Wannabe on the Trail: Musings on Timeshares

Cute photo to engage you… also I’ve not taken any in a few days

*** I haven’t got any cool photos for this post so I made memes…

Only late by what two decades?

So… on that last trip I took, that one to Branson, we went because of a timeshare offer. Yeah, yeah, I know…

We were walking through a popular outdoor store and Wade never learned to avoid sales desk people and interacted. Yay…

My normal reaction…

That will come back up later.

It was great going to my home state of Missouri and do some site seeing and visiting the family. But we had to give up a couple of hours to go to the timeshare pitch and sales meeting. I originally was saying to Wade, “We say no.”

He was on board with that!

While it was a bit of a pain and could be a costly mistake this particular timeshare isn’t as predatory as some and it had options. And that was a problem for me.

Plus, having Hunter provided enough of a distraction for our judgement to be clouded. We had to both take turns with him and missed parts of the talk and didn’t really get a moment to actually talk it through.

Had it been a traditional timeshare where it was one place, one week, and no flexibility I would have stuck to my gut and said no as soon as they ended the tour. Because I’ve looked into time shares in the past and they just barely skirt being a pyramid scheme…although I still think they are…

Just say no…

However, they started it out with a look at the cost benefit analysis of inflation on hotels. They do have a point with inflation continuing to rise—but so will wages and other offsetting factors. They also alluded that inflation was the reason for costs to increase during holidays…it doesn’t. As someone who works in the tourism industry, they left out how demand was a driving factor in pricing during the holidays.

I made a note about it… I took a lot of notes.

Then they explained how they were different—and they are. You can use your membership to go to several different places, your base points can be used anywhere at anytime as long as there is an opening in the schedule. You can also use your membership to pay for trips—with a little cash added—to other international places. They sold it as a way to go anywhere with your family for a decent price.

They really sold the family angle and it’s a great hook…

And in some cases, it would be worth the money and hassle. If we were making $250K a year maybe it would be worth it, but we don’t. They ended the talk with overall cost of the timeshare… it was a lot more than I was willing to pay and at that point, while tempting, I was still in the no category because of the price *before* associated fees.

I also did a little research on the agency and it did have some high points. But I always hate it when they pitch the overall cost but don’t mention what the annual and maintenance fees are. If I had those numbers while they were doing their inflation talk, I could have done the actual math and realized right then that it would be about the same either way… while they aren’t lying about the annual fees being stable—the maintenance fees will grow over time. Even I, the least math inclined person ever, can figure out the fees over time and the cost/benefit ratio.

But they don’t want you to know that until they lay the contract in front of you. And push you to sign before you get a chance to really review it.

Once the pitch was over, we moved on to the tour and hard sale.

Our salesman was nice, but you could tell he was a former auto sales guy—he was a big talker and a little pushy but that was expected.

He noticed my notes on the back and the love bombing began. Now, unlike cults this isn’t the same level but it’s a milder form.

“Oh, these are great questions—you asked about how maintenance fees can be offset by your points—they can. Oh, nice catch on the demand—that is true, but you won’t have to worry about demand costs around holidays with our program. You really know your stuff…”

Which appealing to your vanity makes it easy to ignore red flags. It’s also a red flag. (How many flags is that now? 3-4?)

…little bit of both…

The grounds and accommodations were nice, and the amenities were great for families. Which was another hook into us.

And he cold read us until he found what could hook us more.

We are both workaholics that feel guilty about taking time off for vacation. But now that we have a little one, we want him to have fun vacation memories.

I was a tad more susceptible to this because I want to take more fun vacations as Hunter gets older and take him to Missouri so he can see my side of the family more. Wade feels guilty for the same reason but he’s more the backyard camper because his family is where we live. Although, he does want to make me happy and thought it might be a good way for me to see my family more. Plus, it might get him more excited to go. Since we would have it and be paying for it…

And the salesman pushed that hard. *

I started to crack.

