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Wednesday
Apr302008

...It Usually Is

"If you were writing about our beautiful resort," the saleswoman said as she shoved me in her car, "what would you put?"

I smiled as she slammed the door, because I was afraid to tell the truth, which was that it would consist of a 100,000 word report detailing every single Satanic sales tactic, engraved invitation to further debt, and general numeric terrorism. Oh, and the NEWLY EXPANDED, TOTALLY PURIFIED INDOOR WATER PARK!!

This is what newlyweds up to their dandruff in student loan debt do for fun: We tour time shares with no intent to purchase. Some marketing genius saw my name on the mortgage and assumed that where there is high credit, there is also high income. This person, as it happens, is merely high.

Josh The Pilot and I were offered free airline tickets and highly reduced hotel stays and a one thousand dollar online shopping spree and a Home Depot gift card and a crappy little water bottle guaranteed to make your beverage taste like plastic in exchange for ninety minutes of our time taking a leisurely tour around our gorgeous Gold Crown Resort.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the entire endeavor took four hours and ended in tears, as our salesman was shocked, shocked! that we'd driven all the way into Shenandoah National Park for the tour and then refused his generous offer to add $10,000 worth of debt at 17% interest in exchange for a week in Jacksonville in the middle of November.

Our tour guide was a lovely woman who was way, way too interested in our well-being. "How was your drive?" she said. "Did you have lunch?"

"We brought a picnic," said Josh.

She clasped her hands before her and beamed as though we were presenting her with a basket of every baby kitten ever born. "THAT. IS. SO. COOL. Where did you eat?"

"In the car."

"I made sandwiches," I elaborated.

"No waaaaaaaay!" she shrieked. "Oh, you are so LUCKY!"

Our mothers should have shown us this much tender regard. "Are you feeling okay?" she asked with great solicitation as Josh surreptitiously yawned at the two-hour mark, as though he was screeching in great jellyfish bite pain. "Can I get you anything? Are you all right?"

"He's fine," I said shortly, still not forgiving her for having shown us through one of the impeccably maintained units, complete with electronic fireplace with little wavy orange lights trained on a black screen, and waving her hand before it and saying, "Now, what do you think a place like this might cost for a week? Huh?"

We stared sullenly at the insta-carpet. Clearly, the idea here was to guess some outrageously high figure, at which point she would shock! us with the low! low! actual price of the timeshare. But by then, we were beaten people, and we weren't playing.

"Take a guess."

"Well," said Josh.

"Come on! Take. A. Guess."

"I don't do numbers," I said, throwing it in the lap of my husband. He glared. It was the worst thing I'd ever done, as a wife.

She wheeled on him. "GIVE ME A NUMBER."

"I couldn't say," said Josh.

There was much huffing on the way to the NEWLY EXPANDED, TOTALLY PURIFIED INDOOR WATER PARK, which was clotted with small children at every section of tubing. I looked longingly at the deep, deep water, far from the meddlesome action of the life preserver.

"Is it always this crowded?" Josh said.

"You think this is crowded?" she answered as a herd of middle schoolers blasted past on their way to the birthday room.

"You could have a book signing in there," she said, pointing at the crepe paper-festooned room. "Wouldn't that be great?"

"It would be... um," I said. Because Thoreau always had his book signings to the right of the Twisty Crusher Gusher, across the hall from the largest claw game in the state of Virginia.

The guide returned us to an enormous room filled with tables populated by other arms-folded couples and corresponding salespeople. It was a room given over entirely to financing and misery. We were joined by her manager, Verne. We were told to expect great things from Verne, up to and including eternal salvation. "I know you told me that you're on a budget," she said, "but I've seen him work miracles."

"Can he make the budget go away?"

I was immediately identified as the weak one, which was sexist and offensive and entirely accurate. One of them plopped a binder full of exchange resorts in my lap, conveniently opened to the Cocoa Beach section. Well! Someone had themselves a past address list!

I looked down at the glossy pages and back at my husband.

"We'd like our plane tickets now, please," he said.

"You can't do this?" Verne said to me.

"No, thank you," said Josh.

I hunched way, way down in my seat, because this was just about everything I have ever hated in life in one room: Conflict, being a source of disappointment to any living thing, numbers, people, and bad coffee.

"Look at what I'm offering you," said Verne, desperately attempting eye contact. "If I walk away, we legally cannot make this offer again."

I became fascinated with the table leg.

"Is there a comment card I can fill out?" said Josh.

Hunchhunchhunch.

"See," said Verne. "Here's five things I can give you today, set in stone. Firm." He proceeded to make a little list. The list included swap weeks, finance options, and...lunch. "I will buy you lunch," he said, underlining it twice, which would have been far more effective were it not four-thirty in the afternoon. "Final offer."

Josh again politely demanded our airline tickets and hotel vouchers, and Verne stood up from his chair, dignity mortally wounded. "I don't have anything to do with that," he said haughtily, and stalked off.

We were then moved through a series of rooms, each subsequently smaller and crappier than the last, as we continued to turn down Verne's amazing offer of lunch. One woman wrote down a number which was half of Verne's final, totally last, rock-bottom, never to be repeated offer. But we were both shells of our former selves.

"No, huh?" Well, if lunch didn't do it, a $120 monthly payment surely wouldn't.

We collected the free airline tickets (cashable only for travel over seven nights, upon booking hotel rooms at the travel agency's partner resorts), and the highly reduced hotel stays (good only at four-star resorts for stays over seven nights, which, when you have three figures in the bank and precisely 2.5 days of vacation, is an awesome deal) and the one thousand dollar online shopping spree (applicable only when buying cruises or travel items from an Internet company which, when Googled, spit up 37,000 hits paired with "Fraud Alert.") But we triumphantly held aloft our Home Depot gift card, good for two replacement garage door springs and a bottle of weed killer. Which was, somehow, highly appropriate.

