Buying a Time-Share in Puerto Vallarta

In Puerto Vallarta, time-share salespeople are as unavoidable as death and taxes, and almost as dreaded. Although a slim minority of people actually enjoy going to one- to four-hour time-share presentations to get the freebies that range from a bottle of $12 KahlĂșa to rounds of golf, car rentals, meals, and shows, most folks find the experience incredibly annoying. For some it even casts a pall over their whole vacation.

The bottom line is, if the sharks smell interest, you're dead in the water. Time-share salespeople occupy tiny booths up and down main streets where tourists and cruise passengers walk. In general, while vallartenses are friendly, they don't accost you on the street to start a conversation. Those who do are selling something. Likewise, anyone calling you amigo is probably selling. The best solution is to walk by without responding, or say "No thanks" or "I'm not interested" as you continue walking. When they yell after you, don't feel compelled to explain yourself.

Some sly methods of avoidance that have worked for others are telling the tout that you're out of a job but dead interested in attending a presentation. They'll usually back off immediately. Or explaining confidentially that the person you're with is not your spouse. Time-share people are primarily interested in married couples—married to each other, that is! But our advice is still to practice the art of total detachment with a polite rejection and then ignore the salesperson altogether if he or she persists.

Even some very nice hotels allow salespeople in their lobbies disguised as the Welcome Wagon or information gurus. Ask the concierge for the scoop on area activities, and avoid the so-called "information desk."

Time-share salespeople often pressure guests to attend time-share presentations, guilt-tripping them ("My family relies on the commissions I get," for example) or offering discounts on the hotel room and services. The latter are sometimes difficult to redeem and cost more time than they're worth. And although it may be the salesperson's livelihood, remember that this is your vacation, and you have every right to use the time as you wish.

But if you do return to Puerto Vallarta frequently, a time-share might make sense. Here are some tips for navigating the treacherous waters:

Cruise the Internet before your vacation. Check out resale time-shares in the area, which makes it easier to determine the value of what's offered.

Worthwhile time-shares come with the option of trading for a room in another destination. Ask what other resorts are available.

Time-share salespeople get great commissions and are very good at their jobs. Be brave, be strong, and sign on the dotted line only if it's what you really want. Remember there are plenty of good vacation deals out there that require no long-term commitment.

Buyer's remorse? If you buy a time-share and want to back out, be aware that most contracts have a five-day "cooling-off period." Ask to see this in writing before you sign the contract; then you can get a full refund if you change your mind.

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