If you own a timeshare package, then you’re probably well aware of the smooth-talkers in the podium room. Sadly, many like you wish they would have just said “No.” While the presentation itself can be quite riveting, the experience rarely lives up to the hype. This is because timeshare companies pay cunning salespeople to persuade unsavvy consumers. It’s not necessarily due to a poor decision by the consumer. Since you might view this as a bias remark, don’t take our word for it. Rick Pons, a former timeshare swindler full of regret, recently wrote a book about the disreputable practices of the timeshare presentation.
Over the years more and more former timeshare employees have exposed the deceitful practices of the sale. Most of which take legal action for their forced involvement in deception. But Pons’s book titled, “Lying For A Living,” actually goes into detail about the lengths some salespeople go to close timeshare deals.
Pons Describes the Timeshare Work Culture.
Cancun, Mexico is one of the most competitive timeshare destinations in the world. Here, recruiters are always looking for young and eager people to help sell weekly intervals. This is where Pons was targeted nearly 17 years ago. When speaking with Consumer Affairs about his first impression of the industry, he recounted, “It’s really not a job for everybody.”
“I first started in marketing where my main responsibility was to pre-qualify couples and convince them to attend a sales presentation,” he said. “It may sound simple but it’s actually almost as hard as actually selling them a timeshare in the sales room.” In other words, sales teams are literally incentivized to slowly talk people into making the purchase.
It’s a relentless yet fine-tuned process that pays off – if you’re willing to endure. Think of it like a car salesman trying to persuade someone to buy a car they can’t see. Because of the disadvantage here, dangling gifts and offering special perks normally convinces people to attend a presentation.
Pons subtly admits the first few months changed him a little. He mentioned being devoured by “fear of rejection” and “constant backstabbing” from everyone involved. Even the harsh working conditions and “moral dilemmas” wore on him over time. When asked what he had to do to close timeshare deals he said, “If you have to lie, you lie.” If this is true then it doesn’t sound like timeshare companies are too interested in employee development.
Sales Teams Do Anything to Close Timeshare Deals.
Without giving away too much of the book, Pons illustrates the sale of a timeshares as an emotional experience. In short, sales teams will do or say whatever they can to build and sustain rapport. Every person involved plays a key role to close timeshare deals.
The first person to make contact is often called “the liner.” Their role is to simply make sure the target (or couple) has a great time. Pons recalls, “You obtain as much information about them as you can.” Whether it be during breakfast or throughout the tour, fact finding is said to be important. The liner then relays their findings to other members of the process so they can develop a game plan together.
When one salesperson asks for too much or becomes overly aggressive, another can step in to salvage the timeshare deal by playing the “good cop” role. Some even go as far as “pitting the couple against each other” to close timeshare deals. In his book, Pons says that nearly any type of emotional advantage is considered.
He even confirmed the false promises we frequently mention in our articles. Claiming that the interval will pay for itself or that resale and rental opportunities are advantageous are flat out lies. But if they have to lie, then they should lie – right? After years of involvement, Pons realized this type of career just wasn’t for him.
How Does This Book Help Consumers, in General?
Although Rick feels terrible about his involvement, he now sees his mistake as an opportunity to spread awareness. He believes the industry’s reputation has gotten so bad that salespeople don’t even sell them as timeshares anymore. “All inclusive, vacation and fractional ownership clubs” are often used to mask perception. Because of this, he urges aspiring travelers to use caution if they find themselves intrigued.
At this point, he just wants consumers to know how they’re being persuaded so they can make a wise purchase decision. “Timeshares sell dreams, the dream of a perfect family vacation and in most cases they do it when the families are in relaxation mode, when people are on a vacation and their defenses are down,” he said. So buyer beware.