Now that the pandemic has run rampant for almost a year, the disadvantages timeshare owners face is beginning to surface. While it’s easy to criticize every action that major resorts are taking (or not taking), it doesn’t provide consumers with much – outside of awareness. So, we decided to start sharing the stories of vacation owners. This month’s spotlight has to do with another family that felt they were scammed by a timeshare company while on vacation.
Despite travel restrictions and locked down resorts, the timeshare industry has been looking for ways to acquire new owners. As we run through our client’s experience, we ask that you take note of the aggressive mentality of the sale. No matter how disinterested the young couple was, the sales team wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. In the end, they wish they would have been more aggressive themselves. Let’s see why.
Latino Family Never Had a Desire to Buy a Timeshare.
As Edwin and his wife joined us for their interview, it was evident the experience still left them unsettled. Due to their jobs, they rarely have opportunities to go on vacation. So being scammed by a timeshare company while attempting to enjoy themselves in Las Vegas has been a tough pill to swallow. According to them, they don’t have enough time or disposable income to commit to large purchases; let alone handle abrupt financial setbacks.
In other words, leading up to their unexpected timeshare presentation, the Latino couple had no desire to own one. “A week vacation comes free here and there,” Maria said – ”but it’s extremely difficult for us to ever plan anything.” Without much pause, Edwin chimed in. “I don’t understand how the hell we fell for it! They try to keep you there to take advantage of you,” he said. But before we get you all worked up, let’s have them start from the beginning.
How Family Fell into a Timeshare Presentation.
Months into COVID-19 lockdowns, Edwin and his wife, like most families, knew they had to escape the day-to-day boredom with their kids. So, they decided to take a short trip to Las Vegas. Upon arrival they were already enjoying the time together. This all came to a halt when a timeshare salesperson approached them at the Circus Circus booth. Maria recalls him asking if they “planned on going to The AdventureDome”.
Knowing that the gentleman was more than likely gearing up for a sales pitch, Edwin responded by saying, “Yea, we’re going tomorrow.” Without any further ice breakers, the stranger tells them he has “free wristbands if you guys are interested.” Despite the initial skepticism, the couple implored.
Due to their hesitancy, the salesman dangled a $100 gift card to keep their attention. Within moments, he had the family agree to meet him the next day at the resort to obtain them. All they had to do was endure a simple 2-hour presentation. While it seemed a bit cheesy to Edwin, like most fathers, he was eager to cut the cost of his trip. The last thing he expected was to be scammed by a timeshare company.
Free Tickets Lures Family into an Endless Pit.
After breakfast the following morning, the entire family showed up to receive their promised promotion. The plan was to immediately use the wristbands once the demonstration was over. But once they walked inside, the hospitality they received was overwhelmingly distracting. “We were welcomed in like a King”, said Edwin. “You know, a real warm welcome like we were really important or something.” He’d soon find out why.
The couple was “quickly approached by a Columbian guy” that really knew how to speak to them. “Alejandro Rodriguez Campo, I’ll never forget his face or name, was a smooth guy that knew what he was doing,” Maria recalled. “Yea, he said they call him Baracco and he was very confident,” said Edwin. “Very polite, good with kids and made a lot of jokes to make us all comfortable. He really got our kids to like him.”
As Baracco built “Latino camaraderie” with the family, Edwin was confused. “I had no idea what it was yet. We were still in the waiting room,” he said. In the meantime, both remembered Baracco continuously repeating, “This is going to be the best thing you’ll ever buy in your entire life.” The warm welcome was definitely blinding as Maria went on to say, “We now know they were preparing us for the presentation the whole time.”
They Didn’t Arrive for Free Tickets Afterall.
After settling into the bustling lobby, the couple started to catch on. Especially when another gentleman in a suit started asking “tons of questions” about traveling, income, budgets and places their children wanted to visit. “Lots of people were being interviewed and involved in presentations,” said Maria. This prompted her husband to quickly inform the sales duo that they don’t really travel and that their jobs restrict them. But this didn’t detour the sale.
