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Beware the Timeshare Presentation

November 13, 2013

By now, I’ve told you a little about my recent trip to Las Vegas and the amazing deal we got on our swanky accommodations.  But let me really break it down for you – for a total of $200, we got:

  • 3 nights in a suite at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas (face value $900)
  • Dinner and show tickets for two (face value about $150 each)
  • A voucher for $200 toward our next 1-night stay with the hotel chain (within 6 months)
  • 15,000 rewards points for the hotel chain’s loyalty program
Our suite at the trump was first-class.

Our suite at the Trump was first-class.

Wow, right?  So, what’s the catch?  The catch was that during our stay, we had to attend a timeshare sales presentation.

I didn’t realize this until after we survived (yes, survived) the sales pitch, but it’s pretty commonly known that timeshare sales pitches are brutal and to be avoided at all costs, or unless you’re being offered some truly awesome freebies.  In case you, too, hadn’t gotten that memo, I wanted to share our cautionary tale.

We were picked up at our hotel and taken to the “vacation club” property for our presentation.  First stop was a smorgasboard of snacks and drinks to fuel up on goodies.  So far, so good.

Then we sat down with our salesman, Paul.  Paul seemed like a pretty nice guy, and before long we were giving long, conversational answers to his rather personal questions about our lifestyle.  At the very beginning, Paul emphasized that we wouldn’t be pressured to buy. “I’ll show you your options and then ask for a simple yes or no answer.  Maybe I’ll have something for you; maybe I won’t.  No big deal.”

After about an hour-long interview, it was time to tour the models.  They were nice.  Paul was treating us like long-lost friends.  It was all fun and games.

Then it was time for the close.  You know, the request for a simple yes or no answer?  That’s not quite how it went.  He asked us what we could afford for a down payment and monthly.  Stupidly, instead of just telling him we weren’t interested, we gave him such low figures that we figured he’d laugh at us.

(Image Source)

Image Source

Not the case.  Instead, in the blink of an eye his “manager” was in front of us crunching numbers and coming up with a plan to buy our very own timeshare.  That’s when we began with the hard “no’s” and were met with a brick wall of resistance.  Our best buddy became a bully.  We got guilt trips.  And presumptive statements like, “So you’re telling me you never plan to travel again?” that were designed to get us to back-pedal.  It was like a lesson in Aggressive Sales 101.  I thought I’d seen it all in Turkey with the carpet salesmen, but they had nothing on Paul.

There was major pressure to buy right then, and our requests to take some time to sleep on it were totally shut down.  The funny thing is, the presentation was appealing enough that we honestly did want time to discuss it and sleep on it – we weren’t just giving the brush-off.  (And who in their right mind commits to a $10k+ purchase on the spot?) Perhaps the low point was when Stanley asked Paul for a card so that we could call him after we’d thought about it.  His response: “Visa, Mastercard, American Express – those are the only cards I’m interested in.”  Wow, ok.

After saying no about 17 times, we thought we were finally off the hook when Paul and his partner in crime left.  Instead, they sent in a closer who made one last shot to seal the deal.  I felt like I was batting against Koji Uehara in the final inning of the World Series.

Unlike the Cardinals, we eventually succeeded (unnecessary and unrelated low blow?).  We were condescended to, dismissed and ushered to the desk to pick up our dinner and show ticket vouchers.  A limo deposited us back at the hotel, where I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I felt bedraggled and dirty. We spent the entire ride back and much of the afternoon coming up with all of the great retorts we wished we’d said to Paul.  Why does that always happen?

We retreated to the pool at the Trump, where the desert sunshine and cushy lounges helped us recover from the scathing afternoon.  I know I sound dramatic, but it really felt that bad.

Trump Las Vegas Pool

We were somewhat consoled when, overhearing our conversation at the pool, the woman on the lounge next to us commiserated and shared her horrific timeshare sales pitch experiences.  That’s the first time that we learned that this was a thing.  And we were heartened to think that at least they didn’t refuse us a ride back to the hotel.

