Thursday, May 28, 2009

High Pressure Sales: Is This Really Lying?

My wife and I bought a timeshare in Virginia Beach last year, and went on our first timeshare exchange this week. We went to Williamsburg, Virginia. We like Virginia. I travel to a couple of locations in Virginia for work, and I always enjoy it. The people are friendly and the hospitality is awesome. Let's face it, New Jersey license plates don't say "The hospitality state". Even in restaurants where the service is slow, it's still friendly, which sure beats the slow and apathetic service we get in some places in New Jersey (like the Lindenwold and Blackwood-Clementon McDonald's).

I knew from reading reviews of this resort that we'd be invited to a meal and then have to sit through a sales presentation. I thought about getting out of it, but they have ways... We went to it on Wednesday. I wouldn't say it was incredibly high-pressure, but they did use some tactics that I find questionable, and every time these tactics are used on me, I always wonder if I'm being lied to.




#1 You'll never see this offer again

I know that life and economics are fluid, but just because I can get a good offer once, doesn’t mean that similar offers won’t come my way again. In this case, we were told that Interval International would somehow subsidize our purchase of a timeshare in Williamsburg. I’m not sure how that would have worked out, but apparently, II would never do such a thing for us again.

I’ve been told many times in my life that if I didn’t take a certain offer RIGHT FREAKING NOW, I’d NEVER, EVER, be able to get that thing at that price AGAIN, EVER. I’ve long since started to run the other way when I hear this. I don’t buy it. There will always be somebody selling something to me at some price that supposedly, I’ll never get again. I’ve decided that if I’m not ready to buy something, I’ll just wait for the next person selling it.  If I’m not ready then, I’ll wait more. One of Eric’s Laws of Life is that there will always be somebody waiting to sell you something. Trust me, you can put it off if you’re not ready. Don’t let a sales-created sense of urgency trick you into doing something stupid.

#2 Wait! What if I could work this out?

This one REALLY pisses me off. I always feel like I’m being lied to and ripped off. Have you ever been through this with a car salesman? For example, you walk in and say that you are only willing to do $200 a month payments. The salesman says that won’t be a problem, walks away, and comes back all excited to tell you that you CAN have that nice car for a low, low payment of… $450 a month! At this point, you start to wonder about the intelligence and listening ability of the car salesman (I wonder about all of them, because I’ve seen this scenario through many, many times) but you ask in the most patient tone you can what part of $200 a month he missed? He says no problem, runs off, and comes back with a $440 car payment. You play this silly game going down $10 at a time, until the sales manager comes in with him, and he plays the stupid game for another $50-$100. You finally get down around $320, and are too tired and pissed off to do anything but sign away the extra money from your budget. But see, if he could do $320 in the first place, why did you just waste 2 hours playing this stupid game?

We went through a similar thing this week, although it wasn’t as long and painful, but the math didn’t add up any better. Supposedly, a timeshare at the new Williamsburg resort would be roughly $34000. However, because the moon is in the right phase or they think my kids are cute or they really just want to give us a hand up in life, it would have been roughly $15,000, but ONLY FOR TODAY! We said no. We have financial goals that must be accomplished before we talk about a second timeshare. Then we were handed off to the last person, who of course wanted to know if everybody else was nice and professional. Then, she asked what we would think if she could work it out for around $6000? At that point, I wanted to know why they didn’t just trot out the $6000 figure FIRST. Would I have been ripped off if I’d bought in at $34,000? That’s when I think I’m being lied to.

I know haggling is required in some cultures, but I’m an American. Just tell me what the price is and I’ll decide if I’m willing to pay it. I don’t like to or want to haggle.

#3 If you don’t take this offer, you’ll be held back from all kinds of good things.

This was the last one that I wondered about Wednesday. We were given a run down of how Interval International works. I guess they assumed that most timeshare buyers are idiots who are lied to by their resorts (oh, but not Williamsburg Plantation; they’re the honest one who educates their buyers) and don’t do any research on their own. OK, I’m sure most of that is true, but my wife and I have decent levels of intelligence and we do our own research. We endured being talked down to about how Interval works like we hadn’t figured it out by now, but of course the point to this lesson is that even though we own a week in VA Beach, unless we own in Williamsburg, we’ll never be able to get in anywhere. We’ll never get a good exchange. OK, how did we get an exchange to Williamsburg, hmm?

Obviously, a good salesperson will create a sense of urgency, but is it really necessary to lie or misrepresent the facts to get a sale? I feel ashamed when engineers screw up and make us all look bad. Don’t salespeople feel the same way about their profession? If you work in sales, I know you’ve got to earn a paycheck, but does it matter to you that your entire profession is looked down upon as untrustworthy?

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