Our Las Vegas Timeshare Experience + 5 tour tips

April 8, 2012 — 26 Comments

We recently had a blast in Las Vegas after we found some cheap Southwest Airlines tickets.  One of the more boring but interesting parts was when we decided to do a Las Vegas Timeshare experience for free show tickets!  We know timeshares aren’t a good investment, and like most people we had no intentions of buying one – but then why do so many people purchase one?  I’ve always been intrigued by how companies suck in so many people.  So when we were approached, I looked at the opportunity as a way to learn a thing or two.

Oh, let me tell you, it was a process!  I’ll bold the text of the various psychological tricks they tried to pull.

It all started when we walked into the Venetian and were immediately captured by one of the sales people.  She instantly sized us up.  She didn’t mention anything about the timeshare presentation, but she did ask us if we were there for fun or business and then if we were married.  She even went so far as to take a long look at my wife’s wedding ring.  There’s no doubt that we were in their target demographic.

The last time I was in Las Vegas, I was only a few years out of college, and I was there with all of my friends.  Needless to say, they didn’t waste any time on me then because they knew I wasn’t a potential buyer.

After we were vetted, they asked if we wanted free show tickets and sent us to the counter to look at what *free shows they had to offer.  “We would love free tickets,” we said.  “Great!  All you need to do is tour a new property on the strip!”  The word timeshare was never used, although we knew exactly what was happening.  The concept was simple: the new “property” was just on the other side of Mandalay Bay so not many people were going that far south.  They would take us by bus and give us breakfast while we toured the property.  It would only take 2-3 hours, and in end we would get tickets to Cirque, Blue Man Group or Phantom of the Opera – we chose Phantom.

We figured it would last slightly longer than they said, but we were OK with it because we didn’t have anything planned on Monday. Next, came the first big catch: They made us put down a $50.00 deposit refundable after we took the tour.  It truly was a smart move on their part, otherwise many people wouldn’t show up for their scheduled tour.

The next day we showed up right on time at 9:00 AM.  They checked us in along with 25 other people.  From there we would take a bus to the Grandview timeshare property.  After we jumped on the highway, we quickly learned the “other side of the Mandalay Bay” was the understatement of the year.  We drove for about 25 minutes and finally exited the highway to arrive at the Grandview. It was in fact on Las Vegas Blvd, but we needed binoculars to see any of the big casinos!

Grandview Timeshare Map

When we arrived, we knew we were in for a circus.  There were already a couple of hundred other people on the property.  We were placed in chairs in a large waiting room.  Slowly, more and more sales agents began to trickle in and call couples by name.  That’s right, we wouldn’t be able to hide in a group.  We met our sales agent who took us to get our breakfast, which in grand style was donuts and coffee. Then we were seated in another room with the same 25 people we came with, each sitting at tables with their representative getting to know each other.

About ten minutes later, yet another representative started her presentation. She was there to tug on our heart strings and make us realize how important vacations are.  I actually went along with a lot of it because I do believe vacations are important for people and even more so for families… that’s also why I started this site.  Some of my fondest memories from growing up are of vacations.  She showed pictures of her own family and talked about how much they love their vacations.

Then as a group she had us come up with a list of reasons why we travel, our favorite vacation spots and places we would like to go.  She even gave us fake money to spend on a dream vacation as she dove into the numbers including how much we spend on vacations in our lifetime.  Her total was around $225,000 for a lifetime of vacations.  This could very well be true for some people if you plan on vacationing for the next 50 or so years.  Of course, their goal was to throw out a big number to make their timeshare prices seem affordable.  Then they showed a video of timeshare owner testimonials.  This was the first time I felt my anger boiling to the surface.

They had a number of families talk about their great timeshare experiences and how much they love vacations.  Once again, I was OK with that.  However, then they started playing on death and fear.  Some timeshare owners shared their life sob stories and said they wished they would have done this sooner.  Then it got even worse.

