Archive for the 'Timeshare Sales Tricks' Category

Resort Equity Marketing Complaint

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Stay away from this company and please do your homework before giving any timeshare marketing company your money! You need to read the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida’s report on these guys. We signed up with REM 1/05 to sell our timeshare condominium. This was over the phone and the sales pitch and guarantee seemed reasonable.

However, in thinking it over and doing some additional research (BBB of Central Florida, etc.), we discovered that this was not the upstanding company that we were led to believe. Given the fact that we were told we had 7 days to cancel the contract, we figured we had an out without any issues. Only one problem, we were not given a contact number to reach this company by the phone sales person. Only told that our contract would arrive in a few days and that we had time to cancel once we received it. Attempting to reach these people at numbers listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website were futile. We received our contract on the 8th day after we had agreed to sign up with them over the phone. How convenient?! We were now past the contractual 7 day limit for cancelling!!!!

We have attempted to cancel with them via phone, mail, etc. and asked for a refund since that time, but they say they cannot do that because they have already started marketing our timeshare. Yet, when we have asked for proof of the services they are providing, they cannot provide us any. The only thing that has been done is that our condo is listed on their website (along with hundreds of others). No other marketing has been done, contrary to what they led us to believe (i.e., conventions, other sales literature, etc.). To test their marketing and follow thru on potential sales offers they are supposed to notify us of, we have put several offers out on the online system for our own condo


TIMESHARE HELL – The 90 Minute Sales Presentation -

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Timeshare Hell – The 90 minute sales presentation
January 20, 2009 by Andrew Kulyk

The call was innocent enough.

My friend and travel partner Peter Farrell and I were on our latest Ultimate Sports Road Trip adventure, down to sunny Florida. We were staying at Sheraton Vistana Villages, which is a beautiful and opulent timeshare resort located on I-Drive close to all the theme parks. Now I used to own a place there, but sold it just a few months ago, so I knew the ins and outs of interval ownership, and many of the tricks of how to maximize ones experience.

I answered the phone last week, and a sweet gal named Dana said, “We’d like to extend you an exclusive owners VIP check-in upon your arrival.”

“Well, Umm… I’m no longer an owner.” I explained to Dana how much I enjoyed my three year stint at Vistana, and why I decided to sell when I did. “No matter,” she replied. “We’d still like to give you the VIP treatment, and an invitation to attend an Owners Update, where you will learn all about the exciting things we’re doing here at Sheraton and for joining us we will give you 5000 Starpoints.”

OK now they had my interest… 3000 Starpoints gets you one night at any Sheraton “Cat-2? property, which means almost all Four Points hotels. So for USRT purposes 5000 points is a valuable bonus. “Sure” I replied.

Little did I know that this would be my first foray into Timeshare Hell.

The VIP check in didn’t come off because of a flight delay, but the welcome gifts turned out to be a $4 bottle of champagne, discount coupons for honky tonk eateries on the I-Drive strip, and some sample packets of drugstore stuff, including a “Pepcid AC”, which could be the best item in the bag, useful after going through their presentation, as I would later find out.
It then dawned on me that this “Owners Update” was just a veiled way of enticing people into a sales pitch for timeshares. I had told Dana that I had just sold my timeshare, that I had no intention of buying anything, but her sole job is to recruit saps to attend their pitches, and that is how she is compensated. She could pull up to the City Mission and pick up a busload of winos for all her bosses care. Her job is done!

So now knowing what I would be up against, when the morning of my appointment arrived I took a deep breath and went into the sales presentation center to match wits with a well oiled and schooled sales machine.

A nicely dressed man named Bill greeted me; he looked a lot like Habs coach Guy Carbonneau. There was a long breakfast buffet table in the sales center, but he never offered me any food, so I just got up and helped myself. We sat down, and he started probing as to why I sold my timeshare, and what my travel plans were moving forward.

Right there I wanted to impress him with my command of his product, so I shared with him how I bought my timeshare, how I sold it, what I paid for it, what I sold it for (I pretty much broke even no small feat). I told him that timesharing really didn’t work for me, as I spend most of my time on sports trips, far away from exotic beach locales.

At this point Bill starts sharing one of the beauties of Sheraton ownership – the ability to convert your timeshare to Starpoints every other year, and be able to then book any Sheraton hotel using those points. Surely that would fit my needs, no? The hook is one has to buy the timeshare from the developer (meaning from Bill). Buying resale does not qualify for this program.

OK, now he had at least a bit of my interest. Mind you, I know exactly what the timeshares at Vistana fetch on the open market, so I figured perhaps a slight premium to the developer and we’re good to go, right?

Next we went on a tour of the new units, and truth be told they are fantastic. Granite countertops, sunken jacuzzi, plasma TV’s, al top of the line amenities.

So now I am thinking, gee maybe I should get back into this after all at some point down the road.

Things went downhill fast.

Back to the sales center we went, and a Manager named Sayeed joined us at the table. He started scribbling an array of options, packages, timeshares, prices, then proceeded to cross out numbers and replace them with new numbers. Then arrows… oh the arrows! Arrows to this number that number the sales offer sheet was covered with a slew of figures and facts that would make anyones head spin.

