It seems that in recent times, the introduction of the 'Time Share Salesman' to areas like Las Vegas and Reno is nothing new. When I spoke to friends about it after our experience, more than one of them came out with 'Yes, I experienced something similar last year on my trip to...'
Unfortunately, we arrived in Las Vegas after a 7 year hiatus and being in the middle of a round the world trip with no knowledge of this whatsoever.
For me - this was the catalyst which brought Vegas down significantly in my opinion. There were many aspects of change which meant that - for me - it was no longer the greatest destination I had ever been to, or one of my favourite places to go. But this one was the icing on the cake.
It's very possible that - as a traveller - those reading this may already be well aware of the 'Time Share' scams and salesmen that now haunt these resorts and holiday destinations. But because many of you may not - I'll walk through the entire experience that we had.
We arrived in Las Vegas late in the evening to what had been the first hotel we ever stayed at in the city - Excalibur. We chose it to pay homage to our first stay, (and because it was cheap) and were very excited to return once again. We had flown from New Zealand to LA a couple of days before, then rented a car and drove through the desert to the city of sin.
We checked in, hot and exhausted carrying all of our bags. We were trying not to be too hasty in our awareness that the entire place seemed much more run down than it had been the last time we came; or that the staff were much, much less welcoming.
After getting our key, we turned to walk to our rooms and a member of Excalibur staff (wearing staff uniform) came up to us and asked us how long we were staying. When we said three nights she grabbed me by the arm, turned to a tourist desk to the side and said 'Comp these guys.'
Now, in the Vegas we came to 7 years ago - getting comped for no reason more than staying a few days in a hotel was a viable possibility, and so feeling very pleased we walked over to the desk.
We were told that we were getting a complimentary breakfast at a new hotel and $175 worth of food and gaming vouchers. We were talked through what all of this was, how they could be used anywhere in Las Vegas and were as good as cash. All we needed to do was give them some money (I don't actually remember now how much it was, but it was either $25 or $50.) just to reserve our place. We were told that they were promoting a new hotel, and that all we would have to do was take a few minutes after the breakfast to have a look around.
We were tired, and though it's not the kind of thing we usually would do, we knew we were going to spend at least the amount that we were investing on food and gaming (and I think shows were also included...this was the main thing they focused on in telling us about it, what shows and restaurants we could go to and how far the vouchers might go...) so we said yes.
We handed over the money, they asked which breakfast time would be best for us 8, 9 or 10 - and then gave us a receipt
And the simplest way to describe this is a flat out lie. We arrived at the location which was suppose to be a hotel and was instead a shabby little office room 15 minutes drive from the hotel. (Luckily we drove ourselves and weren't one of the people waiting on the bus - who had a lot more waiting to do.) There was no free breakfast, no hotel tour, no hotel even.
What we had stumbled into was a Time Share seminar. We were made to wait in the room with everyone else, with ridiculous promotional music playing and really shabby salesmen walking about making people fill out forms about travel habits and giving everyone name tags.
Had we not already given them the money we had - we would certainly have left right then. We were told it would be no more than an hour, so we decided that we would stick it out.
There was not even any free breakfast. There was a table with bad donuts and pastry, worse coffee and a juice like drink. In the end we were stuck there for 3 solid hours of our first day in Las Vegas. We told the salesman right up front that we were not interested - we were in the middle of a round the world trip and that as we currently had no residence; we were not looking in any way to purchase time share.
He was as pleasant as a man can be in that position - we went and looked at a property, came back and were hassled again. After 2 hours we gave him a final and solid, 'No.' and were then talked to by his boss - a man who was very obnoxious and pushy and downright condescending. We were as brutally honest as is possible to be with him, and were then left sitting in the room for almost 45 minutes waiting to be given our vouchers.
When he finally returned, we were taken to another room - supposedly to get the vouchers and discovered that it was yet another room, with older sales men who gave us new, cheaper figures for timeshare. Another half an hour passed before we were finally, begrudgingly, led to the room where you get vouchers. Here there was another half an hour wait with a lot of angry people. When we did finally get them, we had to choose what we would use them on and where - so they were not like cash at all.
The whole thing was a horrible scam - tainted my entire feeling of Vegas, and I will never again stay at the Excalibur or any of the MGM hotels because of it.