The plan was in place. I would sit through the presentation and at the conclusion of it, firmly decline the offer to purchase a timeshare. How difficult could it be? Especially as I didn’t even know these people so I wouldn’t feel bad about saying no, right? WRONG!
How did I even get into this predicament? It all started innocently enough. I was making a group reservation at a hotel for a work trip. The representative asked if I wanted to stay on the phone to learn about this exclusive opportunity they were offering their loyal rewards members or something of that nature. Something told me to decline, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat! I said, sure, I would like to hear about it.
I get transferred to someone else and basically the deal was I’d pay $199 upfront and I’d get a 4 day, 3 night hotel stay at a location of my choice AND get $200 back in cash. I just had to go on the trip within a year. I thought to myself: this sounds like a great deal! I would definitely travel within the year (I love to travel- see other things I love), and I would get my money back, zero risk.
They did mention something about listening to a presentation about their programs while I was on the trip. I wasn’t paying too much attention at this point but I was like yea, sit through a presentation? I can do that. No biggie! Easy peasy! The locations to choose from were places like Vegas, Myrtle Beach, Miami, Orlando, Gatlinburg… It sounded great! I paid the $199 and then kind of forgot about it.
About every month or so, they’d send me email reminders to choose where I wanted to go but for whatever reason, no travel opportunities were coming up. I was beginning to get nervous as my 1 year was right around the corner. They even started calling me trying to get me to commit to a date and location but I really couldn’t find a time to go. More importantly, I now realized I’d have to pay to get to any of these places and I didn’t want to have to buy a plane ticket just to go get my $200. Finally, I had to call to see if I could be granted an extension. The lady acted like she was doing me a huge favor and extended by about a month or so but said after that, any other extensions would cost me.
Thankfully, I figured it out. My mum was coming to town for my Master’s graduation, I would take a half day off one Friday, and then we’d go together on a road trip to Gatlinburg, TN (closest destination to me) for the weekend to redeem my offer. It was perfect! Road trip with the mama, (almost) long weekend, great weather, and most of all, it was Mother’s Day weekend too! I would get to treat my mum to a getaway, have fun in the mountains, etc, etc. Don’t you just love it when things come together?
So we did have fun during our little weekend, despite the severe bout of allergies my mum came down with. Darn you, pollen! Fast forward to Sunday, the day we were to leave- also the day of the presentation. I kind of sort of knew what a timeshare was and I had a feeling the general view was “don’t buy them”. So my plan was to NOT buy a timeshare.
When I got there, they made me feel comfortable, offered me refreshments, even gave me a red rose. Then the presentation began. It wasn’t all boring powerpoint slides or anything- it was more personal and one-on-one so one actually felt obliged to listen, engage, and even answer questions.
There was a tour of the grounds and facilities, the whole thing was explained in grand detail. The guy then told a touching story about why he sells timeshares and starting crying while telling the story- I kid you not! Well, more like a few tears rolled down his cheeks as he told the story- of course at the right moment. One part of me was like “dang, he is a good actor!” but another part of me was like, “he really might be telling the truth, yo!”.
So long story short, after several hours the moment had come- was I going to buy the timeshare? Ladies and Gentlemen, I should have said no! I came up with all these great reasons why it was a good idea. I was going to travel to all these exotic places, get all these deals, etc. So I signed the papers and Voila!- I was the (proud) owner of a timeshare.
When I got home and told my sister, she was like “You did WHATTTT?”. That was when I realized maybe, just maybe, it was a mistake. lol. So I went on the internet and did some research. Imagine. After the fact. smh. Anyway, what I saw did not give me any tummy comfort. I tried to tell my siblings this was a different type of timeshare, tried to rationalize it, etc.
Next, I told one of my friends, and the first thing he said was “Cancel it. NOW!”. I accused him of being dramatic and said that this was a different type of timeshare. He tried his best to explain to me why it wasn’t a good idea but I was still trying to justify the decision. I continued to research the topic and it kept looking really bad. I was like- great! I have just entered into tens of thousands of dollars of debt- for a timeshare.
Finally, I came across this website that pretty much spoke directly to me. It went something like “Let me guess, you just bought a timeshare and you are feeling buyer’s remorse and you want to get out of it. You are in the right place.” I was like “Thank you JESUS!”. Not only did the website explain step by step how to get out of it (including the template of the letter you had to write to cancel it- yes, it’s hardcore stuff) but it gave some other tips such as how to effectively (and even profitably) say no to these offers, your rights as you listen to these presentations, where to actually buy timeshares for cheap (if you really really wanted a timeshare), etc.
To be honest, I think the timeshare thing can work out for some people. You just have to do your research and be in the right position financially and even in life in terms of your vacationing style and how much time you have on your hands and your flexibility when it comes to travel plans. It just wasn’t the right decision for me at the time.
So all’s well that ends well. I ‘returned’ the timeshare and got my deposit back, in full. I also got the $200 back AND I got a hilarious story to tell others out of this experience. I will write a post about how the actual mama-daughter getaway part of the weekend went at a later time; so stay tuned. (Here’s the post).
Now tell me, have you ever bought a timeshare? thought about buying one? attended any of those presentations? Share your thoughts and experiences below and don’t forget to subscribe below :).