The Timeshare Trap: How I Got Out of It
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I speak from experience...
... because I got trapped into a timeshare. The poison that I chose was WorldMark by Wyndham and their floating timeshare plan. I was young, I was optimistic and I was stupid. I let the sales man flatter me into thinking I DESERVED a vacation property (or in this case, the credits for it so I could use them where they had resorts). When I was hesitant, the agent said I had 3 months to make up my mind, and got me signing on the dotted line. Turns out that when I changed my mind 2 weeks later that that was a lie. I was stuck with a dead weight. Then I lost my job because the economy crashed. I was stuck with a payment that was killing me. Fortunately my car was paid off. I managed to find another job in customer service that paid much less. I tried selling my timeshare. I got scammed out of $1500 trying to sell with companies that lied about saying they would sell it. What I am sharing now is a summary of how I personally got out of the trap. I do not guarantee that this will work for you, but I do know it worked for me. I also know that if you are thinking about buying a timeshare that I have one piece of advice. NEVER EVER EVER BUY A TIMESHARE! Even if you have millions of dollars, don't waste your money! Since I got rid of this I have been on vocations which were far more flexible & fun, and far cheaper. If you do think you can afford it, I would suggest thoroughly investigating and talking to a large number of owners to see what experience you get, because when I did use it the one time the service was awful, the resort was filthy, they made me pay for internet access, and there were cockroaches in our room. It was a fantastic honeymoon! [Note that this is sarcasm]
I tried selling the timeshare, but I owed more on it that it was worth. IF you do not owe more that it is worth, try selling at Timeshare Angels. They sell based off of the fair market and are honest. They never ask for money up front. If any business offers to list your timeshare for a price, it is a scam. It doesn't matter if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau. List only with companies that are paid AFTER the sale is complete.
Getting Out of It:
I spent 3 years scraping together money to pay off the debt one payment at a time. For the first time EVER I had collection calls and I was late on payments. I was ashamed. I hid it from family. I worked overtime trying to get enough money to pay a little extra. THAT WAS MY BIGGEST MISTAKE!
With the advice of some experts on timeshares, I realized that I needed to let the payment go past 90 days over due. I followed that advice. I then called WorldMark and said, :"My credit is shot already. This timeshare is worthless. If you send this to the credit bureaus as defaulted it will do nothing more to me than I can't handle and that has already been done by having this piece of trash timeshare. Here is the deal. I am willing to settle for a portion of the amount owed." I was told some of the following, "You will have to talk to a supervisor," or "You may have to deal with a collection agency." The last comment was true. I did deal with the collection agency. In fact if it hasn't been sent to a collection agency and they won't play ball then wait until it is sent to one. Once they have agreed to do this GET A SIGNED LETTER sent to you that verifies that once you have paid off the settlement amount that the debt is paid in full! DO NOT MAKE ANY PAYMENTS UNTIL YOU HAVE THAT LETTER! I got a letter with a typo and I insisted that that was corrected before I would make any payments. Once you have this confirmed, get a credit report about 2 months after the debt is paid off (most credit unions offer this for free if you are a member). If the debt is still showing as not being settled then you MUST contact the collection agency AND the timeshare company to have it corrected. If you follow this you will be able to get rid of that dead weight that is killing you and your family. Remember, this is a disaster! DO NOT TRY TO SAVE THE TIME SHARE! It is not worth the pain, the heart ache, and debt to have a vacation spot. You have to make the decision yourself of its worth. This advice is based off of my experiences. I am not a financial adviser so if you have one, please consult them before doing anything as they may have other ideas. But I can tell you that I became free from these chains by doing the above.
Recently someone posted a comment that was rather rude on here. I deleted it, but its implications were interesting so I wanted to post a comment for those who may think like that particular individual. Essentially the person implied that I and people like me were fools for falling into the trap to begin with. That isn't what was said. It actually was very rude. But I have to say in some ways I agree. Falling for a con like timeshares is rather stupid. Of course, falling for any con is like that. If you are luck enough not to fall for such a trap or you are reading this and decide not to because of my and other individual's experiences, I am happy for you. But snap judgments on other mistakes is ignorant at the least and hypocritical at the most. As such, any such comments that are a criticism on mistakes made will not be tolerated. Normally I don't do this, but this article is not a judgment. It is simple providing help and hope for those who have been conned. Feel free to ask questions, offer advice, or share successes & failure, but anything else that implies judgment, abusive, or that is rude will be deleted. Walk a mile in another shoes before you make judgments.
Some Final Notes:
First, you need to understand that this way that I mention is not a way to regain the money you lost. This is cutting off the dead weight. If you are holding out to get some money back, good luck. That is what nearly killed me. There is an economic term called sunk cost. The idea is that it is already invested and you can't get it back. Realize that the money you have already spent is a sunk cost and then cut loose the debt that is killing you.
Second, let me give you some information about me. I settled the debt in January 2011. In March 2011 I did the credit report and found the credit agencies were not updated on the debt's status. I called and had them correct it. As of the writing of this article (End of August 2011) I am free. Because of sound financial advice my credit score has recovered and was in the low 700's last I checked (which was July). I am not saying that this will happen to you, but I am saying that this is a possible solution to you timeshare demons.
Feel free to leave feedback and best of luck become free from the slavery of debt.
Sites on Timeshare Scams
How to Sell or Cancel Your Timeshare