Jim Voerg of the UNIGLOBE – Love to Travel agency did a fantastic job planning our vacation to Hawaii. The condo shown in the photo above (that’s my bride relaxing on the veranda – or is it a lanai in Hawaii?) had two bedrooms, two baths, a complete kitchen, a very nice living room area with large screen TV, and was situated less than fifty yards from the beach. Of course, if we didn’t want to swim in the ocean, we were even closer to the swimming pool – complete with a waterfall – and the hot tub.
We shared the condo with Lu’s sister, Linda, and her husband Tom Kester. When we split the cost, it was less than most motels on the mainland!
But there was a catch.
Shortly after we arrived, we were asked to meet with a representative of the resort who gave us a list of things we could see and do while on the island. Everything she showed us was half-price or less… IF. Yes, it was a big IF. We could get those wonderful prices on an unlimited number of attractions IF we agreed to sit down and listen to a sales pitch on buying a time share.
We’d all sat through such presentations before. We knew how to say “no”. So, we said “Yes” to the wonderful ‘deals.’
The guy on the left was the pilot… who totally ignored that ‘check engine’ light on the dashboard. Lu insists the light indicated that the auto-pilot was turned off. I knew better. She was trying to get me to relax on my first ever (AND LAST) helicopter flight.
Besides ignoring the ‘check engine’ light, our pilot (I believe he was related to Evel Knievel) liked to fly dangerously close to trees and mountains while trying to give us good views of waterfalls. I found the flight much more relaxing when we were safely over thousands of miles of water.
Finally, the fun was over and we had to live up to our commitment. To illustrate how much we dreaded the experience, we considered paying the difference between the full price of what we’d done and the discounted price we’d already paid.
Realizing how much we owed, we went to the presentation.
To purchase a one-week share of the condo in which we were staying would cost us around one hundred thousand dollars PLUS a yearly ‘maintenance’ fee of around one thousand dollars. A little quick math told me that a single unit was bringing in fifty-two thousand dollars for maintenance. Our home is a bit bigger than that condo – true, we aren’t walking distance from the beach – but I’m sure I could take great care of the place for a lot less than fifty-two thousand dollars a year.
We said “No.”
I should add that the complex held about a hundred condos. What is fifty-two thousand times one hundred? Makes you wonder what the cleaning ladies get paid.
They then offered us a two-bedroom suite farther away from the ocean. It was seventy-five thousand plus the same maintenance fee. Again, we said, “No”.
So far, so good. Then the salesman made a claim that my brother-in-law found absurd. The claim was absurd, but I wasn’t going to argue. Tom, however, wasn’t going to let it pass. For the next twenty minutes the two of them debated the point… while Lu, Linda, and I patiently prepared to repeat our answer. “No!”
In reality, while Tom and I were still prepared to say “No” over and over again, Lu and Linda were weakening.
When the salesman started on his need to meet his quota and his willingness to let us ‘steal’ a week for fifty thousand, Lu and Linda started talking about how great it would be to let our kids take turns using the place.
A couple of well placed glares brought them to their senses. Finally, the salesman was convinced that we were not about to buy anything. We’d soon be free to go… or so we thought.
To ensure our salesman had told us the truth and not made any false claims, we had to meet with his manager who immediately lowered the price to twenty-five thousand. Again we said “No.”
Next, we had to meet with the credit manager and sign documents testifying that everything was done without undue pressure and we were of sound mind… even if we were crazy enough to pass up such a wonderful opportunity.
The credit manager hit us with the rock bottom price of sixteen thousand dollars. It was then totally obvious that what they really wanted was the maintenance fees.
Over five million dollars a year being pumped into that complex was a pretty good deal. Any money they made selling weekly time share condos was icing on the cake. They’d rather give a week away for sixteen thousand than to have a unit sit empty for a few weeks.
We all laugh about that experience now… and maybe even have second thoughts. When we first planned the trip, we saw it as a once in a lifetime deal. But we had such a wonderful time that we’d all love to repeat it.
Maybe we’ll go back to Jim Voerg at the UNIGLOBE – Love to Travel agency and arrange for a return visit. I’d repeat everything except. I’m not going back up in a helicopter. If God had intended man to fly he would’ve given him a fixed wing aircraft that can glide if the engine fails.
That’s why those things are equiped with a ‘check engine’ light.