First off, you need to know that every time we spend three days in Branson (three days is usually our limit), we always come home broke, exhausted, and several pounds heavier, with me saying, "Well, I'm done with Branson forever."
A year or two later, I'll be saying to Cliff, "I wouldn't mind going to Branson for a couple of days."
I had preordered tickets to three shows: Presley's (my perennial favorite); Six (now my current favorite); and "Moses", playing at the Sight and Sound Theater. The first two can no longer be bought online directly from the people producing the show: You go to their website to buy the tickets, but when you get a confirmation email, it comes from Branson Tourism telling you to pick up your tickets at their office.
When we stopped there on the way into town to pick up our tickets, I asked the fellow helping us if it were no longer possible to get tickets only from the shows themselves. He told me they still sell the physical tickets at their box offices, but all the online tickets go through the tourism center. He was a nice, polite young man; everyone in Branson is polite, it seems. My parents used to have a place down there, and Mother and her second husband lived there until he died: Anywhere I went with them, whether to Church or to the music shows, people displayed good, old-fashioned southern hospitality.
Anyway. The guy answered my questions and then casually mentioned that the Welk Resort folks had bought Branson Tourism Center and, by the way, would we be interested in being paid for going on a tour of the Welk Resort?
Ah. He wasn't calling it a time share, but a time share by any other name is pretty much the same. We've done this thing twice before. I like free money, so I felt we were the winners in the end, but Cliff said at the time, "Never again!"
The guy assured us that his own family members had taken the tour, and that there would be no high-pressure salesmen. I looked at Cliff and he wasn't saying no, which surprised me. "How long will it take," I asked the guy. "Oh, about an hour and a half."
"What do you think?" I asked Cliff.
It's been at least twenty years since our last experience with time shares, so we had forgotten that these things always take three hours or so, even though they all tell you it will be an hour-and-a-half. At the end of the second one we took years ago, we were verbally insulted... "Why would you do this if you aren't interested?".... Hmmm, maybe because I told the guy at the beginning we weren't interested, and he said that doesn't matter?
That was the time we grabbed our money and said never again.
But hey, we had nothing planned for 9 A.M. the next day, and Cliff said Why not.
The very congenial lady who showed us around the grounds pointed out the posh suites in which the "owners" of Welk time shares get to reside. Cliff and I were thinking, "We live in a trailer house; our standards aren't that high."
Seriously, we were staying in a top-rated sixty-dollar-a-night motel and loving it.
After the grand tour, she seated us at a table and started her pitch, "OK now, if there were no limits and money weren't a problem, what places would you most like to see?"
I explained our situation: "I enjoy travel, my husband doesn't. We don't travel much, and we don't go far. He won't fly or get aboard an ocean liner. Any time we go on a vacation, Cliff is there because I wanted to go. He'd rather be home."
"But when you DO travel, what kinds of places do you visit?"
My answer, "tractor shows", sort of took the wind out of her sails.
She started plugging the idea of me taking someone else and leaving Cliff at home. "I'm an introvert," I told her. "There's nobody I want to spend days at a time with except him." I paused and Cliff, ornery person that he is, mentioned a relative I could take along: "What? We'd kill one another!" I told him. He just grinned.
The lady finally told us how much the time-share would cost (more than the price of a fancy new four-wheel-drive pickup) and how it could be paid in convenient, manageable payments from our credit card (I told her we don't do credit-card debt any more).
Then she started telling me how we could take grandchildren (when that didn't work she started talking about our taking Cora) on vacation, and when we die we could pass this time share on to our kids. "We have never planned to leave anything to our kids or grandkids," I told her. "They can make their own way just like we did."
I think this is when I saw defeat in her eyes, and from then on she only went through the motions, still keeping us there for the entire three hours while we sort of half-dozed through the rest of the sales pitch. Unlike our past experiences, she only turned us over to one higher-up; the other times, I think they went through three guys high-pressuring us before we got our money.
I have to tell you that after our firm "no", he made an offer we almost couldn't refuse. Oh, it sounded wonderful! I can see how people get lured into these things. We were offered a free trip to Hawaii and a reduced time share price because we wouldn't require much travel time yearly, not being died-in-the-wool travelers. But Cliff won't fly, and Hawaii isn't really my dream vacation. What they want you to forget is that you are going to be paying a huge upkeep fee annually, a fee that is more than we paid in yearly property taxes on our home before the grandson bought it.
So we did collect our $125, giving us $40 per hour for our time... wait, there were two of us, so $20 per hour apiece. Nobody insulted us, although the atmosphere in the room where we went to get a voucher for our money was pretty chilly.
I guess it was OK. I've noticed on the Internet that Welk people surf constantly for complaints and present their side of things, so I won't be surprised if I get a comment from them on this blog entry.
Nobody insulted me, and we got our money. That's my assessment.
Next time we're going to Branson, I will be calling the box offices of my favorite shows to get tickets.
By the way, if you want to stay at Welk Resorts, you don't need a time share. Just go to welkresorts.comhttp://welkresorts.com/ and book a stay. It's a nice place.