Published Sep 6, 2010

Somehow, years ago, we were lucky enough to get on a list of people who should have timeshares pitched to them. That got us a trip to Hawaii. So we were thrilled when we got a call telling us we had a chance to enjoy another two vacations in return for new timeshare presentations. First up was Palm Springs. And we had to work for it.First, there was the heat. You may have read about it. It was 107° the day we got there, and it only got hotter (about 10 degrees hotter, actually). Yeah, maybe we should’ve gone later in the year, but our schedules are about to get busy and we wanted to get the trip in while we could!But the heat wasn’t the real work; it just made us spend time by the pool (more on that later). The real work was the timeshare presentation. And that we didn’t expect.Usually, timeshare presentations are easy. Sure, sometimes the salesperson’s crazy and yells at you — actually, come to think of it, between the ex-military guy who told us we were going to die if we left and the shrill Brazilian closer who caterwauled at my wife for saying no, usually the salesperson’s crazy and yells at us — but the good thing is that they do all the talking and you just sit there and, after 90 minutes, say no.That 90 minutes is the key part: every vacation deal so far has told us that we had to agree to see a 90-minute presentation in return for the free trip. Both the wife and I are convinced that, if we said “no” 89 minutes in, the trip would totally not be free, so we take attending the whole presentation very seriously. And, hey, with a reasonably well-put-together pitch, lots of photos, and some time browsing the properties around the world that we could stay at, 90 minutes has gone by pretty quickly.Not this time! This time, our experience had a baaaad meeting with a rookie salesguy who didn’t know his stuff.The timeshare presentation always leads with the salesperson asking us to tell them about our recent vacations. Somehow, between having answered this question several times in the past and both of us being professional writer-types who are used to the need to be concise (Ed. Note: Not here!), we managed to answer that question in just a couple of minutes, so fast that the salesman took a breath and said, “wow, that was fast!”That was when I first got a sinking feeling in my stomach: remember that I firmly believe we have to go every last one of the ninety minutes, and I probably just blew about 7 of those by answering quick. But, I wasn’t worried, I figured the salesman would pull it out. I mean, just like we can’t leave a minute early, if they wrap up early, well, they can’t make us sit there in silence for the rest of the time, can they?Actually, that would probably be a pretty good sales tactic. “So, you gonna say ‘yes’ yet?” “Nope.” “‘Sokay, I got another 20 minutes.” Lots of staring and looking at watches.Okay, back to the story. So the first thing is the question about what you do for vacations; almost the second thing to come out of the salesperson’s mouth is some admission that they’re brand-new and that any complicated questions will have to be referred to the boss. I’ve heard this tactic so many times, in so many contexts, that I just ignore it — it’s just the salesman trying to make him- or herself an ordinary guy to you. But this guy, I think he was actually new.First it was that he let onto a lot of things that you wouldn’t expect for somebody selling a $17,000 timeshare. When he asked us what we’d done the night before, we answered that we’d gone out for a steak dinner at the casino downtown, which had a weeknight special of two appetizers, two steaks, and four sides for $49. Now, we’re not rolling in money but $49 for dinner for two is nice anywhere, and at a good steakhouse that’s about the price of one chop most nights. The salesman’s response? “$50? Doesn’t seem cheap to me.” Man’s trying to sell a $17,000 timeshare. $17,000! That’s like 850 of those steak dinners, they’d better not be expensive.Second, and more important, it was that we just ran out of content in the presentation about 50 minutes in. Just plum out. He’d gone through everything, done every set-up and trial close, and we were through. We sent him for some water and looked at each other all wide-eyed, wondering how we were going to manage not to pay for our condo for two nights. Then my wife, who works in, as they say around here, The Industry, made that TV stretch-it-out hand signal, and we made a telepathic decision to get to work making this thing last 90 minutes.And we did, we actually made it to 93 or 94 minutes. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing that both of us have spent big chunks of our working life having to interview people, because we asked every question that could be asked of this guy and both of his two bosses.And then I said no. But, seriously, we had to work for it.The fruits of our labor? They were not bad! We stayed at The Oasis condos, on a long strip of condo developments about 10 minutes away from downtown.IMG_4667It was a nice enough place, great amenities and good attention to detail, but with the look of a property that was built to look great but maybe not built from the most-durable materials. You know the feel — not like older buildings that just get character and beauty with age, but on the verge of becoming dingy and tattered about the corners. Still, it was nice for a free place to stay, and more than comfortable.IMG_4652IMG_4658There was even a Murphy Bed in the living room, a grill on the back porch, and bikes we could take around.IMG_4674IMG_4665We took advantage of those amenities after our exhausting timeshare presentation, retiring to the pool for 5 hours. There was nobody else out braving the 117° heat and desert sun, so we had the place — and plenty of shade — to ourselves. As you could imagine, in that hot sun the water was plenty warm, and we played in it for probably a whole hour out of that time, as well as fitting in some snacks, reading, sleeping, and cocktails.So it was a pretty great getaway. And, since we took it right before the big weekend, we got to laugh at the traffic heading out of town as we headed back home into town. Yessir, next time you see one of those win-a-car things in the mall, I recommend you enter, so that you can take a timeshare-paid vacation like us.