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How to survive a time share sales pitch

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

“Attend this 90-minute presentation and receive dinner vouchers worth $150 plus a $500 Visa gift card.” I mean…sounds good, right? Danger, Will Robinson. The time share sales pitch is just ahead. 

In the end, only you can decide whether attending a time share sales pitch is a good idea. I put these tips on how to survive a time share sales pitch together to help you understand what you’re potentially walking in to when you agree to accept those dinner vouchers, gift cards or other perks. My goal isn’t to discourage you from attending a time share or from buying into one, if that’s what you really want to do.

How to survive a time share sales pitch

Let’s first briefly review the lingo:

What is a time share?

A time share is an investment in vacation property. This allows a number of people to share ownership of a vacation property, typically at a resort or condominium community. Buyers typically pay for one to two weeks of time per year. 

The procedures for booking your actual vacation will vary widely from program to program but most will operate on some kind of point and tier system. You’ll pay your monthly payment and follow your time share’s guidelines (often complicated) to book your vacation. 

You’ll likely buy in to your time share at the basic tier and be asked to sit through subsequent sales pitches further into your membership that will encourage you to upgrade. Often, time share owners at the lowest levels have the most narrow and restrictive booking windows and may have a hard time actually booking the vacation properties they were shown in their initial sales pitch without buying more points. 

Oh, and you’ll have to pay your monthly payments, plus any fees and dues, regardless of whether you take a vacation. 

So…what is a time share sales pitch?

A time share sales pitch will never be referred to as a sales pitch but as a gifting opportunity, presentation, or tour. But, it is a sales pitch and a sales pitch is designed to get you to buy something. In this case, a vacation property, club, or membership. This is a major investment and in some cases considered deeded real estate.

The time share sales pitch might be a tour of a vacation property, a movie or slide presentation, a one-on-one briefing, or a combination of more than one of those things. 

You might start out in a group setting but you’ll eventually moved to a private room or office where it is just you and the person making the sales pitch.

A time share sales pitch will typically target married couples. They’ll use phrases like “making memories” and “investing in your family’s future” and those are designed to tug on your emotions. Both spouses are usually required to attend and you’re usually required to provide ID and show a credit card prior to attendance. You’re not usually going to be allowed to walk into a time share sales pitch without some method of down payment, should their sales pitch be successful. 

“I’d love to buy but my credit card is in my other trousers.” 

A time share sales person knows that if you leave, you might not come back.

A little bit about my background

My husband and I are owners of two time shares. One is our Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership and the other is through a large, nationally known time share company. 

While I am (mostly) happy we decided to become Disney Vacation Club members – you can read a more about being a DVC member here – I would absolutely go back and reverse our decision to buy into our other time share if I could. I think it’s absolutely the worst decision my husband and I have ever made together (he agrees with me on this.) 

In addition to sitting through the sales pitches to the time shares we’ve bought into, we’ve also sat through multiple time share sales pitches and lived to talk about it. I’m sharing my knowledge and perspective with you in the hopes of helping you enter any time share sales pitch you decide to sign up for with your eyes wide open. 

We’ve been happy with our Disney Vacation Club membership, which works similarly to other time shares but everything about it has been so much more straightforward.

One word of warning before we start: If you book a vacation with the understanding that you’re required to sit through a presentation, don’t skip that presentation. The freebies, perks, or discounts that were your incentive to sign up for that presentation are most likely contingent on you showing up. Failure to show up will involve some kind of fee or worse yet, your vacation being charged at full price, usually more than the trip is worth. 

Here are my 21 best tips for surviving a time share sales pitch. If you have any questions or want more specifics on my time share membership (the one that’s not Disney Vacation Club) I’m happy to chat one-on-one.

1. Just don’t go

If you don’t go in the first place, you’re not going to be subject to an uncomfortable sales pitch or worry about walking out of your two-hour presentation six hours later and $20,000- $30,000 poorer. 

However, this a guide to surviving the time share sales pitch, which assumes you’re going to go, so keep reading!

2. If you doubt your ability to say no, you have no business attending 

If there’s even a glimmer of a doubt that you’ll resist the sales pitch, you have no business going to a time share presentation at all. Want to buy a time share and have a plan for where that $30,000 will come from, that’s one thing but if you don’t want to buy and fear you’ll fall prey to a fantastic sales pitch, just skip it. 

A time share is (practically) forever. Despite what you might be told, it’s almost impossible to get out of one once you’re in.