“About an hour later, Baracco walks us out to give us drinks, cookies and whatever the kids wanted really,” Maria said. “Yea, then they started showing us places like Disneyland and places that are ideal for kids,” added Edwin. But everything was happening so fast and it was hard for them to keep up. As they walked, they talked. They were asked, “How much can you pay per month?” But Edwin remained confused.
At this point, the children were all in – even though nobody was quite sure what was being sold. “How dare you say no, mom and dad,” Edwin recalls hearing. But even then, he felt as though he was being sold on an idea. “They were just looking to get a number on budget, availability and our desires.” But he also remembers thinking, “Yea, as a parent, who doesn’t want their kids to visit the best in the world.” How could he be scammed by a timeshare company if his intentions were genuine?
Husband & Wife Decide to Gamble in Vegas.
Now that Baracco and his trusty team were able to leverage a father’s heart, Edwin began to play along. “I guess if I had an ideal travel destination it would be Hawaii,” he told them. “We can’t go outside the U.S.” So, the sales reps immediately started pitching travel packages, options and an overwhelming amount of information. “I told them to stop,” said Edwin. “There has to be a catch.” But the “puppy dog eyes” of his kids that the sales rep hyped up on elaborate vacation adventures kept him off target.
So, Mr. Campo started to try to run Edwin and Maria’s credit. “I told them ‘No Way!’” But another manager was called in to provide additional distractions. According to them, he promised to hire them “a personal limo driver” if they said ‘yes’. “They told us running our credit was the only way to see all of the amazing deals they had for us,” said Edwin. “They kept making more promises until we definitely fell for it. I see it now.”
Time Starts to Become an Investment in Itself.
After waiting another two hours at the same table, the family started getting antsy. “Everyone was gone and we were still sitting there,” recalls Maria. So, her husband finally stood up and said, “We got to go!” But he was quickly met with polite reassurance. “Noooo, you have to stay,” said Maria, emulating their response. “They told us they would double up our points and give us the best deal ever for staying.”
Edwin continued, “They told us the offer would be gone if we left and we already waited this long.” The last thing he wanted to do was ruin their kid’s vacation. Afterall, they still needed the free wristbands, right? The sales team pressed on this weakness and started “pitching it as an investment” for their kids. But Edwin remembers thinking, “Why would I want to stick my children with a monthly bill?
“No, I don’t want to do that,” he said. His wife echoed his concern with this as well. “We don’t want to lose our home over this,” she said. “So, they started telling us how they will help us sell or rent the timeshare,” she continued. “They said we could double our monthly payment by renting as an income opportunity,” Edwin added. But the couple didn’t want to make money off of it. Good thing, because people that get scammed by a timeshare company often fall for promises like this – that simply are not true.
A Quick Note on Timeshare Resale:
Not only is it proven throughout history that vacation ownership is not an investment opportunity, but many states have timeshare sales laws that specifically state these promises cannot be used to sell a timeshare. The sad reality is timeshare units are sold from $20,000 to upwards of $400,000 and almost always have no resale value immediately after a purchase contract is signed. This is one of the biggest lies verbally spewed in almost every timeshare presentation today.
Timeshare companies understand this, which is why nearly all of them have the “license to lie” clause in their contracts. This clause states that anything verbally told to the buyer carries zero weight. Most don’t even know there are 60+ pages of vague, legal language that governs the deal – let alone understand it. In other words, buyers usually sign the agreement blindly, based on a fantasy of false pretenses.
Another “No” Creates “All Systems Go”
No matter how hard the family of four was pressed on income opportunities, they didn’t give in. They were confident in their “No” and thought the timeshare company wouldn’t have any more tricks up their sleeves – but they were wrong. Sadly, this is what occurs when you’re being scammed by a timeshare company.
Edwin remembers the manager assuring them that he was “going to work his magic in the system.” Because of COVID-19, he was supposedly able to spark them an even greater adventure for a better bargain – so they thought. Tune in next week to see what finally persuaded Edwin and Maria and how they went about getting out of the burden.