It was apparent the company was trying to hit every doubt that may be going through our minds.  One owner featured said when they bought the timeshare they weren’t in the best position financially to do it.  However, he assured everyone that it was still worth it.  Next, a woman went so far as to say she was trying to find something meaningful to do with money she inherited when her parents died, so she bought a timeshare that she could pass on to her children. She was certain her parents would want her to buy the timeshare so she could pass on a lifetime of fees to her own children (now you’re starting to see my position!).  Finally, another lady said that it was dumb not to buy the timeshare.  I bet.

After the video, it was time for a tour of the buildings.  Once again, this was to give more time for us to get to know our sales agent.  As we walked by the pools and into the buildings, she started giving us some of the personal details of her life. She told us she had some major life changes that brought her where she was today, but she didn’t get into much detail yet.  However, we were already starting to warm up to her.

We toured the property, and she explained how the location was basically going to be the next strip… even though it was so far away from the real Vegas we visited. I laughed and told her we took the bus here and know that we were FAR from the strip they were claiming they were on. Her face soured at the first hint we knew this wasn’t what was advertised.

The property was mediocre at best and built quite cheaply.  Yes, they have a lot of space and some nice amenities like cool pools, BBQ grills and the condos have spa tubs and granite in the kitchen.  But you know how the saying goes: when you put a bow on a turd, it’s still a turd!  She also mentioned the first figure associated with the price – the annual maintenance fee is $685!  That fee would be assessed every year for the rest of our lives and that’s on top of the purchase price.

You know me – I’m a numbers guy.  I just couldn’t wait any more so I asked for the total price.  She wasn’t giving that up yet and told me we’d go over it later.  She led us into a large conference room and we passed by quite a few couples meeting with other sales agents.  As my wife made a move to go grab a table she said no and explained to us these were current owners who are upgrading their timeshares.  It was another hit.  How could you not want to buy – look at how many people are so happy they are upgrading what they have!

We went to another large room filled with families and their sales agents.  When we sat down, she pulled out a worksheet and asked us to plan our travel for the next few years. She added up all of the expenses for us, which as you can imagine led to another big scary number.  How could we afford to travel like this? Seeing as how several hours had already passed, I knew we had to be close to the final pitch.  She pulled out a pricing binder, but wait…

Hold on… she opened the binder to lamented page with pictures of her parents and her son.  Then all of the little personal hints that made us feel like instant friends came to a head.  She dove into the details. She told us her son’s father died when he was only four years old.  She also said she was the victim of violent crime.  Later in life, she moved to Las Vegas to be with her Dad who is now sick.  They went on one of their first few family vacations when she found out.  Her goal was now to get her Dad healthy so they could vacation again.  While the story was genuine and definitely sad, it was clearly used as part of her pitch.  It really put us in a tough spot.  We felt sorry for her and almost connected to her in a way; however, it was also a turn off to see someone exploit their family sob story for a sale.

She was prepared to offer us a great deal for two weeks at the Las Vegas timeshare property, but it gets so much better than that!  It’s flexible and you can exchange your time for time at other Vacation Village properties. It would only cost us $48,000!!!  That’s right, what a great deal!  When compared to our $225,000 dollars that we’d spend on vacations the rest of our life, this tiny little number seemed to be a steal!  At least, that’s what they wanted us to think.

As part of the financing terms, we could get an eight year loan that would only cost $849 per month!  However, it was based on their interest rate of 17.9%.  Then she said most people get a loan on their own, which would make it much more affordable.  She asked if the numbers made sense for us.  Our response: no. Actually, I pretty much laughed, but tried to be respectful in my decline seeing as this is her job. Her demeanor changed when she realized she wasn’t going to get a sale.  However, she asked what price I was expecting, and only answer that I thought I was going to be around $10,000.

I stepped away for a few minutes but left my wife to talk with our sales agent.  My wife asked her how many sales they actually acquire from this very slick pitch.  She said you’d be surprised that actually one in four people usually buy.  She even mentioned most people had no intention of buying in the first place.  She had told us earlier the couple she talked to yesterday had no intentions of buying, but by the end she sent them off in a limo as new timeshare owners!  She also mentioned they sat on the board of a timeshare in Hawaii (more proof we were idiots for not buying).  I knew we wouldn’t get the limo.