3. Is this worth your time?

Really look at what you’re being offered and decide whether it’s worth two plus hours out of your vacation time. If it’s a short vacation, do you really want to forgo beach time or pool time to endure a sales pitch for a $100 dinner? You’ll have to decide whether that’s how you want to use your vacation time. 

We once signed up for a presentation in exchange for a $200 resort credit because that gave us the money to do an activity that we’d decided was out of budget. We were confident in our ability to not buy.

Plus, we were on a longer stay and we didn’t have plans for the time block we were offered for the time share sales pitch. We decided that what was being offered was worth our time and that we had the time on our vacation to spare.

4. Perks are sometimes negotiable

If a $100 dinner voucher isn’t worth a chunk of your day, say so. They might sweeten the pot. We are more inclined to accept Visa gift cards, resort credits or vouchers for things we can do on this particular vacation versus free future trips or or airline vouchers. The latter usually comes with so many blackout dates and restrictions that they’re about worthless and almost impossible to use.

5. Try to attend the presentation later in your stay

It’s helpful to get a feel for the resort, how they treat their guests and the type of clientele that frequents the resort. Is it a fit for you? Would you want to vacation here year after year?

We recently stayed in a resort in Virginia and went to the time share sales pitch on our second day. We said no thank you and escaped with our freebies but throughout the rest of our stay, we noticed little things about the resort that we didn’t love. Our stay was fine – we’d booked it with points from our existing time share – but after a few days, we’d definitely ruled it out as someplace we’d want to come over and over. 

6. Beware the personal connection

Your salesman will try to establish a personal connection as fast as possible. The presentation will usually start out with small talk or chit chat where the objective is to get you to reveal personal details about yourself. 

They’ll typically try to connect with you over something you have strong emotional ties to, such as your children, your sports team, or where you live. I had one sales person tell me she had a shirt exactly like mine, which was probably really unlikely. 

I’m not an expert on the psychology of sales (although you can be assured your sales person is) but you’re more likely to buy from someone you feel connected to. Their goal is to make friends with you. After all, we have a harder time telling our friends no, right?

Also, the person selling you the time share is always always always an owner in this very same time share and will go on and on about his or her own wonderful vacation experiences. 

7. Know how long you’re obligated to stay for

If you sign up for a 90 minute presentation, clarify when your clock starts. I usually set a timer on my phone and make sure the alarm isn’t on silent. I am also very up front and make it very obvious that I’m setting a timer.

When it goes off, I let the sales person know that this is time.  You can also set a timer at the 15 minute mark and politely let them know that their time is nearly up. If they continue to try and hold you or sell to you, keep reminding them that your time is up. 

No time share sales rep is going to stand up and say “Well, that’s two hours, folks. Time to get you out of here.” Their goal is to make a sale and if there’s any sliver of a chance they can do that, they’re going to keep pressing. 

8. Be on the same page with your partner

My husband called me from the check in desk at a resort – I was sitting in the car with our kids because of COVID protocols – and asked if I wanted to go to a property tour for a set amount of perks, in the case, resort bucks.

My answer was “We’re not buying into another damn time share,” and I made him promise. Out of the two of us, I think he is the easier sell, although he would probably tell you the opposite.

If buying into a time share is something you want to consider prior to the presentation, set aside some time after the vacation (or at least before the presentation) to do some research. The worst thing to do is to make a split second decision to take on unplanned debt, although that is exactly what they are hoping you will do.

If you absolutely 1000 percent don’t plan to buy no matter what, make sure you both agree on this before you start. 

9. Know what to expect in terms of questioning

Expect to be asked how much you and your family spend a year on vacation and leisure. This is a hard question to answer and might throw you off guard. 

They might also ask where your dream destinations are. These types of questions are designed to show the sales person the pathway to a possible sale. 

If you tell the time share rep you spend $5000 annually on vacations, they’ll show you what their program can get you for $5000. Hint: it will always be bigger, better, and more luxurious than what you’re currently spending your money on. 

No matter what your dream destination is, Disneyland or the Maldives, your time share sales person will let you know that your dream property is in their inventory and that your dreams are 100 percent achievable. 

When it comes to answering questions at a time share sales pitch, less information is always more. This isn’t the time to be chatty, even if that’s your nature.

10. The pitch will be directed at the most enthusiastic or attentive partner

Your sales person knows he has a limited amount of time with you, so they’re going to assess your body language or level of interest. If you’re making good eye contact, asking questions, or showing interest (whether or not that interest in genuine) that’s who they’re going to hone in on. 

