My Timeshare Presentation Experience: Psychological Roller Coaster
This morning my co-workers and I had a lively discussion about consultants and the sales people who sell their services. This triggered a memory of a timeshare presentation I attended a few months ago. I am withholding specific details like the name of the company and their sales representatives because I fear legal repercussions. The sales manager, who is versed in many different sales tactics, probably has legal self defense moves as well.
Months before that, my wife and I signed up to attend the presentation at a travel show. I must admit, the free goodies like two free roundtrip tickets to Hawaii, boat cruise tickets, and Clippers tickets lured me in. However, I love traveling as much as the next guy so I am always open to hearing about different ways to better travel.
After a quick tour of their facilities, a slideshow, and refreshments, we were led to the main meeting room. Steve, a mild mannered gentleman, shared with us his travels through Europe. I chimed in about my lovely experience years ago and felt like I was whisked back there. He added that he loves his timeshare and travels to any place in the world once a year. Throughout our talk, excited attendees were popping champagne while their rep wildly rang a bell. I deduced this is when they agreed to purchase a timeshare. I forgot to mention there was close to a hundred people there. Attendees and sales people huddled over tables discussed how to make travel a priority.
Steve then brings over his sales manager, Dave. He was younger, cockier, and was brought in to close the deal. His first approach was to aggressively strong arm us into it. “Isn’t what Steve telling you amazing? I can’t think of a reason why anyone would not want to sign up. You are locking in this incredible travel opportunity at today’s prices. We don’t know how much things will go up when we continue our company’s expansion.”
Steve and Dave gave us a moment. My wife and I were livid. “What the ? Who does this guy think he is? We should walk out of here right now!” When Dave and Steve returned, Dave quickly detected our displeasure and changed his tune. He became less aggressive, friendlier, and more open. We learned for the price of a small car, we too can travel anywhere in the world and enjoy the use of their wonderful facilities. It can be broken up into easy payments over ten years. It can be written off and treated as real estate. It can even be willed to our children. I agreed that traveling is wonderful and we should not forget to make it a priority. But I wasn’t willing to invest in a small car for their opportunity. The next round of exchanges with the closer, I will never forget.
“We just entered our son into school and we were planning to purchase a new car. I don’t think we can afford it at this time.”
“Single mothers who probably make less than you are signing up. You have no excuse.”
“We’ve been very busy lately and I don’t think we can take big trips every year at this time.”
“You have to make time and on top of that, your wife looks like she likes to be pampered. Remember you have to take care of your wife.”
“Well, when we travel, we like to explore so we won’t really be able to fully take advantage of the great accommodations.”
“I have a young daughter and hearing that you have a young son, believe me, when you are done with your activities, you will be dying to put your feet up in a spacious, relaxing room. Trust me.”
They both broke away again to let us talk things over. My frugality was weathering the barrage, but I was weakening. Dave came back with an “incredible” offer. He clued my wife and I in about some unfortunate scenario where a timeshare buyer could no longer make their payments. These foreclosed timeshares were specially made available to us for thousands of dollars off. The possibility of saving thousands of dollars almost made me sign. He pushed over a form with the reduced price breakdown and smugly walked away. After having a heated debate with my wife, we stood firm.
I politely declined the offer. Dave and I volleyed the above reasons again. I was getting desperate and just wanted to get out of there. I ended the discussion with this backed into the corner gem.
“This is an amazing deal and I really don’t know how I could walk away. I probably have psychological problems.”
Dave finally eased off the gas pedal and said it doesn’t bother him if I signed or not. I complimented him and said he is very good at being the closer. “Did you take psychology?” He rebutted that he wasn’t the closer and yes, he did take psychology. “No wonder.” I joked to lighten the mood that I didn’t want to meet the person after him (the closer’s closer). He chuckled, “Don’t worry. There’s no one after me.” He signed off on our free gifts and sent us to another room.
We breathed a sigh of relief. But as we were receiving our free gifts, the woman signing us out pitched us again! She was very sweet and said she worked for the company for a long time. She saw that we were close to signing and gave us trial packages for a fraction of the price. If we like it, we can roll that amount into the main package. I almost crumbled and signed up for the trial! At the last second, I regained my senses and politely declined yet again.
My wife and I quickly gathered our things and made our way to the exit. I spotted Dave hovering by our only way out. “Was he waiting for us to pass him?” I felt like Tom Cruise trying to escape The Firm. He then disappeared. I grabbed my wife’s hand, dashed for the door, and caught my breath. As we made our way to the golf cart to bring us back to our car, my good friend Dave was sitting in it.
“What can I do to earn your business?”
I thought he didn’t care if we signed up or not? I was so tired and had no more energy to volley with him again, I went into auto pilot mode.
“Look man, what can I say? I may have psychological problems.” After this experience, I really may have some now. He chuckled one last time. We shook hands and he finally let us go. As we drove back home, I thought “After several hours riding that psychological roller coaster, we really did earn those free gifts. I guess there really is no free lunch.” Here’s the kicker. Those free round trip tickets to Hawaii have very strict guidelines. You need to travel on Tuesday and return on Thursday. After sending in a hundred dollar processing fee and two possible departure dates, we have yet to book those flights.
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