How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation

We were not looking forward to the timeshare presentation at Hacienda Tres Rios. If you have never experienced a high pressure timeshare presentation, count yourself lucky. The presentation usually goes something like this: They make promises to give you cash, travel excursions, trinkets, discounts, or whatever it takes to get you to agree to their “90 minute” presentation. Once you show up for the presentation you meet the sales person who acts like your best friend. They act interested in finding out all about your jobs, hobbies, and places you have visited. They take all of this information about you and turn it into a custom sales pitch to sell you the timeshare. You often go into these presentations knowing full well that you are not going to buy a timeshare and just want the free stuff.  But as the 90 minute deadline approaches you find you cannot escape. For every answer you give them to say you are not interested, they have something to counter it and run off in a new direction trying to wear you down. If you do happen to hit upon the magic phrase, which is usually just saying you cannot afford it, then they introduce you to the manager. The manager comes out with a lower price and the brain beating starts all over again with further high pressure sales tactics. Once you say no enough times the sales manager introduces the closer. The closer will usually offer a discounted stay at a resort or something else in an attempt to get you back for a future timeshare presentation. If you happen to survive the timeshare sales presentation without buying anything, they usher you to another room where you fill out forms and get all that was promised to you. For many, this “90 minute” presentation turns into a half day of torture.

The one thing we were looking forward to was a free hot lunch. We had been surviving the last couple of days on sandwiches, cereal, and instant cup-o-noodle soups. Although it was food, we were ready for a change. After being introduced to the sales guy we were led up to the Tequila Bar where they had a buffet. The waiter came by and offered us margaritas. Getting a potential client drunk is always a good way to improve your chances of making a sale.  So with cold margaritas and hot food the sales guy began his probing into our lives and looking for his angle of attack. During this probing we revealed to him that we planned to sell everything in a couple of years and travel around the world. He thought that sounded like a grand adventure until the realization sunk in that we have a five year old daughter.

“You are taking her with you?” he asked with a look of disapproval on his face.

“Of course we are taking our daughter.” we answered, “We want to experience the world as a family.”

Shaking his head, “But… but… what about the dangers?”

It is thoughts such as this that keep most people firmly planted in their comfortable and predictable lives. We assured him that we would avoid potential danger as much as possible and continued to enjoy our hot food and margaritas. What we had said really threw the sales guy for a loop. He immediately stopped the waiter and ordered a margarita for himself. He looked defeated.

After lunch we were led to another building that was timeshare presentation headquarters. Presentations were happening all over the room at small tables, and fortunately, they had a room with a television and toys to entertain children. Sydney happily went in there and plopped down in a bean bag chair in front of the television. We were escorted to a small table and the sales presentation continued. The sales guy had found an angle. He tried to convince us that buying one month at the Hacienda Tres Rios we could trade it for a full year of accommodations throughout Europe. Yeah right. So, as the deadline approached I informed the sales guy that he only had a few more minutes before his time was up and we would leave. He got the manager. The manager came over offering the timeshare at a reduced price of $10,000 for a week. Times up. I stood up shook the sales guy’s hand and told him he did a fantastic job, but we were leaving. We got Sydney and were escorted to another room with the closer. We quickly answered the questions without ever sitting down and were given the promised $50 and led out the backdoor.

Timeshares can be good deal if you travel often as they offer you luxury accommodations at a fraction of the cost. But if you are going to buy one, never buy one at a timeshare presentation. There are many places, including eBay, where you can buy timeshare resales at a fraction of the price offered at the timeshare presentations.

And if you do get sucked into going to a timeshare presentation, just remember that you only agreed to listen to their sales presentation for 90-minutes. The only thing making you stay longer than the 90-minutes is yourself. As the time approaches remind the salesman that his time is almost up and that you will be leaving. It really helps to have a watch. Once you hit that magic 90-minute mark, simply stand up and tell them you are finished and you are leaving. Do not worry about being rude. You are just wasting their time the longer you sit there, and the sooner you leave, the sooner they can get back to making an actual sale. And do not worry about not receiving your gifts. They will give them to you, but only after the sales pitch is over. But it is up to you to end the sales pitch, not them. They will keep you there half the day if you let them.

