Saturday, August 30, 2008

Timeshare | Watch List

Timeshare | Company Watch List | Blacklist

International Companies Blacklisted Worldwide by the Timeshare Council
dated 8 August 2008 is a useful international reference guide when dealing with world timeshare companies. Check this global list before you do any business with them.

Click this link to go to timeshare council - an international watchdog on blacklisted timeshare companies around the world

List of Companies having Pending Complaints by Consumers with the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE)

Timeshare and timeshare-related complaints remain at the top of Consumer Association of Singapore' ( CASE )'s list of top consumer problems. From January to August 2008, CASE received 1,213 complaints against timeshare companies.

Filed Complaints 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008*
Total Complaints






Timeshare companies




Sub-category timeshare




Sub-category: resale timeshare




Sub-category: companies that promise to terminate timeshare contracts on behalf of consumers




*2008 (1 January - 31 August 2008)
+ 2006 (1 January - 31 August 2006)

NOTE: Not all timeshare disputes are reported to CASE as people don't want to go through the trouble of filing complaints (something scam companies are counting on). A high percentage of tourists who fall prey of such fly-by-night schemes also do not report to CASE as they are generally unaware of the laws of Singapore.

Timeshare complaints with CASEIn 12 June 2008, CASE, Singapore's Non-Profit Consumer Watchdog, won a court case against Global Europ under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act 2004. At the time of the lawsuit, Case said total claims against Global Europ were $155,478.80.

The first was Orion's Belt Network (OBN), in October 2006.

Singapore Timeshare companies which have pending complaints with CASE

Be wary of companies whose names start with the following alphabets:
ACDEGHIJLMNOPTUVWZ. These companies are on the watch list of International Timeshare Councils, CASE and mentioned in negative light in Singapore forums on timeshares.

If you want to buy timeshares, buy them from members of Timeshare Association (Singapore). Get an up todate list from TAS before meeting with the timeshare company concerned. If the timeshare company is disreputable, they may claim to be a member of Timeshare Association (Singapore) among other claims.

For those who need assistance, Case's hotline is 6463-1811. Help stamp out timeshare scam by not dealing with unaccredited companies!

TimeShare Complaints

© - Timeshare | Company Watch List

Timeshare Singapore

TimeShare Singapore (SG)

Timeshare is not regulated by the Singapore government for good reason. It is difficult legislate as their products are not standardized and most of the players are small fries. This means that legislation / regulation provides more administrative problems than possible economic / consumer benefits.

According to a Ministry of Trade & Industry spokesman, legislation was 'not a panacea' for consumers' woes. "Falling in line with laws will add to companies' operating costs which are usually passed on to consumers", she said.

On the other hand, there are some good legitimate timeshares (e.g. those offered by hotels directly for rooms on their own hotel properties). Anyone who has gone to short, sweet and simple (hassle-free) hotel timeshare presentations e.g. at Genting, Hilton hotels overseas know how cheap these hotel timeshare packages are! The lesson here: buy from big name resort / hotel owners directly.

Timeshares are called by many names like Holiday Clubs, Vacation Clubs, Travel Clubs, Business Travel Clubs, Deluxe Resort Packages, Incentive Travel Clubs etc. Don't be fooled by their fancy names.

Timeshare to most people in Singapore means buying something for future usage to save on travel expenses. Unfortunately, in real life, this is not the case. What happens is that the timeshare facilities are usually hardly use at all because of inherent problems in utilizing the timeshare facilities - negating the benefits of buying the timeshare in the first place.

Benefits of Timeshares?

timeshare investment scam promises singaporeOn the left, you will see what most consumers are promised when they attend a timeshare presentation. How many of these promises are delivered? Judging from the number of complaints from timeshare buyers - not many. (click to enlarge picture)

If you were to ask me, I would say don't bother with timeshares. Why?