Guess where we're going for our summer vacation! There's a little place in Williamsburg, and all we have to do is take part in a brief presentation with exciting and upwardly mobile couples like us.

red week at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (20)

[...] Courtney wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptJosh The Pilot and I were offered free airline tickets and highly reduced hotel stays and a one thousand dollar online shopping spree and a Home Depot gift card and a travel water bottle guaranteed to make your beverage taste like … [...]

[...] Chrissy wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptJosh The Pilot and I were offered free airline tickets and highly reduced hotel stays and a one thousand dollar online shopping spree and a Home Depot gift card and a travel water bottle guaranteed to make your beverage taste like … [...]

Yeah... time share speils are great for newlyweds aren't they? Just think how much stronger your marriage would be if you had done not one, but TWO of those on your honeymoon. All for the lovely, vomit inducing chance to take a cruise to the Bahamas! And insane fun at one of Orlando's magical theme parks.

Not that we did that or anything. Nope, not us.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralli

Massanutten! You went to Massanutten!!!! Bill and I used to do the same thing - "free" weekend's have their merits, but the mental/emotional beat down is brutal! We did have a great time at Massanutten, none the less.
We finally got broken when we went to Gatlinburg, which is near where Bill's family lives. ALL red weeks, MB. All red, all the time. And, did you know that Gatlinburg is second only to Las Vegas for the number of wedding chapels it has???? (We traded our first week for Las Vegas, and used it for our honeymoon. Thinking ahead, you know...)

Aaaah, the bad ole days of visiting time shares.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Shhhh, don't give it away! The place will be over run by people looking for free lunches at four in the afternoon!

It was a lovely resort, and I'd like it to be a little writer's retreat for a couple of days when we can afford it. Minus Verne.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Wow. It's nasty people like Vern and the saleswoman that make me feel bad to tell people I work in marketing. They're just like rapists--they won't take "no" for an answer!

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

My dad avoids those guys like the plague. Not even when they offer free lunchs, a day at the golf course, AND a chance to win a "brand new Mini Cooper!".

He's almost 70, so he's allowed to be highly rude; I on the other hand also inherited his winning personality, but since I'm 34 I still file under the "jerk" category when phone salesmen disturb me on work hours to offer an awesome deal on a "prostate cancer insurance policy".

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

You KNOW, Massanutten IS an all season resort!!! :D

Actually, my aunt and uncle moved from here to Massanutten, but they actually live in a house on/in the mountains. They do crafts and teach classes and stuff at the resort. They love it.

Oooh, and I can't believe I inappropriately used an apostrophe in my above post. Dang. I hate that.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

[...] post by Blonde Champagne This entry is filed under Credit card. You can follow any responses to this entry through the [...]

[...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

I went through one of those, and it was a nightmare for us, too. Utterly destroying, soul draining. I'm impressed that you can even write about it with any clarity at all, without shrieking (well, JTP can attest to that) ;)

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLynD

Oh ho! My husband and I did those for a couple of years when we were poor and starting our own business. After a while we started to see the same salespeople at different presentations and were busted. Go figure, they took us off the list! It was fun seeing my Kiwi (bargaining is his life) husband get these guys down to rock! bottom! prices! Which always, no matter what, cost $120 a month!

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterd'Arcy Muller

Wow, look at all the spambots FLOCK to this post!

I keep seeing/hearing commercials for FREE trips to Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. I imagine that the cost of this FREE trip is to have to sit and listen to a Vegas version of Vern try to sell me a condo there.

So there's that . . . but on the other hand, Alan Thicke wouldn't steer me wrong, would he?

Alan Thicke is trust-worthy! He's Canadian, after all! :D

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I know I have been gone a while, so you must have all missed my wittiness and wisdom! Haha!

MB, this literally made me laugh out loud. I have been successful in my time share sales pitch avoidance regimen. But when I overhear a crafty salesperson unleashing ultimate force on some poor unsuspecting couple on vacation, I feel for their sorrow and self-doubt. I am so glad you and JTP survived the attack, and got the Home Depot gift card. At least you got to take a nice drive and eat sandwiches in the car, right?

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

Oh, and how's the crock pot doing?

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

Crock pot rocks a lot.
Or something like that. Anyway, I use it at least once a week. It's a happy pot, and said to tell you hello.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

[...] …It Usually Is. The list included swap weeks, finance options, and…lunch. “I will buy you lunch,” he said, underlining it twice, which would have been far more effective were it not four-thirty in the afternoon. “Final offer.” … [...]

I can relate to this.

Been there, done that. And I also did a lot of thorough examination of my immediate surroundings while my husband fought off (succesfully) the sales onslaught and we scored ourselves two $25 Visa gift cards.

By the time we reached the rock! bottom! prices! table of the gauntlet, we'd had it, but those gift cards bought us a very nice dinner that night. ;-)

May 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJules

My hubby and I went to one of these in Las Vegas shortly before we married. It was one of those "How would you like FREE PLAYING CHIPS?!" ladies who caught us. I, being a master of avoidance, said "no thank you" and moved on. Being the pro that she is, the sales lady called out in her Brooklyn accent to my hubby-to-be, "Has anyone ever told you you look like a young Richard Gere?" Chad froze, slowly turned around and, "You know...I've ALWAYS thought that." Hooked. Six hours later, we collected our $5 chip coupon and left the time share, shells of our former selves.

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandalion
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