• Apr

    The Mexican Timeshare Scam 


    My girlfriend and I visited Mexico for the first time in 2004 on a one week all-inclusive trip. The morning after we arrived, there was a short orientation that we decided to attend. One of the questions was if there were sharks in the water. That innocent question created an explosive tirade from our guide, who started talking about the timeshare sharks, as they’re known, who prey on, and rip off, tourists. After a long discourse on who these people are (and how to get rid of them), she ended her discourse by saying, “These, these are the real sharks of Mexico.”

    Not long after that, we were accosted in various attempts to get us to a “presentation” with offers of free tickets to shows, events, and in many cases, gifts of cash with amounts ranging from $100-400.00 per couple. As I discovered later, many of these so-called ticket vouchers were fake. People would show up for the tours and no one would be there to greet them. Fortunately, we didn’t fall for it. 

    Timeshare fraud snares many tourists, and people get ripped off all the time. Without going into all the details, a timeshare in Mexico seems to operate under the same premise as timeshares in other countries, but the difference here is that most of what seems to be available is actually a place that’s been so oversold that it’s impossible to actually stay there.

    Timeshare sharks will go at great lengths to get you to a presentation, usually on the premise of something free. The common sales pitch is that it’s only a 90 minute presentation, but in realilty it’s more like 4-5 hours. That’s a great way to waste valuable time on your holiday. Worse, you’re often taken to remote locations and it’s difficult to leave without being harrangued into buying something.

    At one point, it actually became comical. I was sitting with Carol at a bus stop, waiting for our ride back to Nuevo Vallarta. At one point, an older man, about 60 and quite heavy, engaged me in conversation. At first I thought he was being friendly, then it suddenly hit me that he was a shark. Eventually he came out with the pitch and I said, “No.” “Why not? he asked. “Time share.” I said. His shoulders slumped and in a dejected voice, said: “Oh well, I had to try,” he said. My girlfriend had a great laugh over the whole thing.

    How to Get Rid of Timeshare Sharks 

    Probably the best strategy is to avoid eye contact and walk away. Don’t engage with them in any way, shape or form. Any interaction will be used to get you to a presentation. These people are ruthless, relentless and will use any come-on to get your attention. 

    Two years ago, I warned some friends of mine about the scam in Puerto Vallarta, but my friend didn’t take my warning seriously and wound up talking to “a nice guy” who later turned out to be a shark. He also made the mistake of giving this man their room number. The shark called them 5 times at 8:00am the next morning, trying to get them to a presentation. My friend finally got on the phone and told the shark to go to….. before he finally left them alone. Worse, the shark was waiting for them in the lobby.

    Of these organizations, the worst by far is “The Mayan Palace,” number one timeshare fraud in all of Mexico.

    The last time I was in Bucerias, the timeshare scam was extremely active in Bucerias. People were being harassed so badly that travel agencies in Canada and the US were warning people not to walk down the main drag (Lazaro Cardenas) in Bucerias and to take the lateral road or go into downtown by way of the beach. 

    When I returned to Bucerias (in 2006), I was nearly caught at the airport. The timeshare sharks would dress in quasi uniforms that made them look like taxi drivers. One of them hit me up as soon as I came out of customs. One of the things that tipped me off was the price he was asking for the taxi ride to Bucerias which was outrageous (450 pesos – I could get the ride for 2-250), but what really grabbed my attention was when he made the comment of going to my hotel via the Playa del Sol. I had to hear it twice before I realized he was a shark and got away from him. After that, walking through the airport was like running a gauntlet. I wound up getting away from the sharks but wound up with an expensive taxi ride (300 pesos). 

    After that experience, I realized that the best way of dealing with the problem was to head out the main door and use the overhead walkway to the other side of the highway. I did that this time and the price was 250 pesos, still high, in my opinion, but better than before. 

    And that brings me to another point, when asking for a taxi ride, make sure you ask if the price also includes a tip. That will save you from a nasty surprise later, if the driver wants a tip on top of your fare. 

    Watch Out for Fake Tours 

    Another fraud was ripping off tourists for fake excursions. This would sometimes be a part of the timeshare scam, but it also operated independently where these operators seemed to operate from a genuine location. 

