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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


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The Situation

We showed up for the free gas cards. It didn’t hurt they were handing out free pizza, too. In the parking lot, my boyfriend (now husband) gave me a pep talk, reiterating the fact that we were not there to buy anything. “Of course, do you think I’m stupid?” I replied. We were broke at the time, living in a 400 square foot apartment, with no means to buy a timeshare anyway. Who could’ve known I would be wooed by the promise of luxurious accommodations all over the world? The possibility seemed so far out of our reach, at the time.

Problems & Issues Encountered

The moment we walked into the building, it was as though we had entered the devil’s lair. We were inundated with nefarious smiles, promising a lifetime of travel and adventure. Dropped into a box of temptation, we joined the party. I was engulfed by the music, sweet confections and giveaways that surrounded me. These people knew how to throw a party. While making small talk with our host (better known as the best salesperson on earth), I asked about the free gas cards. “Oh, you’ll have to wait until after the video presentation for that,” she replied with a grin.

We were whisked into a theater room and shown a movie highlighting tropical beaches and lavish suites. I could actually feel the sun shining on me and smell the ocean breeze, as I sat in the cushiony chair in the dark room. I swear, they used subliminal advertising and misted the room with ocean water before we entered. At the end of the film, we were joined by a lead salesman, who gave us the speech.

“You must buy today, to get all the advantages this timeshare offers,” he began. We were told that it was a one-time offer, that if we didn’t take advantage of this opportunity of a lifetime it would pass us by. By buying at that moment, we would be able to pass our timeshare down to a family member of our choosing, be a lifetime owner and lock in our point-system rates. If we did not choose to buy, we could never be full owners (we could buy, but it would only be for a certain number of years), which would mean we could not will the timeshare when we die, and the point-system rates would go up with inflation.

My boyfriend looked at me and shook his head, but he knew my stubborn mind had been made. We were not going to screw our future children out of a lifetime of family vacations, not only for them, but for their children, and the children after that. How could we be that selfish?

“We can’t afford it,” my future-husband told our host, when we made it into the boardroom for donuts and more sales tactics. “No problem, we can finance that for you, no money down.” I already had the pen in my hand, ready to sign.

I should’ve been smarter. I should’ve checked out the interest rate, before signing my autograph as the finance guru grinned my way. This was in the days before smartphones, so I couldn’t even browse the internet for reviews or warnings. I’m not sure I would have anyway. I was locked and loaded, ready for a vacation.

What Would I Do Differently?

Looking back now, I would not have purchased the timeshare. This is not to say that timeshares aren’t a worthwhile investment, they very well can be. My problem is that I wasn’t well-informed. I had just turned 21, worked part-time and went to college. I should have been saving every penny, rather than spending thousands of dollars that I didn’t have. I cringe every time I think of falling for the sales tactics we were presented with. I was a psychology major, I should have been privy to the manipulations.

A Little Advice

If you decide to purchase a timeshare, make sure you are buying one that is right for your personal needs. You can find point-based systems, or purchase a certain week in a particular venue. We got a point-based system, so we can travel to a wide-variety of locations.

Get your money’s worth. If you are unable to use your points, and they are going to expire, sell them. If you can’t make it to your weekly vacation this year, rent it to someone, so you don’t lose out.

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