Sunday, November 19, 2006

Timeshare: Buyer Beware

Keryn and I had our own experience with the timeshare sales industry. We had been married for less than a year. We responded to a phone call promising a free weekend in Las Vegas. We thought that might be a fun way to visit Keryn's parents in Vegas, so we agreed to attend the sales pitch from Trendwest.

I must say the that the presentation was very persuasive. The presenters showed what good financial condition their company was in and how nice the properties were. They explained how a timeshare was a valuable asset that you could pass along to your children and would encourage you to go different places with your family on vacations.

It sounded really cool. And really expensive. But not to worry, they offer financing!

We were very hesitant. We'd agreed before we went that we would not purchase anything that day, but we also felt that we needed be be honest in hearing about the deal and give it a fair chance.

The salesman sat down with us and reviewed many of the great things we'd heard in the presentation. He explained an elaborate system of points and programs which we could take advantage of... but only if we made the purchase decision before we left the room.

This high pressure sales tactic left me cold, but I was very wrapped up in the possibility of a high value "investment" that could provide a lot of fun for my family. We agreed to spend about $500 for a week stay at one of several resorts. By making the purchase, we got to keep the option to get the "great deal." (This option was only made available to us after we told them we weren't going to buy.)

We felt that it was a good price for a week in a fancy place and so we made a honeymoon trip of it. We stayed for a week in a hotel near St. George. It was a lot of fun and a very nice place.

We ultimately decided not to pursue the offer any further. And we never did take that Vegas weekend. And with only a tiny amount of hindsight, I'm very grateful that we didn't.

The Deseret News is running a three day series on the timeshare sales business. So far, that portrait isn't very flattering. It turns out that people are paying 5 or 10 times the actual market value for a timeshare and doing so with exorbitant interest rates. If you're considering purchasing a timeshare, the advice is to do so in the open market rather than directly from one of the companies that builds the resorts. Buyer beware.

If you read the piece from the Deseret News, this link is to the main story. Check out the left sidebar for all the related stories with the actual meat of the investigation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My wife is a bit more realistic on these kinds of things. I'm the type that says "let's go see just what this is all about", but she says, "We're not going, because what good could come of high-pressure sales tactics."

After I read one of the DesNews articles, I was glad she prevented me from 'succumbing to temptation'. And she didn't even say "See I told you so." ;-)