Did you know you can actually get some cool gifts just by going to a timeshare presentation? What if I told you that my wife and I took in the sights and a presentation on a timeshare in order to save money on activities we wanted to do when traveling. It wasn’t my first choice, but now I realize it was pretty easy and we didn’t buy a timeshare! As my wife and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary this week, I figured I would show you how we saved the money during our anniversary trip to Charleston, South Carolina.
When my wife and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary, we decided to go down to Charleston. This was my first time going and I really enjoyed it. We got there right before the heat and humidity really got bad, so I couldn’t complain. We found some great accommodations that were relatively cheap and nice, so I was happy with that. We drove my car down from NC, which has great highway gas mileage, so there were more savings.
My wife and I really wanted to enjoy this trip because we had found out a month earlier that we were going to have our first child a few months later. We figured this would be our last trip before the baby came, so we wanted to make the best of it. We took a whole week off of work and hit the road.
One thing about my wife and I is that we never plan anything when we go on vacation. The only things we know are where we are going to stay and when we are leaving. That is about it. We like to play everything else by ear and see where our desires take us. For a planner like myself, this is actually a welcome from my normal. With no plans, I can just go with the flow, which is exactly how my wife is most of the time. This is one of the reasons why I love her. She just doesn’t worry about things as much.
Once we arrived in Charleston and checked into our hotel, we decided to walk around the market district and check out what was going on. My wife had been to Charleston before, so she became my tour guide for the most part. I like having her as one because she doesn’t rush me when I am looking at something. I enjoy old architecture, so Charleston kept my eyes wandering.
Wait, where did she go?
We were walking down a street and I was eating some awesome ice cream and I turned around and my wife was not there. She was only about 3 steps behind me and I didn’t hear anything. I got a little nervous until I heard her voice talking to someone in a little nook inside a store entrance way. I walked toward my wife and tried to see what she was doing.
She was receiving a pitch from a man that helps push tourists into timeshare presentations. Ah crap!
I started to listen in because I don’t like being rude, especially when I am on vacation. The man told us that if we listened to a 45 minute presentation, then we could get a free harbor tour, which a visit to Fort Sumter. We could also get free admission to the aquarium, which is something my wife loves. On top of that, we would get a free carriage tour around Charleston, and a $50 gift certificate to one of their best restaurants. I don’t know about you, but this man had me intrigued by the time he was done.
While this man was talking, I could see that my wife really wanted to do all of the things he indicated we could get passes for. I always try to make sure that my wife is happy above all else, so I didn’t want to shoot the man down before talking with her. I also did some quick math because I had the rates for these activities up on my phone (of course I have to double check!!). When it was all said and done, we could get about $275 worth of stuff just for sitting in a 45 minute presentation. Frugal or not, that is considered a win in my book.
After a quick glance to each other, we signed up. Our presentation was going to be the next morning at 9:00.
We arrived for the presentation and found that many other couples had taken the plunge as well. This “deal” presentation was only for couples that made a certain amount of money. You know, the ones that could “afford” the timeshare.
We sat in a waiting room and got paired up with a salesman. He was a nice guy, but I was vetting him the whole time he spoke with us to see how much he actually knew. Apparently, we got a green salesman and that made me smile a little bit.
Our salesman, we can call him Caleb, took us on a brief tour into some really cool places within a walking distance from the presentation. It was his way to seeing how interested we were and to see if we actually met the criteria. We passed that little test pretty easily.
In one quick motion, all of the couples were taken back to the presentation room and the fun began. We sat there listening to some head salesman speak about the benefits of owning a timeshare. The presentation did in fact run about 45 minutes. The whole time I was in there, I just watched the other couples to see if they had any interest. I certainly did not.
Here comes the Pitch!
After the presentation was over, we met Caleb in a different room with a bunch of tables. It was nice and they offered us water and coffee. I won’t pass up a free beverage, even if it is water.
He plopped in front of us at a table that had pamphlets all over. I started looking through the paperwork to see what they were charging. You know that was the first thing I wanted to know. Caleb went over his soft pitch to see how we thought of the presentation.
As I learned from my mother, I am a very honest person, or at least I try to be. I don’t like to beat around the bush and some people can take that, and some can’t. I told Caleb that we were not interested. Well, that didn’t really work very well. He started ratcheting up the pitch.
He was telling us about the benefits of their timeshare package and then we went into numbers. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t realize I was a personal finance blogger and love numbers.
I can always get behind math, which is when my brain can kick in and start really analyzing. Since I had no interest in this timeshare (I was only there for the free goodies!), and I noticed he wasn’t going to let us go without a fight, I decided to put up a fight. A numbers fight.
You Can’t Fight Math
Caleb’s argument for a timeshare is that it can save you money over the life of the timeshare “mortgage” because we don’t have to worry about paying for another hotel. He gave me the prices of hotel stays, which was pretty accurate and then compared it to the amortized cost of the timeshare over 30 years. And that is where he opened up the gates to let me in.
My simple response to his pitch is that they were banking on people taking a set vacation time each and every year. They were setting a vacation time as a set constant in order to make the timeshare make sense. I indicated that they cannot make vacation a fixed constant. It is not possible and not reality for most people. I don’t think there has ever been a time when my wife and I have had the same vacation length or price point for the time we have been together. Vacation cannot be a fixed constant, the time frame and price will fluctuate each and every time.
I could see the look on Caleb’s face. He was confused. To help him with his confusion, I decided to say that I don’t know why I would pay the same amount for a small house that I can live in all year round and one that I can only live in once or twice a year. I can actually use the house that I live in during the year, but I am only technically renting the other, but paying the exact same amount with a lot less time being occupied.
I think I made his head explode. Since he was relatively green at sales, he didn’t have a counter. It made me feel good and my wife smiled a little bit as well. He didn’t want to lose the sale (like he had a chance at getting it in the first place). Caleb decided to bring over a supervisor, or more experienced salesman. That was fine with me. The new salesman gave me the same breakdown and mathematical wizardry, so I gave him my same breakdown.
After talking about it for about 5 minutes, this seasoned salesman knew that that was no chance. He said that it appears that a timeshare wasn’t for us and that he appreciated our time. It took a total of an hour and a half to get our free vouchers, but it was worth it. My wife and I enjoyed the rest of our vacation and saved $275 in the process. That was a big victory for us and I had fun dropping math onto a new salesman. Sorry Caleb!
So, we were able to enjoy a few days of activities, some good food, and fun all for just sticking in a little timeshare presentation. It was the easiest way to save $275 I could have done during that trip. My wife and I both agreed it was worth it for the vouchers, so we may do it again sometime when we travel. If they are going to give out some gifts, why not take advantage? Just don’t fall for their crappy math skills. Timeshares rarely work in your favor. That’s why so many try to sell theirs to other people!
What do you think? Would you try this in order to save money? What about on your wedding anniversary?