How to Avoid a Timeshare Presentation

••• Don't waste a moment of your vacation trapped in a timeshare pitch. Getty.

Ever since developers realized they could get fast money out of a hotel or real estate project by selling units as timeshares, salespeople have been let loose on unsuspecting travelers — and that is why you need to know how to avoid a high-pressure, arm-twisting sales pitch that lassos you into a timeshare presentation that will waste your time and put you at potential financial risk.

The last thing you may want to think about on vacation is buying real estate; these sharks intend to change your mind.

They offer inducements such as free flights, free nights, free tours, and other "free" gifts.

Timeshare salespeople are trained to be persistent and wear down resistance. The worst ones are downright deceitful. But you aren't defenseless. If you can learn how to avoid a timeshare presentation and are willing to temporarily suspend your good manners, those sales types will be no more annoying than gnats.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 5 minutes if you succeed, hours if you don't

Here's How:

  1. Avoid something-for-nothing offers. Ever pick up the phone and hear a robo-voice announce, "Congratulations! You've won a free vacation... a romantic vacation... a trip to Disneyland?" Hang up immediately! These are all come-ons and you won't get something for nothing if these people hook you. So if you are not interested in dubious investments, do not accept any such offers by phone, in the mail, or on location to sit through a timeshare presentation. 
  1. Find out who you're dealing with. Sellers can be sneaky, and use terminology different from "timeshare presentation" (such as discovery tour, gift opportunity, special value promotion). If someone offers you something, ask if he or she is a sales person and if real estate ownership is involved. Be suspicious!
  1. Get in and get out. Okay; you couldn't resist. They promised it would be short and the reward worthwhile. Hold them to the time frame promised, and set your watch or smartphone alarm. Fifteen minutes before the timeshare presentation is scheduled to end, give them warning that you will leave.
  2. Give out as little personal information as possible. Do not give timeshare sellers your cellphone or work phone numbers, nor your main email address. If they insist, provide fake numbers.
  3. Under no circumstance, give anyone associated with the presentation your credit card information.
  4. Don't sign any anything. Once you put your signature to an agreement, you will be legally bound to carry out the terms of the contract. If you do become interested in the property, ask to take an unsigned copy of the agreement and say you will have it reviewed by your attorney.
  5. Just say no. Not maybe, not "we'll think about it," just no. The worst thing you can do is lead a salesperson on. He or she will become your personal barnacle.
  6. Be willing to be rude. It's not in some peoples' nature to flat-out say "no... I don't want this... get out of my face." You're not dealing with grandma or a member of a church congregation. You're dealing with a salesperson. If they push you, push back. They're trained to be persistent and deal with rejection.
  1. Leave. You cannot legally be held against your will. By leaving, you will forfeit any "gift" that you were promised, and you may be responsible for your own transportation back to your hotel. But then you will be free.
  2. Call the police. If anyone tries to block your exit, call the police from your cellphone. (Asking to speak to a manager or supervisor may not be the solution, as this individual is typically a senior salesperson aka con man who is even more adept in the deceptive "art of the deal".)

What You Need:

  • Ability to withstand sales pressure
  • Willingness to be rude if necessary
  • Determination not to sign anything
  • Wisdom to resist "too good to be true" offers
  • Understanding that ones who profit from timeshares are sellers not owners