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girlofscience's avatar

How do you best handle the required timeshare presentations for vacation deals?

Asked by girlofscience (7464 points ) May 1st, 2009

My boyfriend and I just signed up for a discount vacation package that requires you to attend a “90-minute” tour / presentation about a timeshare. I know these presentation things suck, and that they really, really push the hard sell, but the vacation is something I’ve been specifically wanting to do without wanting to spend the kind of money it would typically require. So this seemed worth it.

I have attended one of these things before, but I was about 5 years old at the time, and I went with my parents. They hated it and found it to be the most irritating thing ever, to the point that they said it wasn’t worth the vacation, haha. They stayed strong and did NOT purchase the timeshare, despite the guy criticizing them by saying that they must not want to spend enough time vacationing as a family if they do not want this deal.

Anyway, I am positive at this moment in time that my boyfriend and I do not want to buy the timeshare they are going to try to sell to us, but we are required to keep an “open mind” throughout the tour / presentation.

I am specifically hoping for answers from people who have experienced these timeshare presentations and NOT purchased the timeshare. How do you remain polite enough that you seem like you have an open mind, but still stay firm enough about not being interested? Since the contract only requires us to attend the 90-minute presentation, if they keep us longer to try to convince us, are we permitted to leave?

Please offer your best advice in handling this situation with grace and strength!

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17 Answers

mattbrowne's avatar

I would stay away from all timeshare people. During a vacation in Portugal we were lured into one of their events. When I later googled for their company name, the number 1 result was

Timeshare companies under investigation by the Spanish police

No thanks.

girlofscience's avatar

@mattbrowne: .....

If you read my question, you would realize that is not an option for me. I have already signed up for this vacation. I am looking for advice on how to handle them. I will not be buying the timeshare.

mattbrowne's avatar

@girlofscience – How to handle them? By saying ‘no thanks’ very politely. If they persist, just keep smiling and walking and repeating ‘no thanks’. Two years ago on Tenerife when walking to the beach a persistent guy kept following us. After the fifth ‘no thanks’ he finally turned around. Once you engage in a conversation it’s more difficult to get out. Oh, you’re from this town, yes, I have a friend blah blah… So no conversation. Simply: no thanks. Five times if needed. After ten times I would slap him in the face. Just kidding. Normally no one can take more than five no thanks answers.

casheroo's avatar

I agree with @mattbrowne with the “no conversation’ advice. Don’t give them any information on your lives! They will keep hounding you.
My parents have a timeshare, they actually love it. Obviously you don’t want one though.
I forget what it was but, while being badgered by people trying to sell us things, after we received free services, my husband and I just tell them we don’t have the money that it’s not possible at all. They usually leave you alone if you tell them you have no money. I don’t see what’s wrong with doing that. Who cares if they get annoyed or pissed off, you still get the free vacation!

miasmom's avatar

We did this on one vacation a few years ago. We went into it with the mindset that no matter how good the deal looks, we weren’t going to do it. I know that’s not an open mind, but the reality is that we didn’t want to buy one.

So, after the first presentation when we wouldn’t budge, they sent in another guy, like a closer, to offer us something better. We didn’t budge there either, so on the way out they tried to sell us something else, which we again stayed strong and then we left. I think they were angry, but oh well, we didn’t want to do it.

The whole process took half a day, so just stay strong. Practice saying no and have some reasons for why now is not the time for you to be buying a timeshare.

That being said, my parents went to one years ago and actually bought a repossed time share, it was a really good deal and we use it constantly, it was actually a great investment.

The way things work is based on your trading power, so if your timeshare is in a great location at a great time, toucan usually trade easily, so knowing that, it could be an argument against why you don’t want their particular offer…the location and time aren’t going to trade well.

Some things to think about. Have fun!

Dorkgirl's avatar

We have done these presentations several times over the years. Our tactic is to be polite but when they do the actual sales pitch we are firm in our position—this is not the kind of traveling we really like to do (which is true). Yes, the location is lovely. Yes, the amenities are nice, but no we don’t want to buy into this timeshare.
We sometimes joke in advance about how short we can make the presentations. Our record was about 20 minutes. And, as @miasmom said the sales guy seemed kind of miffed that we did not buy. The bonus was that we did not have any other plans (our kids were snowboarding) and we got a $75 gift certificate out of the deal that could be used at any of the shops in town. We bought our son a snowboard case. So, not a bad end result.
You and your beau should have a strategy in mind before the presentation and then stick with that. Also, I often defer to my husband because he is firmer than I am and sometimes I equivocate which opens the door for more questions or urging from the sales people.
Go and have fun. Enjoy the cookies they’ll serve and leave knowing you made the best decision for you.
Good luck!

girlofscience's avatar

@Dorkgirl: Wow! How did you get out in 20 minutes?! I imagined that the tour/presentation would take at least an hour, and then there would be a half hour left for the sale.