When I told him I sold my timeshare, and explained some of the flaws in the Sheraton program, like the difficulty of exchanging one’s unit within the network, or the antiquated non-real-time reservations system on their web site, or the rapidly escalating annual assessment fees, Sayeed became very irritated. “Well, obviously, you’re not the kind of candidate we want to have as part of our Sheraton family so there’s no use wasting my time with you,” he huffed before storming away.

Bill and I sat silently for a moment, and then Sayeed returned… the act I then saw unfold could have been like a high school production of Othello. Sayeed started talking to Bill – “Did you tell him about the 50,000 bonus starpoints he gets for buying today?!” “Did you tell him the conversion fee for star options is waved if he becomes an elite member?!” “Did you let him know he can be priority waitlisted for exchanges to St. John’s or Atlantis?”. I kept my poise and told him “I told Dana, then I told Bill and now I’m telling you. I have no intention of buying a timeshare. Why would I sell my timeshare just four months ago, go through all the hassle of escrow, title search closing etc, just to buy back in four months later?”

The kicker was when Sayeed (and Bill) revealed their pricing… a 1 bedroom premium unit at Vistana Villages in prime season, with a 67,100 point value was offered to me at the “bargain” price of $18,500. The VERY SAME unit is listed from a private seller, right now, on eBay with a “buy it now” price of $3,499. And as of this writing that unit remains unsold.

So if you’re looking for trouble at a timeshare sales pitch and looking to agitate, just start quoting resale prices. Better yet, bring printouts of eBay auctions. This revelation sent Sayeed into a frenzy, and he stormed away from our table in total anger.

I told Bill I would keep his pricing and info and consider all of this, but incredibly, the minute I turned my attention away from the table, Bill removed, no, he stole the papers with the figures from my packet. I repeatedly kept shuffling through my stuff looking for the documents, but they were gone.I confronted him asking where those sheets were, and he replied he did not know.

Now Bill said, “Well thank you for giving your time. Sherry will be sitting with you to do a brief survey of your experience this morning, then she’ll take you to gifting and you’ll be on your way.”

Sherry shows up, asks me to fill a short name and address form, and from there we go into the survey, which take all of 15 seconds. Then she gets into the real reason for this phase of the torture. “I’d like to introduce you to our “Explorer” renter package. We have two available – one for $1495 and the other for $2995.” And again the offer sheet is laid out, and the figures, and the arrows, start flying furiously. 8 days 7 nights with 50,000 starpoints, or 4 days, 3 nights with 60,000 starpoints, and this bonus and that coupon! Sign now now now, and you have 12 months to pay interest free we charge your credit card! And if you use your Amex card you get a 50% bonus! And Disney tickets! And a buffet!

My head was hurting… So I ask, “What if I buy your package, then when I’m ready to book you don’t have my dates available?” “No problem!” And more numbers. And more arrows. “We guarantee or we give you 10,000 starpoints. But today is your lucky day because it’s MLK day you get a 15,000 point guarantee!!!” (That’s what ML King must have been referring to when he said he had a dream… bonus starpoints at the Sheraton.)

I told Sherry I absolutely would not be plopping down $1500 for a 7 night stay which I would have to commit to using in 12 months (which by the way, I could buy the same stay online at one of many rental sites for about $500-$700). She forlornly said OK and then walked me over to the gifting counter so I could get my 5000 points and depart.

So who shows up at the gifting counter? Yep… Bill was back! Production of Othello, Part Deux… “So Sherry, I know Andrew is a sharp and astute consumer and jumped all over his chance to snag one of our explorer packages, right?” “Noooooo” replies Sherry sadly. “I tried to get through to Andrew buthe just doesn’t understand!!! It’s all so unfortunate.”

I let these two finish their show, then just looked at the gifting lady to fill out the form for my 5000 starpoints, and turned to the two and said “I’m going to go now and make my way to Sunrise for my hockey game. Goodbye.”

I walked out the door. Free at last! Free at last!

But who followed me out the door… Yep, Bill. And what happened next was akin to the type of experience you would have if you were buying a bag of smack or a blowjob in some back alley.
“I shouldn’t tell you this, I could get fired” warned Bill. “Come… walk with me” he said in a hushed voice.

We walked the sidewalk outside, in the shadows of the fourth phase of Vistana, still under construction. “How do you think we’re going to fill all these villas, before they are sold” Bill asked me. “Easy” I replied. “Put them onto the Sheraton reservations system, Expedia, Travelocity and sell them just like all your rooms.”

I got some convoluted reply as to why this couldn’t be done. If there had been a piece of paper I’m sure it would have been explained to me with numbers and arrows. Then the kicker… “I can get you into a program called the Grand Vacation Club. Now it’s not a deeded ownership, but for $2519 you get a weeks use each year and there are no other taxes, assessments or fees. it’s all free.” Again he implored to please please not tell his bosses or he’ll be in trouble.

