Wednesday, August 13, 2008

High pressure system over South Carolina

I saw more rain today that I have seen in the last six months in Austin. The high presure referred to in the title of this missive, however, has nothing to do with the weather. Today was the day for our "Owner's Meeting".Owner's meetings in the time share industry are known as 'CHUMP MEETINGS" by timeshare salesman. The theory being that if you can find someone dumb enough to buy a time in the first place, you have a reasonably good shot at selling him a second. The owners meeting brings together under one roof about 50 buyers of time shares and sets about 100 salesman loose on them.

Why would anyone go to such a meeting ? Pure greed. They offer yopu a $60 dollar meal gift certificate or (and this is mothers milk to the timeshare owner) 3000 free points. That is what hooked me. As I recall, it is what hooked me when I bought my second timeshare five years ago in Maui.Now the owners meeting is billed as just a session to make sure everyone knowss what their options are in using their timeshares.This is a good thing, most timeshare owners never bother to read anything after they make their purchase.As George, our first salesman explained to us, I could use my week in Maui and convert it to seven weeks here in Myrtle Beach. Anyone familair with the laws of supply and demand (or Myrtle Beach) will immediatly recognize why this is possible. Who the hell wants to spend seven weeks in Myrtle Beach ?

While there I asked George a few questions. What kind of people are buying your time shares in Myrtle Beach. Geeorge said that it qwas almost exclusively people from Georgia or the Carolinas. "Folks that drive in and don't have to fly in ? " I asked " None of the buyers here have ever been on an airplane." George replied. It turns out that he was not interested in selling me Myrtle Beach property, at least for the sake of visiting Myrtle beach. He wanted me to buy enough units of Myrtle Beach property so that I could trade them in every year for another week in Hawaii. In fact,both sales people we saw (over the two hour grilling) insisted that they were simply trying to show us ways to hoodwink their employers. The most brazen statement George made was when he showed me that I would only have to pay $27,000 for an extra week in Maui buying it from him, but that would cost me $34,000 if I bought it in Maui. "Now what do you think the stockholders want you to do ? They want you to spend thre $34,00. But I'm protecting you !" That's what George said.Friend of the little guy.The fact that he would get the commission if he sold it and not some suit wearing Polynesian out in Maui had never crossed his mind.

At this point I casually mentioned to George that I already owned two time shares.It was like standing eye to eye with a shark and reaching down and cutting my vein. If someone is dumb enough to own two time shares, the sky is the limit on how may they will buy. Out came all the "deals". Look, he said "I can fix it for you to where you only have to pay $300 a month. Can you believe it ? what do you pay for your second home ?" I don't have second home I admitted. "No second home ? You must not have a financial advisor. You need to jump on this deal." I had to tell him that I was adverse to making a large purchase right now as my daughter starts college this Friday. " I think that you are just adverse to saving money" He sneereed. I swear, that was his reply. I explained that I liked saving money but did not understand how it was to my advantage to sign a $27,000 note when the alternative was to spend no money. "Because, he exclaimed, the next time you want it, it will cost more. Your Maui property has increased in value by $7,000 (25%) in three years ! " Great" I replied. "Want to buy it from me ?" He pressed further, " I know there is a number that you have in mind to buy this timeshare. " . "Look", I replied "I'm not negotiating, I'm saying no thank you." His last gambit was humiliation. "So you are telling me that times are so tough for an Austin lawyer that he can't afford $300 lousy bucks a month? Well, I'm not going to arm wrestle you over $300." With that, he turned me over to a second salesman whose primary job was to sell some of the other products that Starwood offers, and to grade my feeling about the last salesman. I told her he was "thorough". "Good" she replied, "another ten for him."

It has been about eight hours since we crawled away from the meeting, clutching our voucher for 3,000 points. I have been thinking, $300 a month, that sounds like a hell of a deal !

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