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Attending a Timeshare Presentation for a Free Vacation – Good Idea?

By Christy Rakoczy

timeshareHave you been invited to attend a timeshare presentation? Perhaps you’ve been offered a steal of a vacation deal – the only catch is that you have to attend a mandatory timeshare meeting. Buying is optional, of course. The timeshare company just requires a little bit of your time. Sounds great, right?

Timeshares are arrangements whereby people own the right to use a shared property for a designated period of time, usually one or two weeks per year. In some cases, the timeshare owner can trade the use of his or her property for the use of another location in another vacation destination. Because of the high initial cost of purchasing a timeshare, in addition to the monthly fees, many people consider timeshares to be a bad investment. However, timeshare companies offer enticing promotions designed to get potential buyers to take a look at what they have to offer. And whether or not you’re seriously considering buying, taking advantage of these promotions can make sense – in certain circumstances.

Timeshare Presentations Can Offer Cheap Trips

Timeshares are often available at some of the most popular vacation destinations, including Walt Disney World, Las Vegas, and various ski resorts. These are all attractive places to visit, but the costs of hotel rooms, show tickets, and amusement park tickets can make such trips difficult to afford.

In order to entice prospective buyers to visit their timeshares, many companies offer special promotions, including discounted or free stays to hot-spot destinations, as well as tickets to nearby attractions. Typical promotions might include:

  • Three nights in an Orlando hotel and two tickets to Disney theme parks for $99
  • A stay in a Las Vegas hotel and free gambling credit for $44 per night
  • Three days and two nights in a luxury resort, plus two theme park tickets for $169

The Obvious Catch

While these timeshare deals can seem like an incredible bargain, remember that very few things are ever free. In exchange for the deal, you are required to attend a timeshare presentation. This requirement is mentioned when you book your package, and typically the company offering the promotion explains exactly what is required of you. In most cases, you must attend a 90-minute sales pitch, and sometimes take a tour of the timeshare resort as well.

It is also important to note that not everyone is eligible for the timeshare package. The requirements vary by company, but you may need to be married or in a relationship, and you almost always need to be over the age of 25 (or in some cases, over 30). Additional requirements may be imposed and should be stated upfront before you book your timeshare package.

If you fail to attend the presentation, don’t bring your spouse (if required), or otherwise don’t fulfill all of the mandates of getting the timeshare deal, then you’ll have to pay full price for the accommodations.

timeshare

The Less Obvious Problems

Having to give up 90 minutes of your vacation time may not seem like a big deal if you are getting a significant discount, but most people who attend a timeshare presentation report that it was a lot more than they bargained for.

First and foremost, be prepared for very high-pressure sales tactics at the presentation. Some of these tactics include:

  1. Keeping You for Longer Than the Allotted Time. Many visitors report being kept for hours, or even full days, at presentations that were supposed to last only 90 minutes.
  2. Creating a False Sense of Urgency. Timeshare presenters paint a picture of how much you can benefit from owning a timeshare, and then tell you that you must act now or buy before you leave the presentation.
  3. Not Disclosing Cancellation Periods. When you do agree to sign a timeshare contract, it is unlikely you will be told of your right to cancel.
  4. Arguing Aggressively Against Objections. Timeshare presenters usually have an answer for everything, and they always have a way to counter any excuse you might come up with.
  5. Using Guilt as a Means of Coercion. Timeshare presenters may say anything to make you feel guilty, from alleging that they won’t be paid if you don’t buy a timeshare, to trying to make you feel bad for accepting the “free” stay without making a purchase.
  6. Lying About the Investment Value. Timeshare sales reps often significantly overstate the benefits of owning a timeshare and the value of the timeshares they are selling.
  7. Obscuring the True Costs of Ownership. The focus during presentations is on the low costs of ownership, and you never hear upfront about any of the restrictions or fees.
  8. Bombarding You With Multiple Pitches From Different Salespeople. Before you are able to escape, you may need to deal with multiple salespeople, as well as “managers,” all of whom use different, highly aggressive tactics to get you to buy.

