Monday, July 28, 2008

You, too, for an immediate $3500 down payment can have this fabulous time share!

A few weeks ago I got a letter in the mail. “You are a winner!” Yay! Well, I know these ploys to get me to buy something or just get me to sign up for all this other crap so 10 other companies can declare me a winner as well. Something about this letter kind of intrigued me, though. I called the number to see what it was all about. I asked how I was entered into this so-called “contest” and they said someone had to have referred me. Oooookay…… seriously, who of my friends still knows my address? Liars! Here are the prizes:

  • 1 of 3 luxury SUVs (BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, or Mercedes M-Class) OR $40,000. (People who would choose the car are stupid because you have to come up with the money to pay taxes on that thing.)
  • $1500 gift card to Saks (This is one I was hoping for), Macy’s, Sears, Wal-Mart
  • 4 night island getaway
  • $500 CASH (At the least, I wouldn’t have minded the cash.)

Here’s the catch: come out to TYLER (It was actually Flint, TX and they didn’t tell me that) and listen to a sales presentation at a resort and you aren’t required to buy anything, don’t even bring your checkbook if you don’t want to. I ask why they’re giving away all these prizes just for me going to listen to a presentation. They say because they have money to spend on advertising, but they would rather spend it on gifts for people who can go home and tell of their experience. After all, word-of-mouth advertising is the most effective medium. And I understand and somewhat respect their explanation. I decide I kind of want to do this. Not JUST for the prize, definitely not for the sales presentation, not for the drive, but more for the experience and general curiosity.

I’m heading East on I-20, definitely not my favorite stretch of road. I exit past Canton, 8 miles to the right, 10 miles to another right, and 11 miles to the left. I turn in to this nice resort in a "woodsy area". Looks very quaint, kind of crowded. I am greeted by a security guard. (When I say greeted, I mean waving me down as I almost pass him.) “Ma’am! MA’AM! Where you headed?” “Umm.. to a sales presentation…umm” (They never told me exactly where to go.) So I pull up to a very full parking lot at the Tour Registration center. There’s an entire building for TOUR registration? Weird. I walk in and the first thing I hear is a screaming child. I look around and there are about 20 people waiting. I get a form and fill out my information, including my salary range. The receptionist asks to see my credit card. I guess they just want to make sure I have one? She doesn’t get a number or anything. I sit down and wait. I am by far the youngest adult in this room.. wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and flip flops. I really look the part to buy a timeshare in Flint, TX, right? My name is called within 5 minutes. All the 20 people waiting are now replaced with 20 other people who came in after me. Wow, they must have a lot of sales reps in this place.

I am greeted by ______. I forget his name 2 seconds after he tells me. He’s a young, scrawny little fella with a country twang, which I don't normally have a problem with, but there’s a big difference between an East Texas and West Texas twang. I follow him outside to another building. We enter this big lodge area that almost looks like a cafeteria, except all the chairs are filled with visitors and sales reps and the tables hold binders and paperwork instead of food. My sales rep (name currently unknown) initiates the fake “I wanna get to know you” conversation. I find out we’re both 2002 graduates. SURELY now that he knows my age and sees my wardrobe, I wouldn’t be interested, right? He asks me questions about my past and future vacations and approximate costs. Based on the ballpark numbers I gave him, he figured it to be about $108,000 for 20 years. So I’m spending about $5500 a year on RENTING my vacation. “What sounds better, renting or OWNING your vacation?” “Well.. for me, renting,” I reply. He looks at me like, wait, you’re not supposed to say that. It didn’t tell me how to respond in the script. So I realized this was a sales pitch and you’re supposed to give the obvious answer. “I mean, owning is the obvious answer!” I say. And he goes on. Every other question he continues to ask me, I keep responding with the opposite answer than what he wants. Basically he's telling me that if I get 2 weeks of vacation a year, I would just have to pay for use of the facility for 2 weeks a year and it's cheaper than flying and hotels and entertainment, yadi yada. I like to explore more of the country during my 2 weeks of vacation than just Flint, TX.... that's the point of my supposed $5500 a year dude! What are my favorite vacation spots, you ask? LA, New York, Mexico, Europe. We're so not on the same page. Anyway, a little more of this and that and it’s time for a tour!

