Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Since I was without my bags on my first full day in Tahoe, I had plenty of free time. Although I took a shower that day, wearing the same clothes as the day before made me feel like a greasy whore leaving the motel in the morning. So I decided my first task of the day would be to find some new clothes. I also had ripped my pants which told me that I must have some serious huge thigh action going on in my lower limbs to rip through my pants.

I headed to the outlet stores in South Lake Tahoe, and pretty soon found some new socks, underwear, a sweatshirt and some new cargo pants at the Izod, Pearl Izumi and North Face outlets. At my last stop at North Face, I changed in the dressing room and felt a million times better and more importantly cleaner. I also got a free pair of socks at Pearl Izumi, because the girl there took sympathy when I milked my lost baggage story to her. Free stuff is always good.

At the outlet mall, I stopped by a little activity/information booth that advertised two Heavenly ski lift tickets for $32. I asked the guy how to get them and he laid out the whole deal about seeing a great vacation deal, and getting a great gift for only 90 minutes of my time.

I was interested, and I really didn't have anything better to do that day, other than gamble, but I just didn't feel like brushing up on my blackjack strategies. So I signed myself up and drove on over to the Sunterra Lake Tahoe resort.

After waiting about 20 minutes, my personal salesperson came out to greet me. She led me into a bigger room where literally 20 or so other salespeople were trying to indoctrinate the life-saving virtues of timeshares. My saleswoman sat me down and began to ask me some "data collection" statistics and I appear to be a top-notch client. Example: I have spent money on vacations to Australia, Switzerland, plenty of exotic stateside destinations, and plan on going to Turkey and Italy later this year. I am close to their top income bracket AND I have no kids. I'm young too, which means I have many years of vacationing in front of me.

In other words, I could NOT have had a bigger target on my back if I tried.

Before I even found out about any financing or saw an example room, my saleswoman started her obviously prepared spiel. This woman had come up with the story of the ages. I guess it was all true, and if it really was, boy has she had a life, and clearly timeshares came to her rescue like Calgon does to women everyday. First off this women was kind of Texas looking. You know, big hair, excessively tanned and wearing way too much jewelry and makeup. She was probably about 50 and seemed like a typical snarky over-perfumed real estate agent.

She started her sob story by telling me that she loved to travel and that vacations were very important to her. She told me she liked to go to nice places and travel in style like go to Fiji on Singapore Airlines in First Class. I was totally digging that, and for a second, I was falling under her spell, but I kept reminding myself, "She's just trying to get you." Then she told me she got a divorce from her husband. Then, with a tear in her eye, she told me that after the divorce both her parents died and that her parents left her a timeshare, which was the best gift she ever received. And she told me that since she has no children, she planned to give her timeshare to her goddaughter. It was all so Sophie's Choice, and I was secretly beginning to roll my eyes at the desperate attempt to make me believe that this timeshare could actually save lives instead of make her a nice commission.

I went up to the rooms, and saw a pretty nice room--not Four Seasons nice, but reasonable Hilton/Marriott nice. Then I came back downstairs, and we began to talk numbers. Nearby, another couple had apparently just changed their lives, because a tiny bottle of champagne had just been opened and a group of salespeople were around their table clapping.

To better explain the numbers, my saleswoman brought over this RUDE financial "advisor." She was one of those types who simply refuse to take no for an answer. In fact, before I could even say "no", she asked me "How would you like to handle your down payment?" When I declined, she said, "What if we reduced your down payment ($10,000)?" I said "NO." She said, "But why?" I replied, "I'm just not ready to make a decision about this today." Well, she was practically rendered speechless with fury. She left in a huff, "You know how many people come back and let go of this one time only offer? NONE!" With that, she left in a big huff. I apparently ruined her whole day.

After my financial advisor left, my saleswoman came back, and she didn't seem that upset, which was good. But I was ready to leave. I had been there for three fucking hours already. My saleswoman ushered me to the "didn't buy" guy who tried to give me some more incentives and also asked me some of the same questions about my income and vacation habits as my saleswoman. I was getting royally pissed off and told him so. I really wasn't that mad before, but he was making me mad.

I finally left with my lift tickets. It was worth it, I say. A one day lift ticket at Heavenly is a ridiculous $74, and I got two for $16 each. But I also learned how to punish my worst enemy--send them to a timeshare presentation.

I could have been one of these guys:


teahouse said...

I've never sat through one of those sales pitches, and I know myself well enough to know that I should avoid them. I'm too nice to people; when they try high-pressure sales tactics, I usually buckle.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

I never sat through one either but I hear it's pretty bad. They literally shame you into buying. Unless you are a strong person, avoid it at all cost.

I was in Cabo, Mexico two years ago and almost got rope into one of those time share seminars for a free ride from the airport to the hotel. Luckily I heard of them and seeked out the airport shuttle instead. That would have ruined my vacation.