It was the family’s first trip to Orlando. We had reservations at a hotel inside Disney. The kids were in the back, bouncing with excitement when we crossed the Florida state line. At that point, we started seeing billboard signs advertising ‘free travel information’. We decided to stop off and pick up a few Orlando flyers. While browsing, a woman came from behind the counter and told us about a new five-star resort that was having a special.
“They are trying to get the word out, so they have a grand opening special of $42 a night,” she said.
I looked over the flyer and the place seemed impressive. It had nice facilities, great looking rooms, and a water park inside the resort. But $42 a night? That seemed impossible. The room we had reserved was three times that and was the cheapest one at Disney. After going through the details, I decided that it was a worthy investment. The only catch was that we had to tour the facility. Not much of a catch there. We canceled our Disney hotel and booked for four nights at the resort.
Several hours later we pulled up. It was even better than it looked on the flyer. I couldn’t imagine how we could get rooms here for such a low price. I went to check in and was given instructions to unpack and be at the conference room for my ‘ninety-minute tour’. An hour and a half seemed a little long, but at this point I’m still oblivious to what I’m walking into. So we unpacked and headed to meet our ‘tour guide’.
When I walked into the conference room, I saw dozens of tables with families conducting what looked like negotiations. That’s when it dawned on me. This is a timeshare presentation. I had never seen one before, but this is how I had imagined it would look. Our happy guide met us at the entrance and escorted us to the table. They had a playroom setup for the kids and a stretch rack setup for me.
When I took my seat, the salesman said, “Mr. Snipes. Do you understand what we are doing here?” He didn’t call himself a salesman, but let’s not convolute the truth by calling him anything else.
I nodded at his question and said, “It’s a timeshare presentation.” He nodded back, but I tried to head the sale pitch off with a plea for sanity. “Look. I can save us both a lot of time. I’m not buying a timeshare. Just sign my form and you can head off to the next customer.” I would have walked out then, but the room rate was dependent upon my tour and their signature.
Mr. Beelzebub’s mouth curled into a sinister smile and then he let out an evil chuckle. “Mr. Snipes, I like a good challenge. I think we’re going to be friends very soon.”
Only if you sign off and let me go, I thought. After I made it clear I would never buy, Mr. Beelzebub made it clear that he thought he could break me. And there was no way out of the battle of the wills.
Let the games begin.
The salesman spilled out a bunch of propaganda, but I wasn’t listening so I don’t remember much about those first few minutes. Then he took us to a cart and we began touring the glories of our future kingdom. He tried to make conversation and connect with my personal life, but it was hard to feel all chummy when I knew his only goal was to make me buy something I didn’t want. Soon we were admiring marble rooms with huge glass encased tubs, spacious bedrooms, and many other luxuries we could enjoy two weeks out of the year. My wallet was already giddy with excitement.
Each time we headed back to the cart, Beelzebub would ask an entrapping question, such as, “So, if I answer all your objections, will you be willing to buy today?” He asked this question in varying ways, but each time I made it clear that I wasn’t committing to anything. Even if he answered every concern, I wasn’t willing to give a hint of agreement. I knew he was trying to load his cannons for later.
We returned to the cart again and headed to the next wonder of the kingdom. We passed a cart coming back and I could see wonder lust in their eyes. Their eyes were as big as Waterford Crystal bowls as they looked around at the kingdom they were going to regret inheriting. I had an almost overwhelming urge to reach into their cart and slap them a few times and say, “Snap out of it. Don’t do it, you’ll regret it!”
Most of the people I saw looked like they couldn’t afford this kingdom. It shore was fancier than our double-wide. No doubt the allure was mesmerizing. Of course I hadn’t ever been in a place this nice either, but I didn’t see the value of selling my kids into slavery just to get it. Beelzebub kept asking his entrapping questions, and I kept parrying off his traps with a shake of my head.
Don’t get me wrong. The resort was an amazing place. But there are two reasons I will never buy a new timeshare. First, it requires me to pay more than the value I can get out of it. Second, I buck up when I’m pressured. High pressure selling has the opposite effect on me than what is intended. The more I’m pressured, the less likely I am to consider it. Even if I want something, I still say ‘no’ if I feel pressured to do so. I guess it makes me feel like there is some type of disadvantage, or they wouldn’t be so anxious to get my compliance. Okay, there is a third reason. I can’t afford it. Well goodness. I just remembered a fourth reason. It’s a lifelong commitment. Marriage is the only thing I want to be stuck with for life.
Having viewed the splendors of the kingdom, we returned to the table of torment. I swear, Mr. Beelzebub must have been trained by the Congressional Finance Committee, because no matter what he added into the budget, my final cost was always zero. It was like watching a fast change artist. He moved numbers around, added here, took away from here, and I could never figure out what they were actually asking me to spend. Not that it mattered, but it was quite a show. He would subtract how much we would spend on vacation, factor in inflation, the tax rate, government rebate checks, and the price of tea in China. A few times we came out better than zero. We would actually be saving money by buying a timeshare. Not only would it pay for itself, but by the time I signed on the dotted line, my pockets would start swelling with the cash I saved from buying something I didn’t know I needed.
“Let me ask you this,” he said, “What type of agreement would it take to get you to buy today? I just want to get a small agreement from you so we can have something to work with.”
I had already said ‘no’ a dozen times, and now my patience was wearing thin. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll agree to anything as long as it doesn’t require money or commitment.” I figured if directly stating my position wasn’t working, maybe a little sarcasm would drive home the point that this was a hopeless sales attempt.