If you are looking for some great guides on buying and selling timeshares, check out AMAZON’s great selection of informative timeshare books HERE. Buying or selling a timeshare is not something to be taken lightly and the more information you have on the subject the better armed you will be in buying and/or selling a timeshare at the best price. Caveat Emptor!

About 

Dreamer. Photographer. Sailing addict. World traveler. I left my desk job in Portland, Oregon to travel the world...

Comments

  1. liz says

    oh my goodness, what a nightmare! i can understand why you guys sat through one though, considering the nice meal. i don’t know that i could do that!

    loving this account of your travels, jason and kerri!

  2. Jason says

    Hi Liz. I am glad you are enjoying reading about our travels.
    The first time we experienced A timeshare presentation was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We got suckered in for a few trinkets and it was a total nightmare. We were so confused with the tag team sales tactics that they did that we did not know what was going on. Knowing what to expect and how to get out of one makes the experience much more bearable. So, if you guys do go to one, make sure the gifts are worth it and remember how to get out of it… or it could be a REALLY long and unpleasant day.

  3. Izz says

    How cool to show your young daughter the world at such a young age!
    I’m in the travel bussines in PV use to be in T/S and always enjoy reading about people experiences in what I use to be my bussines.
    Cheers
    Israel

  4. Jabroni says

    Is your vacations that dull to where you wanna waste you and your families time. Sales is a process. I went to a presentation with an open mind and ended up joining. It’s the best thing I have ever done for my family and friends. So if your really cheap and you don’t mind wasting other peoples time, take a timeshare presentation.

    • Jason says

      Thanks for your comment. We were actually staying there through an RCI trade, so we have no need to purchase a timeshare there. Not that we would have if we had been in the market for one, as we did not really enjoy the place. We had not planned on going to a timeshare presentation as they are a big waste of time for us and them, but the Hacienda Tres Rios would not allow us to use their kayaks, kids club, or the shuttle van into Playa del Carmen, unless we did the 90-minute presentation. So, we went. And like I said above, buying a timeshare at the actual sales presentation is only going to cost you more money than if you had purchased a resale.

      • Janet says

        Jason, I’d be willing to bet money that Jabroni above makes his or her living by selling timeshares at presentations, as I’ve had these salespeople tell me flat-out that they enjoy badmouthing anyone who doesn’t buy from them, with various insults, especially accusing them of being “cheap”, or “moochers”, etc.

        The truth is that most of these timeshares can be purchased on the resale market for a minimum of 1/2 the presentation price, and usually the savings is far more. Last timeshare presentation we attended, the presentation price was $20,000, when a little prior research revealed that identical units could be purchased resale for only $800 – $1,000.

        Even after I showed the salesperson at the presentation this, he still tried tried to guilt trip and “shame” us into handing him an extra $19,000 of our hard earned money, just for the supposed honor of buying from him.

        • Jason says

          Hi Janet. This blog post has made a lot of timeshare sales people very angry. I have received some seriously nasty comments. I don’t mind criticism and people defending timeshare sales presentations, but attacking me through comments and accusing me of being a bad parent, etc, I don’t tolerate and delete those. And the reason they are getting so mad is that anyone who reads this will be informed about what to expect and how to escape a timeshare presentation if they are not interested in buying. They don’t like that. And they hate resales! :)

  5. Darlene Duddy says

    Thanks for the information. my husband and i really need a vacation so i booked the tres rios. We have 6 kids and have no interest in a time share. we just need a break. I booked through a sales rep. over the phone and we will have to do a 90 min. sales pitch. i am a very strong willed person and my husband has no time for games.

    • Jason says

      Hi Darlene. Have a great time in the Mayan Riviera. We really enjoyed that area of Mexico. There is a great little sandy beach where the river at Hacienda Tres Rios meets the ocean that is great for swimming. And the beach beds are perfect for spending a lazy day reading a good book! I wish I was still down there. And don’t forget that you only promised them 90 minutes for the presentation, and no more. They will keep you all day if you let them. Let me know how it goes!

