Time-share buyers beware, author says

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The perks of sitting through a time-share sales pitch are enticing: Free tickets to the aquarium, a $200 gift card, a free two-night getaway to Myrtle Beach.

And the idea of “owning” your own place at the beach — one week a year, for the rest of your life — sounds alluring.

But the devil is in the details — and those details are buried deep within any contract you may sign, said Joseph Skiba, a Chesapeake author and time-share salesman in Virginia Beach for the past decade.

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He retired last October; by November, he had penned his newly published book: “A Time-Share Salesman’s Sales Secrets Divulged.”

Although he was only doing his job, he says he feels guilty for his lucrative time-share sales career.

“I consider myself the best liar in town,” said Skiba. “I got fed up with lying … to hard-working, middle-class people who can’t afford them (the time-shares).

“What I’ve done bothers me. The money was good but it really got to me.”

Skiba says his 176-page book is packed with useful information: typical high-pressure sales tactics used in the time-share industry; contract information that salesmen usually don’t share with customers; and things he believes people neglect to think about during a sales pitch.

“This book is not to beat up on time-shares,” he said. “I really just want the public to understand what they are getting into before they sign anything.”

For example, Skiba says, most time-shares are for life. But even after the customer pays off the cost to “buy” his week, he is still obligated for yearly membership and maintenance fees that are likely to exceed $1,000 annually.

“Everyone who owns the other 51 weeks of that time-share unit is also paying that same maintenance fee,” Skiba said. “If you don’t use your week, you lose it.

“And when you sign that contract, it’s yours for life and you can leave it to your heirs.

“Trouble is, you are also leaving them the annual fees.”

While people can sell their weeks once the mortgage is paid off, they are often difficult to sell and people have to take a loss, Skiba said.

Skiba’s book is available in paperback and as an e-book.

It can be purchased on Amazon, Kindle and Barnes and Noble.