Our agent finally relented and said they’d prepare our gift, but her manager would come over and sign off on it first.   Just when we thought we were done – the closer moved in.  She was a hyper little lady who I wouldn’t call friendly.  She offered us about three different packages that were a lot cheaper than the first one!  This was a limited time opportunity.   She then explained how she made money off of her timeshare and how she loved traveling to exquisite and extravagant parts of the world. She was very belittling – basically touting how wonderful she was because she could now afford to go to these far off lands, and we could not.

Finally, I can’t believe it took this long, but I was so angry I just shut down and sat there quietly.  Not my wife. She wasn’t going to let this woman make us feel bad about ourselves.  She fired back, and the manager, who wasn’t happy, finally got up to go get our exit paperwork started.

We had to wait 30 more minutes to see ANOTHER representative to process our exit paperwork and finally give us our free tickets.  The entire process took more than 5 hours, and we got back to the Venetian at 2:20pm.

As we waited for our gift to be processed, we talked with some other couples who ultimately said no, and we heard some even better stories.  One couple’s sales agent told them to make the decision based on emotion instead of logic!  Another couple’s rep told them the timeshare was a better investment than buying their first house!  That rep apparently went so far as to say the couple should, “ride the coattails of billionaires” by buying the timeshare.

In the end, we actually got the tickets vouchers and went to the box office to pick out some of the best seats in the house.  The tickets had a face value of $148.00 each.  Was it worth it?  For us yes, we got the free tickets, but more importantly I was able to do some research into the world of timeshares.  If you choose to do the same, just know what you are getting into before hand, and don’t buy!

Here are some lessons learned from our timeshare saga:

1.  If you don’t have self-discipline don’t go on the timeshare tour!

2.  If you don’t want to give up your whole day, don’t go on the timeshare tour

3.  Negotiate up front to get the best possible deals for your gift

4.  The faster you get through the process, the faster you get to leave

5.  Don’t believe anything they say 🙂

If you can stick to these five lessons and know what’s coming your way, you can actually get something out it.  However, if you aren’t strong enough to say NO, you might be going home from vacation minus thousands of dollars and the proud owner of a timeshare you will have to give away to get rid of!

If you’ve gotten this far, you deserve a treat!  If you want to see a cartoon example of what we went through and aren’t offended by South Park, check out their timeshare cartoon!

Have you ever had a Las Vegas Timeshare Experience?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Sharing is good for you and me!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUpon

26 responses to Our Las Vegas Timeshare Experience + 5 tour tips

  1. Hi Dan,

    Great story…and those scoundrels! I have no idea what the numbers are, but I can only imagine a fair share of their ‘pray’ feels bullied and backed into these deals. You summary points are dead right…well said.

    I had forgotten that I went on one of these about seven years ago with an old friend. We agree to do this (in Fl.) merely for the free tickets as well. No matter how many times I simply laughed and told the agent, “We are just friends here for the free tickets”…the more they pushed and pulled out more tricks. Relentless!

    Rule #1 is it…if you don’t have discipline…don’t go!

    Stay well,

    Steve

  2. You have a lot more patience then I do. I understand the draw of free stuff, but wow, what a fricking waste of time. I haven’t chosen to participate in that particular experience because of the time it would take. The other reason is I am a nice person who would politely listen and say no in the end. I would more then likely let them know VERY frequently what my intentions were. Bravo for sticking it out for the research. You certainly earned the tickets to a great show.

  3. Timeshare Ownership has consistently been known for three things: beautiful properties, incredible destinations and FRIGHTENING sales practices. Nevertheless, the reason for owning a timeshare has never changed – people simply want to spend quality time with their family and friends. Unfortunately, after being deceived by their developer, the majority of timeshare and vacation ownership owners have forgotten why they purchased a timeshare in the first place. They find themselves scratching their heads trying to figure out how they wound up deep in debt and angry over the process that landed them there.

