Monday, September 23, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews The Manhattan Club

I visited the Manhattan Club in New York city in May and this is my review of this timeshare resort which is probably the most famous resort in RCI.
The first point I wish to make is that anybody who is asked by the resort to visit a sales presentation should read Lisa's recent blogs as it appears that owners are having some difficulty booking time at the resort unless you book it nine months in advance. I was contacted twice via E mail by the resort prior to my visit and I was asked if I wished to attend a sales presentation. I politely declined and rather to my surprise and I give the resort credit for this no timeshare sales staff phoned me during my week long stay at the resort.
This timeshare resort is unique in my experience because the  trading power required to obtain an exchange is always fifty eight for a studio and sixty for a one bed apartment. At all other timeshare resorts as far as I am aware some account is taken of the time of year and the demand pattern at that time of year. In my view the best time to visit the Manhattan club is the spring and autumn months so avoiding the potentially harsh New York winters and the hot summers where temperatures are often in the 90'sF.
I think one of the first questions you have to ask yourself before trying to get an exchange to the Manhattan Club is the costs involved as it is certain that you will need to combine at least two and potentially up to five or six weeks to get an exchange to this timeshare resort. We therefore need to consider these costs plus the thirty dollars a day housekeeping fee so this is not a cheap timeshare exchange holiday by any stretch of the imagination. I was fortunate in having to combine only two weeks and had a balance deposit credit left after booking my exchange to this timeshare resort.

I found the staff to be friendly and check in and out was done without any undue delay. The location of the Manhattan Club could not be better as its just three blocks from Central Park and three minutes walk to the nearest subway (underground for us UKers) station with a fast, cheap and reliable service to all parts of Manhattan and beyond. I found it worthwhile to book the open air bus tours as there is so much to see in New York so that travelling underground you obviously miss many of the sights. I am not going to give an extensive list of what to do in New York as that surely is a matter of personal taste and many of the highlights be it the Empire State building or the Statue of Liberty don't need any introduction from me.

I have read some reviews of the Manhattan Club on the RCI website that complain about the size of the apartments and therefore question its Gold Crown status. In my opinion this is unfair as it's like comparing apples and pears as New York is unique and the costs of accommodation is very high there so you will find a large two bedroom apartment at many locations that would cost less to build and you would pay less in taxes than a small studio in Manhattan.

It is wise to plan ahead re a potential exchange to this resort as space is frequently not available due to the high demand and the limited number of weeks that are placed in RCI usually in batches by the Manhattan Club. It is wise in my opinion to put on an on going search for this resort due to its limited availability and don't forget that this resort will only let you visit there on exchange once every four years. A question I often ask myself at the end of each exchange is would I like to go back and the answer with the Manhattan Club is a definite yes I would like to return there some day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Timeshare Maintenance Fees Don't Do

Over this past weekend I read an article I where one of the points was "timeshare maintenance fees insure the resale value of a timeshare."

Took me back to my timeshare selling days where I was taught by management types to say, "Yes, the fees occasionally do increase.  Because if they don't go up every now and then, what do you (the client) think is going to happen to the value of the property?"  At which point my client would nod and say "Ah, the value of the property would go down."  And everyone was happy.

This is, obviously, wrong on many counts.  The "value" of the property has little or nothing to do with the fees being charged.  And absolutely nothing to do with the cost that the resort is charging for the property on the primary market.

Unlike a car or a house, both cases in which the upkeep and maintenance play a large part in the "value" of the product, particularly on the secondary market, timeshare does not operate that way.

I'm certainly NOT advocating against these necessary fees and I am certainly NOT advocating for consumers to not pay these fees, but I am tired of the talking heads in the community getting coverage for things that aren't true.

Maintenance fees are a necessary part of OWNERSHIP.  They are not there to insure the resale value of a timeshare.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Timeshare Sales Pitches in 2013

I was not looking to write a post about timeshare sales pitches.  I was doing a search about a resort in the Orlando area totally unrelated to sales.  After all, even I get sick and tired of hearing about sales pitches.

After digging around for less than 5 minutes, I came across this gem on Yelp (I've removed anything that would lead anyone to guess the name of the resort):

Second (and VERY IMPORTANT) - the Horrible Timeshare Presentation:

The sales staff is rude, deceptive and inconsiderate.  We arrived on time for an 8:30 a.m. presentation.  We told the guy up front that we had pre-paid for a tour of Orlando at 12:30, and that we had been told the presentation was 90 minutes long.  Oh, you'll be out in plenty of time, the guy assured us.  WRONG.  

The entire presentation consisted of high-pressure requests to purchase it today, before even seeing the property or hearing the price.  I repeatedly said I would not agree to purchase anything that I hadn't seen, and without knowing the price.  That didn't matter - the guy repeatedly demanded an answer about purchasing.

After more than 90 minutes, we told the guy we needed to make our tour, and to get on with it - he ignored us.  More high pressure.  Still haven't seen the property.  Finally, after two hours, we were loaded onto a bus and taken to a unit totally unlike the one we stayed in (by the way - if you like the idea of going to the bathroom in a place with no walls - you might enjoy the 'open-bay' master bath - how romantic . . . ).  

Back to the Sales Prison.  After about 2-1/2 hours, Mr. High Pressure finally gets someone else to come to the table and tell us the details of purchase.  We are running late, but we listen.  BEWARE - their sales pitch is extremely deceptive.  They ask you what you pay for vacations on a regular basis, then try to show you it's a trade-off to own one of their condos.  Not true, because they factor in things like food and transportation - which you will still need to pay for even if you buy a timeshare.

After pointing out the fallacy of their sales pitch, I say I am not interested - but that's not good enough for them - yet ANOTHER guy has to come to the table.  We tell him we need to leave in five minutes (our tour will start soon, and we need to return to the room, get the paid receipt for the tour and change clothes, and drive there).  As with the other guy - he is RUDE.  The attitude at this place is if you are smart enough to ask questions, and if you make a legitimate decision NOT to buy, you are dumb, and they insult you.

We finally escaped - after more than three hours.  We were given two $50 'gift cards,' but not told they would expire in 60 days.  Because we had to return to the room, change, get the address, etc. for the tour, we MISSED the tour we had paid for prior to arriving.  The tour people put us in a car with some guy, but we did not see the sights we had signed up to see - and the tour bus was long gone.

After leaving Orlando, I complained to the marketing staff and requested them to 'make good' on the money we had spent for a tour that we missed due to their staff.  Then, a few months later (long after they told me they would 'get back to me'), we learned the gift cards had expired!  So I contacted them again.  And again.  We paid hundreds of dollars to go to Orlando, rent a car, and be held hostage by several jerks on their sales staff. 

I was finally 'upped' to the Marketing Director - she was extremely rude.  She rudely said she 'didn't have time to fool with us,' and would refund the money for the tour and for the gift cards.  I sent documentation on the fee for the tour, and although they did 'make good' on the gift cards, they reneged on their pledge to pay for the tour - claiming that we could have made it there in time, that we 'did' have a tour, and that the presentation had been a 'podium' presentation (which it was NOT).  They've also referred to a 'breakfast' prior to the pitch - we saw no breakfast.

AVOID this place at all costs - they're rude, deceptive, and they don't even know how they run their own show.

Even if you discount the story about the "tour of Orlando" (which I do because there is no such thing), I have to ask myself:  Why is this still going on?  Why?