The time-share resort industry may have cleaned up its act in recent years, but some developers continue to mar the business with questionable sales practices, a former time-share sales manager insists.
"In the business, you hear 'No heat, no eat,' " said Shawn Walker, a Casselberry, Fla., resident who now conducts sales-motivation courses. " 'Heat' means lying, saying anything to make the sale."
Walker has written a book and a consumer pamphlet about the time-share business. He says deception still is common to the industry.
"Fake sales are popular," he said. "The customer hears bells ringing and various people announcing this sale or that sale. They're all fake. It's just to create a sense of urgency."
Prospects who tour a property may be subject to more than an hour of high-pressure sales tactics by commissioned sales representatives who refuse to take no for an answer, Walker said.
"They'll tell you you're going to make big money if you sell later and that your unit can be rented for big bucks if you can't use it," Walker said.
If a salesman can't get the contract signed, a "master closer" is called in to start the process all over again.
Salesmen are often asked if they own units. "They all say yes, and 99 percent of them are lying."
Walker said similar tactics are sometimes used to get around laws that some states have that require that a time-share buyer be given 10 days to cancel a contract.
If a buyer decides to cancel, he may get a call from the salesman.
"A favorite ploy is to tell the buyer he won a color television set in the monthly drawing for new buyers," he said. "Greed gets the best of the guy and he says okay, he'll stay in the deal for the TV. After the recision period expires, the salesman tells the buyer his name was withdrawn because they thought he was pulling out... . It's all 'heat.' There is no drawing."
Some developers use recruiters to roam tourist areas, soliciting prospects. Walker said some of these recruiters -- who are paid up to $40 for each prospect they bring in -- are unscrupulous.
"They'll say anything to entice a prospect," he said.
Walker said the arm-twisting and deception convinced him to get out of the business.
"I began asking myself, 'Why do we have to do it this way?' "