Timeshares, Free Prizes, and Coupons

By Christina VanGinkel

The phone rang and the caller asked for my oldest daughter. She and her husband travel a lot for work, and she has gotten into the habit of putting our home phone number down whenever she fills out forms for a few select items of interest that they have been looking into. I replied to the caller that she was not home at the moment and that I would gladly take a message. The caller quickly went into a spiel that she had signed up recently for a trip give-away, and that they had drawn her name out of thousands of entries.

I listened along, taking a few notes as the man went on. He then asked if there was a number where she could be reached at, that day. When I once again replied that there was not, but that I was more than willing to take down any information that he wished to leave, he informed me that what she had really been chosen for was to be a visitor to a timeshare community.

Let me stop here and tell you that I believe that there are many timeshare communities that are well worth their cost. If someone wants to take a vacation in the same spot, or at the same time each year, or at the least, can arrange their vacation months in advance, a timeshare can be a great way to vacation in comfort and save money doing so. Some even have the option of vacationing at different locations throughout the world, as long as you are a member of their timeshare community. In plain words, I like timeshares. And as a matter of fact, I knew that my daughter had sent out for information on a couple of different timeshare organizations, as her and her husband were somewhat intrigued by the idea of buying into one, and they planned on looking further into several that had garnered their attention. When I later asked my daughter if she had signed up for any contests or a give-away and used my number, she quickly replied that she had not.

This person was not trying to sell my daughter and her husband a timeshare though. The more I listened to him ramble on; I realized that what it really amounted to was a set of coupons good for a variety of useless, unassociated travel items. Fifty percent off a night at such and such a hotel, providing it be used between certain dates, on certain nights of the week, with many dates blacked out, and excluding weekends. Other coupons were for equally useless discounts to shows and restaurants. While some of them were at least in a location where someone might be able to use a few of them at the same time, they were mostly so random that you would have to be able to be in ten places at once in order to even take a vacation with a bit of a discount. They were not free either. There was a quite hefty price tag, called a filing fee, attached to the so-called coupons and discounts.

This got me to wondering how they had gotten a hold of my daughter’s name though and in conjunction with our phone number. It did not take me long to find out, as the next day, this same person called again, asking if my daughter were home yet, or if I had at least passed along the information and his phone number that he had left with me. I told him I had passed along the information and his number, and if my daughter were interested, she would be contacting him. I also quickly asked him if he could tell me where he had gotten my daughter’s name and my number, as she had informed me that she kept track of those places that she had asked for information and their company was not on her short list. His reply, honest at least, was that it had came from a mailing list.

If there is a lesson to be learned in any of this, it is to keep track of any offers or places that you do send away for information from. Otherwise, my daughter might have thought that she really had won something from one of the places she had asked for info on. The biggest tip off though was that if they want money upfront for something they originally said was a prize, run, and run fast. Spend your money on a real vacation instead!

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