These are just some of the high-pressure tactics employed by timeshare marketers. In fact, many people on various online complaint and scam message boards report that as a result of the high-pressure tactics that they faced, they bought timeshares despite their clear intent not to. While you may believe that you can stand up to the pressure, you won’t really know until you’ve dealt with the sales professionals whose sole job it is to get you to buy a timeshare – even if you don’t really want one.

Additional Problems

While high-pressure sales tactics are often the biggest reported complaint among those who take discounted timeshare vacations, there may be other problems as well. Some customers report not getting exactly what they were promised. For instance, you might not be put in the hotel of your choice, or the discount tickets offered might have restrictions that make them difficult to use. If you don’t get what you expected, your recourse may be limited, and you’ll probably have a hard time recouping any money you spent on the vacation.

Final Word

Of course, not every single timeshare company is going to entrap you in long sales pitches or put you in sub-par accommodations. It may be possible to find legitimate timeshare deals, and have a fine experience on your vacation. However, the bottom line is that you take a risk when you accept free gifts from timeshare presenters, and you need to remember that the gift does not come without strings attached.

Have you ever attended a timeshare presentation? What was your experience?

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. She is currently a full-time writer who writes both textbooks and web content related to personal finance and the law. She and her husband and two dogs split their time between Florida and Pennsylvania.

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  • holly

    I have never gone to a timeshare presentation before but I would definitely consider it if it meant earning a free vacation. I’m not afraid of a hard sales pitch as I have no problem saying “no” when it comes to spending my own money.

    • ozo

      i am going next weekend lets see this so called super sales humans

  • http://www.debtroundup.com/ Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    My wife and I attended one and we got a lot of free things to enjoy on our vacation that we were already one. We were able to save about $200 on things that we had already planned on doing. Yes, we did have to sit through a 60 minute presentation,then they wanted to talk with us. Since I know math, I was able to tell them that a timeshare didn’t make sense for us and doesn’t make sense in a lot of ways, mathematically. They let us go with our vouchers.

  • Scott Fisher

    Why anyone would buy a timeshare is beyond me. What other expensive product would you buy on the spot without doing any research as to the claims the salesmen make. They have no resale value, you’re locked in for the rest of your’s and your heirs life, and you could probably stay where ever you want, when ever you want for less in the long run. Ask the salesman what’s the last big purchase he made without researching it first, what’s the resale value, why are there so many timeshares on ebay selling for peanuts, and what if you want out. There are no good answers for these questions.

    • SAM B

      Yes the only answer Is not TO mouch. pay the full price and don’t go to presentations.

  • Kate

    My boyfriend and I went to one of these yesterday and everything you said was exactly what we experienced. From keeping us longer than the allotted time to saying this deal only lasted today and even calling the manager. We ended up getting suckered and buying a lot from them. Got home, couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking “what the heck did we just do?” So today, I read all the fine print on our contracts, did my research and ended up writing them a letter pretty much saying we wanted to cancel everything and get our money back. It’s called the “right to rescind” and there’s a certain time frame you have to do it by. Mailed the letter today with a delivery receipt. I hope everything goes well! As far as this “free” trip to Las Vegas, I don’t even know if I want to use our voucher…

  • Berndog

    I went to Florida for one of these with my girlfriend, same address we lived together. The price was so cheap for the vacation, the sales pitch was about 90 minutes, took a tour, and went through 3 different sales people, each one more experienced then the previous. I already knew i wasn’t going to buy, and nicely told my girlfriend to not open her mouth because I knew she would fall for it. 3 minutes in she opened her mouth and then it was on. They hit her with guilt, how we could make it work and she was even looking at me excited. I was furious. This finally ended and we had to go to a desk with our first presenter, after saying no, to get our free tickets to Disney World. He looked like he was going to jump off a bridge as we stood in line with him. I did feel bad, he was pissed. But it was finally over and had an unreal vacation. Just be strong, polite, and say NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mickey

    My ex and I went to Fl and they started off with something like $1200 a month but we kept saying no and by the time they were done they were down to less than $100. Next we got “oh, so you come down here for a week on our dime with no intention of buying anything, you have any idea how much this all cost” so I said hey yall offered…

  • Melanie

    My husband and I went on a Palladium Discovery Promotion deal and while the price wasn’t too bad we where scared about the presentation. We have had awful experiences with timeshare presentations before. It is good to say that this wasn’t bad at all, they kept the initial price , the hotel was amazing and the presentation was a bit tense, but nothing to be wining about!

