In a post on Howard’s website from last year, he goes into great detail as to why he considers timeshares a defective product. He also focuses on a new law which passed in Florida making it even harder for those who own timeshares to resell their units by preventing people to sell to what are referred to in the industry as “Viking Ships.”
Timeshare Viking Ships are a controversial and somewhat unethical way for timeshare owners to get rid of their unwanted unit. What they do is charge the owner a fee to take the timeshare, then put it into a company that declares bankruptcy, forcing the resort to take back the unit.
To support his opinion that timeshares are a defective product, Howard brings to attention the timeshare industry’s apparent desperation to keep owners paying maintenance fees, and all of the other fees associated with owning a timeshare, by making it more than a little difficult to resell their timeshare.
To prove his point, Howard highlights the secondhand market for timeshares. He states that his definition of a defective product is one where there are hundreds of owners wishing to sell, while there is not anyone who is interested in purchasing the product. He also points out that many timeshare owners may not see the initial defectiveness of their purchase until they try to resell it. In fact, many owners are perfectly happy with their unit when they are able to use them on a regular basis. However, it’s when their circumstances change and they’re unable to use their unit that they find it is nearly impossible to resell it, and they must continue paying all associated fees until it’s sold.
Howard’s advice to anyone who is considering a timeshare purchase is very firm. He says you should not walk, but run away. In fact, he goes on to state that, “…unless you can go in with two broken arms and know you won’t sign any documents” you should not go to any timeshare presentations.
Another aspect that Howard does not mention, although he is most likely aware of it, is the fact that timeshares can be rented for the price of the maintenance fees without any upfront investments. In some cases, timeshares can even be rented for less than maintenance fees. From a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to purchase a timeshare and be responsible for all associated fees when you can simply rent the unit for about the same price as the maintenance fees.
Of course, the resorts would much rather you remain an owner and pay all of their fees than take back your unit so they must resell it. Which, Howard states, is one of the main reasons why he considers it as a defective product. It’s a major red flag when owners try to return their units to the company, without any reimbursement for the money they spent on its purchase, and the resorts won’t accept it. Howard calls lawmakers out on their efforts to pass more laws which protect the timeshare company’s profits, while Viking Ship companies may be the only choice for some owners to get rid of their unwanted units.
So, if you are wondering what a well-known consumer expert’s opinion is on purchasing a timeshare, then you should know that according to Clark Howard, they are simply a defective product.