  4. Hi
    I had the exact same experience as you while in Vegas.
    My husband and I went along for the free tickets to a show. But it was not worth it, and would never do it again. We had done a timeshare tour before in Australia (where we are from) and knew what to expect. But…. the Australian experience was not as excruciating as the tour we did for the Grandview Timeshare.
    The tour we did in Australia was for Wyndam timeshare and it was quite laid back, when we said thanks but no thanks we got a “no problem thanks for listening” response from the sales rep. But at the Grandview tour… it was like a police interview with bad cop and then badder cop.
    It was so intense, they used the tactic that if they keep hassling you and criticising you, you will eventually purchase a timeshare. But we knew what we were in for, and fair enough it was a ‘sales pitch’. But the thing that really made me angry is that we were promised it would take maximum 3 hours. Including the bus ride to get there it took about 6 hours and wasted a whole day. There was no way to leave as it was a 20min bus ride to get there, we were stuck and had to wait for the bus to take us back to the strip. We were only in Vegas for 4 days, so time was precious. I feel like it wasn’t worth the wasted day after spending so much money and time (20 hour flight) to get there. I regret it and would never do it again. It was an awful experience. And the fantastic tickets we got for free (to a Cirque du Soleil show) were advertised as being about $140 were only $40 each at the box office the night of the show – they weren’t even good seats!

    • The scary part is it seems their high pressure selling must work because they’re still doing it! Thanks for sharing your experience… hopefully more people will see this and not go through the pain we went through.

  5. If timeshare is such a scam, why do multi-billion dollar hotels allow them to have their marketing teams inside them? I own timeshare and see it as a great investment. You negative people simply cant afford it. Who is the real scammer, the people selling or the ones simply using them for “free” tickets??

    • Hi Tom, thanks for the comment and I’m glad the timeshare purchase has worked out for you. I think hotels allow them in because they’re a big money maker and they help get people to their hotels. Also, I’m not sure about everyone else who has left a negative comment, but I can definitely afford a timeshare but choose not to spend my money that way.

      By the way, I did laugh out loud with your last comment… maybe I was the real scammer!!

  6. Timeshare scams have been around since the beginning of the timeshare industry, but these frauds weren’t well known until recent years. What happen is that before there were not as many timeshare laws and regulations as there are now (as you can see on the article get out of a timeshare legally so many of the owners just resigned to the fact that they had to keep the timeshare they bought without thinking.

  7. Not all time shares are bad, actually, a time share can be a good purchase for someone who does enjoy revisiting the same destination each year. However, vacation properties are not for most people, being that they only seem to work for people with very specific vacation desires. Time shares are not for people who like to enjoy trying a new vacation spot each year, nor for people who like to travel spontaneously, or families who do not use to stay at expensive resorts.

    • I still don’t see it, I’d rather spend my money exactly how I want to spend it on vacation. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have all of the annual fees and maintenance fees.

  8. Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise.

  9. There are good timeshares out there, as well as there are people who feel happy about their timeshare purchases, especially those who enjoy to vacation at the same place and are not spontaneous travelers. Unfortunately, due to the big number of timeshare scams being committed against many vacationers, the industry has gained a terrible reputation.

  10. Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership.

  11. Thousands of International travelers, particularly from the US and Canada, have fallen victims oftimeshare fraud while vacationing in Mexico. Resort developers hire skilled salesmen to represent their timeshares as many different attractive packages, such as financial investments, deeded properties, or vacation clubs, just to increase their sales.

  12. Many people purchase a timeshare expecting it to be a great acquisition and a good investment. But timeshares need to be looked up as a purchase, instead of an investment. By the time the maintenance fees and the assessment fees start to pour in, they become conscious they got their selves into what could be an exorbitant trouble, full of debts, headaches and unnecessary problems.

