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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Time Share Hawkers

Have you ever been offered a deal you just couldn't refuse in return for sitting through a presentation on the benefits of owning a time share in a vacation condominium?

The first time it happened to me was when Doug took me to Hawaii for our fifth wedding anniversary. (We hadn't married until we were in our forties, about 20 years later than most people in our age group; so we figured we'd better have a "25th anniversary celebration" on our fifth, before we got too old to be able to enjoy it.)

In the first day or two of being in Hawaii, we broke our camera and had to pay fifty dollars to have it repaired. So, when we were approached by a time share hawker, offering us fifty dollars if we would just come to one of their presentations, we saw it as a way to recoup that expense.

The presentation was held in a room with a number of small tables, allowing couples to each have their own table. Refreshments were served, and the presenter spoke glowingly of the benefits of owning your own time share.

When the general presentation was finished, an individual salesman sat with each couple at their individual table, prepared to move the couple closer to a decision to purchase, all the while with loud and annoying music playing from a sound system. The music accomplished the dual purpose of scrambling our brains and keeping us from overhearing discussions from neighboring tables.

The salesman asked about how many nights a year we spend in hotels, then showed conclusively how much we would save if we had our own time share condo. He assured us that we could easily trade locations with someone else if we didn't want to go to the same place every year. And all for the low price of $25,000, or some such figure, for one week every year.

Wouldn't you think he would have known that only a couple of tightwads would agree to sit through this torture for a measly fifty dollars?

But, ever the bargain hunter, I said, to Doug's horror, "Is there any discount if we purchase TWO weeks?" At that, our salesman excused himself, and a man who looked and talked like the mob bosses you see on television took his place. That man was not going to let us out of there until we signed the deal.

Well, we didn't sign; and he did let us out, but not without some serious trauma to our internal systems. Our stomachs were in knots; our minds were reeling; and we were mentally exhausted by the time we made our escape. I was thinking I'd rather have BURNED that fifty dollars than put myself through that.

And two weeks after we returned home, a hurricane struck the area and damaged that $25,000-for-one-week-a-year condo.

Since then, we've subjected ourselves twice more to these presentations. Once was for a free weekend get-away, complete with a meal coupon and tickets to a play. But, instead of putting us up in the condo in which they wanted us to purchase a share, they gave us lodging in an old run-down motel that wasn't comfortable and didn't smell all that good.

The other time was because our friends wanted to go to a presentation in the Smoky Mountains. I think we were given free tickets to some live entertainment or something like that.

In every case, the promise is that the only requirement we have to fulfill in order to receive the "gifts" is to attend an hour-long presentation. And, in every case, the "hour" stretched to a half-day gone from our vacation and emotional exhaustion that all but ruined the other half of the day.

So, now, when we go into a hotel or a grocery store or a restaurant that has a booth or table set up offering discount or free tickets to something, I remind Doug, "Don't make eye contact."

14 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness ... "Don't make eye contact" that's something I've perfected, even if it means a 'fake' rummage in my bag!
    I loved that you had a "25th anniversary celebration" :o)

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  2. Ruth - It was a lesson well learned. It just took us three times to get it. :)

    Deborah - Funny thing is, next year will be our real 25th, and we don't feel that old yet. :)

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  3. What a job to have, I tried it once and this was a similar experience.I was suppose to get a small TV , but they were out and for an additional amount of cash had something else instead.I went home with a throw at me gift that was very petty.

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  4. Steve - Ha! It sounds as if you've got a good story for a future post yourself.

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  5. Those offers always do sound tempting but, as you found out, NOW WORTH IT, even for TW's. :)

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  6. Oops. Of course I meant NOT worth it, instead of NOW worth it which kind of makes it sound like I'm going right out to attend one of these. :)

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  7. Sandra - Now we're even in the area of "comment confusion." :)

    And you're right, even my TW hubby now cringes when these time share people make eye contact and begin their spiel. They've even let them into the hotel where we usually stay in the Smokies. As soon as you get off the elevator now, you're greeted with a cheerful "Hello!" "Are you enjoying your stay?" "How long are you going to be in town?" We don't like to be rude, but sometimes we have to be, for the sake of our own sanity.

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  8. Hey there!

    This is the reason why I don't believe the discounts, presentations, or offers that one might not refuse. There are a lot of these nowadays; Advertisements through Facebook saying one could earn about a thousand bucks just by spending 2-3 hours over the internet. The usual victims are students because the advertisements say something like, "NEED A PART TIME JOB? EARN WHILE YOU WORK AT HOME!" and then only end up earning less than one's allowance in a day.

    I don't believe in promos unless a close friend actually got some really good deals or unless it's from a well-known company.

    Oh how people devise marketing strategies just to get some money.

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  9. Hi, HalfCrazy. It sounds as if you have a pretty good philosophy for dealing with these things. I'm a slow learner. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. I've never personally felt the tug of one of these schemes, but I've heard this sort of story a few times before and they all end up pretty much the same.

    I know one couple who prided themselves on getting a number of those getaway weekends by sitting through the spiel. Eventually, the did end up spending a significant amount of money for a vacation that was to be taken at a choice of several locations, within three years. Company restrictions were set that it was almost impossible for them to fulfill it and they even paid an additional amount to extend the time limit.

    Not a respected way to run a business but schemers are everywhere.

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  11. Hilary - Some elderly friends of our had purchased one of those deals that you mentioned; then their health declined to the point that they couldn't use it. They offered it to us, but it just wasn't "our cup of tea," so we declined. I felt badly for them, though. These schemers seem to prey on the elderly.

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  12. Oh, and those scammers are all over the Smoky Mountain towns, especially Pigeon Forge. They seem to have mellowed a bit, though - I think the last time we were there, we were only chased down by one!

    The first time I ever heard of one of these time-share presentations offers was over twenty years ago, and my manager fell for it. He and his wife drove from their home near Nashville to Cookeville, a drive of about 2 hours, ON A MOTORCYCLE. They bought, alright; I have no idea what they paid or if they've ever regretted it, but the only reason they really went was for the FABULOUS PRIZES - only they didn't realize they'd have to TAKE THE PRIZES THEN OR FORFEIT THEM. So home they drove, 2 hours on the road, on a motorcycle laden with a four-piece luggage set, a set of cookware, various small tool sets, and a grandfather clock!

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  13. ethelmaepotter! - I swear...your comments are better than my posts. :) What a mental image you painted of your boss and his wife on their motorcycle, with their "fabulous prizes." You really need to write a full post on that.

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