Is it worth sitting through the timeshare presentation to get my freebie?

Will you mind when the "short presentation" turns into a long sales pitch?

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Question

I received an offer for a free four-night stay inFlorida from a company selling timeshare properties. I’ve heard about these freebies, and I know I must sit through a sales presentation to get the vacation, but is it worth it?

Answer

Here’s the definitive answer: “It depends.”

Sorry about that, but whether it’s worth sitting through a timeshare presentation just to get the freebies depends on many (mostly personal) factors. These include: how valuable your time is to you, how annoyed you get by pushy sales people, your stress tolerance, your resistance to pressure, and how much that four-night vacation (or other freebie) is worth to you.

It’s common for timeshare sales offices to offer some pretty nice gifts in exchange for attending what they commonly describe as a “short” sales presentation. Although the presentation itself might be a reasonable length, the sales pitch following the presentation rarely is.

The presentation portion of the sales procedure usually involves an overview of the property, a short tour of the resort and several units, and an explanation of how the timeshare works and all the reasons to buy. Then comes the really fun part -- the sales pitch.

During the sales pitch, a salesperson will provide you with a “great deal” on a price. If you don’t go for it, usually several other sales agents follow in succession -- each offering an even better deal. The sales people are trained to counter most any objection to buying that you can come up with.

Be warned that the sales agents have a reputation of being extremely pushy and promising whatever is necessary to make a sale. In most cases, the great deals are available only if you “act now” and purchase before you leave the building. Sometimes this sales pitch can go on for hours.

The worst case (if you go in with no intention of buying) is that your resistance gets worn down to the point where you leave the presentation as a timeshare owner. In that case, the expense of your “free” four-day vacation just skyrocketed.

Many people who end up actually purchasing a timeshare regret it. No matter what the sales agents say, timeshares are rarely (if ever) a good investment down the line. Due to ongoing maintenance fees (which can rise to unacceptable levels) and the high expense of financing, a number of timeshare owners find they would have been better off renting each year. So, if you are an easily swayed person without a will of steel, attending the presentation for a freebie might not be a good idea.

Even for someone not easily swayed, spending stressful hours making repeated refusals might not be worth it to you. Also, you might resent the hours away from your vacation.

Others, however, find the presentation pleasant (often free food is involved as well as tours of nice new accommodations). Some folks even consider refusing the sales people an amusing game of wills. Also, each sales pitch is different, and some are less pressured and shorter than others (although it can be hard to know this ahead of time, since you might not get a straight-up answer from the sales crew).

If you actually intend to buy a timeshare going in to the presentation, you can’t miss by using the free vacation. For some, owning a timeshare works out great. The right timeshare can provide a pleasant, life-long vacation opportunity.

So, assess your personality before taking advantage of that free vacation. If you decide to go for it, attend the obligatory sales presentation with clear goals. If you want to “say no and go” stick to your guns, and try to deter the sales people with your firm answers as quickly as possible, so that you can leave and go enjoy the rest of your vacation.

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