Timesharing is Not only for the Wealthy
By Jacki O’Donnell, Holtsville, NY
In 1985, my husband and I took our first trip to Florida, courtesy of my grandparents’ generous gift of airplane tickets. At the time, we were young marrieds with a 2-year old and another on the way. I had stopped working, and money was tight. We could hardly go out for pizza, never mind on vaca- tion.
While in Orlando, we accompa- nied my grandparents to a timeshare resort, a relatively new concept. There were no financial incentives to take the tour; we just wandered in and spoke with a sales rep. We were so im- pressed! There was a bedroom, a liv- ing room with a Murphy bed, a full kitchen, and a lake in the back with paddleboats. Some units had two bed- rooms. Wow, we thought, this is great! We could vacation with relatives or
friends and have plenty of room. We could cook meals and save money. The price? $4,000! And you could pass it on to your heirs.
Well, $4,000 was half of what we had just paid for our brand new car, and making those payments was not easy. What do you think? I asked hubby, who is less impulsive than I. Are you crazy? He replied. Plus, he said, when could we ever afford to return to Florida? (No one told us about exchanging back then, as we were not on an official tour).
Of course, times change. We were eventually able to return to Florida. We had two more children and began to take short vacations, in various locations within a couple of hours from our home, staying in motel rooms. Once we became a family of five, we were cramped because we needed rollaway beds. I wished we had fridges and microwaves for snacks and juice. I had forgotten about the timeshare in Orlando.
We were planning a trip to Or- lando in 1996 when I saw an ad stat- ing I could rent a 2-bedroom condo for $400 for the week. When I called, it turned out to be a referral ad. We had to attend a timeshare presentation dur- ing our stay. Sure, we said, anything to stay in a condo for less than the price of a motel room.
Upon arrival, we were approached by a lady who offered us a nice gift (I think it was tickets to some attraction) if we toured another timeshare prop- erty. Again, we said sure, since we were interested in the concept and wanted to find out more.
When we checked in, we were amazed. This unit was a far cry from
the converted motel we toured 11 years earlier. It was luxurious, spa- cious, and had every amenity you could
think of. Jacuzzi tub! Wet bar! The grounds were beautiful and there were plenty of activities for old and young. I fell in love with it, and the kids loved having their own space. Plus two tele- visions! No fighting! Heaven! I decided I never wanted to stay in a motel again. Well, we took the tour and were unpre- pared for the high- pressured sales tactics. We really didn’t understand the rules of the game, I guess. I asked the lady why should we buy at her resort rather than at the resort we were planning to tour the next afternoon? Could she give us some good reasons, as we were planning to comparison shop?
She flew into a rage! How dare we comparison shop, when her resort was the premier vacation spot in the area! You must sign today for this special price as Florida law prohibits you from getting this deal again once you walk out the door. Oh, sorry, we told her, we never buy anything with- out thinking a bit about it first. We don’t have money like that. She sent for another salesperson who tried to talk us into signing on the dotted line. Well, we will drop the price. No? Well, we will let you buy an every-other- year unit if you can’t afford it. (That seemed attractive to us, but we were still unwilling to make the commitment without sleeping on it). They were disgusted with us, and we were a little ashamed. Perhaps this timesharing business is only for people who don’t have to be careful with money?
At the next resort we toured, we