  6. HN says

    Totally agree with Jason.
    3 important things before you get to the presentation: (1) ask for more than what the “vendor” (who send you to the presentation) offer. In my case, they offer me $100 voucher, I don’t even show interested. The guy then offer me $100 cash, I said “No”. Then he tried $150. I said “No”, then he said “$200″. I said I want more, he asked how much I want. I said “$300″. It took few more minutes, but eventually he’s OK with that.
    (2) Know how to end the presentation. Like what Jason and other have shared.
    (3) Be able to shake off the rudes and unpleasant feelings once you get out of that door. Never thought or talked about it after you’re done with the presentation.
    Some advices here: if you have a short vacation (3-5 days) better not try this. If you stay 1 week to 2 weeks then give it a try and it will give you some extra cash for your vacation. Remember this “drill” is not for everyone thought :)

  7. Jennifer Marshall says

    thanks for this. i am 27, and my husband and I still havent been on our honeymoon. I am also a teacher so i can only go on break time. i have been looking to book a cheap vacation and im seeing everything is going to cost over a couple thousand. we just bought a home and are traveling this summer so im looking for a quick get away for CHEAP. that is when i started wondering if i should look for a time share opportunity somewhere….do you have recommendations where to find those deals? what have you found is the truely the best way to say NO. I dont care what someone thinks of me, but i can’t afford to buy a timeshare through them.

    • Jason says

      Hi Jennifer,
      If you are looking to just try out a timeshare without actually buying one, you can find lots of them on eBay where the owners auction off their timeshare week. You might even contact RCI, Worldmark, or other timeshare companies to see if they will give you a free week just to see if a timeshare is right for you. If you do decide to buy a timeshare, don’t buy it at the sales presentation! You can always get better deals through the online resale places. If you are just looking for a vacation somewhere, call a local travel agent. They can put together great vacation packages from cheap to insanely expensive, depending on what you want. Good luck!

  8. Irving says

    I know that some people can benefit from timeshares. In my case I can not benefit from them. I have gone to about six of them throughout the years and they all have the, you need to buy now” attitude. The play with your mind with the “so you do not like saving money.” I just came out of a presenation fron Bluegreen resorts. Terrible presenters. We are lucky that we have the internet and we can keep on posting information about how these companies work.

  9. Nims says

    Jason,

    (NOT my real name BTW) I am so happy I found your blog! We also bought a cheap vacation deal through a fax we receive all the time at work for vacation deals. I was not aware of anything we had to do until we booked this resort and they asked if we were aware that we would need to do a tour…no…but if we have to, ok? Over all I am very excited to stay at the Hacienda Tres Rios after reading reviews about it online. haven’t been told how long it will be…you say 90 minutes, is that still the case? After that time we can up and leave and not be charged for breaking any rules or anything? I have never attended a time share presentation and am really doing my homework on this. This will be our first time to Mexico, MY first time outside of the USA… ANY advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Jason says

      Hi,
      If you only agree to 90 minutes, that is all you need to do. At 90 minutes, stand up, say goodbye, and walk out if you need to. Just enjoy your time and don’t get frustrated. They are not your jailers (although it may feel that way) and you can leave at anytime. They are pros at keeping you there and keep your head spinning. Humor them, but at 90 minutes, get out of there. Otherwise, they will keep you there all day. Good luck!

  10. Jenni says

    Nims – how did you book the deal? I want to find a good vacation package and i am willing to sit through 90 minutes then get up and leave. I dont know where to find the deals though!

  11. pandamonium22 says

    Lol I sell these for a living. Not proud of it, but I gotta eat to. Ill tell you guys what I tell everyone I get to go to these things. The sales pitch they make you sit through is really fun if you do it rite, and I’ve started going just for that 90 min bull sh*t pitch. I bring my phone and have it set to record the guy for the whole time. I wait for him to ask a question, then I pounce. I start trying to make him feel as uncomfortable and awkward as possible. My record so far is getting my free stuff after only 30 min. In March I’m going to one in Aruba, going to try for a personal best of 25 min or making the salesman cry. Wish me luck :)

    • says

      Out in only 30 minutes? Wow, that is impressive! If you ever post a video of you in action, please share. I am sure everyone could use some pointers, plus some good laughs.

  12. pandamonium22 says

    Also, jenni and john. If your looking for that kinda thing, just let me know and I can call you from the office this week, just let me know when you want me to call and what #.

