23 09 2006

If anyone noticed that there haven’t been any posts in the past few days, it’s because I went on a short vacation.  Where I stayed didn’t have Internet access, so no new posts.  But I got some new ideas for posts, and I’ll discuss a few things that happened over my vacation.  In this post I’ll discuss my first experience with timeshares.

My wife and I went to Hot Springs Village, AR, staying for free in exchange for listening to a timeshare presentation.  I didn’t expect to have any problems turning down the offer, because I am not swayed by high-pressure sales tactics.  (In fact, such methods push me away.)  But I was surprised because it was not like I expected.  It was with “Escapes!” and our presenter was named Shannon.  She was very friendly and did not try to pressure us.

I had heard timeshares were bad deals and were very restrictive, but this program wasn’t like that at all.  This company uses a points-based system now, and you can go at any time.  They have a number of places you can stay at, and you can exchange your points (for a fee) for other places or packages.  The points carry over from year-to-year, and I must admit the every-other-year package was tempting.  If you were going to travel to these places a lot, it would be a good deal and save you money, plus encourage you to take more low-cost vacations.  So we gave it a lot of thought, but still decided against it, mainly due to some upcoming expenses that could be large and difficult to predict.  The company offers financing up to 10 years, so the monthly payment would be very affordable, but I’m not paying interest if I can help it.

There is a little bit of pressure built-in to the program, though.  To get the best deal, you must sign up that day.  I don’t like that, because I want to run the numbers and think about it and pray about it, to be sure it’s the right thing.  I don’t toss that kind of money around lightly.  They do offer you the chance to buy-in afterwards, but it costs more.  They should change the rules so you have at least 24 hours to think about it, if not more.

The place we stayed was an older house, and even though it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t a great first impression.  They should let you stay in one of the places they want you to buy.  We got to tour one of the timeshare condos, and it was really nice.  I suppose it saves them money to have people stay at a cheaper place, but first impressions are important.  But regardless, it wasn’t bad, and it was free for us.

We don’t regret turning down their offer.  Sure, it could’ve saved some money over the long-term, but it was a huge financial commitment now.  It’s nice having the flexibility to cut back on vacations if you don’t have much spare money at a particular time.  With their plan, where you “own your vacation”, you are stuck with a monthly payment.  And if you sell it, I suspect you’ll lose some money.  So in this case we’re playing it safe.  We can still stay in nice places, and with more freedom of when and where.




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