Dorkgirl's avatar

@girlofscience we were quite clear that “no we don’t spend $150 a night on hotels” and that we don’t stay places for a week at a time. He did the math (they always want to do the math) and we still insisted that we travel for less. He sighed, asked if we wanted to see one of the condos, took us on a quick walk then let us go. We were pretty proud of ourselves for such a feat!

westy81585's avatar

There’s a South Park episode on this, and it’s f-ing hilarious.

ASSpen I believe was the title…

Judi's avatar

We went to a presentation, listened to the pitch and when the girl asked if we could see ourselves staying there I said, “Absolutely not.” That pretty much ended the conversation. No champagne for us. They gave us our free gambling credit at a local casino and sent us on our way. The place was filled with screaming kids, our (our kids are grown) and there were dirty fingerprints on all the glass doors. It was also showing signs of ware and we could tell an assessment would be coming soon or the place was going to go to pot.

SherlockPoems's avatar

We attend the presentation and listen to the spiel… then tell the Salesperson we are really not interested in TimeShare because we prefer cruising (the truth)... usually they just give us the ‘freebies’ and we are on our way! Not a bad way to spend an afternoon… like watching a travelogue yanno?

YARNLADY's avatar

I have been to dozens of timeshare presentations, and have discovered the one answer they can never counter: “The maintainence fees are a complete deal breaker, because they nearly equal the amount we spend on our condo rental, so where’s the savings? Plus they are subject to increase without any representation by the owners.”

They have no answer to that.

SmashTheState's avatar

Be aware that you will be the subject of psychological warfare. The techniques used by high-pressure salespeople have been developed over a period of many years by Madison Avenue psychiatrists and sociologists. Most of them work without your conscious knowledge or awareness. A couple of examples:

The “Honest Abe” technique: The salesperson, suggesting that you make a logical and rational choice without any pressure from him or her, will take a piece of paper and write “pro” and “con” across the top. The salesperson will then ask you to list some reasons not to make the purchase, noting them down in the “con” column. The salesperson will then get you to list some reasons why you might want to make the purchase, and note these down in the “pro” column. The salesperson will make sure that there are always a lot more notes in the “pro” than “con” column. At the end, the salesperson will total up the number in each column, smile at you, and say, “Well, I guess you’ve made your decision.”

The “leading” technique: This one is particularly insidious. The salesperson will match your body language. When you lean forward, they will lean forward. When you cross your arms, they will cross their arms. Then they sync their breathing to yours. After a while of being perfectly matched, they will begin to lead you. Taking advantage of the primate instict to copy body language, they will begin to slowly shift their own body language, causing you to follow them without being aware of it. They will uncross their arms (crossed arms being a sign of defensiveness) and open their legs (open legs being a sign of sexual receptiveness) and increase their rate of breathing (causing your heart rate to increase and inducing a sense of excitement). Without ever being consciously aware of it, your feelings, mood, and attitude will by slowly shifted to make you more vulnerable to their pitch.

You should also be aware that psych studies have shown that about 70% of the public will respond instantly to any authoritatively-stated demand. For example, if someone tells you to “stand up” in a strongly-voiced command, there is a 7 in 10 probability that you will obey the command without question, and without knowing why. Unscrupulous salespeople will often use this to their advantage. I know, because I used to be one of those unscrupulous salespeople. Many times I would thrust a clipboard and a pen into someone’s hands and say “SIGN THIS” in an authoritative voice. In the middle of signing a binding contract, they’d look up with a bewildered expression, saying “What am I signing?”

Be very cautious. These timeshare people are utterly without conscience, and they will use every technique they know to get you to sign.

AKSJRT8503's avatar

We sat through a timeshare last summer and it was very very annoying. We were promised a 5 day Mexican cruise or a 4 night 5 day hotel stay in Hawaii or Aruba. We chose the cruise to Mexico. It’s actually not free! After going through the registration process and deposits, it was actually going to cost us about $700! Now we’re not cheap by any means, and if we wanted to go on a cruise we would pay for it, but we were promised a free vacation. So its not worth it, especially since it’s NOT FREE!

YARNLADY's avatar

@AKSJRT8503 You really got cheated – at least our free vacation, to San Diego, was free – after we got there. We had to provide our own transportation.

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