  13. Nims says

    Hey guys, I’ve since deleted the fax with the cheap vacation offer but I am sure we will get one again soon (we get them all the time) and I will post the info on here for you guys. It says it’s all inclusive deal for $199 a person..depending on the destination and resort, it’s 5 nights, 6 days, 4 nights, 5 days…etc. Well when we called and bought a package, we were later told to pay another $450 for ‘peak’ season fee. ok. We called the resort and paid another $199 in taxes and another $600 to add 2 extra nights, making our vacay 7 nights, 8 days. In total, it cost us $1448 + airfare. NOT a bad deal at all but not exactly as they advertised for ‘$199 per couple’ GREAT DEAL! anyhoot, I’ll give them their 90 minutes of glory and then go lay on the beach… our original destination desire was Hawaii and they said that was all sold out and Mexico was avail…so, no way in hell are we buying some timeshare in a foreign country we don’t even know.

    Thanks for your reply Jason!

  14. Jorge says

    Buying from the resale market ends up costing about the same…By the time you catch up the maintenance fees and if you want to exchange thru RCI or II that cost money upfront to be a member. If you wanna go to the same resort every year on the same week and same unit then you are right buy from the resale market. If you wanna see the world and exchange then you must purchase a membership and after it all adds up you end up spending the same. Developers had to create agreements with the exchange companies that when a timeshare is tranfered none of the benefits and features go with the deed or right to use contract. Companies like DIsney, Marriott, Hilton, BlueGreen, Wynham, and Sheraton would not invest money in sales buildings to sell the same product and benefits for more than a cosumer could buy cheaper. They have invested too much thru out the years to ruin their reputations. Don’t you think?

  15. Desert Rose says

    We recently attended THE most unprofessional time share sales pitch of all time, on the beautiful island of Ko Samui in Thailand. Only 2 of the villas were complete, the rest was a concept based on piles of sand and small holes in the ground. My husband, who is in construction management, noticed loads of faulty work and errors in the building process that was taking place. They tried to sell us 1 week a year for $30,000!!!!

    They were clowns and did not even have brochures or glossy handouts. They even used an angle that Lloyd’s of London would provide financing and give us 100% of our investment back after 10 years. “Where can you have a luxury vacation every year for 10 years AND get all your money back afterwards?!” was one statement. The sales guy even came up with a lame calculation and comparison that we would actually save $28,000 in future holiday costs by buying the time share “and that is as good as an investment”. Sorry, but even without 2 master’s degrees that one just doesn’t fly. The closer was very rude and mean and approached us aggressively with the comment “Is there a problem here?”. I said no problem for us, we are leaving now because as successful investors in real estate, your product held no interest for us.

    The kicker was that we had been promised an i-pad for attending. When the 90 minutes was up (I did tell them we were leaving after 90 minutes), I went to collect the i-pad and was told that no, my prize was a 1 week all inclusive stay at a time share!!!!! Apparently in very fine print on our invitation was a scratch window next to the i-pad which revealed 1 of 4 prizes. DOH!!! In my humble opinion, don’t waste any hours of your precious life on these sharlatans. Go and pay $4 on the beach and enjoy your margarita!

  16. says

    Wow, great stuff here. I may as well tell you about our episode in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. As full time travelers we were offered 6,000 peso’s for a 90 minute tour from a fellow on the street. We said sure, why not. So we had him out it in writing on the presentation form along with breakfast and taxi. After the tour we said no and then we went through all of the usual channels I have read about on this page. The “closer” finally came over along with a security guard and escorted us to the parking lot where he began to get shouting mad and very rude with us, telling us we are not getting any gifts at all and we should feel lucky to have gotten a breakfast. The guard told us to get in the car NOW! So beware if you are ever asked to go visit Tau Resorts (Nahui)! Never again!

