Media Flurry Following John Oliver’s Timeshare Segment on “Last Week Tonight”

I can’t relax. I find vacations problematic.

 John Oliver 

Comedian and political commentator John Oliver produced a remarkable expose on Timeshares on March 20 for his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. The segment generated over four million views and over 8,000 comments. Following the segment, other news outlets were quick to add their take on timeshares, some agreeing and some disagreeing with Mr Oliver’s opinions.

Mr Oliver’s segment prompted a YouTube produced by a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owner, Jen, of Magic in the Music. She insists that Disney is the antithesis of an industry plagued with unfair and deceptive practices. I agree. Charles and I have heard from over 2,500 disgruntled timeshare buyers, and not one Disney owner has ever contacted us. The law firms I’ve asked said they have never had a Disney client.

Jen said she had not heard of the timeshare exit industry! She thought that was because DVC owners like their timeshare. I feel it is because DVC owners don’t need an exit company. There is a viable secondary market, there are no restrictions on renting, and contracts are not perpetual. Jen said one attorney told her that timeshares are the only “asset” divorcing couples argue about who has to keep it – except Disney. Our attorney on the east coast made the exact same comment, not mentioning Disney.

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We heard from several of our readers after Last Week Tonhight aired. It was suggested we start a YouTube library. We did and it was  launched this week. In addition to media reports, we included a section of YouTube videos produced by timeshare consumers as well as a section of YouTube videos produced by industry experts. We also expanded our Resource section to include a U.S. section. Your feedback is greatly appreciated if you would care to comment. Just select the Resources EU & US Tab and the Media and YouTube Tab.

Following are links of news reports and paid content publications that followed Mr Oliver’s March 20 comedic timeshare rant, including:

1) The Guardian, 2) our own Charles Thomas at After Inside Timeshare, 3) Yahoo Finance, 4) CBS News, 5) Cheapism, and 7) Skift.

Mr Oliver warned about timeshare exit company scams, but that didn’t prevent one thinly veiled exit company from soliciting. We did not include their “article” following Last Week Tonight as it included a link to an exit company in the first paragraph.

In case you missed it:  John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

The Guardian was the first to respond to Mr Oliver’s segment, maybe because of being in the same time zone:

John Oliver on timeshares: ‘Lying is a key strategy’ March 20, 2023

Charles Thomas wasn’t far behind on March 22, offering his thoughts on British humour that our American auto-correct calls humor.

Yahoo Finance – Timeshares: Here’s what to know before buying in, March 30, 2023

Hedge Funds Like Timeshare Stocks Because They Are Evil

The next article is not a current publication, but I have to include Yahoo Finance Reporter, Abigail Fisher’s remarkable explanation as to why timeshare companies are popular among hedge funds – because they are evil. She likens the money that can be made by investing in timeshare stocks to how investors made money investing in evil stocks like Phillip Morris, as they slowly killed their customers.

In this article, we are going to look at another set of evil companies that use high-pressure sales tactics to trick consumers into signing complex long-term contracts that they don’t understand: timeshare marketing companies. Check out this Reddit post where the user is asking several questions about Wyndham timeshare cancellation. This person was able to cancel and receive a full refund, but many consumers don’t cancel within the 7-day or 10-day window specified in their contracts.

CBS News, Timeshares: Everything you need to know before buying in, March 30, 2023

This report included a video of someone who wired over $300,000 in a series of payments to a scam company calling themselves Intercontinental Realty LLC, claiming they could sell the timeshare owner’s Cancun timeshare for $1 million.

John Oliver also highlighted the timeshare buyer in the CBS News report that said they bought after five hours because “they were diabetic and needed to eat.”

Cheapism, Are Timeshares Worth it or a Total Scam? March 29, 2023

While not all timeshares are scams, the entire process — from the hard sell to getting rid of the property — is full of financial pitfalls, including surprise fees, complicated contracts, and never-ending maintenance costs. You’re also buying a depreciating asset that, unlike a traditional condo or home, is nigh impossible to sell. Our advice? Avoid the timeshare vultures and plan a conventional vacation.

Skift: Timeshare Companies to Face More Consumer Lawsuits, March 23, 2023

This Skift article is somewhat hypocritical as Skift recently hosted a Webinar promoting Wyndham (Travel & Leisure) and Hilton Grand Vacations. In this Skift article, a law firm states they will be filing class action lawsuits against a number of Developers, including Wyndham and Hilton Grand Vacations. Timeshare companies force arbitration, prohibiting class actions, so the article appears to be a law firm soliciting business. Unless it concerns a systemic issue, like overcharging maintenance fees, class action are unlikely to proceed. Fraud by inducement doesn’t work because damages are not uniform, according to attorneys I spoke with,

Consumer Awareness

I applaud John’s efforts. He has done more to raise awareness about the “oral representation” clause than I have been able to accomplish in eight years. Mr Oliver mentioned a 2016 New York Times article that quoted an attorney calling the oral representation clause a “License to Lie.” That attorney was Michael Finn, who is always there when we reach out for comment.

