Timeshare tried to con me

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.


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.

48 thoughts on “Timeshare tried to con me

  1. Avatar

    wah good ploy … will try it if kena approached

    but then again no one actual approached me before during those promoting stuff

    either i look fierce or i look ‘poor’ … haha

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    lol, i always say i’m a poor student who’s more interested in surviving (eating, personal care) than those stuff (cruise, vacation, etc.), and then they won’t bother me already. :P

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    Errmm… $3k is low?? I fob time-share/credit card/insurance/MLM/(insert other irritating sales person) marketeers by saying that I earn less than $1k a month, and they really stay away.

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    hey, not fair.. i’ve heard so much about timeshare companies but have yet to be approached by one. i want to be approached by one so badly because i’ve thought up so many insults for them!!

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    Heheh, when that person scolded you to not use your phone I would have just turned and walked away – “hey you are the ones who want me here, not the other way around!”

    But your “I will have no source of income soon” spiel works too. The change of look on the lady’s face must have been priceless. :D

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    i tried the “when will i get my big prize?” trick. just go:
    “when will i get my big prize?”
    “when will i get my big prize?”
    “when will i get my big prize?”
    “when will i get my big prize?”
    “when will i get my big prize?”

    for every question they ask and by the hundredth time, they will ask u to leave. :p

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    So far, i haven’t been asked to do survey by them leh.. maybe cuz I displayed a LL face whenever i kena approached??

    but tat lady was damn rude siah, if happen to me, I would have turn over the table le haha!

  8. Avatar

    i’ve been to a couple of timeshare presentations (or at least i think they are timeshare presentations) Early this year, attended 1 which lasted around 2 hrs…walked away with S$100 takashimaya voucher…quite a good deal actually. :)

    i think this kind of thing has got plus points la… if got lots of cash to spare or getting a huge inheritance in the near future….. we singapopreans rich what, got world class airport lah, world class seaport lah, most highly paid PM lah……

    as for rude sales people, suay suay will also encounter in other areas….every line got its blacksheep or maybe that woman wasn’t “getting any” so abit tense lor….:P

  9. Avatar

    Hi everyone,

    Nice tips that I’ll keep in mind when I run into such ppl again. Thanks for sharing! :)

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    Yeah, i was approached by them before as well.. this school girl aged girl came by with a survey and lucky dip thereafter, and voila! I won the top prize!!

    One that I can collect only upon listening to them crap 2 hours on the beauty of timeshare.

    I made it out without burning my pocket, but boy, were they persistent!

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    Reminds me of the time where a telemarkerter called me to apply for the ABN Amro credit card. When I cheerfully answered “No” to his question on whether I earned 30k per year, he stammered ” Er…Sorry, wrong number.” and hunged up. =_=

  12. Avatar

    Have personally tried this to get them off my back : “Oh I’ve won the grand prize. You know what, this is your lucky day. I’m giving my prize to you.”

    And if they called me up to say I’ve won a prize, I tell them to deliver it to my house, thank you very much.


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    I just loved the way you put those timeshare sales person dumb-founded.

    The worst that happened to me was to be conned into being a timeshare sales person myself. And that was when i knew about Timeshares after working for almost a month. I was imaging what would it be like if i met you, and you said that to me.

    The way you described the presentation you encountered was still ok. I will put it that those ppl from that company is not professional enough. The other one i was working at is at LIDO call ORIENTAL TRAVEL, please be aware. They are much more kinder, smart, professional and they don’t pick up customers from the streets. I’ll not bore you with the whole process. But trust me they are good. I almost wanted to recomend my sis to join, that was how silly i was until i accidentally over heard a customer complaining in one of the manager’s office which i was not supposed to be, not even near the office rooms area. I was curious so i just sneaked in. I would say that i did understood alot after over hearing. I even double confirm it by following the person who complained when he left and i eventually sneaked out of the office to talk to him.

    He, told me too much things. And after realising i didn’t even bother to go back. I felt cheated myself

    They were conning everyone even from the sales person i would say most were as ignorant from all ages till even 40. They promised very good pay, promised basic of $2500 + com. They even made us believe that they weren’t selling timeshares. Which because they made the package sound so much different. Unlike other timeshares you buy a unit in a certain country and enjoy that place 2 to 3 times in a year for 90 years. Theirs is you be a member of a international club which entitles you to all the 5 stars hotels, villas, resort, bunglow, castles and Maldives over water bunglows which were one of my fav. And you only pay a low price of $400+ for 2 to stay for a week.

    Hell yeah i was into that shit. Now i feel so dumb. Anyway i msg to all reading is, to be careful of this company ORIENTAL TRAVEL. In anyway you know about this comany, DON’T and i say DON’T go near.

    Then again I just wana say Damsel, way to go man.

