee”.

Timeshares and Travel Deals Should Not Be Combined

Call me crazy, but this is not what social buying sites are all about. Can you imagine buying one of these vouchers to New Orleans only to learn that you must attend a 120-minute presentation about buying into the vacation property? How about if you cancel a few days in advance (normally allowed at other hotels) only to be charged a “no show” fee? Social buying sites are supposed to unite consumers into a large enough group where their purchasing power allows for a significant reduction in the cost of the experience, service, or item being offered. The seller gets exposure for their brand, makes a small profit (admittedly small, but many times during off-season when profits are harder to come by), and consumers are left with a great deal.

In my mind, a timeshare is a timeshare, and a discounted travel deal is a discounted travel deal. One should not be substituted for the other, especially when you are sending these types of deals to someone’s inbox in the guise of a social buying deal. If social buying sites begin to slip-in timeshare buying opportunities with their travel deals they will surely create a bitter taste in most of their clients’ mouths (me included). That is just not good for business.

Other Articles You May Enjoy:

Selling a Timeshare to the Wall
Deal or No Deal or Which Deal: Our Timeshare Update
We are Not Going to Help Them Make Vegetable Soup Out of a Stone and Water
How I Almost Got Scammed: Lessons Learned from Trouble in Paradise
Money Mistakes I’d Make All Over Again: Purchasing a Timeshare
10 Financial Myths About Timeshares
What is my Timeshare Worth?

Part of the Canadian Personal Finance Carnival, the Yakezie Carnival, and the Carnival of Financial Camaraderie.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt

Rule of thumb: If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS!

Thanks for the heads up on something like this. Good advice to always check the fine print on deals that sound too good to be true.
Matt recently posted..Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement – Money in the Bank

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Michelle

This is all very good to know. I’m planning a couple of vacations this year.

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FruGal

No problem! I was shocked when I figured it out and knew I had to warn others.

I don’t mind timeshares as everyone needs to make money, but you should be aware of what something is before you sign onto it. You know?

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SB (One Cent At A Time)

Thanks for including us as a useful resource.
SB (One Cent At A Time) recently posted..Carnival of Personal Finance #347, The Giants Edition

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FruGal

Most certainly!

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Kimberly

Thank you for sharing this tips because I had plan to have a vacation this month I think some of the tips here is useful for me..
Kimberly recently posted..Natural Remedies For Tinnitus

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Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

I used to work for a timeshare company and even I wasn’t pleased with the way busy was done. I have no problem if I know what is going on and is open but many people have no idea what they are signing up for. Who wants to spend there vacation suck in a presentation for 2-3 hours.
Thomas – Ways to Invest Money recently posted..8 Basic facets of business management

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FruGal

I completely agree with you–they should tell us ahead of time what it is.

Interesting that you used to work for one! Thanks for your “inside” perspective:).

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John @ Married (with Debt)

Ha! I’d love to go to the mandatory meeting, pop in some headphones, and lay my head down. Thanks for pointing this out. It will probably help a lot of people.
John @ Married (with Debt) recently posted..Questions to Ask Before Marriage: Money Edition

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FruGal

Hi John!

Boy they wouldn’t like that:).

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FG

Agreed, if it sounds too good it most likely is! I hate the way that the salesmen become pushy and try to scam you. Just shows how much you are overpaying by and how much goes to pad their commissions.
FG recently posted..Harper’s Plan to Cut Canada’s Old Age Security (OAS) Program

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101 Centavos

I’d have a hard time buying something on condition of enduring a lengthy presentation. No wonder timeshares get a bad rap.
101 Centavos recently posted..Buying Uranium When It’s in the Gutter

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rene@personal loans

Man have you ever sat through one of those timeshare talks.
Boring is the word. I’d be quite peeved if I bought a daily deal and had to endure one of those on my leisurely discounted holiday.
Thanks for the warning. I’ll be reading the fine print for sure.
rene@personal loans recently posted..Get Help With Personal Finance Through These Tips

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Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney

I have seen some of these great deals too, but I have passed them over without reading the fine print because they seemed too good to be true. Now I know why. Thanks for taking the time to do the research. I wonder how many people were scammed unintentionally?

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Aleta Masenten

Travel agencies probably do not have the best options however they do have information. Information is power, and you want this power in order to take the best decision possible to create your dream holidays. How to find your own dream holidays? In travel agencies. How to get the actual best travel deals? Using the information travel agencies give to you. So, how should I use travel agencies information in order to get the best travel deals for my personal dream holiday? ‘

Make sure you visit our personal internet site as well

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