  17. NEMO says

    I have read the blog and find quite a bit true but the only enduring point that no one makes is that timeshares work for the people who have bought them and use them and the blog itself addresses more of the issue of the free gifts and the trade off for sitting for the information. I read a common thread and that is that most who commented were angered that they had to sit thru the presentation for the gift and it was an inconvenience for them to sit for a sales presentation that in effect they had no intention of keeping an open mind to that possiblilty that it would work for them in their lives. The people who have commented here seem to relish the idea of getting one over on the sales staff and companies which they agreed to see like it was a game or something. Is that what your promoting Jason? Is this a travel blog or a complaint sight about getting the best of Resort Companies and freebies? I read very little about the resort experiences you have had even so much more than the presentations you have been on? How often do you sit for timeshare presentations? Have you ever been on one that you took seriously? Is this just a means to travel at someone elses expense so that you can critique the sales performance? Please expound on these points? Also if you could include more information on the resorts and the amenities of the places you have toured I might better understand the blog.

    • Soridian says

      haha…I think its funny…when they are professional and respect you and your time..all is good…when they are obnoxious and pressure tactics and call into question your ability to be a human…then they deserve to have one pulled over on them. I go with open minds and curiousity. If they are fun great…if not, then I am out at 90 mins. The one this week I am going on I got a cruise, plus air plus 2 night hotel stays and $40 before I agreed to sit through it. I know I’ll pay taxes etc. but..hell, what a cheap way to create a week long vacation.

  18. says

    This isn’t complicated: Just don’t sign anything. If you think you might be interested in the timeshare, take the paperwork with you, study the contract carefully, run the numbers yourself and show it all to somebody who knows more than you do. Anybody who says “You have to buy now!” is conning you

  19. Unhappy Camper says

    I was not looking for a free stay when I booked (and paid for) a weekend at a Crowne Plaza in Florida. The reservation agent asked me if I was interested in an anniversary special they were running for a future stay so I stayed on the line while he transferred me to this perky stay-at-home mom who spent 30 minutes convincing me to charge $249 for four days and three nights at one of their four Holiday Inn resorts. When I told her that was no bargain, she told me the hotel would refund me the $249 when I arrived and give me a coupon for another night at another Holiday Inn. After the charge showed up on my credit card, the e-mail confirmation arrived, stating that I was required to attend a two-hour sales presentation “to fulfill the terms of this offer.” Yes, perhaps I should have seen that coming, but who would have thought Holiday Inn did business this way?

    I decided to use it and be done with their charade, so I invited my daughter and her friend to Las Vegas the day after Christmas. Of course, I had to pay an extra $99 for holiday rates, plus a $40 package and tax charge. Jason, I wish I had found your website before I sat down with an underdressed twenty-year-old sales rep who claimed to be working at the job of her dreams and living at Trump Tower! “But I am about hospitality, not sales,” she said as though she were my new bff, asking me all about my travel experience and life.
    She also claimed they were so busy that she was called in on her day off, yet seemed upset when my phone alarm rang to cut her off after two hours and five minutes! Of course, she said someone else had to sign off on my refund, but I finally did get my $249 back after asking them if they were in the practice of holding people hostage and blaming the guest if their sales pitch ran overtime.
    I heard the “closer” gossiping about me on the way out, confronted him and complained about the high-pressure tactics they used. So I left Las Vegas $39,000 “up” (not to mention the 16.9% interest they were ready to charge), made a fantastic 3:00 show at Harrah’s and vowed to dump my bff sales rep whose famous last words to me were, “Before you spill your guts to someone for two hours, pay for your own room.”
    I guess she didn’t like her job as much as she claimed. Personally, I would rather wait tables and buy a condo for $50,000 that I could use year-round than fake my way through life by abusing people.

  20. Jane Phoenix says

    Reading all of these posts reminded me of our first timeshare presentation. Our 90-minute appointment wound up lasting 6 hours before we finally gave up and purchased a week! Since then, we’ve upgraded our week to points and attended several “owner updates” that are designed to get owners to purchase additional points. We noticed that all of the presentations follow the same pattern: You are introduced to your personal “Vacation Counselor” (who is usually casually dressed in a Hawaiian shirt), who then attempts to become your new Best Friend. He asks about your dream vacations, hobbies, careers, family, etc., all in an attempt to hone his strategy. Then, he starts shooting down your various arguments as to why you can’t purchase at this time. The meeting rooms are all set up the same way with small tables closely spaced together and there’s sometimes buckets of champagne ready to uncork and celebrate “the New Timeshare Owners!” the salesman gleefully shouts! There must be a real social science to the way these presentations are engineered that play on a person’s sense of peer pressure! At least twice a year now, we are contacted by our home resort to attend an “owner update” for which we’ll be compensated with a $300 Visa gift card, but my husband and I have decided that our time is just too valuable to go through the aggravation.