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    Haha my friends and I won so many OMFG first prizes along the Heeren – Paragon stretch that everytime some of these youngsters (and they’re ALL youngsters!) approach me for a “survey”, I’ll just reply “oh I have already won all the top prizes before liaoz, TYVMBYE”…

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    uncle sha: haha. I don’t think you look fierce lah. Maybe it’s your dressing. I realise when I wear really casual clothes, nobody ever approaches me!

    DK: Actually, I can’t remember what the big prize was because I already decided that it was a scam and I wasn’t going to get any prize, so whatever prize it was didn’t impress me. I have a vague impression of being something big like a 5D holiday package or a TV set or something like that. :P

    SC: I think this happens everywhere in the world because there’s a sucker born every minute. Sigh. :(

    hendri: Haha good tactic too!

    Alvin: lololol. liar liar pants on fire. haha.

    Nanny Wen: Hang out at orchard road more lah. They’re always there. I go with you ok? I want to see how you scold them. :P

    mooiness: I used to be very passive and non-confrontational, always let people bully. Hah. Trying to change that. I think I’m better nowadays. :P

    darkelfin: Hahaha you know what, I can just imagine you doing that. Damn farnie!

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    Wang Wang: Haiya, too bad you weren’t with me then. You could have protected me! Kekeke!

    Fish: Wah, $100 voucher not bad! lol. But I beg to differ on any timeshare having any plus points. If people are that rich, they can afford to buy the whole thing themselves… no need to share lah. More people share more trouble.

    Joey: Thanks for dropping by! :)

    vinyarb: Hey, cool. Probably we kena the same company? Hehe. Do share what happened in the 2 hours! Maybe you can blog about it too?

    Minou: OMG. These people really have no sense of shame. LOL. Anyway, didn’t the fellow try to ask further? You might not earn 30K a month. Maybe you earn 60k a month! Hahaha stupid fellow.

    Ruok. What do they say when you say you wanna give them your prize? lol

    Blackjack: Wow, thanks for sharing your experience! I can understand how easily it is to be persuaded by these kind of smooth selling. I have attended a few MLM seminars myself and find myself strongly compelled to join them. Just that I never because I hate doing sales. But I’m curious to hear what’s so bad about Oriental Travel. From the way you describe, access to all the cool 5 star places in the world, sounds great. So what was the catch?

    Edric: HAHAHAHA I love your reply!!

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    Haha. Same trick happened to me many times, but I was “smart” enough. Letters indicating I won a Toyota car, 42″ TV, Cash prizes, and followup phone calls (what the hack how they get my ,obile where I don’t give to strangers? Must the the credit card companies???). Survey by a sexy lady at HDB Hub. What I did was ask them to come to my office to talk about the prizes. They dare not and I escaped.

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    Haha, cool. I think most people are wise to their tricks already. And it’s fun to hear how different people deal with scam artists!

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    My boyfriend nearly fall for this kind of stuff 1-2year back.
    Someone called him to tell him that he won a lot of things (Tv lah, travel vouchers lah, a lot of stuffs) and ask him to go down at an arranged time to collect his prizes. They even sms him the address and a list of expensive things he’ll get. He thought since there’s an sms, so it shouldn’t be a hoax. -.-

    Having won a number of lucky draws (eg from magazines) I find the whole thing weird. I told him that I don’t believe that company and ask him not to go. He thought I was jealous. -.-

    So I went online to find out more and realised that the address he mentioned has been blacklisted by many people in the forum. He finally believe me when I let him see the links. Silly right.

    Oh, btw, any “talent scouts” approach you before? I’ve never been approached, maybe because I look poor (which I am) and too short to be model.

    *sorry ah. I got carried away. :p*

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    This type of ‘selling” works because people are either greedy or curious. I don’t give such people a chance or even if they shove a car right in front of me, I will still walk away. There is no such thing as free lunch. Most people will think that they have nothing to lose; they have the time and they won’t be so easily swayed and that is why they will fall for the trick.

    For me, if they persist I would just scream – fuck off. Or if I am in a mood, I would try to sell them insurance instead.

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    uglyfatchick: Wah, luck you were smart and went to do the research to prove him wrong. Or else he kena big time… Yeah I get approached by talent scouts a lot, which sucks because they’re all fake and you know they’re just out to con you, so it’s not like it’s a compliment. lol.

    simpleman: Hahaha. I want to see you try to sell them insurance instead. That’ll be so funny!!

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    I kena once before also, spent 1 hour there. Managed to hold my wallet tight. I left insisting the taxi fare the guy promised me and got away with 5 bucks. LOL.

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    considering that they haven’t recognize you through the amount of tv xposure you have.

