Sunday, July 16, 2023

Timeshares: A Killer Industry


By Claire Booth

I’m a big fan of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the satirical news show on HBO. I’ve been catching up on season 10 lately and was delighted to find that he’s done an episode on timeshares. Timeshares are the swindle-riddled scourge of the vacation industry, and Oliver breaks down (and eviscerates) the industry. He also, as one must when talking about these things, mentions Branson.

Timeshares abound in Branson, with multiple companies trumpeting their proximity to Ozark nature and the many music and variety shows for which the city is famous. Oliver showed a video with one poor guy who spent $15,000 on a Branson timeshare years ago and had not been able to use it because of all the roadblocks the company kept putting in front of him.

Actual timeshare conversation!
I first heard about timeshares in Branson eight years ago while doing book signings for my first Sheriff Hank Worth novel. I was at the Branson Books-A-Million and started chatting with a gentleman in cowboy costume. It turned out that he was a singer for breakfast shows where timeshares were sold. That fact stuck with me and when it came time to write book five, Dangerous Consequences, I knew that’s what I wanted to focus on. The plot revolves around breakfast shows and the lengths their managers will go to in order to make a sale.

I did a lot of research, including finding an investigation of the industry by the Better Business Bureau of Eastern and Southwest Missouri. I literally applauded when Oliver started quoting from it. He highlighted two victim’s stories—one whose parents endured a seven-hour sales pitch before succumbing and spending more than $10,000; and a woman who gave in and bought one after five hours of high pressure because she was diabetic and needed to leave so she could eat. (All of this, perfect ammunition for a murder mystery novel, by the way).

If timeshare murders are your thing, click here for more info or to buy.
So if me killing people (fictionally) doesn’t convince you that timeshares are a bad purchase, then listen to John Oliver. And run away, as far and as fast as you can.


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