  13. Many people purchase a timeshare expecting it to be a great acquisition and a good investment. But timeshares need to be looked up as a purchase, instead of an investment. By the time the maintenance fees and the assessment fees start to pour in, they become conscious they got their selves into what could be an exorbitant trouble, full of debts, headaches and unnecessary problems.

  14. Timeshares have been a boom over the last twenty years, however it has changed and evolved to give a better service, as it has, the name of this type of memberships were changed for “Vacation Club”.
    Importantly, these memberships are not an investment because they are not real estate; you are buying a service to enjoy leisure time with family and not to do business, and it is how it should be seen. In some countries, these types of memberships are for life (deeded) and can be inherited to the relatives of the owner of the membership.

  15. Went on same tour Oct 2014.Everything stated accurately.

  16. Thanks for the insightful write-up!

    Your experience pretty much mirrored ours, we spent several hours receiving the sales pitch. Honestly, my husband and I were not totally against the concept of the product they are selling – however it was just too big of a commitment for us and we’re not currently in a position financially where we could realistically consider purchasing a timeshare.

    The HARD sell came – the rep even told us of a couple he had sold to last week who couldn’t afford it – the wife was crying because she wanted it so bad. The husband had made several calls to family and friends in order to be able to pull the money together for the down payment. Really.

    Then a colleague happened to wander by and mentioned WHAT A REALLY AWESOME GUY our rep is and that 6 months ago he had sold her a timeshare and she loved it so much that they offered her a job and she has never looked back. Really.

    We repeatedly explained to our representative (who we had warmed to) that we just couldn’t do it. He said “fair enough guys, I’ll get my manager to come and authorise your gifts”. The manager turned up at our table (he was “badder” cop in this scenario), was pretty aggressive in his tactics and repeatedly asked us what numbers would work for us. We said that nothing would work because of our financial situation. He knocked the price down to $0 down payment and $222 a month. No. Not interested. His demeanour throughout the process was really intimidating and we felt really uncomfortable. Both my husband and I were physically shaking afterwards.

    (Weird why they didn’t offer the $0 down payment to that other couple who couldn’t afford it…).

    Finally, we were taken downstairs to another room to see ~another~ representative. As we were sitting down, I tripped over the leg of the chair. The rep grabbed my arm tightly (so tight that there was a red mark afterwards) and he held onto it a few seconds too long. My husband said that the look on his face was of anger. Could be nothing, as we were still quite shaken from our experience upstairs, but it further added to our feeling of discomfort.

    This rep went through a feedback form and I told him about how intimidating we found the manager upstairs. He wrote it on the form but pretty much laughed it off, saying that we should take it as a compliment as he wouldn’t have pressed us so hard if he didn’t think we had the money to be able to do it.

    After this, we were released to another waiting room and then finally seen by another rep from the gifting department. This woman had no warmth to her whatsoever and by this point we were ready to flee the building as quickly as possible. In the end, we got our tickets to Rock of Ages, $25 to spend in Caesers, tickets to some car expo that we didn’t want and $15 cash back.

    Finally, we got to leave (not in a limo 😉 !). 5 and a half hours after we were picked up.

    We had actually quite enjoyed the day (despite being there much longer than promised) right up until the last 30 minutes when the hard sell kicked in. Also, we ~had~ thought that it was a good product they were offering.

    On reflection we changed our minds about the product….

    The annual maintenance fees were glossed over during the tour but not mentioned again at the end when we were talking numbers. Who knows what other extra costs we would be liable for.

    We thought that the casino next door lacked a lot of atmosphere (the sell was that you can get away from the hustle and bustle of Vegas ~but that’s why we’re here!!~).

    Also, whilst in the casino, the rep mentioned a fantastic hot dog stand. “We love hot dogs!” we cried. He said that he would buy us one so we could see how good they are. We turned a corner and there the hot dog stand was. We get to the stand and the rep says that he (conveniently) needs to use the restroom. We buy our own hotdogs (only $1.25 each but not the point), it just seemed odd that he said that they were on him but then conveniently left when it was time to pay.

