I wrote this after returning from Vegas, but did not have the time to post it–until now. Without further ado, here’s the story of our experience with a time share presentation. All company names have been omitted, in the spirit of true capitalism.
We had just arrived in Vegas, and we were hungry. We entered the casino next door to our hotel, going on a tip in a budget guide book suggesting a great Mexican place with good happy hour deals. Immediately, we were accosted by a woman standing near the door.
“Are you staying at this property?” she asked.
“Will you be here tomorrow?”
“Yes, we will.”
“Great–step right this way. Excuse me,” she said to a British man sitting behind the customer service desk, “comp them.”
Comp us? As in give us free stuff? Why sure–that sounded great.
Of course there had to be a catch–this was Vegas after all, and I’d learned long ago, in seventh grade economics class, that there is no such thing as a free lunch–and a free lunch was part of what we were promised. A free lunch along with free tickets to the show of our choice, if we agreed to take a look at the hotel’s ‘new property’. Now, we’re not stupid, and we know what a time share presentation is–or at least we thought we knew.
But we figured–why not? Free lunch, free show tickets. We could even look at the presentation as a sort of entertainment. They said they had an example condo set up that we could visit. It sounded interesting. So we agreed to come back the next day at 2:00–and gave the man $20, to be refunded to us at the end of the presentation the following day.
To be honest, we had little intention of purchasing a time share from this company, though we did discuss the idea of it in the pool that morning. We supposed, if we were ever going to buy a time share, Vegas would be the place in which to do it. We like Vegas a lot, are certain that we will return, and the weather is pleasant all year. Plus, lots of people we know and work with have time shares. And they are intelligent, normal people with incomes similar to ours. It just might not be a bad idea.
When we showed up at the same desk that very next day, we encountered several other couples who had agreed to the same thing. An older woman looked at me and said, quietly, “I hope they are not disappointed. We have no intention of buying anything”. I smiled at her and agreed.
We were whisked off, promptly at 2:00 for our 90 minute presentation. “It probably won’t even be a full 90 minutes” the British man at the counter had confided the day before. Oh how I wish he hadn’t been lying through his teeth.
By the end of the day, I was convinced that not only was he not telling the truth, he probably wasn’t even British. I’m thinking his real accent had to sound more New York or New Jersey than anything else. In fact, I was convinced that at our free show, we’d see all of the people we’d encountered that day, as they were all very, very good actors.
I was expecting a large room with a bunch of chairs, a large group of people just like us, and a presenter with a video and maybe a power point presentation. What we got was a plush waiting room–where we waited for a good long time–and then a giant cafeteria style room filled with small tables, each couple talking one on one with an agent. It was a little more up close and personal than I’d anticipated, though the woman we met with did put me at ease.
She went through her whole speech, complete with awkward drawings on the back of a quote sheet, and the requisite flipping through a glossy-paged binder. Admitting that she doesn’t usually do the selling part, but that she owns a timeshare and works for the company, she promised to try her best ‘so we didn’t have to wait for an available agent’. She was young and cute, and she talked us through the benefits of owning a time share, as opposed to ‘renting’ vacation property. It made sense.
We then went for our little tour–a long, long walk through the casino to the actual building, which she pointed to, and then back to a model room that was, I admit, very impressive. But we’d not heard the most important part yet–the price.
Of course price was the last thing mentioned–had it been the first, no one would have stayed until the end. In exchange for the honor of staying in one of these condos for two weeks out of the year, we were being asked to pay the staggering sum of forty eight thousand dollars. Yes, that’s right, $48,000. Financed over the course of seven years, at an unbelievable 18.99%, the monthly payment was just about the same as our mortgage. We gagged, looked at each other, laughed, and politely declined.
If you think that is where the story ends, you clearly have never been to a time share presentation.
Ok, she said, she’d be right back with our free tickets, and then we were free to go. But she did not come back with our free tickets–she came back with bad cop. Bad cop was a very, very angry woman, who talked nicely to us for about three minutes until her forked tail and horns started to materialize. I stated that the price and the interest rate were simply too high, and that it just was not feasible at this time.
“So if it were not for the financial aspect, you’d be ok with this?” she pressed.
“Well…yes. I mean, it is just way too much money, and we weren’t really looking to–”
“Well what if we did this?” she cut me off, and started writing new numbers and circling things and crossing old numbers out.
I looked helplessly at my husband–she was talking to me but I hate confrontation–but before he could even speak, she continued.
“M’am–is there a problem?” she prodded rudely.
“Well, no, but, um…”
“Is there a problem?!?”
“Actually, yes, you see, you’re yelling at me…” I tried to continue.
It went on like this for a while, with me being visibly uncomfortable with her yelling at me which was not helped by her calling me on the visible uncomfortableness. After a few short moments, she became downright aggressive.
“Well, I guess we’re just going to sit here, because I have my job to do, and you have to be here for 90 minutes!” she practically spit at me. I pointed out that, as it was now 3:45 and we’d arrived at 2:00, we’d actually been there far past the 90 minute mark, but she didn’t care. I’m pretty sure this woman’s job was to get us to get very angry–which she did manage to do–so that we’d storm out without out our refund or tickets–which we did not do, though every muscle in my body was screaming at me to run out of that room. I’ve never felt so attacked, so put down, so belittled by an angry woman with a binder.
At this point I could tell my husband was also frustrated, and he began to say things like “I don’t think you’re listening to me” and “I really have nothing else to say”. Which had absolutely no effect on bad cop’s angry, misguided attempt to sell us something–anything. She actually got a plan down to $50 a month for something absolutely ridiculous, like a three day vacation every three years–which anyone with a calculator could tell you still isn’t a good deal in any way. I was really starting to think we’d end up with a monthly bill for the next seven years just to get out of there, and I was very near the point of bursting into tears.
As I sat there, and the minutes ticked by, I thought about all of the other people in that room who had been fished out of the casino and brought to this miserable room to be belittled. I wondered if they all felt as uncomfortable and frustrated as I did at that moment. I wondered if anyone ever purchased anything this way. And I decided that nothing, ever, would be worth coming to a presentation like this again. A free cruise? I’ll pass. A week in Maui? No thanks. I’d rather pay for my own way with cash or credit than with my dignity. And that’s exactly what I’d given up, for one hour and fifty five minutes that afternoon.
But did we get our money back, and our free tickets? You bet we did. And then we promptly left the property, likely never to return again. Not even for great Mexican food with good happy hour deals.
EDIT–Please excuse the lack of paragraph breaks. I copy/pasted this, and then sat there and did the breaks myself, and even then they didn’t show up in the post. Terribly sorry!