My boyfriend and I were strolling along one of Waikiki’s streets and were approached by a salesperson selling a free gift and buffet breakfast or lunch in exchange for about 3 hours of our time (including time for lunch). We knew it was a timeshare presentation, I personally have had very little experience attending time share presentations (and knew very little about them) so was interested in learning about it. We had about 8 days in Oahu and the weather wasn’t so great so thought, heck, why not?
The only prerequisites for qualifying for this timeshare presentation is that you have to meet the minimum household income requirement, you have to be able to read and speak English, and you have to be at least 28 years old to attend the timeshare presentation. There were a few other requirements but my memory eludes me.
The Sales Pitch
The sales people try to get to know you, they show you pictures of their loved ones and try to develop a connection in a short time.
The lowest price options are a one-time payment (including financing) of approximately $23,000 USD for 210,000 points every other year. There was a lower price option around $13,000 USD for 165,000 points every other year. They take you to a showroom to show you what a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom unit looks like. The maintenance fees can vary between $35 to $50 per month. They tell you that you can use your points towards “RCI” which are other units around the world. To give you an idea, 7 nights in Waikiki for a 1 bedroom unit is 160,000 points. The points can be gifted, sold, and they tell you that you will “own a piece of Waikiki”.
They tell you that you are purchasing a “vacation investment” because there will be inflating hotel prices over the next 20 years.
How it Works for Them
The people on the street get $60 USD for each timeshare presentation sign up. You pay $20 to secure your spot and guarantee to them that you go to the presentation. They get 100’s of couples/ potential buyers per day, and apparently 25% of potential buyers actually end up buying time shares with Wyndham (which is a pretty high rate if you ask me). 60% of Wyndham’s sales come from current time share owners purchasing more points (so if you become an owner, you can expect a lot of phone calls and harassing emails to increase your points I assume).
What You Get In Return for Your Time
In compensation for our time (and perhaps stress in having to make an “on the spot” decision), we were offered a $125 American Express cash gift card, a 2 night stay at any of the Wyndham resorts around the world (worth $200-500 apparently that has to be booked within the next 12 months), or some experiences (e.g. tours or excursions or shows) in Oahu.
Because cash is king, we decided to take the Amex gift card (since we are in the United States, we thought American Express would be accepted in most places).
We also got a buffet worth $15.95 per person, so the adage that goes “there is no free lunch” is not applicable (as long as you don’t react/ act on emotions)
Tips to Help You Get Out of There Unscathed
Hold strong. They ask you for a “yes” or “no” and no “maybe” and ask you to try and make a decision on the spot. They play on your emotions. They will continue to add a lot of enticing bonuses (including welcome points, lower prices etc.) to try and get you to make quick decision of “yes”. However they do promise not to be pushy or hard selling, but in my opinion I felt a little pressured and admittedly was tempted myself.
If you say you have a lot of mortgage debt and feel that you will not be taking vacations in the near future, they will likely back off. Or you could say that you want to consult with someone first (e.g. your friends, your family) before purchasing you could do that too. Except that they may actually bring the phone to you for you to make a call to solidify the decision.
Personally I wanted to do some research before I made a decision and a quick research shows that many people (through consumer affairs) are dissatisfied with their Wyndham timeshare experience.
Readers, have you been to a timeshare presentation before? Do you own a timeshare? What do you think of it? Worth it or not?