Package Tours by Travel Agents

Most people like:

  1. to travel to different places annually;
  2. to travel free of constraints and encumbrances i.e. you can travel at peak periods (irrespective of whether it is the school holidays , summer holidays or the popularity of the resort);
  3. the convenience and experience of travel agents handling the accommodation and sight seeing arrangements;
  4. enjoy the company of other people;
  5. the economies of scale of group travel for room, meals, transport, admission to attractions etc.
  6. unlike time share companies, travel agents are regulated and licensed which means even if the travel agent goes belly up, you have recourse for a refund through the Singapore Tourism Board or NATAS. Licensed travel agents have to put a hefty deposit to ensure they fulfill their commitments to consumers.
Timeshare is successful in America and Europe as they have different travel patterns than us. They tend to make short trips to different places in their own region. Moreover, these people prefer a slower pace of travel - enjoying the area's places of interest, partaking in sports and generally in chilling out rather than boasting how many cities / places they have visited in one trip. Their timeshares are much like what we would do if we were to visit neighboring Penang, Pattaya or Bintang.

Also, the time-share industry in America and Europe are heavily regulated, so investors are protected - though not 100%. No investment offers 100% protection, no matter how good the company is.

Timeshares sold in America and Europe are also cheaper and there is a healthy resale market.

Savings in Holiday Travel through Timeshares

Cost savings in travel expenses is often cited as the most important point to consider. However, the problem is you have to enter into a lifetime contract. Your commitment is for a lifetime but the seller's commitment is not lifetime as they could go bust at any time.

The cost of a lifetime timeshare contract is:
  1. The Price of buying a timeshare which may vary from buyer to buyer. If you bargain harder, you get a better price (with varying terms and conditions applied to such a discount)
  2. Administrative or other upfront costs;
  3. Maintenance fees and other recurring annual fees, property taxes, club dues, reservations, housecleaning or exchanges.;
  4. Booking fees to use your yearly timeshare allocation;
  5. Most of these timeshare are tagged as "business travel" or "4-5 star rooms" which means that the hotel room rates you pay for timeshares could be high;
  6. If you have a big family (i.e. more than a double room allotment), you will have to upgrade at a higher cost;
  7. If you not longer find your timeshare property useful to you, it won't be easy to sell it because chances are you have bought an overpriced timeshare particularly if you had bought it from the now blacklisted promoters. It is likely you will have to take a heavy hit on your investment in order to get the deal done quickly. The resale is usually done through the OTe auction-like site and the sale could take a few months even if your price is right;
  8. The sales is being made through a hard sell salesperson which means that you are likely to be paying a high sales commissions / high margins on top of your purchase price;
  9. Timeshares generally do not appreciate in value.
With the advent of instantaneous Internet hotel room booking, there is now a whole host of opportunities to get cheap hotel rooms in any part of the world now. So why get stuck with a highly structured travel program like timeshare?

Convenience with Timeshares

Contrary to what timeshare promoters may say, it is not convenient to travel with timeshare.

  1. You will have to deposit your timeshare allotment with a timeshare booking company each year. It is a real hassle to exchange your timeshare allotment with another resort. So contrary to what timeshare promoters may say, your timeshare value is somewhat limited to the usage of the hotel / resort property that you had originally invested in (as CASE has often been advising would-be timeshare investors);
  2. you will have to plan your holiday travel with great accuracy i.e. one or two years ahead of time;
  3. you will have to travel at the convenience of timeshare companies. Chances of being disappointed (at not being able to get your preferred time slots) is high - especially at peak periods or if the resort is a popular one.
  4. Many of the available timeshare hotels are not in central areas which would enable you to save on land transport costs as well as convenience. This means you will have to arrange your own transport to shopping, dining and sight-seeing locations.
  5. you will have a problem if you have to change your travel plans schedule and / or itinerary;
  6. After-sales service from such sales promoters is notoriously poor - if they are still in operation when you contact them. There is a high staff turnover in timeshare companies, making it difficult to contact them and having a meaningful follow ups.
Who Should Buy Timeshares?

