A SUCKER BORN
The invitation came
in the mail, and it was hard to resist---four days and three nights at The
Four Seasons Aviara, which is near San Diego. The cost to us would be
about $34.95, or something like that.
fools," I remember saying to my wife as I read the invitation.
"They think they can sell us a timeshare. I feel almost guilty taking
them up on their offer."
nine years ago, when timeshares were all the rage. We had absolutely no
interest in owning a timeshare, but we had a lot of interest in staying at
The Four Seasons for about the same rate as a Motel 6. All we had to do
was sit through a one-hour sales presentation.
suckers donít know who theyíre dealing with," Iím sure I said
at the time. "But if the huge Four Seasons corporation wants to waste
their time and money on me, Iím all for it."
So off we
went to San Diego, where our oldest daughter was attending school at the
time. We could visit her and rip off the Four Seasons, all in one weekend.
around for a day or two, we got the call that it was time for the sales
presentation, and weíd better be there. We walked in and promptly told
the nice gentleman that we appreciated the lovely weekend, but we would
never, ever buy a stupid timeshare.
think of it as a timeshare," he replied. "Think of it as
insurance," he repeated. "Weíll be building these Four Seasons
Residence Clubs all around the world. Youíll be able to trade the
one-week you own here at Aviara for a week at Scottsdale, or Puerto
Vallarta, or Jackson Hole, or wherever we build a new Residence
I sat up a little
straighter. "Vacation insurance? Iíve never heard that before. But
it kind of makes sense."
He sat up even
straighter than me, knowing he had a whopper on the line. "Thatís
right. And youíll have this one week vacation every year at The Four
Seasons Residence Clubs forever. Youíll never have to worry about being
priced out of the market. Youíll be insured against that."
Marketing is a
beautiful thing. Suddenly the idea of "vacation insurance"
seemed like the smartest concept Iíd ever heard. "How much," I
asked, realizing that if I didnít snatch this opportunity I would be
forever regretting the one chance I had to vacation in luxury forever.
," he replied, slowly sliding the papers toward me. "Not much
when you consider you can have one week a year at The Four Seasons
Residence Clubs in perpetuity."
A small price to
pay for vacation insurance, I thought. The stock market had been booming,
and we had some extra cash. Why not do the responsible thing and buy some
So we did. When we
got home, the first thing we did was try and trade our one week in San
Diego for one week at The Four Seasons Residence Club in Scottsdale, which
was the only other one that had been built at the time.
see," said the nice lady on the phone. "I can put you on the
waiting list for something that might open up in mid-August."
you could," I replied. "But itís also 120 degrees in
Scottsdale in August. Do you have anything in the winter months?"
Iím pretty sure
she laughed. "Oh, no sir. Those months are never available for
That was the first
inclination I had that we had been snookered. The second was when our
association fees rose from $1000 per year to $2100 per year. The third was
when The Four Seasons decided not to build any more Residence Clubs. The
fourth was when I realized that didnít matter, because you couldnít
trade for them, anyway.
And the fifth
reason, and probably best, was when we put our "vacation
insurance" up for sale this year and were told weíd be very
fortunate if we got $6000 for it.
I wonder if anyone
sells "sucker insurance."