Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Our first timeshare experience

So we have been through our first time share experience. Southern Journeys (part of Travelers Advantage Network) "invited" us to a informational meeting. We had to pay $20 to "secure" a spot. The $20 was fully refundable upon our completing the meeting. We arrived to an office complex and saw a few cars in the lot. We walked by and saw several couples at desk talking to salesmen. Hmmm. We go in and are given a clipboard which ask our names, address, income, jobs, how much time off we get per year, where we have been and where we want to go. Two other couples and a woman by herself were in the waiting room with us. The presentation started very low pressure. The deal seemed ok. After all was said and done and "if you buy today" speel there were selling weeks of vacation in various locations for about $300 a week. Pretty good deal. The problem is you have to buy several weeks at a time. The weeks must be burned in whole and not broken up. You have to give at least 60 days notice for when you want to travel and there are a couple of additional fees that you pay at various points in the year. We only have travel plans in advance of 30 days when it's something my mother in law organizes. Kelli and I would never travel anywhere for a week at at time by ourselves. Just not our style.

After the first 50 minutes they asked if anyone would like to see a salesman or we were free to get our free gifts and leave. No one wanted a salesman. Nevertheless we were all brought to the next room to meet with a salesman. Ours had a bracelet on his right arm that looked alarmingly like a hospital bracelet like he had just been released. He was wearing a faded cotton/poly dress shirt untucked and jeans. Nice. Kelli and I planned in advance to let them know we can't take the deal because we don't plan more than 28 days in advance. The package offering at that point was 24 weeks of vacation for $9000. Too much. They then offered an employee deal for 6 vacations for $3000. If we did that package we could get access to the last minute vacations that only cost an additional $198 a week. We were still buying 6 vacation weeks we would never use. After a few minutes we were told we would be getting our free gift. Meet the third room, a "marketing specialist" who was going to give us our gifts.

The "marketing" specialist pitched us a $995 package that allowed us to buy weeks at our leisure at the wholesale rate and included 10 $200 off coupons. We still had to book 60 days in advance. This would allow us access to the $198 last minute weeks. No thanks. I told her I would have to research her company. She leaned back and asked me what there was to research and pulled open a brochure with page of BBB memberships and travel awards they have been given. I tell her anyone can show me a fancy brochure or pretty pictures and awards. How do I know they are real? She then turns to Kelli and says "don't you deserve to go on vacation? Where do you want to go? Doesn't he owe you a good time?". Nice. Kelli spits right back that we need to research the company. The sales lady then insults us asking Kelli how long we dated before we got married. When Kelli told her almost 3 years the sales lady said , "and you still married him? Wow." WTF?!?!?!!? The sales lady then states if I am not happy I can cancel within 3 days according to Texas law. Hmm yeah. Giving up she quickly explains our free gift (all inclusive 3 day 2 night in Mexico) along with writing down her contact info. She ended with "I am sure you won't research anything or even call me but here is my phone number". Yeah

Oh and our $20...we got it a Simon Mall $20 Visa gift card. Damn thing better work. Kelli needs some stuff so we will see.

If anyone is thinking about using Southern Journeys or Travelers Advantage Network (TAN) beware. The sales pressure is fairly high. Also google the company and you will see way more negatives than positives. Paying $300 a week for lodging sounds good, but it's typically at a condo or limited services motel. Paying for a true resort gives you access to food, activities, transportation and all the other little items. We will stick to our last minute vacations or use the heavily discounted vacations available thru a travel industry discount vacation company.

We might do another timeshare deal in Vegas. Alan Thicke can be seen standing in a pool promoting Tahiti Village in Vegas. It's a 3 day 2 night deal. From what I have researched they pay for airfare to and from but you only get your ticket home after the "informational meeting". We don't really need airfare home. ;-).

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