In conclusion, to fully benefit from timeshare, you must fulfill the following conditions:

  1. be a frequent traveler;
  2. you like free and easy travel;
  3. have enough funds to pay a substantial lump sum upfront for your timeshare as compared to pay-as-you-go with travel agents;
  4. the room allocation can accommodate your whole family;
  5. you don't mind going to the same place or be restricted in travel choices annually;
  6. don't mind sub-quality / no service room accommodation.
Buying Timeshare in Singapore

If you must buy, don't buy it on the spot. Get more information and they go and check other legitimate promoters [members of the Timeshare Association, (Singapore)], CASE, and other timeshare watchdog sources.

For Timeshare - company watch list (for complaints to CASE) and international blacklisted timeshare companies, click this link.

Forget the discounts. Forget the free gifts. Forget about how you are wasting the time of the timeshare sales promoters. You are there to buy a timeshare at the right price and at the right terms to justify your long term commitment. Lifetime financial commitments require the same level of due diligence as choosing a lifetime marriage partner.

Take time off to do due diligence. Check to see if the timeshare offered is a bargain by comparing with other reputable companies. Go back and ask for the same discounts and free gifts before putting down your cash. Chances are they will be desperate enough to offer you the same terms as before.

If not, say bye-bye and tell them that another timeshare company has a better offer. Watch their jaw(s) drop. Believe me, they are more desperate for the sale than you are of getting the timeshare.

Generally, it is cheaper to buy timeshares from the developer (rather than sales companies) and you'll get financing too. It is 50% cheaper to buy it off an existing timeshare buyer / owner who wants to get rid of their timeshare.

Once you've have bought the timeshare, don't upgrade, don't re-sell, don't put any more money down. Period. In fact, don't contact the promoters and certainly do go to any more timeshare presentations unless it is absolutely your life's mission to bring hell-fire to these timeshare resellers. If your purchase is within the cooling off period, go and get your refund immediately - if you have second thoughts about the investment. All timeshare sales in Singapore must have a 3 day cooling off period in their contract. If they do not, contact CASE immediately to complain.

If not, just use, use, use annually to recoup your investment. Or lend it to your friends or relatives. After all, that was your plan, isn't it?

If not, you have obviously bought something you don't need. You've bought it for all the wrong reasons. In such a scenario, you have only yourself to blame for not doing a thorough financial needs analysis on your timeshare investment. - Boo.

© - timeshare singapore (SG)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Money No Enough 2

Money No Enough 2

Not an artistic film, but certainly a movie the heartlanders can identify with. I personally felt that Money No Enough 2 did not surpass the original movie though it was an enjoyable movie.

Money No Enough 2 movie dvd posterThis time producer Jack Neo tackles a diverse range of subjects from ERP woes to the high cost of living, high medical costs, the difficulty of an average Singaporean making a good living in Singapore, family support for the elderly, scams, gangsters, getai singers etc.

I loved the very funny song about ERP called "EPR - Every Price Rise" at the beginning of the show. After a light hearted start, Money No Enough 2 got into the business of the more serious stuff told in a tongue in cheek way that only Jack Neo can.

Money No Enough 2 also features Singapore's favorite song: JIBABAN 一百萬 ( If I Had) One Million Dollar. To view the music video of "Jibaba, - If I had One Million Dollars", click on this link to go to my earlier post.

The script and acting seems stronger this time and we are spared of heavy make up on Henry Thia and other actors.

The bad point of the movie is the obviously heavy handed product / company endorsements featured throughout the movie. The other negative is the very bad sound recording of the movie which is grating to your ears. Another complaint is the hardly readable subtitles. They will have to improve on this if the want the movie to do well overseas.

In spite of this, everyone who is a Singaporean or is remotely interested in what's happening in Singapore should see this humorous take of Singapore life - Boo.

Watch the streaming video of the Money No Enough 2 movie trailer here:

© - Money No Enough 2

Friday, August 8, 2008

Feng Shui | Singapore Flyer

Feng Shui & Singapore Flyer

Well, it looks like the Singapore Flyer people have finally taken up my suggestion to spin their great big Eye in the Sky from east to west rather than west to east. I made the complaint earlier, not because of feng shui reasons. I complain because I nearly got blinded by sun as this big wheel was going against the sun. Nobody ever goes against the sun!