    Also, it felt more like they were offering apartments to rent rather than hotel rooms and quite frankly, there is no chance whatsoever of us wanting to cook whilst on vacation.

    We were surprised to note that the rep in your case had said that 1 in 4 people make a purchase. Initially the surprise was that the number was so high, but after our experience we think the number seems quite low – I bet a lot of people have their arm twisted into making the purchase whether it’s through intimidation tactics or just plain tugging of the heartstrings.

    We were grateful to receive the “gifts” as promised (and we did get what we wanted) but the amount of time spent and the hard sell section did make us wonder if it was really worth it. We wouldn’t do it again and would advise anyone who is not self-disciplined to avoid going as you’ll probably end up becoming owners of a timeshare you didn’t really want or couldn’t afford to have.

  17. F*ckin Loser..
    Timeshare does work you fool. Just Because your to cheap and are a mooch and can’t pay for your own show tickets doesn’t give you the right to tell people not to buy. It’s people like you who waist people’s time and go on these free tours to get tickets and free sh*t. It’s no wonder sales people treat you mooches like sh*t. All you guys care about is getting free sh*t. F*ckin fool. Tells your friends about this now fool.
    Yours truly,
    Jason (Timeshare Sales Representative)

  18. Bobby Rougemont January 1, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    My wife and I did a timeshare tour in las vegas, about a year ago. Long story short the price started at $35,000.00 by the end, we could get a repo for $3500.00

  19. Getting at the root causes of many of these timeshare scams should be a priority. Here’s a petition for a “Timeshare Bill of Rights” that could help free members from the secret manipulative timeshare agenda at http://www.timesharerights.com.

  20. Just yesterday, attended one for Westgate LV. Calvin was a classic salesman with all the pitches. They tag-teamed the presentation as the time drug out and we refused to be interested. Initially, we were politely listening. By the 3rd hour we were spent and demanding this to end and our ticket vouchers to be issued. We immediately headed for Luxor to get our Blue Man Group tickets. It was worth it, but you have to be willing to stand by your guns and realize they are not offering any more for your money than the panhandlers on the side of the boulevard with their cups out. donate a few buck to those guys and plan on controlling your money and vacations.

  21. Husband and I signed up for the “tour of the property” that would take 120 minutes for tickets to the gondola ride, dinner for 2 and the wax museum. She (Bernadette.. If that was her real name) asked for our DL and I cannot remember if I gave her my credit card too.

    She typed in our info in her computer and I paid cash for the $20 deposit. She was trying really hard to get us to trust her by asking if I was Philippino like her and that she lived in Japan for 17 years since I told her I was half Japanese. I could tell she was hardly listening to the answers to her own questions because she kept on asking the same questions over and over again. “When did you check in? When are you checking out? Are you married? To each other??” She asked all those questions like 5 times. Weird.

    It wasn’t mentioned if the $20 was refundable. I asked her why was it so cheap and she told me it was so we could come stay there or recommend the hotel to our friends.

    After they took us to the next desk, I had to initial another paper (I think verifying income etc) she had us wait a few minutes to the side to wait for the “tour” to start. Just then, I remembered seeing that the company name was called Tahitian Timeshare or something on the papers I was initialing. I immediately got a bad feeling. I then realized they wanted to sell us timeshare! Husband and I snuck out of the hotel ASAP. I got 2 missed calls with no message from a Las Vegas number. I immediately blocked the number.

    Should I be worried about them sending me any type of bill or something?

    Like I said, I don’t remember giving my credit card. But they do have our address and probably DL lisence # also. I did not give my ssn#.

    First time in Vegas! Now I know.

  22. Hector Hernandez April 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Hello,

    We went thru the nasty sales pitch and bought a timeshare. We cancelled that night, but we did get 2 freee nights at the Luxor or another Hotel. Should we use this free voucher or we in for another sales pitch beating? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

    Voucher expires this September.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*