Act NOW for a seemingly good deal

Let me start of by saying this: we didn’t buy. I just wanted to make that clear before I said more.

Last night we went to a timeshare presentation. You’ve heard about them, pills and maybe you’ve even attended one. This was our second one, pharmacy and we are still time-share-less.

How did we get conned (and yes, I did say conned) into attending yet another time share presentation? Simple. I can’t walk past a mall “Win this car” display without entering the contest. I figure that SOMEBODY has to win, and if it doesn’t cost anything, then it might as well be me, right? (Sometimes I forget the saying cross stitched on the wall at the Urie’s house: “there ain’t no free lunch.”) So at the Harry Potter premiere, Christina and I were walking through the Provo Towne Centre mall and I saw one of these displays. I entered the contest knowing I would get a call from a timeshare company. The other night they called:

“Hello, Mr. Pehrson? I’m calling to inform you of the prize you won from a contest that you entered. You won a $50 gift card plus a hotel stay, or you won airfare and hotel accommodations at one of our selected resorts.”

“What’s it going to cost me?” (Last time we “won” a trip to Vegas, but we had to pay $99 up-front for the trip.)

“There is no cost involved. You just have to arrange a time to come pick up your prize at our Draper office. We never even get your credit card number.”

“What’s the catch?”

“The only thing you are required to do is to attend our 90-minute time-share sales presentation. At the end of the presentation, you will be presented with your free gift.”

(Whispered conversation between me and Christina)

“Ok. We’ll come listen.”

Such is how we were reeled in.

Maybe now is a good time to tell you that I’m not opposed to the concept of time shares in general. We attended the presentation in Las Vegas, and were impressed by what we saw. We liked what we saw. We just weren’t willing to commit, up front, for that kind of obligation. But for some people, I think the concept is pretty cool. That said, however, I am VERY put off by their sales style.

We arrived at our appointment last night and were ushered into the “theater” where we got to sit with about 10 or 12 other couples and listen to the first sales pitch about how important vacation is, and how wonderful time shares are, and how this company’s time shares are different from any other in the industry, and how life should be about family time and good vacations, and how our kids only remember the vacations they had so that should be most important to us, and yada yada yada.

What was interesting about this part of the program was that the speaker did something very interesting. He said, “I know what conversation some of you had in the car on the way down here. You said that you were just going to come in here and give the right answers and try to get out with your gift in as little time as possible.” He also said something like, “I know that some of you spouses were dragged in here rather reluctantly.” I thought it was interesting that they would point this out, but Christina pointed out that it was a way to put you off your guard. By identifying these patterns, it was like they were saying, “We know what you’re thinking and its not going to work.”

After the ra-ra session, we were introduced to our “representative” (whose name I didn’t actually catch.)

We told him up front that we were absolutely not going to buy anything tonight; that we are not impulse shoppers, and that if we couldn’t come back to get it tomorrow, then we just wouldn’t buy it. (I think he might have taken this as a challenge.)

He explained the whole program to us, and showed us how the points work. He talked about all the vacations he had taken and how close his family is because of it, and how wonderful it has been. He talked about how expensive it is to vacation when you don’t “own” your vacation, and how you are really “renting” your vacations at 100% interest when you go the traditional route. He wouldn’t tell us the final cost of “owning” until the very end of his portion of the event.

In the end, it was going to cost about $21,000 for 3 weeks of vacation every year for the next 40 years (which, considering that we are a young couple, isn’t that bad; then you add the $45/month “maintenance fee” for the next 40 years). Basically, you are supposed to mortgage your future vacation options.

If you purchased yesterday evening, you were given the added bonuses of extending the 40 years to “forever”, plus the option to exchange your points with different resorts outside this company, plus some flex-bonus time thing that let you take mini get-aways without taking away from your points. See, they had spent the last hour talking about how cool all the extras were, and then at the end, you find out that you have to buy TODAY in order to get all the extra benefits.

Now, I recognize _why_ they do this. They know that if you walk out the door not “owning” then chances are slim you’ll come back. So they have to sell you while you are sitting in the office. But that said, I have to say that I hate begin pressured into buying something, and I hated sitting there and having them tell me that this was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy.

Newsflash: It isn’t your only chance to buy.

In fact, we went online this morning to see what it was that they didn’t want us to find out about them. It turns out that the exact same time share offers are available for around half the price on eBay. With all the amenities and promised “buy now” features.

If you learn one thing from this blog entry, let it be this: never — and I mean never — purchase a time share at the presentation. If you want to go to get the free prize, great (we ended up opting for $75 in gift cards to Kohl’s, and no free trip). But you can get the EXACT same deal they are telling you you’ll never get again if you go online. Lesson learned? Good.

In the end, I think that the presentation was interesting, and I think the opportunity is interesting. The vacations sound fantastic, and I think they would be fun. We did not purchase for three reasons (and as of today we added a fourth).

  1. I refuse to buy anything that expensive on impulse without being able to [a] verify important facts (like the claims they made about financing and tax status, etc.) [b] see more information. (For example, on a couple of occasions they made reference to “bylaws” but never provided the bylaws. If I’m going to invest, I want to read the bylaws. Heck, I’m a person who actually READS the entire card member agreement when I get a new credit card.)
  2. We have been counseled to avoid unnecessary debt. Twenty grand for future vacation options probably rates pretty high on the “unnecessary” scale. However, the time share sales company wants you to purchase tonight, on credit. They tell you that there is no option to allow you to save your money for a couple of years, and then make the investment and still get in on the good deals.
  3. I’m going to go to grad school at some point in the not-so-distant future. That means that I’m probably going to quit my job and move to a different state and live as a poor student. It would be silly to be paying 200 to 300 dollars a month for vacation time shares during that period.
  4. (discovered today) It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to buy the same product online. Why pay $1.72 per credit when you can buy it from somebody on eBay for $0.90 per credit?

So, that was our experience with the time share people.

Will we ever buy? Um, probably not. But maybe. It sounds interesting. And if we could get a good deal on eBay, and we had the money then we might consider it.

But hey, now we’ve got $75 to spend at Kohl’s. That’s pretty cool.

And I’m still glad we said no!

2 responses to “Act NOW for a seemingly good deal”

  1. Does this mean I couldn’t possibly interest you in a time share at Casa Dea apartments? It has laundry facilities on site!!!

Leave a Reply