Florida: the sharks aren’t just in the water

I love Florida. The sun, the surf, the birds. I’ve been there many times over the years and have always enjoyed making new discoveries. This trip was no different. We spent a week in Orlando (hadn’t been there in a number of years) and then went on to enjoy 3 days on Fort Myers Beach. I’ll take you there in the next post. But for now … we’ll focus on Orlando and the highs and lows of our visit.

The lows? The weather was one. Located in Central Florida, Orlando is about 3 hours north of Fort Myers Beach. So the weather there can be considerably cooler than you’ll encounter in South Florida. And we happened to visit in January, during a cooler and wetter-than-normal week. So as much as it was nice to be away from the cold and snow of Manitoba, the Orlando weather didn’t do it for me.

The other low? The sharks! No, these ones weren’t in the water. They can be found circling unsuspecting visitors at the timeshare property where we were staying.

We loved the Wyndham Cypress Palms. It’s a fantastic resort. But it’s part of the Wyndham Vacation Resorts family of properties. We were there on a “free” certificate we received when buying into the Wyndham Grand Desert in Las Vegas in December, 2009.

The Cypress Palms is newly reburbished. Our king suite was gorgeous, with granite countertops, a jacuzzi tub, screened-in lanai overlooking the man-made lake, and a convenient location in Kissimmee on Highway 192. We had plenty of space and were thrilled to be spending a week there for the price of an expensive dinner.

We were invited to a 45-minute “member services update” by the Wyndham people. I didn’t see any harm in that as I admitted to not fully understanding the timeshare program in which I was an “owner.” Nearly 4 hours later, we were walking out of there having doubled our investment in the program and now owning a share of the Wyndham Cypress Palms.

Why did I do it despite the warning from dear husband, Reg? Because I fell prey to the sharks posing as “member services reps” and believed they were making recommendations based on what was described as “my best interest.” I had been had. Fortunately Visa’s assistance helped me get out of that deal. Contract cancelled. I should get myself a t-shirt saying “Shark attack survivor.”

Why am I telling you this? To protect you from scammers. Don’t be trusting like me. Keep your guard up. Trust your intuition. If your spidy senses are tingling, they might be trying to tell you something. Walk away before your regret is as big as your bank account is small.

Marketplace had a super show on CBC last night showing just how easily the average Canadian is taken advantage of by the super scam-man. They usually have a friendly face and disposition. They ALWAYS have an offer which is “good for today only” and try to cause you to act before you’ve thoroughly thought things through. These are warning signals that are trying to save you from the aggravation I went through. Don’t ignore them!

Using the Toastmasters sandwich method of evaluations, I’ll close with a positive. I do enjoy Orlando. There are many worldclass attractions to experience, it’s not too difficult to navigate the highways (even for a small-town gal like me) and for the most part, the weather is palatable.

beautiful white heron at Gatorland

We really enjoyed a visit to Medieval Times (jousting, lords and ladies all while you enjoy a knightly feast) and Gatorland (lots of alligators and birds in a pleasing, fairly natural environment.)

A recommended property to stay at is the Peabody Orlando. They have sweet, happy ducks. No sharks.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

15 Responses

  1. Ava Butler says:

    The salespeople use high-pressured sales tactics to to ensure that their sales occur on a one-day only basis so that the client does not have time to properly research the company. They are often successful because the clients are on vacation, have let their normal guard down, and do not have time to make an informed decision. One would think that the fraudulent sales practices would inhibit the resort’s ability to sell because it would tarnish their reputation, however, most timeshare consumers do not plan in advance to buy a timeshare. By the time that most clients find out that they have been scammed, they are outside of their 5 day cancellation period, and are not sure how to approach cancelling a timeshare in a foreign country.

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Ava and thanks for your comment.

      I was fortunate in that the transaction to upgrade my timeshare membership had been purchased via my Visa card and they have a longer period of time by which to cancel flat such a transaction. Wish I’d known about that in the initial transaction when I first bought my timeshare, as I likely would have cancelled that, too.
      Doreen recently posted…falling for fallMy Profile

  2. I enjoyed reading your article for the timeshare sales. I also had the same experience as Little Gray Bird. I agree to the answer you have given to Lisa Ann Schreier because sometime we made our decisions based on the salespeople, but if they don’t convey pros and cons to consumer it create bad reputation for product not of that sales person.
    Thank for such informative sharing

  3. Gabriela says:

    Hi there Doreen Pendgracs I enjoyed your informative article on Florida. Extermely informative post here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. I will certainly be back.

  4. Great post! I had my first run in with a shark in November while on vacation in Las Vegas and waiting for my husband in the lobby of our hotel. I guess I am the typical “friendly Canadian” as I thought he was just making chit chat and then BAM he hit me with the pitch and kept going and going and going. I had a hard time walking away because I was too worried about being rude. Hubby had a different opinion and just pulled on my arm and said “no”. The problem then was they knew I was nice so every time I walked through the lobby they would hit me up again. Got pretty tiring over the five days and I actually eventually changed my typical route to use a different door to the hotel just to avoid them. Funny thing though is I still had that little voice inside telling me I was being rude, perhaps that is the “friendly Canadian” showing again. I have a couple friends who own timeshares and seem happy, so I guess there are pros and cons to them. For me though I’m not a fan of the sales pitch while I am on vacation attempting to relax.