In our article, Why the Non-reliance Clause is Unfair in Timeshare Contracts, May 20, 2021, Mr Finn explains why this clause has no place in a timeshare contract. Author Tiffany Renee’s parents were held for 11 hours and provided no food. Her mom said that on the way back from a bathroom break, she caught their agent eating a sandwich that he quickly shoved back into his drawer, caught eating. Listening to a daily diet of reports like this keeps me in a perpetual state of timeshare anger and frustration. Too many families have been harmed, and even one active duty service member who loses his or her security clearance because of a timeshare loan default is one too many.

Finally, I would like to add my endorsement for Maui Lea at Maui Hill, a timeshare my husband and I purchased in 1984. Some, especially attorneys, feel timeshares are never a good value. Maui Hill’s current owner, our daughter, said that her maintenance fees were $1,300 for 2023. I reached out to the rental platform Koala to find out what amount should she set if she wanted to rent out the week. I was informed that the least expensive booking site required $2,200 for Maui Hill this year. We paid $12,000 for our Maui Hill week 39 years ago. Prorated, that is $307 a year, not counting the years our daughter will continue to use it. Timeshares do sometimes make financial sense.

Point programs can have formidable rental restrictions. Members and owners should check with their resort before attempting to rent.  Bluegreen Vacations has been suspending owner accounts due to reservations in the name of others. Some resorts are starting to issue guest certificates to curtail renting.

Now Live, A Media and YouTube Timeshare Library, also prompted by Mr Oliver.

Thank you, Irene, who would have thought that a piece about timeshares by a comedian would have caused such a stir, we certainly did not. John Oliver has with his wit taken a very serious topic and using comedy actually brought home the truth about timeshare, why do we say this, very simply, the number of other publications which have picked up on it?

Even The Guardian, a UK Newspaper ran the story, which considering the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories they have had access to over the years, is a step forward. For those who remember the story of Mrs B vs MacDonald Resorts, which was published in the old Inside Timeshare, was one of total abuse by a developer. Yet not one UK newspaper including The Guardian ran the story, which as you know resulted in a victory for Mrs B after six long and gruelling years.

So what has changed?

Nothing really is the simple answer, it’s just news, and it will all be forgotten in a couple of weeks by the mainstream media, it is after all the way John Oliver used his own brand of humour, using language we all understand (blunt & to the point), that appears to be the focus of all the attention. They are actually paying scant attention to the detail, they have added nothing to the story and we have yet to see if any of them follow it up with their own investigative reports.

As for the industry on both sides of the Great Lake, not a peep. Nothing from ARDA or the RDO, surely they have something to say in “DEFENCE” of an industry built on lies. Don’t their members pay them to be their voice?

To John Oliver, we at AIT along with all our readers and associated groups, thank you for highlighting a very serious and damaging legalised fraud, because that is what it is, anything that has to be sold on a lie is a “FRAUD”. John put the point across with humour and I’m sure all of us who have watched it have used the same phraseology in the past, including the expletives!

All we can hope for now is what he started will not fizzle away like I suspect it will, but that other media outlets start taking up the cudgel and get these stories out there. You don’t need to look far, we have plenty in our archives with more being added each day.

That is all for this week, we hope you have a great holiday weekend, especially if you don’t work in hospitality, as for Baby Dog he is having a good sleep ready for his weekend, wonder what he is dreaming about?


1 comment

  1. Les Jamieson

    Hats off to John Oliver for this detailed exposé. Having my own nightmare experiences as a Wyndham timeshare member, I am painfully aware of his explanation of how cruel and deceptive the industry is and how the public is preyed upon. I was shocked to learn that timeshare industry takes in $8.1 billion annually! This shows how management encourages their sales agents to lie, subject people to tortuous hours-long presentations, and basically do whatever they find is necessary to get their sale. They are expert at getting people to let their guard down. They will offer first-time buyers incredible deals, knowing that once they have the buyer on board they will upsell them repeatedly. They also know that when people purchase the timeshare or upgrade, they’re on vacation and completely preoccupied so 99 out of 100 people won’t raise issues until way after the short rescission period.

    Here’s another point that should be raised. If we add up how much people pay for their timeshare, the high interest rate (mine is 12.9%), plus maintenance fees over their lifetime, it will be far higher than what we would have otherwise paid for vacations.

    Hopefully this recent exposure will lead to long-needed regulations that will prevent timeshare companies from ensnaring people into unfair contracts for a depreciating product they are stuck with and that they will pay an exorbitant amount for over their lifetime.

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