The Timeshare Promotion: Just another Cheap Trip?

Upon arrival at Westgate Vacation Villas (one of the largest resorts in the country and still growing), we found our surroundings to be very pleasant; swaying palms, lush gardens, green grass, a dozen different swimming pools, and tennis and basketball courts were among the many outdoor amenities, while our two-bedroom condo featured a marble bath with Jacuzzi, full kitchen, washer, dryer, DVD player — the works.

To ensure that you will attend the impending sales presentation, the resort has your credit card on file; failure to oblige the agreement would result in being charged an extra US$ 100 per night, multiplied by the number of days you had booked. Because of this constraint, I felt a curious absence of consumer empowerment.

Indeed, at US$ 52 a night, it was hard to pluck up the courage to complain about anything, short of maybe a bed bug infestation. Yet despite this penned-up feeling, we proceeded to have a good time. Four days passed, we came and went to the local attractions, and to our astonishment no one had hounded us, yet.

As scheduled, we arrived at the Sales Center, a low-slung, single-story building more reminiscent of a strip mall than the Spanish-roofed villas and townhouses that characterized this resort. We found ourselves in a large, high-ceilinged room which, at first glance, resembled a cafeteria with a buffet, and tables and chairs for dining.

But on second glance it began to take on more of a show room feel, particularly when I noticed the bank of glass-walled sales offices on one side. If you replaced the tables and chairs with Cadillacs and Buicks, this could easily pass for a car dealership. In the next hour I would be amazed at the similarities between selling cars and timeshares.

Enter Bill, our chosen assignee. Bill is a sales-producing machine, a hybrid. He’s the “Terminator” of all timeshare sales reps.

If rogue Disney engineers are manufacturing salesperson animatrons in a secret underground lab several miles from here, then Bill is the prototype. He is both affable and intimidating at the same time, extremely well dressed, and relentlessly focused on his goal.

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