I just got back from a vacation with my family to Kona, Hawaii. We had a great time on this rather sleepy Hawaiian island. It’s very different than the other islands I’ve been to (Oahu and Maui) but this is really beside the point.
My mother and father in law gifted us the stay using some of their timeshare points (or weeks) for which we are really grateful. We stayed at the Wyndham Mauna Loa on the west side of the island. The place was really beautiful and we enjoyed our stay there immensely.
My wife checked us in at the beginning of our stay and agreed to sit in on a one hour timeshare presentation at the end of the week in exchange for some up front discounts. The discounts were for various activities we planned on participating in (snorkeling, luau, etc) and totalled between $350 and $400 dollars. For an hour presentation this seemed like a good deal.
Wrong. Run away. This soul-sucking experience is not worth any amount of money.
I’ve only ever sat in on one timeshare presentation before and it was fairly innocuous, large auditorium, lots of other attendees, and no pressure so I was not overly concerned. Our most recent experience at the Wyndham Resorts Vacation Preview Center (756016 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740) was totally different.
We arrived at 12:40pm on 08/11/17 for our appointment at 12:45pm. A family friend agreed to watch our two kids for an hour while we attended the presentation. Bear in mind, my wife and I have no interest in purchasing any type of timeshare but were simply fulfilling our part of the agreement.
A man named Robert brought us upstairs to his desk where the pitch took place. Ugh. The one on one was certainly a bad sign (captive audience and all). Robert started off very pleasant, was funny, and charming. We both really liked him and enjoyed chatting with him (at least initially). He asked us about ourselves and as part of that discussion we indicated we really weren’t interested as we don’t travel that much and really couldn’t afford it anyway for various reasons. He asked us to keep an open mind. We agreed.
Robert went through the benefits of their points based system and told us how Wyndham was rated highly by a group called Ethispehere (a group that purportedly measures corporate ethics). More on this shortly.
As the end of our hour neared I was getting anxious because the presentation was not winding down and we did not intend to leave our kids for any longer than an hour on our last day of vacation. Robert sensed my anxiousness and asked how we were doing on time. I told him we were approaching our hour mark and he feigned surprise that anyone would have told us the presentation would be so short.
That should have been our cue to leave. Alas, we gave Robert the benefit of the doubt and agreed to see a unit and talk about numbers with our last 15 minutes.
We saw a unit and Robert asked us how much we thought we could spend per/month if we were so inclined. We told him $0.00 and that we were not inclined. We got back from seeing the unit at the hour mark and told Robert we were out of time and he pleaded with us to just let him quickly finish and show us some numbers. Again, we should have just walked out at this point. Big mistake.
Needless to say, he was not quick and prattled on for another 30 minutes. We looked at his first “offer” which was laughable for various reasons:
- We told him we were not interested from the start
- We told him there was no discretionary income (and we were serious)
- Also, but beside the point, the interest rate on the financing was 18% with a huge down (30% percent if I recall)
I told Robert we didn’t intend to be rude, communicated these things to him, and indicated we really needed to get our kids. Robert said he understood and was going to print one more offer and get us our sign out sheet.
Five minute later Robert brought out another individual, presumably his senior, and another offer which was “better” but that only matters if you have any interest in purchasing a timeshare! We told them again that we don’t have discretionary income, we don’t make impulsive purchases, and weren’t interested anyway. Robert’s attitude immediately changed for the worse. He was obviously frustrated and that’s when the veiled insults started. One of such gems was something to the effect of that I should make an effort to put my wife/family first (I assumed he meant through the purchase of his product).
I extended my hand to Robert as we stood up to leave and he wouldn’t shake it and indicated he had to walk us out. He did, however reluctantly, shake my hand once we were finally down stairs.
Long story short, this was a really terrible experience which I hope I can save someone else from enduring.
I'm not sure what Ethisphere was evaluating with Wyndham but it certainly wasn’t this presentation center, Robert, or their process:
- If you tell someone an hour, you should stick to that. It’s not okay to stretch the presentation to two hours. My family's time is important. Respect that.
- If you have a quality product, your buyers shouldn't have to make decisions on the spot. This is duplicitous and indicative of a sub-par product or some misrepresentation therein.
- Why the personality switch? You didn’t close a deal. Move on. I didn’t waste your time, you wasted mine.
- Belittling prospects in an attempt to make a sale is not ethical.
I’ll be reaching out to this Ethisphere, Wyndham, and other interested parties in the near future about our experience.
Here’s something related I read after the fact that may be of interest:
If you are headed for a popular resort on vacation this summer, chances are you will encounter an attractive and aggressively friendly young man or woman w