Friday, September 25, 2020

Who’s There For Timeshare Owners? Almost No One

It seems that there’s a new self-appointed ‘advocate’ for timeshare owners nearly every week. 

That’s right...nearly every week, some new organization pops up on social media either claiming to help timeshare owners, advocate for change, protect timeshare owners, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

Some of these don’t fall into the dangerous category, meaning they just spout a lot of hot air. However, many of these organizations/companies/individuals are dangerous. Dangerous because they’re raising money from hapless owners under some promise of lobbying for change. Others are dangerous because they’re nothing more than fronts promising an easy or quick ‘exit’ from your timeshare. 

I’ve yet to see any industry that has spun off so many of these organizations. It’s clear that the timeshare owner and the prospective timeshare owner do need help, do need a true advocate and do need someone on their side. 

Sadly, those advocates are few and far between. You’ve been warned. Choose wisely.

Friday, September 11, 2020

You Have The Power...Use It

Saw this on another page...I’ve redacted the name of the developer:

“Is there ever going to be a lawsuit against XXX here in the United States or do we need to get our Congress people involved?”

While I certainly understand consumers’ anger and frustration, these rants accomplish nothing. What exactly would the lawsuit be about?  What laws do you feel have been broken?

The ultimate power has always been with the consumer. Stop taking the bribes. Stop going to the sales pitches. Stop buying when you don’t have an inkling of what you’re buying or how it works. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

5 Things You’ll Regret Not Checking On Before Buying Your First Timeshare

In the 20 or so years that I’ve talked with timeshare owners almost every one of them expressed regret that they hadn’t done more research, asked more questions or simply waited a day or so before jumping in. 

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have purchased, or that you shouldn’t. It does mean that there’s far more important factors than the beautiful view from the model unit the salesperson is trying to get you to focus on as he’s dangling the pen in front of you. 

Here’s the 5 Things You’ll Regret Not Checking on Before Buying Your First Timeshare:

The price...the real price 

There’s no MSRP for timeshares. They’ll try to get you to pay the highest price possible. Also consider that similar, if not the exact same timeshare is probably listed on the secondary market for a tiny fraction of what the developer is selling it for. 

The maintenance fee...yesterday’s today’s and tomorrow’s 

While the salesperson might have disclosed the current fees, you may be in for a rude awakening if you don’t know what these fees used to be and how much they can go up every single year. 

How much of the resort is sold out

If the resort has been open for more than 10 years, yet is only 10% sold out, this should raise a red flag. Why is no one buying there?

How many of the owners are delinquent...and how delinquent 

Any more than 20% is cause for concern. If owners aren’t paying either their loans or their maintenance fees, developers usually resort to raising fees or imposing a hefty special assessment which usually ends up in an even higher delinquency rate. It’s a death spiral that very few resorts can endure. If the resort fails, you lose. 

Pros and cons of fixed weeks, floating weeks, points and club membership 

I’ve written about this extensively in previous blog posts. If you don’t understand the significant differences between the various types of ownership, you can easily make a $20,000+ mistake. What the salesperson is selling may or may not be the best for your needs. You need to make that determination, not them. 

People who don’t check into  these issues will almost always regret buying their timeshare and more often than not, fall prey to a scam. 

I’ve identified 19 questions you need to ask before purchasing a timeshare and 9 additional questions if you’re purchasing on the secondary market. Email me for information ...its a lot less than $20,000 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Surprise! An Almost Pleasant Timeshare Pitch

Our Guest Post today is from Don from Kentucky  

I was pleasantly surprised by his recap...not at all the high pressure sales pitch I was expecting! Are the developers finally changing, or is this an anomaly?

Good evening, before I go into the presentation we received today, I should give some background on how we got there. My wife's mother and father are owners with Bluegreen. They're becoming rather poor in health and can't travel very far. So, each Christmas, they give both our family and my sister-in-law's family some points to use at our leisure. They've been owners for about 15 years with Bluegreen. They were very excited when they first bought, and have "upgraded" several times, buying more points & deeds. Over the course of time, they've grown weary of the yearly maintenance fees and have repeatedly said that they wish they'd never bought in. But I think they do enjoy the resorts and allowing us to use them. 

