Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Resisting WorldMark's Hard Sell Approach

We’ve attended time-share owner presentations before, and I vowed, never again. I hate the “hard-sell”, where they come at you from all angles, trying to convince you to put more money into the club. In Tucson, I got angry at the concierge and emphatically let him know what I thought of their tactics. He told me they would never ask us again to attend a presentation, and they didn’t for a while. But time passed and the club went through changes, so that memo must have gotten lost. They started asking us again.

 The Concierge at the front desk at the Seaside Resort last Tuesday assured Katie and me that the presentation would be informational and that we really owed it to ourselves as club owners to attend. She said the presenter would tell us about new things happening with the club and all the new condo properties opening up. I told her I didn’t like the “hard-sell” part, where they try to convince us to invest more money in the club, but she assured us that they didn’t do that anymore and gave me a piece of paper with a check list of things that we could expect from the meeting. Third on the list was “No hard sell”.  She said if we’re uncomfortable with the way someone is talking with us, just pull out the paper and show it to the person.  She said the guy wouldn’t push too hard and we’d be out of there in an hour’s time with our visa gift card worth $125.00.

My sister Karen, without hesitation, signed up for the two hour presentation for non-members. She would be informed about all the benefits of the club and then have to persevere through the part where they tried their damndest to convince her that she couldn’t possibly be able to live with herself it she didn’t join the Club. I know from experience that this is difficult to sit through if you have no intention of joining. Karen had no intention of joining. She was going for the sole purpose of receiving the $125.

Katie and I had no intention of purchasing more credits either, so I decided not to go. But the combination of the Concierge’s reassuring words and my sister’s fearless stance to earn the reward money, must have softened my resolve. We signed up for an early morning presentation.  I had it all worked out in my mind how the hour would go. We would listen to the talk about the club, gain valuable information for the future and when the sales person asked us to buy more credits, we would simply say “no thank you” and get on with our vacation, $125 richer. The money would come in handy to help pay for our meals at local restaurants.

The Club employee in charge of us at the presentation was named DJ. He seemed like a nice guy and asked us all about our experiences in the club and a few personal questions. We then listened to a 45 minute talk by an exuberant young woman who told us about all the new club features and properties. Then DJ escorted us to a table, we sat down, and he excused himself for a moment. He returned with a young man who, I presumed, was going to give us the “soft sell” for the last 15 minutes. This guy came at us from all angles, trying to convince us that it was in our best interest to buy more credits. And the best part, according to him, was that the club would easily finance the whole thing. We would have monthly payments of only $185 and could enjoy all the benefits our new status would engender. He had pictures and charts and kept at us.

We were fifteen minutes into the second hour  of our one hour presentation, when the guy, let’s just call him DH, for dick-head, asked Katie directly, “What do you say, are you ready to sign?” He pushed a paper in front of her with a big X next to her typed-in name. Katie looked at me and then looked back at DH and said “No.”

So then DH turned to me. He didn’t ask me the question, but instead pushed a paper with a big X next to my name in front of me and began explaining all the benefits he had just explained to Katie, all over again. He must have thought I hadn’t been listening or perhaps he thought I was deaf, but it was at that point that I couldn’t take anymore and lost my patience. Katie had already declined the offer. We were now nearly twenty minutes over time and as far as I was concerned, we were done.

I interrupted DH, giving him a look that could kill, slammed the checklist down on the table and very forcefully said, “We’re done here. It’s time for you to leave.” By the way that he and DJ reacted, you’d think I'd turned the table over and called him a “scum sucking pig", like Marlon Brando did to Slim Pickens in The Appaloosa.  DH quickly gathered up his papers and hurried away without uttering a word. DJ made excuses for DH, like “He’s just doing his job.” trying to smooth things over. I thought, that’s the same defense Adolf Eichmann used at the Nuremburg Trials, but didn’t say it out loud. When DJ realized the excuses weren’t working, he decided to give me some advice. “If someone offers to give you money to attend something, you can bet they are going to try to sell you something.” In other words, it was our fault for attending the presentation if we had no intention of buying in the first place. Thanks a lot DJ. I was dangerously close to channeling Jack Nicolson in The Last Detail, but Katie managed to get us out of there without incident.

It took me half the day to calm down from the whole thing.  I had trouble enjoying our breakfast at a local restaurant, paid for by the visa gift card. Like I’ve said several times before, “I’m never going to attend another one of those Presentations.”