Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Myth busters! (part 2)

The other people who seem to think that you have limitless financial resources the instant you are married are those lovely Timeshare folk.

I am one of those fools who has limitless faith in competitions. I enter everything. On the internet, on products, on TV. If you don't enter, you'll never win (well apparantly either way you'll never win, but never mind that).

So I recently entered a competition to win a cruise. I guess I should have become suspicious while filling in the income details of both my spouse and I. But I am not a "ye of little faith" and so when, on my birthday in fact, I received a phone call telling me that I had won a great prize.

I had to go to the waterfront to get it and it would be either a plasma screen TV, an overseas trip, a couple of grand cash, or a free week long local holiday.


Sure in the over-the-phone fine print they mentioned that we'd need to listen to a presentation, but the lady on the phone was so nice and so happy for me and so sure I would win big (the overseas trip, no less). How could I not be filled with anticipation?

So there we went, into the dark recesses of the Leisurenet offices. Our first clue was the fact that instead of couches in the reception area, they had old aeroplane seats.

We were soon met by... let me call him Jon. You know that annoying little dweeb in Dirty Dancing? The nephew of the hotel owner who always wants to dance with Baby? Imagine him combined with Jon Arbuckle of Garfield fame. Add a greasy, slicked back pony tail (I kid you not) and a billowing PLEATED shirt and we have Jon, our timeshare assistant. (Of course he would never admit that it is timeshare. Sorry, it is a shared ownership company in which you, the client, are master of your own asset).

Well Jon was the quintessential timeshare salesman. I really had to stifle the laughs when he used phrases like "But wait!! That's not all..." (no, really)

The whole situation was so special. First thing we noticed was that couples were matched to consultants of the same general age and race...more "approachable" I guess.

When Jon led us around the office and showed us this very impressive poster which was not only colour printed but laminated as well, and asked us for the umpteenth frikken time "What do you like about what I've just shown you" I snapped. I had to tell him (albeit quite politely) that what I didn't like was that there were several obvious spelling errors on his poster which is not very impressive.

He hastily assured me that he knew all about them and (of course) it was the printing company's error (so hard to find good printers who don't change your grammer and stuff it up these days).

Jon had many endearing little ploys, and the space on this site is not enough to detail them all but I cannot resist sharing 3 of them with you.

1) In an attempt to relate to us as newly weds, Jon told us of his own upcoming nuptuals and of how excited he was that he could use one of the listed resorts for his honeymoon...his choice of resort? A cave! I kid you not. Not even a real cave, a fake stone cave so he can experience the whole cave man vibe! She sure is a lucky gal....

2) Jon took us through EVERY SINGLE resort in the whole fake-crocodile leather bound file - more than a hundred (and every last one of them very very dingy looking indeed). On every page he would try entice us with some or other personal experience or success story... my personal favourite was when Jon got to a resort near Hole in the Wall at the Wild Coast. He told us all about this guy who he convinced that he could go feed the dolphins right in the Hole in the Wall bay and of how the guy returned, delighted, with these photos to give to Jon of him feeding the dolphins. I have spent many holidays in that area and I guess Jon's client must be a really lucky guy coz the chances of dolphins swimming through that hollowed out rock is..well...slim. That's not to say that I doubt jonny's word...

3) "If that was you in that photo, Stefan, what would you be drinking?"......"If that was you on that beach, Carolyn, what colour would your bikini be?" Oh please

After nearly two hours Jonny handn't lost a bit of steam. He was so ready to go through the gajillions of cruise options (the other half of the mammoth file) and I couldn't take it anymore. I flashed him a dazzling smile and told him he needn't bother, my husband is terribly seasick and we would never go on a cruise.

Finally at the end of a loooooooooooooong day's listening and politeness Jon said that we could "invest in our holidays" for a mere R38 000 upfront and R2000 a year (give or take). That would give us a week at a nice local resort annually.

Thanks, Jon, but...uh we'll pass.

The truly terrifying bit was that all around us people were merrily signing up. I wanted to run around the room shouting "stop! It's not too late! Don't do it!" But instead we asked Jon about the prize.

Suffice it to say Jonny was a lot less friendly after we had convinced him (which took some doing) that we were not in fact interested in paying a small fortune for a week in a dump. First he called over his superior who said "well lets see if we can do something special for you. Tongue tip out, he used his oversized calculator to fiddle a bit and made us another offer with a look of "WOW, you guys are getting a deal now!" Still no. Sorry.

Out we filed to the reception where we got to write down 5 digits (oh the beauty of it). We spun a dirty little lotto type thing filled with ping pong balls. If we got all 5 digits IN ORDER (!!!!!) we would have won the overseas trip. Now I'm no mathematician but I'm guessing the chances of selecting the 5 correct digits in order must be something like 1 to the power of never.

So off we walked with our free local holiday. Awesome prize - it's free, but you have to pay like R400 to register the vouchers, plus an additional R200 per person per day for house cleaning etc plus buy meals. What a deal.

I'd like to take this opportunity to really thank over-the-phone lady who confidently wished me all the best for winning the big prize and telling me she was on my side. "The axe may forget, but the tree never does"
(Shona proverb more or less meaning: I'll get you!)


Meegs said...

Hahahahahahahahahaha! Yes thank you my friend, you've saved me from ever saying yes to my "Jon"!

Tamara said...

I am so glad I googled the company that called me and found out they were time-share vultures.

This type of marketing should be illegal, IMO. What do you think?

While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words... said...

See www.joblog.co.za/2008/01/scammed for lots of complaints about this, um..., form of marketing.

The interesting thing is that of the few posters who actually attended the "prize giving functions" most weren't totally negative about it. It's all the people who didn't attend that are screaming for the death penalty and all that.

See all the "winners" on:

And all the "whiners":

Anonymous said...

And another guise:


Signed by dynamic@oaks.co.za