They’ll also be looking for clues on who might be the one driving the financial decisions. If they think one partner over the other is going to have the final say or be the one to influence, they’ll pay more attention to that person.

11. Don’t fake interest

If you’re going to sign up for a presentation, know that that two hours doesn’t belong to you. Listen politely, but if you know you’re not going to purchase, don’t feign interest you don’t have, gush over the properties, or ask a bunch of questions. 

I think it’s fine to state up front that you are not interested in buying a time share and that you are attending the presentation in order to meet the requirements to get your freebies or discounts. Don’t be rude about it. 

12. You don’t owe anyone a justification for a no answer

During your sales presentation, you’ll be asked questions like “Doesn’t this sound great?” or “Wouldn’t you like to be able to take your family on a luxury vacation every year?” or some other type of question where the only possible answer is yes. They are trying to get you comfortable with saying yes. Who looks at a picture of an over water bungalow in Fiji and says “No…that doesn’t look nice at all.”?

If you have no intention of buying, look for your opportunity to say no. This is sometimes a slippery slope because you’re required to be attentive for a presentation, because that’s what you agreed to, but at some point in the conversation, you’re going to have to give a hard no or convey you’re not interested. 

You’re not required to give the sales person a detailed explanation as to why, even though they’re sure to ask you. We’ve used “This isn’t a fit for us right now” or “We’re not prepared to make that sort of investment without more discussion.” You can also use “We just can’t afford that” although they will do their absolute best to focus on the low amount of your monthly payment versus the big picture. 

If you don’t intend to buy, let them give their sales pitch and then tell them no. You certainly won’t be the first or last person to do that. 

Again, you owe no sales person a justification as to why you’re not going to buy something. No matter how many times they ask. No is a complete answer. 

13. The “one time only” deal is bogus

The only time my husband and I have ever made a major purchase without extensive planning and discussion is our non-Disney time share, and we already know how I feel about that. Total regret.

Our Disney Vacation Club membership was kind of planned – if you want to know more about that, make sure you read my DVC 101 blog post here. 

If the deal you’re being offered sounds good (and it is their job to make it sounds good) you might answer that you’d like to take a day or two to discuss it. 

You’ll be told that the offer is only good right then and there.  I’m not sure if that is necessarily true but what I do know is that they don’t want you to leave the sales presentation without buying because the odds are that you’ll return are probably pretty slim. 

Everyone handles finances differently but most couples would probably agree that making an impulse purchase to the tune of $30,000 is probably not a good idea and that anything in that price bracket deserves some discussion and maybe a night’s sleep. 

I’ve never left a time share presentation and come back the next day with the decision to purchase but I’m guessing that if I did, we’d be able to get the exact same deal. 

They want to sell to you while they’ve got you as a captive audience. There’s absolutely no truth to the “this deal won’t be on the table tomorrow.” 

14. The deal is not going to be as great as it sounds

You’re going to be shown a list of properties that you can potentially vacation at. You might be buying into a resort in the mountains of Virginia but you can trade these points in for that dream vacation in at a luxury resort in Aruba. At some point, you’ll probably see pictures of over water bungalows in Fiji or Bali. They’ll tell you that buying in to this time share is your key to vacationing at luxury resorts all over the world.

What they probably don’t tell you is that there will be fees to book these properties and that booking windows may be narrow.  If you take a tour or see a virtual presentation, you’re going to be shown the top of the line luxury. The amount of points you’re being pitched are probably not enough to get you the level of accommodation you’re seeing. 

Seven nights in an Orlando or Williamsburg area resort are maybe equal to one night in those coveted over water bungalows. Don’t be swayed by the pretty pictures.

Most time share companies operate on some type of tier system, which means entry level members don’t get the same type of access or inventory availability as premium members who pay much more than the price you’re being courted with. 

There are also going to be fees and costs that aren’t going to be listed in your initial presentation. There will be limited discussion of maintenance fees, which are typically not a static expense. These fees can, and usually do, increase over time. Once you’re locked in, there’s very little you can do about that. 

15. Your sales person might lie to you

I know…that sounds awful and I hate calling anyone a liar. We’ve been told that the resort isn’t making money on the transaction or that they’ve never been able to offer such a low rate before.

“I don’t usually offer this low of a price but I’ll make an exception just for you.” 

Don’t fall for that.

They might also fabricate children, pets, or other things that will align them to you and make you see them as a friend and not a salesperson. Being relatable trumps truth. 

