Q: What’s more irritating than a timeshare marketer?
A: People who get conned by the timeshare marketer.
Honestly. Timeshare has been around for yonks already and every member of the world’s population should have been alerted to it by now. So where are they finding new people to con every day?
It’s mind-boggling and annoying like hell. Scams irritate me. I wish people would just stop being greedy idiots and making themselves easy marks for evil scam artists.
But back to the agenda.
Reading about how a timeshare company is suing Tomorrow.sg for defamation, I am reminded of my own close encounter. (Er, not with a legal battle, but with a timeshare company.)
I first heard of timeshare in 2001. My ex had attended one of the seminars, was detained for hours, but finally bullied the organisers into letting him go. Before that, his brother had bought a timeshare vacation house and wasn’t very pleased with it because the house turned out to be old and crappy. He also realised belatedly that he didn’t want to spend his vacation every year in the same damned place.
So I learnt that timeshare equals bad news.
Two years later, I had my encounter.
I was outside California Fitness in Orchard, wondering what to do with myself because I had two hours to kill before meeting a friend, when a girl approached me to do a survey.
She asked me questions like: What’s my favourite shopping centre? How much do I spend on shopping each month? How much do I earn?
I told her I was earning $3k, which is a meagre amount. But it was apparently enough for the timeshare folks to try and con me into co-owning one of their stupid properties. Ridiculous.
The girl made me do this lucky draw and then acted all excited that I had won a huge prize. (I must say she acted really well.) She said I had to go to her office just across the road to collect my prize and listen to a “short talk”.
By that time, I already smelled timeshare. So I told her I wasn’t really interested in the prize.
But then she started begging and begging me to go. She said it was rare for anyone to win the big prize and she could earn $10 extra if one of her surveyees won. So could I please go collect my big prize so she could get her bonus? Please please please!!
Crap. She wouldn’t stop begging me. She started looking like she was going to cry and even roped in her “supervisor” to help persuade me.
This went on for like five minutes. I finally said okay because I like experiencing all kinds of different situations and I had time to kill, anyway. So I decided to go find out firsthand how timeshare people conducted business.
After filling out a form at the office lobby and waiting a bit, I was taken to this biggish room.
Just before we entered, I took out my phone (I can’t remember why, maybe to SMS a friend). The person escorting me spoke sharply, “You’re not allowed to use your phone inside the room. Please put it back and don’t take it out again until you leave this place!”
What the hell?
I was offended and felt uncomfortable. I decided I had experienced enough and started wracking my brains for a way to get out of there.
Inside the room, there were maybe 20 tables, each with about four chairs. Most of the tables were filled with people being sales-talked to. I was led to an empty table and another person came to me. Annoying lady who had too much makeup, a fake smile and a fake bubbly disposition.
She literally sang me a greeting.
“Hello! It’s so nice to meet you! Thank you for coming to our office!”
“Yah,” I said, “I was forced to come here by your poor little temp who won’t get her $10 bonus otherwise.”
“Hahahaha, you’re so humorous!”
She started small talking, asking me questions about myself and my holidaying habits. That was when I found my escape.
After five minutes of chatting, I told her I was going to quit my job and try my hand at acting.
“Oh, THAT IS GREAT!!” gushed the woman.
“Yah, but I’m starting from scratch and won’t be earning any money for some time.”
“Really? How are you going to survive?”
“Leech off my family lor.”
“What about any plans for side income, or a backup plan in case you fail?”
“Nope. I’m prepared to remain broke for as long as it takes to make it.”
Here, the woman started frowning.
“When are you quitting?”
“Very soon. This week, maybe.”
It started turning into an interrogation.
“Oh, I see. So you’re not going to earn 3k a month anymore?”
“Yah, I think I even have to cancel my insurance policies.”
Her frown deepened as she took some time to digest this new information.
“Hmmm,” she hmmm-ed, “Then we don’t really need you here anymore. There’s no point for you to stay here for the whole talk.”
She said that I swear.
HOW MORE SUBTLE CAN THESE PEOPLE GET?
With that, I was ushered out of the room. They gave me an envelope stuffed full of useless vouchers to take away. No big prize.
What the hell??
But I was glad to make it out of the building in one piece and happy to have experienced something interesting that day.
And it also helped me realise that I have found the perfect way to shut telemarketers and roadshow promoters up quickly without having to be rude.