A Sucker's Born Every Day: A Memoir of Misbehavior in the World of Timeshares (Pt. 2)

By Linnea Gandhi (TGG Group)

When we left off last week, Jose had just presented Linnea and her husband with a one-time-only offer for a new timeshare... 

Now, Jose told us, was the moment of truth: what did each of us think, independently, on a scale of 1 to 10? (He noted that replying “5” would be cheating, despite my repeated attempts to convince him that 5.5 was the true midpoint. He was a sales guy, not a numbers guy.)  This attempt to pit one of us against the other failed as both my husband and I wrote down 4 out of 10. (Phew!) Of course, Jose assured us that many couples start at 40% and soon end up at 70%. So the next phase was to investigate what was behind our 40% interest and 60% disinterest, for which he created a simple table on the back of the term sheet. As we explained our reasoning, he cleverly took more diligent notes on the positive side, as shown below: 

Jose's handwritten notes craftily accentuate the positives!

Jose's handwritten notes craftily accentuate the positives!

Explaining to us that we clearly liked the new timeshare better – his notes on the pro and con list surely showed that – he concluded that there had to be something off with the terms. He pointed to the term sheet and asked us to edit it to our liking. What would it have to look like for us to buy right now, right here, on the spot? We asked for a moment to confer, and Jose begrudgingly complied.

And did we get to work! We got rid of the getaways, financing, and other freebies he had thrown in; none of that was high value to us, although we also suspected it was low cost to the resort. Turning to the price, we knew we were anchored on the original bid that had won us our timeshare; trading it in for a new one effectively meant this would serve as an upgrade, and no upgrade should cost more than the original purchase price. So we wrote in an honest, obscenely low price. 

Try to trick us yet again? Now we’re peeved.  

Jose saw the low price and gasped, while we breathed a sigh of relief. We all realized that this sale would not happen. 

Jose thanked us for our time and ushered us to a separate room to confer with his boss, a woman named Sara. After hearing our general praise of Jose’s politeness, she got down to business. Seriously, what would it take for us to buy today? Another blank term sheet emerged, and we wrote another obscenely low price. She countered, and we didn’t waver. It was an odd back-and-forth, escalating to her shouting out a desperate, “$8k, plus you can keep your original timeshare!”*

The head salesperson – and only Econ in the whole room – popped his head in and stopped the shenanigans. The only people he wanted misbehaving in that room were us potential buyers. He told Sara to let it go, and we were off…

…well, not quite yet. We were shuttled into an adjacent room where yet another salesperson laid out yet another deal for a free week at a partner hotel, if we paid a certain amount today. “Act now or lose it!” Seriously? This was unreal. It was noon, and we had already stayed for 105 minutes longer than the 75 we’d agreed to. Needless to say, we were fed up and told the salesperson as much.

Thankfully, she left to get the incentives we had been promised. But while she was gone, yet another salesperson sat down. Before he could open his mouth we told him, rather curtly, that we were pretty irked and ready to leave. His response? “No problem, I just wanted to let you know about this deal…” NO. NO. NO.  We were ready to leave without our free taxi rides, snorkeling trip, or $84 in cash. (Eduardo, what had you gotten us into? I thought you were our friend!)

He got the point, and we were out. We grabbed our packet of incentives and cash, ran to the front door, and didn’t look back.

Epilogue

The next morning we woke up at a leisurely 9AM and headed down to our resort’s Mexican-style buffet breakfast. Munching on our eggs and salsa while enjoying the view, we barely noticed a shadow cross our table. “Hola, amigos. I’d like to invite you to a free lunch presentation about upgrading your current timeshare here…”


*Word to the wise (or unwise, if you go to a timeshare presentation after reading this blog post): Sara’s boss revealed to us that they dump the equity from existing timeshares onto a broker and almost always make a loss on it. So the credit given for equity on term sheets is entirely made up!

Note For the sake of being polite, all names have been redacted or changed.