Last weekend, while my site was down, I was skipping Valentines Day weekend with Kim and instead spent it with Josh and another buddy from college at Wyndham’s Glacier Canyon Resort in Lake Delton, WI (near the Wisconsin Dells). I expected a weekend of watching TV, napping, eating, and enjoying a few decent beers, but what I felt I ended up involved in was something far more sinister and so creepy that at one point I honestly considered Kim’s suggestion that I get a room at another hotel for the evening and bail out the next morning for Minnesota.
As you can see, there’s a new poll for this week (which will only run until next Monday) which talks about high-pressure timeshare sales. Everyone has considered taking up the offer of “one hour” of your time in return for $100+ in gift certificates at local restaurants or retailers. Hell, even Kim and I opted for a champagne breakfast on our honeymoon which culminated in a 15 minute argument with the sales person that I already owned a timeshare and didn’t plan on purchasing one in Hawaii. Kim’s parents were offered a glass-bottom boat ride where they were brought to an island and not permitted to leave until they heard the spiel. Josh and the other buddy from college (Tim) were led around for 4 hours last year at a ski resort in Virginia for their $100 in free food. In all of those cases people were given something and more-or-less knew that they might be inconvenienced before heading out on their adventure. Well, it would appear, from my experience that all of that is changing.
Josh and I arrived at the resort just before dark. The place is huge and looks really, really, really nice. The lobby was very woodsy with a lot of comfortable couches, chairs, etc. There was one check-in for the normal hotel and one for the resort. Josh was being waited on when I finally sauntered in and the woman behind the counter was friendly, outgoing, and was very interested in the fact that the day we checked in was Josh’s birthday. After telling Josh about skiing options and snow depths, she mentioned that she’d be over at Monk’s Bar and Grill (located across the parking lot and on the resort property) that evening at the dueling piano bar beginning around 10:30. After her and Josh discussed dueling pianos, she asked him to move down to the end of the row where someone else would give him a welcome packet and offer a 15 minute in-room timeshare sales pitch for $50 in gift-certificates at one of the restaurants on the resort property. Josh agreed to that and they setup a time for 10:30 AM the next morning. We said our thank yous and went on our merry way.
Josh and I did a bunch of stuff and waited for our buddy to arrive. After getting all set in the condo, we walked over to Monk’s for food/drink at about 9:30. Strangely enough, just as we walked in the door of the bar and were trying to decide what to do, the woman from the front desk, now accompanied by what appeared to be her significant other, rushed past us and suggested we join them downstairs. Strange, didn’t she say she’d be there at 10:30 after she got off work? We followed the two down the stairs and were told that we were with them, avoiding a $5/person cover. Unfortunately we were still charged the $5 cover each and went in. We sat at a table by ourselves, off to the side of the stage, and enjoyed the show which included Josh being called up on stage, with another person in the crowd, to be picked on while sitting on the piano. This was orchestrated by the Wyndham employee and after he got back to his seat, she asked him if he wanted to join her and her companion at their table. Josh agreed and asked if we would join them as well.
The two worked Josh over hard. They bought him a shot of bourbon and started chatting with him. While I couldn’t overhear everything that was said, it was immediately obvious to me that something was up with these two. I immediately attempted to send Josh a text message which simply said, “Dude stay away. It’s the hard sell,” and not only was it that, but it was one of the most well orchestrated, cloak and dagger, creepy, and unbelievable sales tactics that I had ever witnessed.
From what I could tell, it would seem that they were trying to do numerous things:
1. Separate the three of us.
2. Use Internet research to engage us in discussions about topics we were comfortable with (musical tastes, personal likes, etc).
3. Get us to purchase and utilize on-site restaurants and services instead of leaving their Creepy Campus (TM) to eat, drink, and enjoy ourselves elsewhere.
4. Keep us drinking while appearing to drink themselves.
When I first sat down, the man playing the staff member’s husband started talking to me about Keller Williams and the fact that he attended Wilkes University in PA. Ok, I can buy the Wilkes University thing but the KW reference was a bit odd and immediately set off my bullshit detector. I just couldn’t believe that this dude was into jam band music. Later, I mentioned my iPhone to our buddy, and the guy leans to his partner and says, “iPhone!” and then pulls his own PDA/phone out and points the screen towards me while not doing anything productive. Her phone is out at the same time and it appeared to me that they were trying to get my attention for a conversation starter–I ignored them.
After this, the guy enters a long string of random characters on his phone, and hands it to the woman and says, “just hit the green button.” Being that there was limited to no mobile service in the basement of that bar, which is one of the reasons we were probably dragged down there, she was able to make a “call” on this phone with a random garbling of numbers, and said, “It’s not working, get here.” I learned later that soon after what I felt was a fake phone call, the woman told Josh that the other woman we met at the front desk that day would be arriving to join us. This was becoming quite the ordeal. It was at this point that I realized Josh wasn’t going to get my message and I told him to go upstairs with me. I told him my opinions on what was happening and he really didn’t believe me. It wasn’t until they brought on a third person, someone Josh said he had seen walking around the lobby when we checked in, wearing a jacket and button down shirt who claimed he had never been to the resort before. After some time, Josh overheard him tell the two that I felt were accosting us, “see you on the next go-around.”
Even after this, these two did not give up. At one point the woman was telling me about the steak offerings at their “high end steakhouse” Field’s. I felt that she knew I was into food and went on and on about searing the steaks with grape jelly and asked if I had ever heard of such a great idea. I rolled my eyes, smiled, and said, “oh yeah?” but before walking away from her she asked me, “when are you leaving again?” I took this to mean that they would again attempt to corner Josh later after I had left. I am anxiously awaiting any word from him about that.
Doing some simple Google searches will land you at various tales of timeshare sales tactics including this article about the sales pitch used by the predecessor to Wyndham at the Wilderness Resort. At least that guy knew what he was getting into when he called back and didn’t end up walking into an orchestrated ambush much like I felt we did. I must admit that I haven’t done as much research as I would have liked into this, but if I come across anything later, I will be sure to post it in the comment section below.
How about you? What sales pitches and tactics have resorts used to get you to buy into their timeshares, use their on-site amenities? If you have any especially creepy reports, like the one I posted above, I’d love to hear all about it.
Been Pressured by Timeshare Salesmen?
- Yes (52.0%, 13 Votes)
- No (40.0%, 10 Votes)
- N/A (8.0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 25