The setup: We booked a room with our gifted points at the Tradewinds resort in St. Petersburg, Florida. A couple of days before we were to leave, we got a call from the resort (actually from Bluegreen) asking if we'd be willing to sit through a "2 hour presentation on ownership," receiving 6 nights at one of their resorts as well as a $100 gift card. Also, my in-laws would receive a credit to their account or a special gift of some sort. 

The open: We were welcomed in with compliments and free coffee and earnest but horribly awful small talk. Everyone, thank goodness, was masked. When you can't see someone's face, it's hard to get a read on true sincerity, but they seemed genuinely happy and enthusiastic, even if they were trying a bit too hard to sell it. We were taken one couple at a time to a small conference room where we were addressed as a group (socially distanced & masked, of course) by a very smooth-talking South African gentleman who truly knew his presentation. Funny thing, he told us the best way to make this portion of the presentation shorter is to respond quickly to his questions; then he proceeded to give us the answers to the questions he asked. We were shown "the math" that "proved" that even with maintenance fees, owning an average amount of timeshare points could save the average couple almost $60,000 over the course of 20 years if they vacation a few times each year (inflation adjusted, of course). We were then shown a couple of cheesy, over-the-top-with-happiness videos with some owner testimonials that were about 3-5 minutes each.

The prep: We were each assigned a sales rep who took us to a desk upstairs in the "closing area." We were asked where we liked to vacation, and how much we usually spent on the room, etc. then were provided with a printout of how much we'd spend over the next several years on vacations. Then we verbally discussed how much could be saved by becoming Bluegreen members, including a "today only" offer to not only have points to use at any Bluegreen or RCI property, but also to become instant "Gold level" owners and be able to get a discounted rate anywhere in the world through a partnership with a hotel chain. We'd only pay $79, $89, or $99 per night for suites in those hotels or for extra rooms in Bluegreen properties. 

The tour: Whle the "managers" (read: CLOSERS) worked on a "customized package" for us based on our preferences, our sales person gave us a tour of this property. We really didn't need a tour, we've been here a few times already and knew our way around. It's truly a great resort and really doesn't feel like a lot of "timeshare-ish" places we've been. At any rate, it was required and our sales guy, Roy, was fantastic. In fact, I think we may actually become friends. 

The "Close": When we got back to the closing area, there was a specialized offer waiting for us. I will give credit to the Manager, Mr. Wild; He realized we would inherit points from my in-laws eventually and told us flat out that he was going to suggest the smallest package available, just so we had our name attached to their account. This would instantly boost all of us to "Gold" status and give us an extra month to make reservations, and a few other concessionary perks. It was for 7,000 points every other year. The cost would be $202 per month for 20 years, and yearly maintenance halved and shared with the folks of about $400 per year. Mr. Wild was very straight forward and really did tell it like it is. He was brutally honest. We passed on the offer and explained that I was trying to get a business off the ground and really couldn't afford any extra expenses. He said that he understood and asked what we'd be comfortable with. A good close. I told him that anything much over $75 per month would be a little too steep at this point (knowing full well they couldn't approach that and we'd be on our way to enjoying the beach). Mr. Wild asked us to give him a minute. He came back with a brochure that was designed to get current owners to upgrade. It was $849 and it basically granted "Gold" status for an entire year for any resort we wanted to use as often as we wanted to see the benefits of ownership. We again declined and parted ways, but there was no real "HARD SELL" like we've seen in the past. But, the closes were effective. I trained sales people for many years, and if I could have gotten my trainees to give the benefit, show the price, and ask for the sale like these guys did, I'd have been a legend in the sales training world. 

All these things being said, the sales staff was very courteous and not argumentative or pushy at all. Yes, they truly expected you to buy something, but that is not a bad quality to have as a salesperson. I have had truly bad experiences with sales people, timeshare people specifically, even at Bluegreen. They're very pushy and sometimes resort to making you feel like an idiot in order to get the sale. This was totally (and somewhat surprisingly) not the case with this group. 

