DEAR HARRY: I've been reading your columns forever, but I don't recall your ever touching on time-shares. Are they a good investment? We've been offered one week a year in Atlantic City for $16,000. We can trade it for a week at other company resorts for $145 in the U.S. or $158 abroad. They also are throwing in 12 yearly "getaways" at reduced rates. For listening to their pitch, they gave us vouchers for four round-trip airfares to any place in the U.S. We will have a $589 annual maintenance fee, which can increase over the years. I'm 65, and my wife is 56 and four years from retirement. I intend to continue in my job. As a closing concern, how difficult will it be to sell it?
WHAT HARRY SAYS: I have dealt with time-shares a number of times. My conclusion, after receiving 50 or 60 letters, is to avoid them. I've only had one person say she was completely satisfied with hers. Those promised alternative places frequently are oversubscribed, or no longer available, or undergoing renovations. Selling them is often almost impossible. The New York Times on a recent Sunday had two ads for people who wanted to give away the time-shares because they no longer could afford the annual fees. And asking the promoters to buy back your deal is futile because they have a huge inventory to sell. Just think: A 20-unit building has more than 1,000 time-shares to sell! My advice stands: Don't!