One family that we are good friends with, especially because our children get along so well, told us about an offer to stay at a luxury resort in Tahoe for only $140 for three nights. This offer actually came through another good friend who has a timeshare at this resort. The only catch is you have to listen to a 90 minute presentation about purchasing a Diamond Resorts timeshare.
Now I am pretty frugal but I never take these offers because I so dislike the hard sell. But in this case I thought it would be a good idea because we get to spend time with this family, we wanted to go to Tahoe this winter and the price was good.
Two days before we were about to go our friends had to cancel because of a family emergency. The trip was not nearly as appealing anymore but we had already paid and it was too late for us to cancel.
We arrived at the resort Wednesday evening and I started becoming unimpressed. The concierges were not very helpful, check-in took an inordinate amount of time, they charge $7 a day for slow WiFi internet access and there is almost no parking so you have to valet. On the other hand the suite, a one bedroom, is quite nice and it’s not even in the renovated wing.
Our presentation was scheduled for today, Thursday, at 11:30 AM. Because it was in the middle of the day we asked if we could reschedule. They said we could not. We then asked what we should do with our kids and they said kids are welcome at the presentation.
11:30 AM we arrive for the presentation and the presenter suggests we put our children in the child care center free of charge. After doing that and giving us a tour we sit down at a table while music blares over the speakers. Our presenter notes that it’s 11:45 AM and that we should expect that the presentation will end at 1:15 PM. I found that a little strange since she had just led us on a tour and we were told kids were welcome but now we were being penalized 15 minutes for bringing them. But I did not complain.
Our presenter starts off by saying this is not a hard sell, it’s a soft sell. Of course we don’t buy that because if it’s not a hard sell then why is she presenting just to us instead of to a room full of people so we can inconspicuously leave once it’s done?
She then begins to ask us many questions to get a sense of what kind of vacationers we are. Then she starts talking about how expensive hotels are and how you are stuck in a small room instead of a nice one bedroom or two bedroom.
The presenter tries, as I imagine a good saleswoman would, to try to use whatever we say as selling points. When I said once that vacations can be stressful because of small children she kept pointing out how less stressful being in a one or two bedroom would be. When we said how family is important to us she talked about how vacations are so important for family time. She even talked about the 50% divorce rate and how we should vacation so we don’t divorce!
The hard sell continues. We see a video where people give testimonials about how wonderful Diamond Resorts is, a home away from home, relaxing, “destressing”, best service in the world, something you can pass on to your children.
During this whole time she refuses to tell us just how much a timeshare will be. She takes us on a tour of the renovated suites. She then has us enter into a computer program how much we spend on hotels, how often we vacation, what we expect is the rate of inflation, how many years we plan on vacationing. I enter in $125/night, 10 days a year, 3% inflation, 25 years and get a nice output of about $50,000.
Now the presenter finally tells how much the timeshare will cost. For 4000 points a year the cost is $24,000 plus $840 a year in HOA fees. Apparently that’s a fantastic deal, at least according to her. We can pay it all or for about $4000 down we can pay the rest with interest at 22% a year. I was amazed they could offer a 22% interest rate with a straight face.
Also the presenter offered us all these first time visit perks which I did not really see as being that valuable except for of course the waiving of the $3000 membership fee which she never mentioned before.
We politely decline. The presenter acts flabbergasted. At this point the presentation has gone on for 150 minutes, 60 minutes over the amount of time they said they would.
The hard sell continues. The manager comes over, asks a few questions, asks us to sign a few things. Then he says he has to go do some other stuff. When he returns he offers 3500 points a year for $10,000, an owner’s only offer. I am not sure why 500 points costs $14,000 more but after a little bit of hesitation we decline again.
After the manager leaves the presenter then says she will give us 7 days in a two bedroom suite for free if we take the offer for 3500 points. We again decline. At this point I probably said for the fifth time we just want to go back to pick up our kids.
The hard sell continues further. Our presenter says she needs to get some more things signed. Then this elderly lady, who had been sitting in the corner the whole time, pops up and says she can sign us off. She comes over and asks more questions. She asks why we won’t buy it. We say we don’t like to make quick decisions. She replies that she buys whenever she sees a good deal and that she only regrets not having bought more things in life. I am now annoyed with her too.
The lady then offers to let us decide for the next 12 or 18 months. The catch is we have to buy a vacation package. We again decline.
Now they finally take us over to where we are supposed to get our two free lift tickets and a $25 Visa card. Of course though things don’t work out. The $25 Visa card is not given to us because they say we are not supposed to get it since we got the lift tickets instead of the dinner and dance show. Though the reasoning might be legitimate I just found it amazing that a company that is asking you to spend between $10,000 and $24,000 would nickel and dime you for $25.
It is now 2:30 PM when the presentation is finally over, twice as long as they said it would be.
I hate the hard sell.