Our main problem with becoming owners is that not only that it's an extra expense at a time when we're in transition and navigating a pandemic (and also need foundation repair, a new deck, and new siding). It is also the fact that you truly OWN it and have to continue paying for it regardless of whether you still love it years into the future. I don't think it's a bad investment at all...if you use it to its full advantage and don't overspend (and nothing in your life changes).

In my opinion, buying into a timeshare is a lot like getting a tattoo. You'd better be completely sure it's what you want, where you want, and how you want it to look, because you're stuck with it. And usually getting one tattoo leads to one of 3 possible future outcomes: you love it, keep it, and are glad you got it; you hate it and have to continue to live with it because it's permanent; or you end up spending more money on it...either loving it so much you want more, or hating it so much you pay somebody to try and get rid of it, and they usually do a crappy job of it. 

At any rate, we got a hundred bucks and a 6-night future stay out of the presentation (yes, there are some complicated hoops to jump through to actually take the trip, but that's another story for another day). Also, as a side note of compliment to this sales team, I've been to probably 6 or 8 of these sales presentations. This is the VERY FIRST TIME I've actually left within the time frame laid out when being asked to attend. They asked for 2 hours and we were out of there in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Usually, it's at least 3 or 4 hours, and once it was close to 6!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

What Are Your 3 Words?

Last week, members of Congress grilled the heads of various tech companies, including Apple’s Tim Cook. 

Virtually overlooked in the proceedings, honestly you could not find a less knowledgeable group of people on tech issues unless you visited a senior living center and even then...was this answer from Mr Cook when talking about how Apple reviews apps for inclusion in the App Store: "It's a rigorous process because we care so deeply about

about privacy, and security, and quality."

Look at those words again.

"Privacy, security, quality"

What’s remarkable to me was that Mr Cook’s three words were not only consumer-centric, but could easily be mistaken for how consumers describe Apple. 

He could have said “profit, transparency and fun” or a variety of words that made it clear he was pandering to the questioning Congressperson or consumers in general. Worse yet, he could have used some jargon designed to confuse people. 

Instead, privacy, security and quality. 

I bring this up to ask timeshare developers this question:  “What three words do your owners and customers use to describe your business?”

If you don’t know the answer, you’re losing business. And if you’re afraid of the answer, you gave a lot of work to do. You no longer control the message, your customers do. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Deceit Should Not Be A Badge Of Honor

Yet more news about how Wells Fargo seem to continually treat their customers understatement at best.  

It’s very easy to see how certain consumers, desperate to believe that they didn’t make a mistake years ago by trusting a certain timeshare developer continue to buy more in an attempt to “upgrade” to some level when the newest salesperson they’ll achieve vacation bliss. 

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, three times or seven times, shame on me. 

A company that is deceitful and treats their customers poorly as in the case of Wells Fargo and certain timeshare developers won’t even have the common sense to pretend to be something they’re not. It’s almost as if they wear their poor behavior and the inevitable slap on the wrist in terms of paying a million dollar fine as a badge of honor. 

Pay attention!

Monday, July 20, 2020

This Is Not Hospitable, Or Acceptable

Imagine you arrive at your timeshare resort, tired from a few hours in an airplane or a car trip. You just want your room key, get to the room, drop your bags and have something to drink. 

But instead of the check in process being welcoming, you’re hounded by the woefully misnamed concierge/hospitality staff pressuring you to sign up for an update/resort preview before you get your keys and/or parking pass. 

You may be tempted to write something like this:

Is there a way to check into a hotel without spending 20 min being harassed to go to owner update? The last two times we’ve checked into Los Abrigados Sedona we left registration feeling frustrated and upset by very aggressive and borderline rude agents trying to get us to do owner updates making us feel stupid for not wanting to get the most out of our timeshare..this last time she said Diamond was going through financial issues they needed to share with us as is ruining the start of our trips. We’ve heard “I guess you just don’t want to save money so your the ones missing out”. This last check in when my husband finally got firm with no after 20 min. Asking for our room key she said “geez I’m just trying to have a conversation with you”. Any advice for easier check in I’m listening.

If work at a timeshare resort and allowing or worse yet, instructing your employees to hound your guests like this, you need to immediately. This is the antithesis of hospitality. How would you feel if you were treated to this nonsense?  There’s a way to invite guests to a sales pitch...this isn’t it.