Monday, August 30, 2010

Imagine This

Imagine this…you own a car…free and clear. You paid $25,000 for it four years ago. As with any car, it needs periodic maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotation, front wheel alignment, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Now imagine that your driving needs change…you either move somewhere where you don’t need a car, such as New York City, or you buy a newer car with more “stuff” like a GPS navigation unit. Happens everyday.

So, what to do with the car that you no longer use/want? Well, if you are like most consumers, you put an ad online, put flyers up in heavily trafficked areas, tell your friends, family and co-workers that you have a car for sale or advertise it in a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, etc.

Just to see if you’re paying attention here…you don’t expect to sell the car for $25,000 do you? How about $32,000? Of course not.

What if you received a phone call out of the blue from a company that told you that they had a buyer for your car and that all they needed was $1,500 for the paperwork? Chances are that you’d hang up on them.

OK, what if you received a glossy, four-color postcard from a company that said in part, “…we provide a contractual agreement that guarantees the transfer of your car out of your name…” and said that they were going to be in town for three days next month and that you should call to secure an appointment?

What if you were curious and took them up on their offer only to find out at this meeting that the “transfer” they were talking about consisted of you handing over the title to your car AND a cash payment of $3,500, thereby relieving you of the cost of the oil changes, tire rotation, etc.?

Oh and by the way, just so you aren’t confused here…the $3,500 is JUST to transfer the title…if this company actually ends up selling your car to someone else, say for $10,000, you don’t get ANY of the proceeds. You are just supposed to give them the free and clear title and the cash.

I know, what you are thinking…are you out of your mind? Who would ever do such a thing? Heck, it would be better to just GIVE the car away outright rather than pay someone $3,500 to transfer the title, right?

Well, change “car” to “timeshare” and change “oil changes, tire rotation, front wheel alignment, etc.” to “maintenance fees” and you have the insane story of what thousands of timeshare owners are doing every year. To the tune of over $40 million dollars annually in “transfer fees.”

There is nothing at all to stop companies from doing business like this. There is nothing illegal about it at all. But there is something that timeshare owners can do…they can educate themselves and wise up.

Use some common sense people or suffer the consequences.

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