    I am quite sure these guys are just nutcase with no life and have you ever wonder how they live their life? tragic… real tragic

  24. Avatar

    barffie: yeah, that works. the problem only happens when people ARE interested. :P

    Fleck: Wow, cool… you earned $5 for listening to rubbish chatter for an hour! lol.

    ace: HEY, haven’t heard from you for a long time. How are you doing, my friend? :) Anyway, I’ve had a lot of tv exposure but I’m not famous lah. Nobody knows me except people who already know me. lol.

  25. Avatar

    In 2002, I got a message telling me that I was very luck that my
    phone number had won me a BIG Prize, and asked me to call back.
    I told myself: This must be one of those holiday timeshare scam
    because I had encountered once before in 1988. However, I did call back.

    When I called back to find out what this BIG Prize was, one sweet
    talking girl answered my call and persuaded me to go down to
    the Wheelock Place (previously know as something else) to collect
    my BIG Prize, as there would also be a BIG Buffet waiting for me. It
    was around lunch time and I was hungry.

    I told myself: Why not go for a free lunch and also to collect the
    BIG Prize. You see, what hunger and greed can do to a person?

    Wah, the place was posh man! And really there was a high
    class buffet arranged before the entrance of a big seminar room,
    which chairs, overhead projectors, blackboards, paperboard,
    white board, all ready.

    I was ask to register my name (but not contact number nor
    address). So, for curiosity sake, I asked why they did not want
    my address and contact number. The young lady at the
    registration desk told me that they already got them. Another
    surprise! Hey, how did you people got my address and pager
    number in the first place? Oh, we got them from the seafood
    restaurants in East Coast Park. One more shock! I told myself
    mentally: Next time, when I go and eat at these places I had
    better not fill in any lucky draw slips they give me.

    Then I was told to wait until all 25 “suckers” arrived. I asked
    whether I could enjoy the buffet first. “Oh, so sorry, Sir. We
    have to wait until all of you arrived first. If you don’t mind, Sir,
    you can sit over there … and there are magazines there for
    you to read. Then I asked her, when am I going to get my
    BIG Prize? She explained that when all 25 persons had arrived,
    we had to attend a short briefing about this sharing of holiday
    resorts in the Seychelles.

    So, I cannot eat while the buffet is in front of me and my stomach
    had started complaining, plus I cannot get my BIG Prize, but
    I have to wait. What should I do?

    Yah, I have to go to the loo! I asked where the toilet was located
    and was pointed the way. So, I went to the toilet and after that
    I sneaked out of that damned place and went for my lunch along
    Orchard Rd.

    Moral of the Story: Don’t be greedy!

  26. Avatar

    Hahaha, thanks for sharing your story, GreedyMan. I love how you made your great escape! But too bad you didn’t get to enjoy the free lunch. :P

  27. Avatar

    Nice handling Qiaoyun! Way to go!

    From many years of experiencing with timeshares, credit cards, insurance etc…

    I find it the best way is to contradict their expectations and enjoy their funny expression.

    Just recently, in the PCshow, there is a group of “insurance” people giving out “IT gifts” to trap potential insurance policy buyers, one of them hijacked me in my way and asked “Are you getting yourself some IT stuffs from here?”

    I was thinking, “Am I looking like I’m looking for coffin in an IT show?”

    I replied, “Nah… not looking for anything…”

    He continued, “We have free gifts to offer… 42″ LCD TVs, Laptops, Laser Printers ….”

    Looking at him blanked… “I’m not looking for anything…”

    He was confused “Not looking for ANY-Thing?”

    Still looking at him blankly… “Yah, can’t you see I’m not looking at anything.”

    He was like “…? …?? …? …?.?”

    Haha… I was kind of entertained…

    Anyway, it’s a good experience (provided don’t get conned)

    Remember this, you can’t cheat an honest man.

  28. Avatar

    ROFL that’s a good one. I think salespeople really should be trained better to handle all sorts of responses and situations, considering that customers are getting smarter and smarter (smart alec) these days. Hahaha.

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    I also was duped into a timeshare presentation, and I bought. It only cost me 10K. I stayed at the 4 Seasons, The Westin and the Hyatt on my first 3 trades, each of those accomodations would have cost me over 5K. In the end it is a good deal if you travel. Maybe your a cheap ass who stays in the nasty 100 night crappy hotels of the world. In the long run, I will stay in much nicer accomoidations for less. hahaha

  30. Avatar

    I will be frank. I am a sales consultant with one of the timeshare company and I will not name which one. The issue is that we were told not to pressure sell, but u see ah, we are all paid based on commissions that these kind holiday buffs give us, how not to pressure sell?

    I agree that if a person has no desire to see the world and staying at better accommodation then don’t buy.

    I always tell my clients not to buy if they cannot afford it or do not want the luxuries of travel (though it pains my pocket lah!)