  21. Jeff Allen says

    This was an awesome article Jason. I really enjoyed it. I’ve sat through a few of these in my life – the first was on our honeymoon (bad idea). Some have been terrible, cheesy, and just plain not fun. I’ve never bought one and don’t plan to. Some have been really great places though and the consistent process of saying “no” has served me well. Someone commented earlier about it being wrong to go in to the process without an open mind. I don’t have that issue. I might feel guilty if it weren’t for the fact that I tell the guy on the phone who is trying to get me to agree to the deal that “I’m not buying anything. I have no intention of buying anything and that if they want to give me x, y, and z benefits for listening for 90 minutes, I will accept their gifts, but I’ll be leaving at 90 minutes without buying”. I then repeat this same paragraph to everyone along the way from booking the resort dates, to checking in at the hotel, to walking in the timeshare office door of doom. That frees me of any and all obligation whatsoever. And none of these people I say this to seem to care – they aren’t paid to close the deal. They are paid to make the deal possible. But I tell them up front how it will end. If they still want me to come after my honest confession, then I’m in.
    I found it funny (not in a mean way) that some young-marrieds commented that they want to know how to get these deals. I find it funny because they aren’t something you go looking for – they just happen. And they seem to keep happening throughout your life.

    After a good 10 year break from doing any of these. I am officially back in “the game”. I turned down Hilton last week and this week Marriott came calling. I actually signed up for Marriott’s offer since it was a lot better than Hilton. But don’t worry Jason, I’m not buying one.

    Good luck on seeing the world. Don’t stop dreaming.

  22. says

    Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise.

  23. MJ says

    My husband, 8 and 10 year old daughters, and I are attending one of these that was offered to us at Bass Pro. We are going to Wisconsin Dells for just 2 nights. The presentation is the first full day you are there (11 or 1pm) and so I am going to try to get out right at the 90 min mark. My question for you is this….in my documents it lists that the presentation will be approximately 90 minutes or we will have to pay the price of our 2 night stay and receive no gifts. Since they included the words “approximately” in there does that obligate me to more time?

    • says

      Just ask them when you get there how long it will take and then tell them at the beginning you are leaving right at that time. That way, you can remind them that throughout the presentation how long they have left and they will know to move you along quickly. Good luck!

  24. Fred Obert says

    I could never do that to a business on purpose. Why waste someones money and your time. It just isn’t worth it. I’d just pay the difference. It’s usually not much savings anyway.

  25. says

    Timeshare industry is known for being very susceptible to scams; however, timeshare properties are still a successful business for most resorts. In these times of rough economy, it is important to take care of our money, and timeshares are not in the way to achieve the financial security that we are all looking for.

  26. Paul says

    Well if you hadn’t had been so greedy and taken the bait of free this or that, you never would have gone in would you, also if you had no intention of looking with an open mind why did you put yourself in such an uncomfortable position then.
    The sales guy was only doing his job and as for buying a timeshare from ebay your a fool to advise others to buy this way as you know nothing about the contract they would potentially enter into.

  27. mike says

    i received a phone call about winning a 75% off deal so i can promote how great interval vacation promotions is. after paying and receiving my trip iwas now told ihave to sit a 90 minute timeshare pitch i was warned at work that it would be that . so i even ask the agent is this a time share, she said no i was selected 3 out of 30000 people . i like the comments people have said i just wish she had not lied to me a
    nd my wife. i will have a stop watch with me loll

  28. julia says

    I sell timeshare but do not put on a presentation…my property and location sells itself….i do not promise anything but a relaxing vacation with facts of ownership…resales are the best value…why pay 20k for disney unless you intend to go every year…most florida properties are red time with exchange companies and you get same trading power spending 3k as 20k…do your homework. Timeshare is a great deal for anyone…but you have to play an active role in your resort and make sure you use trade or rent each year and not pay fees for it to sit empty.

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