The five month old Singapore Flyer is the World's Biggest Observation Wheel at 545-feet (165 meters) high or 42 storeys (for now). The management of the Flyer don't like you to use the term "ferris wheel" to describe their structural marvel. Such "f-words" like "f-wheel" should never be used in polite company. If such a word is ever uttered, they'll politely ask you to "f-off".

Singapore Flyer feng shuiFeng Shi Masters (specializing in the ancient Chinese art of geomancy) had also pointed out that the direction of the S'pore Flyer was pulling wealth (good qi energy) out of the Singapore central business district and dumping it into the eastern part of Singapore. Everyone who knows Singapore's history, knows that the nickname for the Marina Bay is the "Money Bay". That is where all good fortune must be collected, otherwise the high downtown office rents just simply can never be justified.

This siphoning of wealth from the city is very very bad as the people leaving Singapore by plane (the airport is located in the eastern part of Singapore) are going to get very very rich. I strongly agree with this though I don't really know why. We should never let money be pulled out of Singapore this way and in particular, away from the city's ERP gentries. If this happens, it is going to be very expensive to drive a car in Singapore or even to take a taxi to the airport.

So with the help of some very strong able-bodied Singaporeans who were paid a couple of six figure dollars, they managed to get the Singapore Flyer to turn in the other direction - that is from east to west. However, if there is a very strong wind, all bets are off.

This is also good for slow photographers like me. Tourists usually start snapping their cameras in the initial stages of a ride and gradually lose interest towards the end. So this gives me ample time to figure out how to use my damn stupid lousy camera before the city vistas come to view.

Marina Sands Casino IR Integrated Resort SingaporeOf course, the Singapore Flyer is not the only local landmark to conform with the feng shui principles. Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort (IR) was one of the recent upcoming mega projects to be given the thumbs up by local feng shui experts.

Last night, I dreamt that the big boss man of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) was extremely happy with this development as his Marina Bay Sands Casino would be the direct beneficiary of the correct spin of the SG Flyer. In my dream, he said something like "F*** me, those flyboys at the Flyer are gonna make my Sands damn rich, even richer than those Theme Parkers, Genting! Anyway, I need this big break as my LVSs' stock price is performing badly". So you can expect Singapore's second financial district (the fantastic Marina Bay Sands Casino) will bring in big bucks for Singapore. But then, they needn't have worried as the Sands will have their very own wheel of fortune in a prominent position inside their casino.

Of course, the people living on the east coast are not going to be particularly happy about this new development as their wealth is now going to be dumped into the casino and they may stand to lose big time. As these landowners currently are enjoying double digit growth in their property investments and rental income, they are justifiably plenty crazy hopping mad. Without a doubt, people at Orchard Road and Marina Downtown are going to be the happiest people this side of of the happy kingdom. Time will undoubtedly prove me right. Otherwise blame it on those so-called unreliable feng shui experts.

The people with the last laugh would probably be the Singapore Flyer guys themselves as the million of so people who took the Flyer previously will now have no choice but to re-take the ride - as the earlier ride(s) was definitely not the right ride and cannot be counted. The shops at the Singapore Flyer complex would also be happy as they would be able to survive after all and don't have to move out to better, higher rental premises.

Already, the good feng shui vibes are being felt at the Singapore Flyer. It is rumored that Jan de Bont, the director of the blockbuster movie, "Speed" is considering filming an action sequence of his planned "Point Break" sequel at the Flyer. I hope they will get the camera pointing the right direction now that the Flyer is turning the other direction. For sure, in the days to come, you will see many people attempting jumping stunts from the Flyer just to prove they deserve to be in the movie.

Others may try to jump off the Flyer if they got burnt in the coming recession. - Kok

Related Article:

Another Feng Shui Certified Singapore Landmark - the Merlion

Lighting Strikes the Merlion - Good or Bad Omen?

© - Feng Shui | Singapore Flyer