Timeshare Entrapment – An Allegory

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“Ownership” is usually a good thing. The term “ownership” implies dominion, investment, or entitlement to the thing owned. Timeshare “ownership”,  on the other hand, may feel more like entrapment than anything else. This is because a timeshare, when considered in light of all the baggage it entails, especially the debt typically incurred to finance it, is a net liability. Even after it’s paid off, the timeshare typically is not saleable on any secondary market, as exorbitant and escalating maintenance dues assessed year after year substantially reduce or eliminate any appeal to a would-be buyer.

Thus, the ‘ownership’ of a timeshare is often more properly characterized as ‘entrapment’ than dominion or investment. So if a timeshare is a trap, what kind is it? Is there some kind of physical analogy or metaphor which properly describes timeshare entrapment?

There are many types of physical traps. The dead-fall, the snare, the pit-fall, and the various spring traps, are but a few.

The dead-fall is a crude, cruel, and obvious trap. It consists of heavy, flattened stone, tenuously propped up by a stick, which is baited at the base. The weight of the stone crushes the hapless little animal tugging to free the bait when the stick collapses. Few animals will fall for this one, much less the sly fox, the wily coyote, or the ever-industrious beaver. Even the wild boar, a generally impetuous brute of reckless disposition, will seldom be allured upon sighting such an obvious ruse. Its human equivalent would be something like a deed to some unseen swampland in a far off place. It worked a time or two, perhaps, many years ago, but that’s about it.

More than a few animals, on the other hand, will still fall for, and fall into, the covered pit trap. Hence the term ‘pit-fall’.   Particularly the witless wild boar, hungry and headstrong, and a hedonist at heart, will allow his acute sense of olfaction and hunger overwhelm his better judgment. He’s a slave to his instincts, and this very lack of resolve will soon find him falling headlong, precipitously into the bottom of the abyss.

Colloquially, and not to cast aspersions of cannibalism in the direction of the poor porker, but you might even say that he fell for some kind of ‘pig-in-the-poke’ trickery. The proverbial pig-in-the-poke was once a commonly employed graft involving a stray possum or some other animal touted as a piglet and sold in a burlap sack, sight unseen. Now days, it generally refers to any sales scheme where you just don’t know quite what you’re really getting.  A used car from a dusty corner lot, perhaps, with no car-fax. But it’s still not as sophisticated as a timeshare sale.

And then there’s the snare. This sophisticated little trap generally entails the use of a bent-over sapling or counter weighted rock strung to a hold, tenuously held to a ground-based anchor. The hold, in turn, is attached to a noose of sorts. It will ensnare even the craftiest fox,  as he bends down to pick the bait planted just behind the looped noose, tugging at it a  little, unwittingly triggering release of the trap.

Imagine the terror in the mind of the poor little vermin as he’s raptured rapidly into the heavens – animal heaven, to be sure, but sadly before his time. Be it the fox, the clever little squirrel, or even the Briar Rabbit, none are immune to this treachery.

So now we’ve come to the point where the actual physical trap is a much closer analog of the metaphorical timeshare trap. The latter is baited, not with cheese or a raisin, but with free theme park tickets or a discounted resort stay.  And although there’s still crude, brute force behind it, its deployment is far more camouflaged, more nuanced. Perhaps the wiliest coyote will  fail to appreciate the jeopardy concealed in the hair-like filament of the limp-lying loop, if he sees it at all.

Just so, the practiced physician, the studious accountant, and the learned jurist may well fail to appreciate the subtle ways of the timeshare sales subterfuge. Indeed, even the sagacious professor is overwhelmed by the opulent resort surroundings, the guile of the saleslady, and her silky-smooth marketing pitch.  Everything looks, feels, and sounds so solid, so legitimate. And, so thinks the learned man, “behold, it’s all right in front of me, marble floors, Grecian statues, soaring ceilings, a four-star, silk-stocking resort!'” But alas, all the bricks and mortar in the world will simply falter, collapse, and crumble to the ground like the ruins of ancient Rome. Only it doesn’t take a thousand years. Heck, it doesn’t even take five minutes. No, in the twinkling of an eye, and with one stroke of the pen, the sage man, giddy with excitement, sets his inked plume to the parchment. Like Chamberlain at Munich, penning words of appeasement. And now London is in ruins.

Okay, so maybe we get a little melodramatic. And although we don’t necessarily employ Churchill, we’re pretty good at dealing with timeshare problems. So feel free to call us free of charge.

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