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Have you been offered a steal of a vacation deal in exchange for listening to a timeshare presentation? All the timeshare company asks is that you take a little bit of your time to hear their presentation, buying one is optional, and in exchange you get a complimentary trip. Sounds like the perfect way to vacation on a budget, right?
If you don’t know what a timeshare is, let me break it down for you. Timeshares are vacation homes where people own the right to use a shared property only during a designated period of time. This is typically anywhere from one to two weeks per year. Timeshare companies offer “irresistible” promotions to lure potential buyers to their presentation. Whether you’re seriously considering buying one or not, these promotions can be a great way to score a free trip — under the right circumstances.
In order to entice buyers to visit their timeshares, companies will offer special promotions, discounted or free stays at hot-spot locations, show tickets, or tickets to nearby attractions. Timeshares are located in some of the most popular vacation destinations such as Disney World, Las Vegas, Hawaii, luxury ski resorts, the Bahamas, and more.
While these “deals” might seem like a bargain you wouldn’t want to pass up, it comes at a cost. That cost being your time and willpower. Typically you are required to attend a sales pitch presentation where you are offered enticing deals to find a timeshare that is perfect for your travel desires.
Last November, the BF and I were invited to listen to a timeshare presentation in exchange for a free return stay at the location we visited, in addition to two other free stays at any of their sister properties, AND a $200 visa gift card. Since the gift card alone would pay for our food and the cost of gas, we figured we’d give up part of our afternoon for three vacations.
If you decide to attend one of these presentations, you need to be prepared for high-pressure sales tactics, and more importantly have it engrained into your head that you are not walking out of there with a timeshare. Most of these opportunities are through invite only. If you don’t trust yourself or your spouse to say no, it’s not worth it! I can’t stress this enough.
Some of the tactics you might see include:
- Keeping you longer than the promised time
- Creating a sense of urgency
- Having a “fix” to every excuse you have
- Using guilt tactics
- Lying about, or misrepresenting, the investment value
- Obscuring or leaving out true costs of ownership
- Bombarding you with multiple pitches from different sales people
In fact, many people fell victim to some of these high-pressure tactics and ended up buying a timeshare DESPITE their intent on not doing so. Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you are getting EXACTLY what you were promised, and be sure to read all of the terms and conditions to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
A few words of warning:
After going through a presentation myself, and planning the free trips through the timeshare company, I do have a few words of warning.
- You don’t get to choose your exact date- We had to send our deposit for the trip (which is refundable when you leave) and also send our top three choices on dates. Once you’ve submitted your dates, you will hear back from them on which date you get. It’s best to call the travel agency in advance and see what their estimated availability is during those dates. While we ended up getting all three of the dates we wanted, we also chose to visit Las Vegas and Orlando during their respective “offseason.”
- You may be put in a hotel- In the fine print of our agreement, it did say that if there was limited availability, they would put us in a hotel of their choice. For our trip to Orlando, they did just that. Just because you are “promised” a stay in one of their resorts doesn’t necessarily mean you will get to stay at a timeshare. We were given a room with two queen beds, and were informed that if we wanted the room with a king size bed we would have to hear another two-hour sales pitch during our trip. We opted not to go through another pitch. While a hotel isn’t as luxurious, it’s still a free room for our trip to Disney!
- Most importantly, don’t forget to say NO- The whole reason you are there is to hear this timeshare presentation for the discounted vacation or the freebies, you are not saving any money if you sign up for anything. A timeshare is generally a bad investment, and you need to make sure you are firm and continue to say no.
After attending our presentation, we did not buy a timeshare! Go figure. A short (though longer than expected) afternoon ended up saving us hundreds, if not thousands, on hotel costs for our trips. We used our three vacations to plan trips to Williamsburg VA, Las Vegas, and Orlando. For more information about how we continued to save on our trip to Williamsburg, check out these articles: