Timeshare blues in the age of COVID-19, when the coronavirus keeps you from using yours
Getting into a timeshare in the Bahamas was easy. But getting out because you’re never able to get there turns out to be not so easy.
My Daddy has paid the rent
And the insurance man is gone
And the lights is back on
And my uncle Brud has hit
For one dollar straight
And they is good times...”
I really miss that frame of mind.
It’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed the “good times.”
COVID-19 robbed us of that feeling in 2020, when we were forced to cover our mouths and noses and retreat to our homes.
And just when we thought the worst was over, we’re hit with another indoor mask mandate and the possibility of booster shots.
Help me, Lord.
Such is life.
This was the year I was sure I would be able to make use of a timeshare I’ve owned in Nassau, Bahamas, since, hmmm, 1996?
I haven’t been to the resort in years. I’d always make plans to go, and something would come up. It’s amazing how fast a year, packed with obligations, can fly by.
Anyway, the COVID-19 travel warnings were enough to keep me at home.
Still, I begrudgingly paid my annual assessment, knowing I’m not likely to set foot on those sandy beaches anytime soon.
The naysayers were right. For timeshare owners like me, the decision to purchase the “good times” was a bad idea.
When the resort mistakenly sent my account to a collection company that charged hundreds of dollars in fees, I was outraged.
According to industry experts, many timeshare developers were cutting owners some slack by deferring maintenance fees. After years of profiting from my unused week, I couldn’t believe my timeshare didn’t show any consideration for the plight many of the owners found themselves in.
Besides that, my desired airline wasn’t operating flights to the Bahamas, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorized the Bahamas as Level 3, indicating a high level of COVID infections.
Getting a bogus collection demand was the ultimate insult.
It was time to say goodbye to those “good times.”
When I offered the timeshare to my adult children, there weren’t any takers. Though they had fond memories of vacationing there, they didn’t want to commit to owning a timeshare.
I can’t blame them, even though I recently ran into a guy who said he owned four timeshares that he used every year.
Unloading a timeshare isn’t easy.
You don’t know whom to trust.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars buying a vacation spot, and now I’m being asked to spend thousands more to get rid of it.
Several years ago, I was so fed up with paying for something I wasn’t using that I consulted a so-called timeshare exit company that consumers later sued for fraud.
“The situation has gotten worse in the last two months,” Gordon Newton, author of the “Consumer’s Guide to Timeshare Exit,” told Forbes magazine earlier this summer” for a story headlined “How Do I Get Rid of My Timeshare In A Pandemic?” “Many of these companies have no experience in the timeshare exit business, and there is no regulation to stop anyone from opening a timeshare exit company.”
It looks like this is an industry set up to fleece you coming in and fleece you going out.
It is hard to accept that something that once brought me so much joy is now such a burden.
I’ll miss Nassau’s vibe, but the most memorable vacations for me now are those spent with family scattered across the United States.
“My Mama has made bread
and Grampaw has come
and everybody is drunk
and dancing in the kitchen
and singing in the kitchen
oh these is good times…”
oh children think about the
— Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)