  • Jono

    The top 10 best ways to get out of it:
    10. I like this place a lot, but really I wanted a unit with a balcony, and none of them have balconies.
    9. I saw this exact same $20,000 timeshare for only $200 on the internet. Why should I buy it for $20,000?
    8. Print out the contract, and I will have my accountant and lawyer review it.
    7. Do they allow pets? We have three bit bulls and we always like to take them on vacation.
    6. I don’t think I will qualify for the outrageous 16.9% financing. Ever since the bankruptcy my credit score has been -350.
    5. If I am not promised any specific unit, how do I know what my view will be?
    4. Who actually owns the company selling it, and what is their bond rating?
    3. If I buy this unit, how much commission do you get? How much commission does your boss get?
    2. Your 90 minutes of fame are up. I must leave now to get ready for an urgent business meeting.
    1. I am thinking about becoming an undercover informant for the FBI investigating fraudulent high-pressure sales tactics for timeshares.

  • Mark

    I took advantage of a timeshare trip to Florida that one of the big timeshare companies offered. During the presentation I was polite but declined…and declined…and declined…and declined some more. They brought in a second sales person and I politely declined some more. The 90 minute presentation took about 45 minutes. And we had a GREAT vacation at a beautiful resort for next to nothing. I’m signed up for another timeshare presentation in Branson and they threw in a trip to Vegas (with no presentation) if I show up for the Branson one. Whole thing cost me $169 and I got a confirmation notice for both trips. I’ll do the same thing at this presentation. Be polite and upfront. Hopefully this one goes as well as the last one.

  • Guest

    I recently attended a timeshare presentation while I was on vacation in Florida. I was told that it would only be 90 minutes, but by the time I started getting pissed and telling them I have to go…I had already been there for like two and a half hours! I told the first salesman no, he then got a manager ( who had an attitude ), then I refused to purchase through her and she got another manager. The price started at like 35,000 and by the end they dropped the price to like 8,000 dollars! It just didn’t seem right at all. They also tried the guilt thing on me as well! When I finally got out of there…I then had to wait an hour in line for my free gift….which was one hundred dollars cash and my twenty dollar security deposit back! This was an absolute nightmare……I would not recommend doing any of those tours! It wasted most of my day on vacation!!!

  • Misty Rogers

    I actually own a company that schedules timeshare presentations. I’ve attended many myself and if it’s not for you, you need to be able to say no. However, sometimes they really do make sense for some people. Either way, it is true that you can save hundreds of dollars just for attending! I say, if you want to save some real money, spend 90 – 120 minutes listening to what they have to tell you! If anyone is interested in giving it a try, I manage multiple locations nationwide including Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Branson, etc. For example, I can get you 3 nights in a luxury resort as well as 2 tickets to Disney for only $189!!! Try to beat that on your own! Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] if you would like some info!

  • Wary Now

    Like others have said, I don’t have any trouble saying “no.” I went on one of these promotions to Cancun. 90 minutes turned into 4 hours. I felt like a hostage. I was literally driven miles away from the resort with no way back but the salespeople. By the time I escape I was so furious & frazzled I collapsed in bed. This pretty much ruined the whole “vacation.”

  • Cindy

    Great Destinations in Los Angeles is fine. The usual annoying sales people. i pressed the urgency of the issue from the very first phone call and then again when i went in. i told them i had to leave not a minute past the 90 minutes i had committed, so they let me go in early, skip the video presentation, my husband and i pretended we really had no interest in travel, liked cheap motel 8 stays and weren’t into luxury. They didn’t even bother with us. They did pass us off to 2 other sales people and one was like :whatever” and the other trued. We just said no and then they handed us our free trip to Hawaii, taxes included…airfare and hotel. We were out in less than 90minutes.

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