    One other thing. Never, under any circumstances, buy tickets from a vendor selling them on the beach. That’s almost certainly a guarantee of fraud. 

    © Nathan Segal


13 responses to “The Mexican Timeshare Scam ” RSS icon

  • Mexico is a developing nation, and its economy relies heavily on tourism. With its beautiful beaches and surroundings, it should be easy to sell timeshares in Mexico, but because of the bad reputation the concept is gaining, it’s not easy to do it in an ethical way. Therefore, a big number of timeshare companies use fraudulent sales tactics to boost their sales, which is a Mexico timeshare scam. The government in Mexico is working on making more strength regulations regarding timeshares, but there are still many timeshare developers who do not respect the sales practices regulations.

  • Before making a timeshare purchase you have to think objectively, despite all the promises you will be told in order for you to buy a timeshare. If a timeshare is such a good investment, why are thousands of people to sell their properties? Very simple, because it is really hard to keep on with the annual payments, and with the economy as it is now, it is important to manage our money properly and keep our credit record clean, for the sake of our families.

  • There are good timeshares out there, as well as there are people who feel happy about their timeshare purchases, especially those who enjoy to vacation at the same place and are not spontaneous travelers. Unfortunately, due to the big number of timeshare scams being committed against many vacationers, the industry has gained a terrible reputation.

  • This could well be true but I’ve not seen a system in place to show people the difference between a legitimate operation and a scam. In Mexico, in my experience, the scams are rampant. Not knowing how to tell the difference, I avoid all time share pitches.

  • The timeshare industry has been into the lion’s mouth for the last couple of years, and it has generated lots of controversy and discussions in many forums and blogs on the web. However, since we’re living an economic downturn, anyone would expect that the timeshare sales collapse, but instead of that the sales seem to be increasing… but this comes with a trap: timeshare scams are increasing too. That leads us to the question: then, why keep people investing on timeshares?

  • That’s a great question. I have no idea. All I do know is that when I looked at the numbers for becoming involved in a timeshare, they didn’t work. I’ve not been able to figure out why anyone would want to buy one.

  • Timeshare scams have been around since the beginning of the timeshare industry, but these frauds weren’t well known until recent years. What happen is that before there were not as many timeshare laws and regulations as there are now (as you can see on the article get out of a timeshare legally so many of the owners just resigned to the fact that they had to keep the timeshare they bought without thinking.

  • Thanks for your comment. It’s good to know things are changing.

  • Most of people who have purchased timeshare contracts become excited about the travel possibilities express by a sales representative. These possibilities usually are never used. By this time you probably realized that you spent thousands of dollars on a timeshare that is not what you or your family need.

  • There are many reasons why people keep buying timeshares properties. Most of these reasons are based on the fact that they were told a bunch of lies and fake promises in order to get a sale done. Because of that, there are more reasons why these people want to cancel the contract. As the time passes and the fees start to pour in, it becomes a hard task to rent the unit out and selling it it’s even more difficult, not to say impossible.

  • Timeshares are not the financial investments consumers thought with it was. Timeshare resorts Such as Wyndham, Marriot, Disney, Royal Holiday or Mayan Palace are very successful at selling their timeshare products, timeshare consumers haven´t been as lucky.

    With the economy as it is today, consumers owning a timeshare out of their city are struggling to pay not just maintenance fees climbing yearly up to $800 yearly, they also have to pay transportation to their timeshare destination.

  • Buying a timeshare under the impresion you will save money on the long run on travel expenses such as airfare or cruises equals to being a victim of timeshare fraud. Timeshares will barely provide you a small discount on accomodations and that´s it. Timeshares will not provide you, in most cases, any discounts on your vacation expenses

  • Timeshares are not the financial investments consumers thought with it was. Timeshare resorts Such as Wyndham, Marriot, Disney, Royal Holiday or Mayan Palace are very successful at selling their timeshare products, timeshare consumers haven´t been as lucky.
    With the economy as it is today, consumers owning a timeshare out of their city are struggling to pay not just maintenance fees climbing yearly up to $800 yearly, they also have to pay transportation to their timeshare destination.

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