My roommate entered some kind of sweepstakes to win a free cruise. She received a letter stating that she can receive this cruise if she attends a presentation at the Fox River Resort in Sheridan, IL.
I went along since an adventure into podunk county on a day off could be a nice change of pace. Since I did not give out any information aside from my first name, I am writing this as a warning to anyone who'd go for the gifts. My roommate had no intention of buying, but was caught off-guard by the salesperson's tactics. She would have bought one if it wasn't for me talking her out of it. The more prepared you are, the better.
I was told that the presentation would only be 90 minutes, but it ended up being 3-4 hours. You'll probably have missed a meal and be starving by the end of those 3-4 hours, so I'd recommend to either bring your lunch/dinner with you or hoard as much of the free food as possible.
The presentation began with the salesperson having my roommate take a survey. Once he got information about her vacation habits, he attempted to convince her that she is spending too much money on vacations and that she would get more benefits for less money if she bought a not-timeshare. I say a "not-timeshare" because he was definitely selling a timeshare, yet he vehemently denied that he was selling a timeshare. This was a rather effective tactic on my roommate; since she thought he was selling something other than a timeshare, she was more willing to listen to what he had to say. Don't fall for this trap.
Also, since I raised many objections in the beginning, he tried to discredit me. He attempted to paint me as somebody who is "not normal" and does not know how to have a good vacation, which implies that my roommate should not listen to me. If you bring a friend who does not buy into the salesperson's lies, do not let the salesperson pit you against your friend. Oh, and another warning. He went about discrediting me in a rather jovial way with smiles and laughs, so don't think he's not engaging in ad hominem attacks just because he's smiling.
After that, we went on to the grand tour of the shabby Fox River Resort. Somehow, my roommate was impressed by it. When the tour was over, he talked price. He went over all kinds of special deals and discounts that applied ONLY FOR TODAY! If you come back tomorrow, you'll pay the same price for less benefits!
My roommate ended up saying NO to him because she couldn't afford it. So then he unexpectedly called over his manager, the closer. Since they knew that her reason for not buying is that she can't afford it, this guy tried to work out a special payment plan for her. Luckily she requested to use their phone to call someone, and we both ended up being able to go in a separate room and talk privately amongst ourselves. It was during this time that I convinced her to not buy it.
When we came back out, she said NO again. Then we were told that someone would come to give her the prizes. But instead, the person who came over began asking questions about "Do you like the resort?" "Is price the only reason?" effectively making my roommate question her decision and plant a seed of doubt in her mind. But she was adamant about saying NO, so he showed us the door and told us where to go to get the prizes. We ended up waiting another 45 mins for the prizes. She received the voucher for the cruise, a $40 Visa gift card, and another vacation. But considering how this company cuts corners, how dishonest the salesperson was, and how shabby the resort was, I think it's going to be a ****** vacation.
In summary, do not be caught off-guard by the salesperson's tactics. They are very pushy and it is a high pressure environment, yet my roommate was primarily caught off-guard because the salesperson pretended to be jovial. She STILL thinks that they were not pushy, despite requiring her to say NO to 3 people and offering deals that only work for today. I personally think it'd be better not to go, but if you are truly enticed by the prizes... Don't trust the salesperson no matter how friendly he/she may appear. Any benefits he/she may offer to you, any assumptions he/she bases his/her arguments on, any numbers he/she may use in calculations... Assume it is all a lie. That's the only way you can stand firm in saying NO.
Review about: Silverleaf Resorts Vacation Ownership.