Most of the untruths will be lies of omission. There will be fees or exceptions that aren’t disclosed during your offer. These will be in the fine print when you go in to sign your contract, if you get that far.

16. You’ll meet more than one sales person

Each time share sales pitch I’ve ever sat through has involved at least two tiers of sales people. If the sales person isn’t selling you, they’re going to bring in someone else, who is better, more experienced, more charming or in some cases, more aggressive or pushy. 

Often, the price might decrease each time you’re handed off to a new salesperson. Once, before we even received an offer, our sales person gave us an estimate of what he thought it might be. I made a note in my phone that the offer we received would come in at $5,000 less than what the salesman’s “guess” was and I was only a little bit off. 

When we refused, we were passed off to another person, who we thought was going to be the one to close us out but lo and behold, she asked us why we didn’t want to buy and made us another offer, which was about half of our first offer.

If we’d have really wanted to buy, which we did not, our price for a two week vacation each year would have gone from an investment of about $11,000 to about $5,500. Our initial sales person had told us the lowest he’d seen these memberships offered was $15,000 so there were multiple points in this process when we were supposed to have that “Aha” moment where we realized we were getting an amazing deal. 

17. The sales team may listen in on your private conversations

I’ve heard that sales personnel may leave the room but leave an Air Pod in the room and use an app like Live Listen to listen to a conversation you assume is private. They also may be listening through a door or a vent. 

If you ask for time alone to discuss a potential investment, I wouldn’t assume it’s totally private. The sales person wants to know what your weaknesses are or wants to know the reasons for your hesitation so he or she can work around them. If they haven’t figured out who the hesitant one is or who has more influence over the purse strings, a little eavesdropping might help them along.

18. Taking the kids

Some time share presentations will have provisions for your kids. The might get sent to a kid’s club or to a separate room with snacks and movies. 

Kids are generally going to be looked on as a distraction. We’ve taken our kids to time share presentations and I can definitely say that my full attention has not been on the sales pitch. If you’re really adamant about not buying, your whining child might get you out the door a little bit faster but you’ll have to decide if you want to do that to your child (or yourself) while on a vacation that’s supposed to be fun.

19. You might encounter rudeness

When someone is trying to sell you something, they’re usually not going to be rude to you. We humans are not motivated to give our money or our business to someone who is being a jerk to us.

However, when the sales person realizes that there’s not going to be a sale, they might be rude or accuse you of wasting their time. 

My husband and I sat through a presentation and declined because we couldn’t afford the price and the sales person made a nasty comment about out employer. 

I recommend taking the high road. You’re still on vacation. Preserve your good mood and don’t get into a verbal spar with a sales person who is angry that he didn’t get a sale. Arguing or contentious back and forth exchanges are only going to keep you there longer.

20. Less is more

If you truly have no intention of buying and you know that from the get go, you’re better off saying as little as possible. 

Give simple one or two word answers. Don’t elaborate. You signed up for a presentation or a tour. No one is entitled to your entire life story.

Don’t argue or challenge something your sales person says, even if you strongly feel they’re trying to snow you. Newsflash: they are. No good is going to come out of calling them out on it. 

If the sales person knows why you don’t want to buy, they can use that to get you to buy. When you tell them know, they’re of course going to ask you “Why not?” It is not a requirement for you to give that information. 

And remember, “No.” is a complete sentence and you can say it without being rude. 

21. Remember why you’re there

Your role is to listen to the presentation or take the tour, get your goodies and get out. The sales person’s role is to sell you a time share. His income or even his job might be riding on whether you do or don’t buy. 

This isn’t an excuse for anyone to be rude but if you encounter it, don’t take it personally. Remind your sales person that your allotted time has passed (if it has) and ask to receive your prizes/incentives. 

If you’re not going to buy, you’re going to have to be very plain about that. “I wish I could, but -” is going to be a signal to the sales person to try and find a way to get over whatever stumbling block you think you’ve got. Say no and sound like you mean it. You’ll probably have to repeat yourself but they’ll eventually stop. 

I have never done this but I’ve heard it throws the sales person off if you make notes. Their sales pitch relies on emotions, not data or logic so the idea is if they think you’re going to counter their pitch with fact-based questions, it will unnerve them. It’s not my goal to throw a salesman off or put them on the defensive. It’s my goal to get through the presentation, get my gifts and leave.

If you’re even semi serious about buying when you go in, this tactic might serve you well when it comes down to the contracts or negotiations. 