    But at the end of the day, I feel so paiseh when they keep apologising to me that they cannot afford the program.

  31. Avatar

    Osiris: Hey, thanks for sharing your perspective. I totally understand that you guys are just doing your job and we all just want to earn our money and live our life.

    I have no problems with sales people most of the time and I try to be nice to them. I just feel irritated when they try to pull con jobs on us. Well, you have to admit some sales tactics can be rather… unethical. :P

  32. Avatar

    I’ve signed a contract in 1999 with Emperor Resorts International (ERI) to purchase a holiday time share package that belongs to H.C. Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (Australia) (HCAP). After I received a lot of bad experience and feedback about time share companies, I decided to terminate my contract (S$15,800) by not paying the outstanding balance (S$9,350). In 2003, I’ve informed ERI that I want to terminate my contract by forfeiting the sum (S$6,450) I’ve already paid to them. And since then I’ve not heard from them.

    Recently, I received a call from Axial Management (Singapore) who claims that they are associated with Great Eastern Trust & Asset Management Co. Ltd (London). They are also acting under the instructions of World Travel Organization to approach the members of ERI, to compensate the members. Their condition is – If I pay Axial a sum of S$17,800, World Travel Organisation will compensate me S$20,000 three years later through Axial. Great Eastern Trust will also pay me through Axial a sum of about S$30,000 for utilizing my package. Though this amount is guaranteed by Axial (in writing), I feel that there’s no 100% guarantee that Axial Management will pay up three years later or even exist after 3 years.. My most worrying concern is Axial Management may be scamming people into paying more money. Therefore I rejected Axial Management’s proposal.

    Very soon, about 3 days later, I received a final warning letter from ERI asking me to settle the balance payment within 7 days, otherwise they will take legal action against me to recover the amount.

    I find it very puzzling that ERI suddenly issue me a final letter after 4 years, and especially so just after I’ve rejected Axial’s offer. I suspect that both companies are related to each other with Axial claiming they want to help ERI members get out of the contract by making the members pay more. And if members rejected Axial’s proposal, ERI will threaten to sue, thereby leaving the member no choice but to take up Axial’s offer.

    I hope this will prevent more people falling victim into these scams.

  33. Avatar

    Christina: Wow, thanks for sharing your story. Axial and Great Eastern Trust are definitely con jobs. If they’re really sincere in compensating members, why would they need people to pay so much money? It’s a bit like the Nigerian e-mail scams where they make you give them money so they can give you more money in return. Where’s the logic in that? lol.

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    That’s why I suspect the two companies are actually the same. However, Axial has got a office with big signboard along Upper Cross St. Just wondering how come the authorities did not clamp down totally on these companies. Any idea which govt dept can I contact to expose these companies?

  35. Avatar

    Christina: I think there’s no clamp down because these companies exploit loopholes in the law to scam people. So they haven’t actually committed any crimes. For complaints, I think most people go to CASE. But you have to pay a membership fee to join them before you can make complaints.

  36. Avatar

    If people approach you in the street to sell you stuff, and won’t take no for an answer, you should be able to say whatever you want to them and write about it. I hung up on a telemarketer last year, after saying not interested, and they called me back four more times getting very angry with me at the end for refusing their gift. Yeah people have the right to try and sell you stuff but after you say I’m not interested, and they keep going they are fair game for abuse and invesigation I think. If you look into the “too good to be true” scheme and find out what they are really doing you should be able to write about it in the public interest.

    A guy/girl from the UK at Noteapot site also got a lawyers letter http://www.noteapot.com/?p=74 for talking about someone who approached him/her in the street in Singapore with land banking stuff.

    The argument most of these companies put up is they are very clear about what they do in the small print. But it’s not the small print you get in the street, or on the phone or in the glossy hotel presentation or in the newspaper adverts. Its misleading commission driven talk.

    Good luck with the acting :-)

  37. Avatar

    Mike M: Thanks. But I think I could have handled it better. I could have just ignored them at the outset. Haha.

    Pragmatist: That’s pretty heavy, all the lawysuit stuff. Thanks for the feedback and your support! ;)

  38. Avatar

    I wonder why all timeshare presentations have a speaker in the ceiling above each table and play music so loud that you have to shout to compete with it. If it is supposed to motivate people to buy something, it failed to impress me.

    We were “invited” to Hawaii for a week with a free rental car, so we accepted. One time it was Marriott and the other time it was Hilton. Hilton over booked and wanted to send us down the street to a dump and we refused, which required the manager to intervene. He solved it and comped us for parking and valet because I threw such a fit in the lobby and he wanted to get rid of us.

    Marriott over booked and sent us to a “lockout” room, which was part of a regular hotel room except tiny and had no table or desk for my computer.

    These people thought they could sell me their timeshare for $35,000 ?


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