Time-share Victims' Try to Cut Their Losses, at Any Price

Agressive marketing wooed many buyers that now want out

In recent years, an increasing number of Israelis have tried to rid themselves of time-share vacation units they had acquired for about $10,000, offering to sell them for a nominal fee or even to give them away due to high maintenance fees - starting at NIS 1,700 - which management companies charge.

A number of international time-share companies offer schemes in Israel under which a person buys the right to spend a fixed period each year - from three days to two months - at a specified vacation unit. The disadvantage of time-shares - apart from the maintenance fee - is that owners are entitled to use their unit only during the predetermined period.

In the mid-1990s, companies waged intensive marketing campaigns, complete with soirees in which prospective buyers were wined, dined, given gifts and shown promotional films, to convince them that a time-share is a good investment. Many Israelis were wooed by assurances that they could trade their time period for a different time or spend their vacation at an affiliated time-share facility elsewhere. However, in most instances that has not been the case.