I reply, “Can I have your card? Can I have your email address? And where are those sheets with all those figures from earlier I really need to digest and analyze all this data to make an informed decision?”

FINALLY he admits that he did retrieve those documents out of my packet, as they need to keep those sheets as “internal Sheraton documents”. He scribbled down his CELL PHONE number and told me to call him there, all the time shifting his eyes from side to side, purportedly to see if anyone was observing this clandestine liaison we were having.

At that point I just said good bye and wished him well, tossing his cell phone number in the first trash can.

The point of all this story? Despite the efforts of the timeshare industry to clean up their act, and big hospitality corporations like Starwood, Marriott and Disney getting into this, there is still a seamy underbelly to this entire business. These scumbags prey on people when they are on vacation, when their guards are down, selling dreams, vacations and lifestyles in a setting where urgency is the key, where people aren’t allowed to research the value of what they are buying or carefully think out if the product is right for them.

Is owning a timeshare a good thing? Absolutely! For some at least. And there is value to the asset in some situations. But just go online and you will find an ocean of thousands upon thousands of people who are desperate to sell their timeshares at any price, because they made a poor purchase decision in the heat of the moment, are now overwhelmed at the maintenance costs, or just cant use the product. It is a huge buyers market, as I learned when I sold my unit, having to use crafty and shrewd methods to find a buyer.

If you want to buy a timeshare. always BUY RESALE. If you ever get invited to a “90 minute sales presentation”, do your research BEFORE you go.

Best tool is eBay… find the name of your complex, search for active and expired listings and the prices they fetched, and be ready to give the Sayeeds of the world their headache for the day.

And laugh hard as they fork over their money, or gift card, or point incentive for your attendance. I know I did!

Confessions of a time-share salesperson from

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

By Lisa Ann Schreier
Budget Travel

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(Budget Travel Onlineexternal link) — The slick, fast-talking time-share salesman still exists. He may no longer wear a lime-green leisure suit, but he’s solely focused on the sale — and he’s largely the reason the industry has a less-than-stellar reputation. Some salespeople talk, talk and talk, and never listen to the client. There’s no shortage of unseemly tactics, with questions like “Don’t you think your children deserve better?” I’ve seen a salesperson give a tour of one time-share and then at the last minute try to sell a property in another part of the country. To avoid falling for a trick, pay close attention and never let a salesperson tell you what you want.

A scripted pitch

Although time-shares each have their own phrases, and salespeople have leeway to improvise, there are certain steps all staffers are trained to follow. The script begins with a Greeting; moves on to the Intent, in which a client hears what’s going to happen during the presentation; and then gets to the Warm-up, which is basically small talk. At some point, the salesperson will steer the conversation to the Product, with an introduction to terms such as “fixed week” and “floating week,” before proposing a Vacation Problem Solution in the form of a time-share purchase. Depending on the salesperson, the steps might feel like natural conversation or an extremely awkward blind date.

The puke price

Asking the client to buy is the final step. The salesperson will show a price sheet, often with a figure known as the “puke price” because it’s so high, it’ll make a client feel sick. Shortly afterward, a sales manager — whom insiders call a T.O., as in Take Over — will come in and say something about how that’s the price for anyone who just walked in off the street. The T.O. may then say, “I’m not supposed to show you this . . .” or “We have a special inventory that’s going to sell fast . . .” and offer a much cheaper price — what we call the Nosebleed Drop. Personally, I hate the whole game. It’s a crock. If you want to avoid the gimmicks, insist up front that salespeople show you one price only. If they don’t deliver on this, walk away.

Fuzzy math

I remember how one salesperson used to describe hotel price inflation to an unsuspecting client. “If you pay $100 for a typical hotel room today,” he’d say, “and figure an annual inflation rate of 10 percent, that means that in 10 years, that same hotel room will cost you $1,000!” Actually, even if such inflation occurred, the amount would be $260 in 10 years. Be doubly sure to check the numbers when it comes to financing and monthly payments. In fact, avoid the developer’s financing, which is typically a rip-off. You’re better off finding financing on your own.

No means no

I sincerely believe that for the right people, buying a time-share is a legitimate alternative to paying for hotels year in, year out. But if you’re really not interested in investing in a time-share, don’t waste your time at a presentation. In my opinion, the discount you receive on lodging and entertainment is not worth the few hours of vacation you’re giving up to hear the sales pitch that goes along with the deal. That said, if you’re curious enough to listen to the pitch and decide a time-share isn’t for you, just tell the salesperson so as firmly and plainly as possible. But salespeople don’t give up easily: You may have to repeat yourself a half-dozen times before the message gets through.

Lisa Ann Schreier was a time-share salesperson and manager in Orlando for six years.

The Timeshare Prizes

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Piney Shores is part of a Dallas-based time-share outfit called Silverleaf mail fraud and conspiracy charges for the way it ran its time-share contests. looking for upper-income families to sign up for their time-share deals, The last thing they wanted was for anyone to spend time thinking about it. .. well take a look at what happened … at TIMESHARE PRIZE PROMISES !!