“Nobody ever plans to buy a timeshare.” That, remarkably was the admission of our rather candid and congenial (and very attractive) Hilton Hotels timeshare rep, Imogene, on a recent trip to Hawaii. (We are in our early 70’s).
Maybe it was her law school training (UCLA), an early on camaraderie with us established by some coincidentally similar life experiences, and possible innate confidence that 2-3 hours into our commitment to a “presentation” we would forget what she originally said–or disregard it, even.
But think about what she did say. If nobody ever PLANS to buy a timeshare, then there must be serious drawbacks to having one–only dispelled by hours of relentless convincing (badgering?) by a very statistically minded, and dare I say it again, lovely, saleswoman.
But we had also set ourselves up by accepting, in advance, various “free” gifts. My wife, unbeknownst to me, had booked a four night stay in a Hilton Gardens property in Waikiki as a pre-condition of the “product.” (Their terms). I love my wife and she knew I would be upset, yet ultimately be forgiving. (She will go to great lengths to save us money even though we are, ahem, quite comfortable financially).
But sitting through a multiple hour “presentation” should not be undertaken casually. It’s time out of your vacation “schedule.”
And besides being seniors, we still work, running a b&b (hercastle.com). We certainly didn’t plan to buy a timeshare (like everybody else!) and told Imogene how many alternatives we already had in place–airbnb’s, stays with family, VRBO’s, booked hotels (not timeshares) etc.
Undeterred, however, Imogene defly countered our objections with the figures (and statistics) that would, somehow she hoped, invalidate our already money-saving, well researched travel/vacation strategies.
Going in, I thought I MIGHT be able to shorten the pitch by appealing to the salesperson’s vanity and self-interest (beyond the financial). I was prepared to offer my expertise in job counseling/resume writing IF the rep was young (and open minded enough). Silly me, it doesn’t work that way and Imogene was a lawyer, no less, used to combatting objections.
Considerably famished two hours later (and the preferred muffins didn’t really do it for me) and after needing several bathroom breaks, I could also see my resolve fading. (Whether Eleanor’s was at that point, I wasn’t sure. We weren’t exactly given time –or even an opening– to discuss it. When Imogene might have concluded, however, that our interest was minimal, she made clear that if we walked away that day there would never be the possibility of another “deal” as was being offered (though we still didn’t know the bottom line price).
I should add that of course she didn’t mention at any point how difficult it is to sell a timeshare if you don’t want it anymore–near to impossible.
And in a timeshare “presentation” there is ALWAYS another “deal,” count on it. (You just don’t know it at the time.) And follow-up “closers” are at the ready if the first one(s) falter…
The “deal” came via an offer from one such closer to set us up in a typical time share unit–In Hawaii, of course– for 7 days for “only” $1795, chargeable on an American Express credit card offered on the spot with no interest charges for a year, (In other words, we got the “deal” as long as we were willing to take a short–they said 10 minute, haha– followup presentation when we came back in a few months after booking the place.)
Having seen a unit overlooking Waikiki’s stunning ocean on a short tour, and wanting to bring kin on the next trip, you might say we folded at that point.
My wife pointed out that you can get out of any “deal” within seven days by calling it off.
It still stands as I write this.
There are those who can go into such a high pressure environment with rock solid intentions to deter all commitments but I guess we just aren’t quite in their league. In retrospect we talked about how Imogene was so “nice.” And so are we, for the most part. Probably too nice.
In the defense of timeshares, and Hilton’s in particular, I will say that because we have traveled widely we know there are limitations to Airbnbs, b&b’s, VRBO’s etc. and if you want a more uniform experience hotels are pretty hard to beat. Room service, breakfast served in a dining room, on site amenities like hot tubs etc. When in doubt about an owner rental, just book hotels. (But then, they’ll cost ya.)
In the February 21, 2020 edition of the Wall Street Journal was a full page ad by the Hilton organization declaring that Hilton had just been declared the best company to work for in the United States (no attribution was given).
So we can be pretty sure we will be seeing Imogene again.