If you do buy…

Consider not buying at the presentation

If you attend the presentation, the sales team has basically shown all their cards. Even though they tell you the offer won’t be good the next day, you can probably get the same offer or a better one.

Consider a resale

Consider buying from someone who is selling their time share versus the resort. You’ll get a better deal. The owner will probably sell at a loss to get out from under their time share.

If you buy a resale, read the fine print, since some member benefits or perks might not be available on a buy back sale. It might be helpful for you to be aware of what a resale timeshare at that same resort costs prior to going into your presentation. 

Prepare to be there a while

If you buy on the spot – which I do not recommend – prepare yourself for a long haul. The paperwork is probably going to take at least as long as your initial presentation, which means you’re looking at doubling your time spent there. You’re already on vacation and you’re probably anxious to get back to it, which might make you less than observant when you’re executing the contract. 

Make sure everything is in writing

Focus on reading what is in the contract versus what you are hearing with your ears. If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen. You’ll be told the contract/quality assurance portion will be recorded but if you are going to rely on that recording for any discrepancies, don’t be surprised if something happened to it. 

Know your out

You’ll typically have a set amount of time, per the contract, to reverse your decision. Even if you think the time share you’re buying into is the best thing since pizza, make sure you are crystal clear on your out. 

Secure your own financing

The in-house financing you’ll be offered is usually above 15 percent APR, even for buyers with excellent credit. We once had a time share sales person tell us that their financing was put in place for people with mediocre credit. They weren’t trying to sell to the credit challenged but they didn’t have a financing option for people with great credit. Take that however you will. 

You’ll probably have to sign up with the in-house financing but make a plan to switch that as soon as possible. There will likely be certain windows and rules for when that can happen. 

Double check the math before you sign

Add up the monthly payments you’re going to pay for the timeshare loan plus the maintenance fees and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I 100 percent sure we’re going to take a vacation at least every other year? If the answer isn’t yes, you’re about to buy something you will not use. 
  2. Do I/will I spend this amount on a vacation? The ballpark yearly amount you’re going to spend on your time share, including payments and maintenance fees is probably about $4000. If you don’t think you’d spend that much or think you can get better deals elsewhere (you probably can) then this may not be a good decision for you. 

You can say no after you say yes

If you decide you can afford this purchase and give the salesman the thumbs up, you’ll be passed off to underwriting and quality assurance. If at any time during that process you decide that this isn’t what you want to do, you can stop the train. 

Your initial sales guy or gal and possibly their supervisor will pay you another visit and you’ll be subject to more (and possibly more aggressive) sales tactics. They got you to say yes once and they see their commission slipping away, so they’re going to bring out the big guns to keep you where they want you. 

But, until everything is finalized, you can still change your mind. 

Bottom Line: Should you attend a time share sales pitch?

If you are absolutely confident in your ability to resist slick sales pitches and you and your partner can agree that no matter what, you’re going to walk out without buying, then…maybe.

Discounted or free vacations where you agree to attend the time share sales pitch when you book might offer you an excellent deal. You’ll likely pay much less than the going rate for rooms and get freebies or points on top of that.

Freebies or perks offered once you’re already there may or may not be a good deal. You’re already on vacation and you’ve already committed/paid for your room. Look at what’s being offered in exchange for a couple of hours of your time. Is it something you want? Will it make your vacation better? Will it minimize your time with your family?

Our best time share sales pitch landed us about $300 worth of freebies for a little bit less than two hours of our time. We’d had no activities planned for that morning and it wasn’t a big deal to go. And to say no. 

My general advice to people contemplating time share membership is “Don’t do it!” With loyalty programs, regularly advertised specials and deals on Groupon, you can get some darn good deals on vacation

If I had the luxury of a do-over, I would have probably still bought into DVC but definitely not our second time share. 

Disney Vacation Club – Not the Same

Although the Disney Vacation Club is a time share, it is more straightforward than our other time share and their presentation is much less aggressive. I’ve found it easy to navigate and understand and I feel like the product we got was the product we were sold. At nearly four years as a DVC member, I’ve found no loopholes, no excessive restrictions and nothing that could even be remotely categorized as fishy or shady. I can’t say that about our other time share property.

 


THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow…such an amazing, excellent post! Thank you for breaking this down and explaining everything, because I’ve always wondered. Been following you for many years and your posts are always so informative and well written. 🙂 Would love to hear more about when you say: “With loyalty programs, regularly advertised specials and deals on Groupon, you can get some darn good deals on vacation.” Thanks! Love your blog, Jill!

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