Copyright John T. Reed

No-obligation free weekend in Napa Wine Country

Throughout my adult life, I have heard of free weekends offered for listening to a sales pitch., but I never was interested. There’s no free lunch, I figured.

But on October 5, 2009, my wife signed us up for such a sale pitch in San Francisco. The no-obligation sales pitch was in an office across the street from Fisherman’s Wharf.

The people involved go by a number of different names:

• Shell Vacation Club, 2770 Taylor Street, Third Floor San Francisco, CA 94133

• Holiday Travel of America, Inc., 6405 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92009

• The Meritage Resort and Spa, 872 Bordeaux Way, Napa, CA 94558

• Summit Hotels and Resorts

At the San Francisco office, we were hit with a hard sell, high-pressure sales pitch. The closer was a guy from Russia.

We said no to their request that we buy a time share.

As promised, they then gave us Certificate #640161 SNWCF for “Destination 1” Napa Valley. This purportedly entitles us to two nights for two adults at a resort in Napa. The certificate says we have to give them at least 60 days notice to make a reservation. Plus we had to wait until six months after the high-pressure sales pitch before we could try to make a reservation.

They also promised us a free gift, explicitly, when we arrived before the sales pitch, but in the event, refused to give it to us unil after the sales pitch. We do not remember what it was.

We carefully complied with all their convoluted requirements for making the reservation.

The first dates we asked for were 5/16/2010 or 5/23/2010. We had to send them $25 with the reservation request. They still have our $25.

They promised to respond 21 to 45 days prior to that date. But they did not respond until 14 days before. They said they had no openings for that weekend even though we avoided the peak season they said to avoid.

We next asked for 9/19/10 or 9/26/10. They said they had no room.

We next asked for 3/20/11 or 5/15/11. They said they had no room.

Along with saying they had no room, they gave us additional sales pitches.

They guaranteed we would get our free weekend within 18 months if we did not try to book only peak season. We never tried to book peak season. We never got the free weekend. They still have our $25.

We do not recommend any of the above organizations or any other “free offer” in return from any timeshare sales organization.

John T. Reed