I recently had the opportunity to use a family member’s timeshare package to take a vacation. Moments after arriving at the resort, the staff had already set the wheels in motion in hopes of selling me my own timeshare.
The timeshare indoctrination begins…
After checking in, a man at the concierge desk gave me a few details about the property and nearby attractions. As I was preparing to walk away, he invited me to a “complimentary breakfast” later in the week to learn more about timeshare opportunities.
Knowing how the game works, I asked about incentives. First, I was offered free use of a refrigerator for my stay. Then, after giving the staff member an unsatisfied look, he offered a $125 credit to offset charges to the room.
The night before the sales presentation, I got a call reminding me of the time and location. I arrived promptly. The room was full of people, mostly seniors, eating their complimentary breakfast. Meanwhile, the sales staff waited in the wings.
As I walked from the buffet to an open table, a salesperson swooped in. I didn’t even have a chance to sit down at my table. I feared this was the beginning of a high pressure sales pitch, but thankfully it wasn’t.
The salesperson began with small chat, followed by a series of questions:
- What do you like about the property?
- How often do you travel?
- How important is vacation to you?
- What’s on your vacation bucket list?
- How much do you spend on travel?
- Do you plan to vacation for the rest of your life?
A look at the slideshow presentation
Next, the slideshow presentation. Based on how I answered those questions, the salesperson pulled out a tablet and showed me pictures of properties located in cities that were on my bucket list. This particular timeshare package is based on points, so owners can visit properties all over the world.
Then, the salesperson gave me a tour of the property. Since I had been there for two days already, this seemed unnecessary, but she used the opportunity to tell me about all of the upgrades on the way.
After returning to the meeting room, the salesperson ran my credit. This wasn’t something I asked for, but in order to get my reward, I had to provide my license and a credit card.
I also had to meet several additional requirements:
- Attend the full 90-minute presentation
- Be at least 28 years old
- Have a minimum household income of $60,000
Making the offer…uh, no thanks!
Finally, the salesperson’s manager stepped in. It was time to make the offer. In my case, they tried to sell me a $19,000 package for 105,000 points a year. The salesperson told me that number of points would get me about 7 to 10 days of accommodations per year.
The manager went on to tell me that the timeshare could be financed with a 14% interest rate. No thanks, right? There was also a $60 monthly maintenance fee, which could go up yearly, but it wasn’t clear how much.
Skeptical to say the least, I asked the manager for some time to crunch the numbers. That wasn’t an option. She told me this was a decision I had to make on the spot. Talk about a red flag!
At that point, I checked the clock. It had been more than 90 minutes, so I fulfilled my obligation to earn my reward. I told the manager and salesperson that I wasn’t interested and they escorted me out the door.
I left the presentation with some of the same questions I had before it started:
- If timeshares are such a good deal, why do they have to pay people to attend these presentations?
- Why are so many people selling their timeshares online for as low as $1?
- Where is the transparency? Why couldn’t I take the numbers home with me?
- Why must a decision be made on the spot?
To me, the sales pitch didn’t make sense. I feel lucky that I walked out with a $125 credit and not a lifetime of financial obligations.