Hasta La Vista, Suckers

by Patty LaTaille

Time Share Beware.

Okay – so not a timeshare exactly – a “Club Membership” to be precise.

Young, in love, blissful honeymooners, unaware and feeling the buzz from celebratory champagne.

Fresh meat for the El Presidente Intercontinental Club representative sharks.

Exhausted­ – two high profile demanding jobs. Working with the public – management position in a ski resort. The other – counseling alienated and at-risk teens. In the middle of constructing new home together. Literally – block by papercrete block.

In desperate need to unwind, relax, get away. Finally. Nine months after the wedding – constant work, building, saving dollars – trying not to become a statistic. (Fifty percent of all couples divorce after building a home together.)

Big splurge – all inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas. Far from the norm. Husband raised on ranch in southern Colorado – “vacation,” an alien concept. Wife – backpacker, camping, hostels, low-budget adventure travel.

Big surprise – “All-Inclusive” excludes activities. No snorkeling, touring and seaside excursions for them. No extra cash.

But wait! Free tours, car rentals, underwater moped riding – just to attend a presentation.

The concept: One needs a vacation every year. Justifies saving money while spending money. All part of The Club membership.

Naïve. Unfamiliar with the hard-sell approach. Sign now – or lose out on tremendous opportunity. Have another drink. Margaritas for all!

Excitement. Bells ringing. Champagne. No need to read fine print. Trust – taken for granted. Many points equal muchos vacations. Thirty years worth. Let the fun continue!

Next day. Buyer’s remorse plus hangover. What disposable income? Bad idea. Letter to cancel. No way. But can reduce membership to “Newly-wed/Nearly Dead” level. No mention of time limit reduction.

Honeymoon is over. Time for leisure – not in near future. Exceeded budget and labor intensive home construction continues. Stressful employment. Major medical issues – knee reconstruction and hysterectomy. No time – no cash.

Mother agrees to finance Mom and Daughter get away. Back to Cabo, no upgrade. No obvious member benefits – what benefits? No communication/updates from The Club for five years. Easily forgotten in mad rush of life.

Hotel run-down. Understaffed. No washcloths or spoons. Sewerage smell in bathroom. Not impressed. Club rep meets for breakfast. Quizzical. Why no vacation until now?

Hello? U.S. economy in the proverbial toilet. Struggling to make ends meet. Toyota with 235K miles dies. Working three different jobs. Not all rich Americans.

Uh-oh. Breaking news: Membership good for five years – not thirty. 4400 points – good for 10 weeks at high season, 25 weeks at low season – unused – expires in May – in three months. All – the – points – gone. Four thousand smackeroonies – wasted.

Shock. Immediate loss of appetite – unheard of here at all-inclusive eat, drink and leave fat resort.

Some – Notice – Would – Have – Been – Appreciated. Any indication that points expire when? Why no contact? “You need to call us.”

Seriously? No updates, changes in benefits in five years? Oh – wait. $59 original room charges now $79. $40 food and drinks daily rate to $43 per person.

Thanks. A lot.

Print out contract. Clause #2: Expires five years from given date. Missed that one. Definitely not discussed at purchase.

Not happy. Husband contacted. Kindred surprise /shock. $4K high price to pay – 10 percent of current income. Frustrated. Club reps: “Too bad, so sad.”

But wait: The perfect solution. Renew membership and transfer expiring points. Voilà! Has to be done today. Thirty years for mere $10K. Super Special Deal.

No familiarity with phrase: “Cut our losses.”

So try “Una Fiesta Grande” in May. Family, friends; Ixtapa in May. On us.


Patty LaTaille wants readers to know that she and her husband are not really the “Hapless Idiots” as possibly portrayed in this article.