They must know why we come to their seminars

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Last weekend my wife and our friends drove to Williamsburg to attend one of those time-share sales seminars.

Normally I wouldn’t give them a second thought, but Martha said they were giving away two free airline tickets to just about anywhere if we sat through their talk.

I was a bit skeptical about the prize — I’ll get into that later — but we love hanging out with our friends, always have a good time, and it was such a beautiful day for a road trip.


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I should have known it was going to be a bad day, when less than half way there on Interstate 64 we got tied up in a traffic jam. We sat there for more than an hour before finding an exit, one that just happened to have a tourist information center, where we were given an alternate route to our destination.

Once there, we split up. Apparently there was some rule that we weren’t suppose to know anybody else at the seminar. So, not wanting to violate the rules and lose our free tickets, we ignored our friends until it was over.

The first thing the woman told us as we sat down was that she was not a high-pressure salesperson and she wasn’t going to push the property on us. She said she would present the information, and then we would have one of two choices — either ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’

The deal sounded pretty good, except for the fact that it was pre-construction sales and we couldn’t actually see what we would be buying.

And the company has thousands of units around the world where we could go if we didn’t want to stay in Williamsburg.

Some of the things she said made sense, such as assuming we spend $2,000 vacationing every year, and we still have a couple of decades or more of vactioning in us, the $20,000 cost of the time share would pay for itself within the first decade.

The property was also tranferable in a will and we could sell it anytime we wanted.

And except for maintenence fees, which were quite reasonable, once the property was paid for, we were done.

After hearing all about the property, seeing photos of what it would look like and examing swatches of material that would be used in the units, we were given a few minutes alone to discuss it.

Of course, going in, we knew we were not going to buy, so it didn’t take long to reach a decision.

We told the woman we were not interested at this time and expected that to be the end of that.

But suddenly she remembered there was some kind of one-time offer if we bought that day and left the table to talk to her “manager.” It was much like the car salesman who can’t close the deal and goes to get his boss to sweeten the offer even more — or so they call it.

Upon returning, she had a lower price, but we didn’t budge.

Then she started asking those probing questions such as “Why not,” and “Would you consider starting smaller,” etc. I reminded her that, in the begining, she told us all she expected was a simple ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’ And that’s what I had given her.

We then received our tickets, which after reading the fine print, we discovered there are so many hidden fees and costs that we could probably get them cheaper through our travel agent.

But then I didn’t really expect free flights for a two-hour sit down with the sales lady. I knew there was going to be a catch, if not several of them.

I’d have felt better if they had simply given me a toaster oven for my time.

I wonder how many people actually buy those things? And I wonder how many, like us, are just in it for the free stuff, even if it isn’t really free in the end?