Trump Las Vegas

So, the bottom line: Was it worth it?  I think so… probably… maybe… Would I do it again? I’d have to think about it.  Given the perks we received in return, I think it was worth it to get raked over the coals for three solid hours.  But to willingly put myself through that again, the reward would have to be pretty darn sweet.

So, anyone out there have any timeshare sales pitch horror stories they’d like to share?

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. donna permalink
    November 13, 2013 6:51 am

    Those guys are thugs in disguise, good for you for wasting their day!

  2. Jim Mercer permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:16 am

    Love the Uehara reference…those guys are like sharks in the water baby Glad u survived!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. November 14, 2013 10:45 am

    Many years ago, My ex-husband and I attended a timeshare pitch with Shell Vacation club. We were so unprepared, young and people that had a hard time saying no, that we gave in and bought.

    Luckily, California had a law where within three days you can cancel the contract and get a full refund. We got home and realized that there was no way that we could afford it ( although during the pitch, the sales guy crunched numbers and made it seem workable)…so we had to go back and cancel.

    They gave us a tough time, but we stood firm. It was an overall bad experience and we didn’t even get freebies out of it! Just a hard lesson learned…

    • November 14, 2013 11:53 am

      Oh man! Talk about a horror story and a tough lesson learned… thank goodness for that law that allowed you to cancel!

      It’s so sneaky (and more than a little unethical) how hard they pressure you to sign right on the spot, without having time to go home and really think it over. I’m sure that’s because they know that most people will think better of it after crunching the numbers and/or doing more research, just like you and your husband did.

      I’m really glad that my mom warned me (about 50 times) that it would sound attractive but I’d better not buy in. I went into it with that attitude. Otherwise, we could have very well ended up like you guys (but probably without the loophole). Whew!

      • November 14, 2013 4:37 pm

        I think the worst part is, even though I was aware of the hard-sell tactics and knew that I could just turn them down, I have a hard time saying no. I’ll definitely never go to a presentation again! The funny thing is, I have a few friends who are very happy timeshare owners, so I think the product might be good, just sleazy sales tactics. If you have a chance, watch the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” it’s about the family behind the largest timeshare organization in the world.

        • November 14, 2013 5:54 pm

          That does make it even worse! I can totally understand though – even knowing what I knew, I had a really hard time saying no and sticking to it (12 times). That’s got to be how they get a lot of people. And I agree with you on the product point. While I’ve heard horror stories about how restrictive some timeshare clubs are, this one actually sounded pretty awesome and I’m sure there are others like it that people are very happy with. So strange that nobody’s come up with a better, more customer-friendly way to sell them. And thanks for the documentary recommendation – I bet that’s fascinating!

        • eddie permalink
          June 3, 2015 9:46 am

          While the presentation tactics are disgusting, the products are better than ever. We have owned for 15 years now and don’t regret it. And Queen of Versailles is not about the largest, just the sleaziest..The biggest is Wyndham, followed by Marriott, Hilton and Disney. So, it is not all bad!

          • June 16, 2015 5:59 am

            You sure Westgate is not the largest? Just attended a 4 hour presentation yesterday where the girl insisted that they were the #1 selling timeshare in the world. If it’s not true, it would just be among several other lies she told us during our tour. I still can’t believe we did a tour because me and my husband know better (we used to do them all the time when we were younger). But our kids got a good lesson on how not to treat people.

  4. January 10, 2014 2:05 pm

    Buying at timeshare full of deceiveness is not a one man job. There is a process that starts from the timeshare salespeople that contacted you at the airport, the street or the lobby of your hotel to the last person which would be the customer service department.

    • January 13, 2014 10:39 am

      I agree. Everyone but the sales person gets to kind of play “good cop” but they’re a part of the horribly unpleasant customer experience. I know we all need a job but that’s not one that I think I could stomach!

