05 November 2010

From timeshare to wine investment - A tale

A single lady I know of once bought a timeshare.  It was all the craze at one stage, and perhaps still is.  Heck, even I bought one.  The difference was that I've a family of four, and given that I do travel for holidays, timeshare does offer a lot of interesting opportunities, and potentially 'savings'.  I did a guesstimate and figured that a couple would not likely breakeven in most cases.  What more a single?

A couple of years after paying annual maintenance fees, which had been escalating year on year, the lady realised that it was beginning to be a financial drain, and sought to minimise the pain.  So she went back to the timeshare company and had it downgraded to an alternate year ownership (i.e. own a week on alternate year).  That reduced her maintenance fees by half.

Along the way, she was solicited by some other companies that offered to help her sell off her timeshare.  However, in order to do so, she would have to pay $500 for an administrative fee to advertise and market her timeshare for sale.  You can pretty much figured out what happened.  More money went the way of the void of infinite emptiness.  She was still stuck with the timeshare, and $500 poorer.

Alas, this coming from a lady who actually asked if an e-mail she received from UK could be true?  The e-mail said that she had won a million pounds and asked her to deposit a fee so that her winnings could be sent to her.  *sigh*

Soon after, she was invited to a free talk on wine investment.  Free food, no commitments and all that. So why not? After all, she was a lonely single who had nothing better to do on her weekends anyway.  Interestingly, it turned out that the wine investment company was prepared to offer her a most attractive package.  She could convert her timeshare ownership into a wine investment package!  Wow wee!  What a joy.  Get rid of a money sucking thing and turn it into a money making opportunity that offered wonderful returns.  Even Robert Kiyosaki ("Rich Dad, Poor Dad") might have been proud. 

But, and a big one at that, the lady doesn't know anything about wine!  She doesn't even drink, let alone trying to understand how wine investment would actually reap any returns. 

We can probably guess how this went.  The wine investment company disappeared one day (it was in the press), along with the tens of thousands that she had paid for her timeshare ownership previously, which she had turned over to them. 

So, from timeshare, to 'half-share', to wine investment, and finally to nothing to share.  Now that's what I call a zero return investment with zero capital protection.  Or, as Buzz Lightyear said, "To infinity, and beyond!"

The morale of this story?  There are plenty that comes to mind from the above.  I leave it as an exercise and an open invitation for readers to post comments here on this.  8)

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