    • Doreen says:

      Yes, I bought my timeshare in Vegas in Dec/09. Although we have enjoyed the 2 timeshare location vacations we’ve had since then, I would not repeat the purchase if I had to do it over again. I’m glad (and grateful!) that at least I bought in at the lowest investment possible. That’s why I was so miffed at the situation that had occurred in Orlando. Significantly higher pressure sales tactics were used to try and get me to upgrade my purchase than what I had experienced in the initial sales transaction. Your husband is right. Stay away, and if you have to … forget about being a “nice Canadian” in order to protect your pocket book!

  5. Doreen…a few things about your post.

    1) Whatever they call it, be it an “owners update”, “member update”, “resort overview”, etc, they are all sales presentations.
    2) Timeshare salespeople are NOT scammers. They did nothing illegal. While it may be true that this person was a great salesperson, the ultimate responsibility is the consumers. I am all for educating people about timeshare and there is nothing wrong with keeping your guard up.
    3) There are pros and cons to timeshare for each person
    4) I refrain from using the words “investment” and “timeshare” in the same breath. Timeshares are NOT investments at all.
    5) Playing devil’s advocate for a minute, the money that consumers pay to rent a hotel/motel/campground year after year for 25+ years is not an investment either.
    6) It is sad that your otherwise good trip to Orlando was made somewhat less good by this encounter. Change comes slow in the timeshare world, but there are positive changes being made.

    I’ll leave you and your readers a final word/analogy: If you walked into a car dealership or a shoe store and the salesperson came out and sold you a car/shoe, would you think they were scamming you? Probably not. While using the phrase “member services update” is WRONG on all counts and they should be ashamed of themselves, it is up to the consumer to walk away if and when they feel that things aren’t going the way they envisioned.

    Happy travels and enjoy using the timeshare that you currently have!

    • Hi Lisa, and thanks for your comment.

      You are correct in that promising things that are not true may – in the straight sense -not be illegal, but I consider it immoral to say things that are untrue, and wish to have no association with people who do not speak the truth.

      I know many people who make their livings from sales. My father sold real estate and insurance. I sell my writing services. But I never promise something that I know to be untrue.

      I am not saying that all timeshare personnel are dishonest. But I AM saying that I had the misfortune of meeting some who were.

      And there is a big difference between making a deal with strangers/those with whom you have no association vs making a deal with someone who promises to be acting in my “best interest” as an employee paid to enrich my services as a member of an organization to which I belong.

  6. I think you’re right, Dawn. The CBC Marketplace show said that as well. We Canadians are just too darn nice and too trusting! Isn’t it a shame that the world is made up of people who are prepared to abuse that trust? They’ll get theirs, but it can’t be soon enough!

    Thanks for dropping into the blog. Am glad you’re enjoying the posts.

    • Great blog title, Doreen, and we should all order the t-shirt. From timeshares to hot water heaters, the sharks are everywhere. I had a gorgeous, charming man show up at my door last summer insisting that we needed a new water heater (I do not remember the reasons why). I was so enthralled by him that I fell for his bogus sales pitch.

      But my son Graham became suspicious when the sales rep mentioned that he had attended his high school years ago and asked if Ms Made-Up-Name was still there. Graham immediately texted his friend across the street who attends a different high school and, sure enough, the sales rep had just used the same endearing tactic on him. When Graham told me this, I called the water heater company and had the contract canceled before dreamboat had reached the end of the street. I am a sucker for charm, every time.

      P.S. My water heater is chugging along just fine

      • Great story, Virginia! Thanks for sharing, and you’re right! The sharks can be anywhere in our lives, posing as “Mr. Niceguy.” Good thing we have the men in our lives (young and old!) to act as the screeners. If only … we’d listen to them before we sign the contracts!

  7. Dawn Boshcoff says:

    That old saying holds true more than not.”If it sounds too good to be true…” Well, you know. These folks are trained masterfully and time$hares are BIG busine$$. People need to practice saying NO, NO, NO. We Canadians are just too darn nice! It still sounds like you had fun regardless. Keep up the great posts Doreen!
    Smiles, dbosh

  8. Right on, Kate. We must learn from our mistakes, and hope that by sharing our stories, we will prevent others from making the same ones. Thanks for sharing, and for dropping into the blog.

  9. Kate Merlin says:

    You were lucky. We bought an Orlando timeshare on our honeymoon, but only got back to use it once where we were also invited to the members update breakfast. We went, hoping to sell back our timeshare if we could becuase we couldn’t afford to vacation every year. At least one other couple was planning to do the same thing and I later heard them in buying another week. We escaped that fate becuase we had absolutely no money at the time. We eventually sold our original week at a considerable loss and I still think of it as my lesson in real estate buying.

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