Then he pulled out all his trump cards. “Mr. Snipes, remember when I asked if you would buy if I answered all your objections? Look at the numbers. I have answered every one.”
“Remember my answers to your questions?” I asked. “I told you that I’m not promising anything.” Sorry prince of deception. I was keeping track. And the aces are still in the deck. Or so I thought.
It turns out Mr. Beelzebub had another ace up his sleeve. “Mr. Snipes,” he leveled his gaze on me and took on a tone of serious concern, “do you know what the definition of insanity is?”
I hadn’t heard that one before now. A knowing smirk etched on Beelzebub’s face as he waited for my answer. I shook my head and said, “Whatever it is, I’m sure it involves me. So just come out with it.” Yes, I was beginning to get annoyed.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, and expecting a different result.” He pointed a concerned finger at me as he continued, “And that, Mr. Snipes, is what you are doing every year when you go on vacation. It’s time to make a change.”
I didn’t quite see how this fit into vacationing. I actually expect the same result. We pick a spot, go to it, spend money within a specific budget, and I expect my family to enjoy the trip. I don’t think I want any other result. But I took his insult and decided it would make a good trump card in my own hand. And it did.
Each time he would review the ‘facts’, he would push me into a corner and say, “Mr. Snipes. You see the numbers. I’ve listed all the reasons why this is a great investment. You are saving money, getting more value for your vacations, and will have everything you want. Why won’t you sign?”
It was the perfect time to play the trump card. “I thought we established the answer to this a few minutes ago in our discussion,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Beelzebub asked.
“I’m insane. So just sign my discharge papers and let’s be done with it.”
I don’t think the salesman was trained for this kind of answer, and he looked quite perplexed. From this point on, each time he would make his case, I pled insanity. Hey super sales boy. Do you still like a good challenge? “Do you remember the first words I said to you?” I asked. “You could have saved us both a lot of time. I’m not buying a timeshare. Now just sign the paper while you have time to find another buyer.”
At this point he got a hurt look on his face. The kind of look that said, “I thought we were friends.” He then got up and walked into a room. A few minutes later he emerged with the Wicked Witch of the East. Hey, we’re in Florida, you know. Apparently, she was trained in the art of selling while incarcerated for theft by deception. But then again, I’ve seen prisoners with more tact than this woman.
Heinous Hilda took the numbers and reviewed them with me again. “You see the facts. What possible reason would you have for saying no?”
Maybe she is a reasonable person, so I gave an honest answer. “I don’t want to make a long term financial commitment.”
I misread her. She gave a long roll of her eyes as she rotated her head toward Mr. Beelzebub, and then she nudged her thumb toward me over her shoulder. She made the ugliest faces, sighed, rolled her eyes at every one of my answers, and insulted me. She finally pulled out her best trump. It was as ugly as she was. She tossed it on the table with an aroma of stench. She turned away from me and leaned toward my wife. “Mrs. Snipes. I am so sorry you have a husband like this.” She thumbed at me for emphasis. “Someone who doesn’t care about what you want and won’t take you on nice vacations.”
This is actually a sales tactic? Insult the husband and mock him in front of his wife? Does turning wives against husbands create sales? It was all I could do not to get up and walk out. In fact, if it had just been me and my wife, I would have walked out long ago. But my kids were excited about the water park, oh, and part of the deal was that we were getting two free Disney passes. Walking out wouldn’t have helped our vacation plans.
I thought about poking a finger in her eye, but that probably wouldn’t have had good results either. I figure that at this point, they had given up on us buying and were trying to provoke me into leaving. Then they wouldn’t have to fork over the passes and could up our room charges.
I held out and endured the provoker until she got bored and left. Actually, they both left. Then another man came to our table and sat down. Exasperated, I said, “You must be the big guns.”
“Oh no, Mr. Snipes. You’re the big guns.” He was the least annoying of everyone. He went over the deal and asked again if I would reconsider. I said, “No.” He then offered us a cruise package. I said, “No.” He then signed our paper and left. Free at last!
I went to the service desk to get our tickets. The lady gave them to us and then said, “Would you also like to go to a Medieval Dinner Theater for free?”
“Take this form across the street and sit in on a short presentation-”
“No thanks,” I cut her off. “I’ll just take the Disney tickets and be on my way.”
When I left, I felt drained and emotionally frazzled. “This was not worth it,” I said to my wife, Jennie. But in about two days, I realized that it was worth it. We saved a lot of money on going to Disney, got a five-star double room for just over $40, and the kids had a blast at the water park each day. In fact, we extended our stay for another two days. It turned out to be a very economical vacation. All this for the cost of two hours of annoyance. Extreme annoyance. But it was worth it in the end.
If I ever get such an opportunity again, I’ll plead insanity at the beginning of negotiations, put my fingers in my ears and start singing, “I wish I were a little bar of soap…” Then we’ll discover the real definition of insanity!
Eddie Snipes 2012
Oh, did I mention my book? You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. If you act now, I’ll include four other emotions for the same low price. It’s holding on to a 5 star rating. Find out why. Where else can you get that much entertainment for less than a latte? Buy I Called Him Dancer here.
Simple Faith: How every person can experience intimacy with God – the ebook version is a free download. Click Here.
Don’t forget to look at the menu to the right and connect with me on Google+, sign up for email updates, or follow my blog. ——————>
Support a writer!
If you like gardening, visit my gardening blog at http://www.suburbanvegetablegardening.com