As a member of the team here at Mercantile, I thought it useful to share a recent experience myself and my family had whilst holidaying in Florida. This August we rented a private villa in Kissimmee and, having had a lot of experience working with dissatisfied Timeshare owners, had no intention of attending a presentation. However, after a few days in the parks, enjoying the sights and everything Orlando had to offer we were presented with an offer, which was very difficult to refuse.
It was the fourth day of the vacation when we came upon a ticket sales office, who were offering competitive deals on theme park tickets. Having already spent hundreds of dollars, the prospect of making some savings was quite appealing. So we entered into the sales office and were greeted by a very friendly Floridian, who explained he could get us some great prices. We explained how we wanted to visit SeaWorld and Kennedy Space Centre and he had some great offers available, which were presented to us.
In fact, the deal seemed a bit too good to be true. He offered us 3 tickets to SeaWorld, with a meal each included for free! Also, we were offered half price on Space centre tickets, had we just won a competition we were not aware of entering. All that was required of us to get this amazing deal, was attend a very short presentation! That was the moment the penny dropped. We had walked into what we thought was a sales office, however, it was actually owned by Westgate Resorts. There was no mention of Westgate Resorts either on the outside, or inside of the building. I immediately got up to leave and was just about to embark on a lecture of the implications of misrepresentation, when I had a thought.
Could this be a useful opportunity to experience what so many of our clients had been forced to endure ?
The next morning, with our Westgate appointment card in hand, we arrived at what can only be described as a stunning and luxurious building. We were greeted by valet and taken into a waiting area where we had the opportunity to take a look around. The facilities were amazing, the swimming pools were Olympic size and there were activities going on all around us. It looked like a fantastic place to stay. We were astounded at the amount of people there, could they all be there for the same reason as us, just for free tickets they were promised?
We were soon whisked off to our meeting by a smart, slightly annoyed looking sales rep who seemed to be evaluating us as if we were prey. We walked through the vast corridors of this enormous resort and in every conference room we walked past, there were people sitting around tables engrossed in their sales pitches. By the time we got to our table, I was astounded by the sheer volume of people they had managed to get through the doors, all presumably for a similar reason to ourselves, just for the freebies. Nervously, we buckled up, ready for the sales pitch.
A little to our disappointment, our sales rep was less than impressed with us, perhaps we didn’t exude the amount of wealth she preferred. She explained a deal they could offer for just $12,000 today and a lifetime of holidays, “you can even add another week every year, for no extra cost” “oh” we said, playing along. “what are the annual fees?” She said: “Fees, what fees? You don’t pay fees here just resort taxes, every two years”. The back and forth went on for a while longer asking her questions, her asking us why didn’t we want to take her up on such a great deal. We explained how we would like to go away and talk about the offer before we make such a big financial decision. Before we had any time to ponder, she had leapt out of her chair and her face had gone from annoyed to angry. “we get 3 hundred people a day in here and I’m not going to waste anymore of my time, British people never buy anyway”. Following this, we were ushered back out to the reception desk and handed our tickets. Remarkably, our experience lasted a whole ten minutes, yet it highlights how desperate these sales reps are and the amount of pressure they are under to make a sale. After all, it makes perfect sense for her to not waste anymore of her time on a family who are clearly only there for the tickets, with no intention to buy, especially when they get 300 plus people through the door every day.
People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advise and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.
If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.