*Here’s the thing, this is a con—not a huge con but it is one. And you don’t think you will fall for it…until you do. Because you have a flaw in your ego—it’s too good a deal but I deserve it—that type of flaw. *

“It seems like a good deal.”

Wade was surprised by my shift in opinion but rolled with it.

Then the hard sale began.

When I said we couldn’t do the primary cost—they had two other options ready to go—one well in our price range.

I asked if I could talk it over with Wade… they gave us less than five minutes… red flag.

We were excited about the prospect of going to Missouri again, taking a cruise, or even going somewhere else. The fees associated weren’t a deal breaker “because we can pay with our points.”

We, sadly, thought it was a good deal.

Although, once we thought about it with the interest rate it would be horrible. And there was something that changed once we changed from the first offer to the cheaper one…

Even though I was agreeing to it—my gut or conscience was heavily cussing me in the back of my mind and telling me not to do it!

Which led to me asking some questions and I realized after the fact I should have pushed harder on some of them.

I asked repeatedly how to get out of the timeshare if we decided down the line we didn’t want it. They gave me a standard answer and pointed to a partner group (which is a red flag). If they cannot buy it back and send you to a third-party say no.

I should have had them clarify about how our points would pay the maintenance fees. Especially after we got the smaller contract. Had we gone with the larger package they could have—but the one we signed would not. But I didn’t push hard on that question again.  

And then they dropped the “this is only good for today…” line and we both said we should do it.

Bottom line we would have lost out on the extra club membership being “free” and the first year paid for—we should have just said we’ll think about it and that’s not important to us. Had we done that we would have been less stressed out.

Luckily, my gut or whatever made me fixate on a few things. I asked about their cancellation terms. They actually hedged a little and tossed two forms at us—one for Nebraska and one for Missouri. They did say we would fall under Missouri’s terms, but I had a feeling after we did all the paperwork that they hoped we would forget that. Mainly because they put Nebraska’s agreement on top and the Missouri section on the bottom…. I might just be paranoid.

…we didn’t think it through…

In Nebraska, you have three days to rescind the offer in writing and cancel the agreement—Missouri it’s five days. The cancellation has to be postmarked or hand delivered in that time frame.

After we walked out and weren’t being barraged with questions or being distracted with a bored toddler, we finally had the talk we should have had…

We both came to the same conclusion that this wasn’t something we should have done.

But even then, we still questioned it because it would be a great incentive to go on vacations and see my family more.

However, my gut kept pushing me and I went back and did some more googling. Sure, enough I found the answers I needed to remind me that while this particular timeshare does have far better options it’s still predatory. If we tried to get out of it after the five days, it would be very costly.

One positive thing I will say about this agency, they didn’t do hard “hard” sale tactics, they didn’t lie, and finally they did ask, nearly every time I brought it up about selling or cancelling, if we were sure we wanted to do this. It’s still questionable but they are not as predatory as some.

I sent the letter in under five days.

How I felt writing it…

Wade now gets to make fun of me because I gave him crap about smiling and talking to the sales desk folks that got us into this.

He did say we would take more vacations in the future though. We just might feel guilty about short staffing our respective jobs but for Hunter it will be worth it.

Just say no—if you still like it a week later then you can still sign up for it…

If you’ve never sat through a timeshare pitch but you somehow got roped into one here are some things to remember:

*You might think you will never fall for the sale—just remember they find a hook…

*They are salesmen—don’t let the fast-talking fool you—they are there to make a sale.

*They will do a form of love bombing to get you on the hook

*You can still get a deal if you say you want to think about it overnight.

*If even one little part of your brain is saying no—say no.

*In my opinion—timeshares are essentially a pyramid scheme.  Well maybe more akin to a Ponzi scheme…

Seriously change my mind…

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BJ

I've always enjoyed the outdoors; I love camping, kayaking, and canoeing. However, I decided to break out the hiking boots for longer than a day or two and dive into the world of backpacking.

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