  5. May 29, 2014 9:56 am

    Thousands of International travelers, particularly from the US and Canada, have fallen victims oftimeshare fraud while vacationing in Mexico. Resort developers hire skilled salesmen to represent their timeshares as many different attractive packages, such as financial investments, deeded properties, or vacation clubs, just to increase their sales.

  6. Bob White permalink
    June 25, 2014 3:31 am

    Beware the disingenuous author….

    “…for a total of $200, we got:
    3 nights in a suite at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas (face value $900)
    Dinner and show tickets for two (face value about $150 each)
    A voucher for $200 toward our next 1-night stay with the hotel chain (within 6 months)
    15,000 rewards points for the hotel chain’s loyalty program…”

    So what you’re saying is that when you contracted to go on the marketing mini vacation to the resort and paid the “if it sounds to good to be true” $200, the compensation you received for attending the presentation….$1400 + @$150 in hotel points (industry standard is .5 to 1 cent per hotel point) wasn’t enough? Oh that’s right, you were shocked and stunned that on the marketing vacation you contracted to attend that the timeshare sales people were “sneaky” and actually tried to market to you. And heaven forbid, they even expected you to make a decision while you were there enjoying the 3 nights in the suite at their expense. Statistically, once you leave any vacation, mall, car dealer etc and you go home to “think about it” …out of sight, out of mind. Don’t pretend you don’t know that.
    .
    Timeshare is a highly regulated industry. You signed a contract when you agreed to the marketing vacation which clearly stated you would have to sit through a sales presentation or pay full price for the few days you were there. But besides that,contract, I KNOW you haven’t been living under a rock. Timeshare has been marketed the same way since it’s inception fifty years ago. Marketing vacations were created as a sales and prospecting tool so people could experience resorts first hand. Newsflash: they asked for $200 from you so you show up and don’t waste the time and resources of the employees at the resort. Can you imagine the cancellation rate if people weren’t asked to buy in with a few hundred dollars?

    Sounds like you had a sweet deal of a vacation and you’re mad because you’re “special” and expected the resort to give you $1400+ vacation for $200 with no strings attached.
    Fascinates me when people expect something for nothing and then when pressured,blame someone else for their bad decisions.

    Read the contract. Go on all the marketing trips you want. Take the free gift or the largely free vacation and deal with it. Don’t exploit the $1400+ promotion and then bash the resort or the marketing people for doing their jobs. And don’t expect anyone to read your article and believe you didn’t know what to expect. I’m not buying it. You’re as capable as saying those four words as I am and you know it.

    • August 6, 2014 4:08 pm

      Hi Bob – Sorry for my delayed response to your comment. Despite what you may believe, I guess I had been “living under a rock” as you put it and didn’t know what I was getting into in terms of the super high pressure of the timeshare presentation. I shared my experience in this post, in part, for that reason. I also acknowledged that we received a pretty sweet deal in return for attending the presentation and that in the end, it was worth it. I don’t think that amounts to exploiting the promotion but appreciate your feedback.

    • eddie permalink
      June 3, 2015 9:55 am

      Well said Bob. Timeshare is not a sought commodity like cars or houses. The gimmicks and marketing mini-vacation offers are there to get you to experience a vacation and consider the product. If you don’t like it, just say no. You can always get up and leave.

      The brands did not get into timeshare because it is sleazy. It helps their occupancy and provides better vacation experiences for their guests. The presentations can be tough, but are highly regulated. But the rewards cab be great, if you find the right product for your family. It is easy to bash something you do not know much about. But in an economy that is pretty flat, timeshare occupancies are at 83%, higher than for normal hotels and resorts, and more than 90% of people who own timeshare report complete satisfaction with their purchase according to numerous, non-industry related studies. Not many products who can say that.

      Too many people like the author are quick to say ‘beware the timeshare presentation’ but those of us who own have saved thousands of dollars and enjoyed vacations like the author’s vegas trip year after year with better value than those who pay regular dollars for it.

    • Zbigniew The Timeshare Buster permalink
      October 3, 2017 10:12 am

      What timeshare company do you work for?

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