Reviews of the timeshare industry by the owners...
November 2, 2010
To: Office of the Attorney General
c.c.: National Timeshare Owners Association
To whom it may concernAs time-share owners, my wife and I stayed at the Wyndham Vacation Resorts, #725 Bypass Road, Williamsburg VA 23185, during the week of September 18, which was arranged through time-share exchange facilitator SFX.
Since we are happy with our two time-share units in Canada and Mexico and do not wish to add to them, we normally stay away from the customary “Owners’ Meetings”, whose main purpose is to sell more units. However, we were convinced to attend the Wyndham meeting as they had apparently some new and interesting information that they urgently wished to convey to owners and guests.
On arriving at the meeting site, we were asked if we had any experience with RCI, the world’s major time-share exchange facilitator, and if we had any negative feed-back. We explained that we had been frustrated RCI members for many years, that RCI had never been able to accommodate our requests - even though they would regularly sell ‘Specials’ through their website that for some reason were not available to us through regular exchanges - and that we had rescinded our membership for these reasons. We also stated that we would not attend the meeting if it had anything at all to do with RCI.
The Wyndham agent assigned to us readily agreed that RCI was indeed guilty of collecting billions of dollars in annual fees from dissatisfied members world-wide, while unable to provide the advertised services, resulting in thousands of complaints of the type we had experienced. However, we were assured that we would be pleasantly surprised during the meeting, as Wyndham had taken over RCI and that the member abuses we and thousands of others had suffered over the years had come to an end.
It turned out that Wyndham had indeed purchased RCI and now legitimately collects those billions of RCI membership fees. The agent then explained a Wyndham point system, which is intended to provide a better deal through the ‘new’ RCI, alas at a minimum cost of $8,000 for these Wyndham points.
We told the agent that we were not prepared to purchase Wyndham points and asked about the consequences with regards to future RCI membership services, as we might consider re-joining the new Wyndham-owned RCI. At this juncture we were informed that unfortunately it would be ‘business as usual’, unless we bought into the Wyndham point system.
We were also informed that all timeshare resorts are switching to a point system and if we did not purchase points we would eventually be left out of exchange possibilities altogether.
This seems to be a scam to squeeze ever more fees out of timeshare owners that began with RCI stepping up membership levels from regular to silver, then to gold, then to platinum and now to points, with each subsequent level leaving members at the original level farther removed from obtaining the requested exchanges. In the meantime, RCI scoops up - free of charge and for RCI’s sole use - those weeks that members deposited in hopes of an exchange that they were ultimately unable to receive during the next two years, but on which maintenance fees were already paid by them to their respective home resorts.
For these units RCI provides no re-imbursement or any share of their profits to the owners.
Because we are not familiar with the U.S. legal system, we do not know if the Wyndham/RCI merger warrants a monopoly investigation in view of the fact that Wyndham is one of the world’s largest resort and hotel chains, and RCI the world’s largest time-share exchange facilitator, a combination seemingly capable of manipulating the resort exchange market even further to the disadvantage of RCI members and non-members alike.
At the very least, Wyndham should not be able to discriminate against RCI members who refuse to purchase Wyndham Points, although this now seems to be the case.
We hereby submit the above facts in case they warrant further investigation and intervention by your organizations.
Alfred and Beth Kasik