The place is very nice. VERY nice condos and accommodations, 2 pools, mini golf, an arcade, movie theater, and an indoor/outdoor water park with a retractable roof! Of course, the water park is extra even to members. How much extra? $20 for adults and $14.95 for kids! Seriously, this place is the size of about 2 large gyms. I can go to Hurricane Harbor for $60, but it’s also about 100 times the size. He asks me what I think so far. “It’s definitely a lot more than I expected. VERY nice accommodations and fun activities.” Well, now he thinks he’s got me. Oops. He takes me back to the first lodge area for a final price overview.

He sits me down with my back to the front of the room, as I notice the same from the other 50-75 guests in the room. We pause our conversation to hear, “This is the Smith family and their first stay will be in ATLANTA!!!! WOOOOO!" *applause* Apparently they have about 6 or 7 locations in the Midwest and if you sign up that day for a timeshare, you are able to stay at any of those locations. So, it’s time to pitch the sale to me. “You get this and this and this and all these benefits and yadi yada for a down payment of $3500 and a monthly payment of $400 something. You ready to pay this $3500 today?” I reply after it registers that he actually asks me that question, “Huh? What? Today? Oh no, definitely not today!” This kid’s face just sinks like seriously? I thought I had you! I just BS him and say that a decision like this has to be made as a family decision. He raises his hand like a kid in class that’s afraid to ask the teacher to go potty. He slightly slumps in his chair and doesn’t look at me. I’m trying to make things less awkward by asking stupid questions still trying to look like I’m interested. This HUGE stocky bald guy comes over and shakes my hand and I can barely get my fingers to grip around his Hulkish hand. He sits down and immediately I think of the Friends episode where Chandler wanted to quit the gym and they bring out the hot, sexy woman to convince him to stay. This guy HAS to be here for pure intimidation. He asks no name boy, “What do we got here?” No name boy replies, “Well, she loved everything, was very impressed, but we’re stuck here.” *points to the $3500 down payment* No name Hulk man tries to get me to commit again. I explain AGAIN why I don’t want to commit. He tells no name boy to get up and pick up another tour. No name boy says to me, “I’m sorry I missed you today.. nice to meet you.” No name Hulk man sits there and looks at me awkwardly and says, “Sooo….” I reply, “Sooooo…. what?” I say again that I will NOT sign anything today and I will discuss it with my family. (Yea right.) He gets up and doesn’t look at me and says, “Thank you have a nice day” and walks away. I wanted to say, “No need to be an ASSHOLE!” I sat there for a second like, Is that it? Where’s my damn prize? Little corporate guy comes over to me. This guy totally respects the fact that I didn’t want to purchase today. He asks who my sales rep was. I said I could not remember his name. He was shocked to see my rep didn’t even write his name on my sheet. “It’s my job to make sure they do everything correctly,” he says. “I can’t believe he didn’t give you any of his information.” Anyway, he sends me off to the “Awards Center”.

Yes, ANOTHER separate building specifically for receiving your prize… These little tours seem to be too common an occurrence. That’s 3 large buildings dedicated to “bribing” you to place membership. So I’m waiting for another 30ish minutes to receive my prize. Now I'm at the point that I better get the $40,000 prize! The guaranteed bonus gift was a 4 night cruise or 2 night stay in Vegas. I pick the cruise. Then it’s time for my GRAND PRIZE! I am handed my……….. scratch off card. Yes ladies and gentlemen, EVERYONE is a winner.. if you scratch off the only 5 pots of gold within the 25 boxes! What great odds! Especially since ALL 200 cards are totally different. So the verdict: the 4 night island getaway that doesn’t include airfare, plus my 4 night cruise I have to pay $179 in taxes. But I also grabbed a 2008 coupon book from the lobby so I think I made out well.

SO, just a little lesson to everyone out there: Don’t always fall for these gimmicks. Mine was more curiosity than anything, plus I didn’t have anything else to do yesterday. And I stopped off the highway and got a long awaited Carls, Jr. burger. Then my dad’s truck overheated and I was stuck there for 2 hours, but that’s another blog. :)


Justin Pocta said...

haha, wow....that's why you were stuck in the middle of nowhere? that's kinda scary to drive to the middle of nowhere. your parents said yes to this?? anyway, so sorry you didn't win 40k. don't give up just yet!

Martha Elaine Belden said...


what a day. i can't believe you actually went to one of those things. i've always been so curious, myself. now maybe i won't ever feed that curiousit. i'll just remember your experience and throw whatever it is in the trash :)