Dishonesty From The Start Is a Poor Sales Practice

Last year I spent a week in Virginia for work. I ended up being able to get an ocean front suite in Virginia Beach within what I could be reimbursed for, so I brought the family with me. While we were there, we of course got invited to a timeshare presentation. We figured we'd eat the free breakfast, take the tour, listen to the pitch, then fight like heck to get out of there.

Yes, I am uncomfortable with taking free breakfasts and other gifts when I have no intention of buying. We like VA Beach, so we were intersested in what they had to say although we figured it would be priced out of reality for us. Somehow, it wasn't. They had a unit within a reasonable price, and it includes a deed, so my wife was interested and we bought in.

We're currently on our first exchange to Williamsburg, VA. The resort we're staying at wants us to have a free meal, then take a tour of a model and then take a survey. As usual, they claim there will be no pressure. I'm not sure. I read in some reviews of this resort that even if you already own a unit somewhere else, they will try very hard to get us to switch to a unit here. That won't happen. At least as we understand things, a VA Beach unit gives us some power in exchanges. We also like VA Beach, so we're not giving that up.

That's beside the point. Yesterday we went to the Prime Outlets. They were packed. I ended up parked in front of an "Area Information" kiosk. As we got out of the car, a salesman started up a conversation with us by asking if we were staying overnight, then tried to invite us to a breakfast and offer some other free gifts to take a tour of their resort. That would have been this morning. We told him that we already owned a timeshare and had no intention of switching. He of course said it was to introduce us to their resort and encourage us to exchange with them next time.

The kicker is that when we told him our plans to get to the Living Museum early this morning, he said that it doesn't open until 10:30. We told him it opened at 9 AM. He said something to the effect of "Naw, you have to pay attention to the seasonal times. It opens at 10:30. You have time to meet with us at 8:30." We told him that we wanted to shop around and get back to him. We knew for a fact after having verified it, that the Living Museum would be open at 9 AM today, and sure enough, it was. We arrived at 8:58 AM.

It's entirely possible that he was simply unfamiliar with the information he was passing along, but it smacked of dishonesty to us. I'm not about to do business, even for free stuff, with somebody who starts a sales relationship with a lie.

Granted, I have an iPhone. I could have easily taken it out and verified the information. I could have. I wish I'd had it when we bought my car. The salesman told us it had electronic traction control. I've searched, and I can't find any information anywhere stating that any 2003 Kia Sedona came with Electronic Traction Control. Of course, again, he could have been unfamiliar with his product, but next time I buy a car, I'm verifying every detail.

If you have an iPhone or other good Internet connected mobile device, feel free to use it to verify information salespeople try to give you.

About the timeshare guy at the Prime Outlets, we saw him walk off to smoke and used that opportunity to get in my non-Electronic Traction Control-having Kia Sedona to leave.

I also have trouble understanding the business model of giving people free stuff if you're not going to try to get a sale out of them. It makes no sense to me at all. Does anybody have any insight? Also, if they tell you there will be no obligation or pressure, and they try to pressure you, is that bait and switch? (Actually, it is, but why is it so easy for sales organizations to get away with it?)

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