Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trading Power With RCI Weeks

A long time timeshare owner contacted me several weeks ago with a situation that potentially affects hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners worldwide.

It seems as if he deposited a week with RCI that had a set trading power value.  However, once the deposit was confirmed, the trading value had been diminished, resulting in his inability to obtain the exchange that he wanted.

This was problematic for any number of reasons.

I had a series of phone calls, e-mails and meetings with RCI representatives here in the United States and in Europe in an attempt to resolve this situation. (Let me add a "thank you" to all at RCI who looked into this matter.)

In order to fully understand the situation, here is RCI’s Deposit Trading Power Adjustment Schedule:

Time Frame                                                                    % of Trading

2 years to 9 months (276 days+) from check in              100%

6 to 9 months (181 to 275 days) from check in               95%

3 to 6 months (91 to 180 days) from check in                 90%

1 to 3 months (31 to 90 days) from check in                   80%

15-30 days from check in                                                 60%

14 days or less from check in                                           45%

It seems that there are only two (2) possible explanations for a reduction in trading power value: 

1)    If the week was deposited into the system close to the date where the value would be reduced (i.e. the 9 month deadline, etc.) and the home resort took some time to verify, causing the actual date to fall outside of the 9 month deadline

2)    If the week was deposited into the system close to an annual evaluation period  done by RCI (of which an owner would have no knowledge of) and again the home resort delayed in verifying

There are then two possible actions that you and all RCI Weeks owners should take:

1)     Do not wait until a week or so out from any deadline to deposit

2)     Call the home resort upon deposit to alert them that the deposit has been made

Have any other owners experienced similar issues?  We’d also like to hear from RCI resorts…how long do you normally take to verify that a week has been deposited?


Monday, November 25, 2013

When Is A Consumer Advocate Not A Consumer Advocate

More often than not unfortunately.

I won't belabor the point that there are many timeshare owners, many of them older, that are frustrated, tired, or just plain fed up with their timeshare for one reason or another.  Most of those can be addressed and overcome with proper education, but that's a discussion for another day.

The system of finding a niche market has really flourished with the proliferation of the seemingly endless pseudo consumer advocacy groups focused on timeshare.

Timeshare owners need to be educated and use more common sense when dealing with these companies.  More often than not, and I'm being generous here, these companies end up causing more problems for everyone.

Here are some tips:

*  If the company initiated contact, avoid them
*  If the company makes their money in the transfer of timeshare, they are NOT advocates
*  If the company bad mouths timeshare, they are NOT advocates

For additional tips, keep reading this blog.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews Wyndham National Harbour Resort

I have recently returned from Wyndham National Harbour resort in Maryland and the most important fact is that unless you have a really good knowledge of the geography of the USA you will probably not realise that this resort is only a few minutes drive from Washington DC and all its many attractions. I believe that resort management could have made this resort more prominent by calling it Wyndham National Harbor by Washington DC in order to stress just how close it is to the Nations capital city.

I only have one criticism of this resort and that is as soon as you have checked in and you and making your way with your luggage to the lift you are approached by a member of their sales team to take a survey about the resort and the exchange system. This approach is followed by further telephone calls which turned out as recorded messages for me as there is so much to do in Washington that we were out all day and hence were never in to answer the calls from the sales staff.

Having got the above criticism out of the way let me state that this is one of the  best exchanges that I have made in approaching six hundred exchanges I have made since becoming a member of RCI back in 1980. The accommodation is superb as the two bed two bath apartment was very spacious and luxurious. Sadly although the title National Harbor hints at great views of the Potomac this is not the case as it is located a few hundred yards from the harbour and many of the apartments currently overlook a building site.

The resort has a good activities program but we chose not to take up any of the options offered because of the attractions of Washington DC. I found the internet connect to be fairly reliable and when I had an issue with my lap top I found that the resort has four computers for guests to use free of charge. I never had to wait to use these computers which was a bonus when compared to some resorts that I have visited in the past.

In my opinion one of the first things guests should do after unpacking is to visit Randall the friendly concierge who will give you advice and guidance about where to go in Washington and how to get there. He gave me helpful advice about the metro and bus services as well as the availability and prices of various tours. I never felt any pressure to purchase any tours from him although we did in the end purchase tickets for the on off bus tours around Washington. Randall talked to me about the options of getting into Washington which included using the free twenty four seat courtesy bus from National Harbor to a local metro station. Several people told us however that this bus is often full hence there was no guarantee on getting a place on it. Another option Randall mentioned was taking a bus to another metro station and then take the metro into Washington. This sounded a better option but in the end we decided to purchase passes for fours days on the on off old trolley bus tour partly because the company picked us up just one hundred yards from the resort.

I believe the best way I can review this superb resort is to give readers an indication of what we did on each day as it gives an idea of what is available in the area. The first full day was spent on a river cruise up the Potomac river which allowed us to visit Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown plus see many of the historic buildings from a distance. We spent around three hours exploring each of these historic towns. The cruise starts at a location at National Harbor that is only about three hundred yards from the Wyndham resort.

On the second day we took a cruise up the Potomac to visit Mount Vernon the home of George Washington. The house and grounds are open to the public and we paid our respects at the location where he is buried with his wife. This trip can also be booked by coach through Randall if you prefer not to cruise the Potomac.

The next four days were spent visiting the various Washington attractions including the various memorials, the Washington Monument, the Capital building, the Arlington National Cemetery, Grand Central Railway station, Washington Cathedral, the Smithsonian air and Space museum and the Ford Theatre to name just a few of the places visited.

I visited in late October but I am told that the best time to visit Washington is in early spring when the Cherry trees are in blossom. I hope that after reading my review that some of you will be tempted to visit this really special resort but as I said earlier be prepared for some contact from the sales staff. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

When Is A Voluntary Contribution NOT Voluntary?

Let me start this post with a statement:  I DO NOT OWN A HGVC TIMESHARE.

Got it?  Good.

Let's get to the story.  I received an e-mail from one of my regular posters and a member of the National Timeshare Owners Association that stated in part that, "I am unable to opt-out of the voluntary $5.00 ARDA-ROC fee as part of my HGVC annual fee when paying online.  If I want to opt-out I must pay by mail or call in my payment."

Now before I go out on a rant, I'm throwing this story out to other HGVC owners and more importantly, HGVC and ARDA-ROC.

What's the story here?

Owners of any other timeshares encountered this issue?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Caution About Cold Callers

As many of you know, I've recently been appointed as the Executive Director of the National Timeshare Owners Association (http://www.nationaltimeshareownersassoc.com)

I am pleased to report that the NTOA has taken the same strong stance as I always have about cold callers.

Here's what the website says:

Three important messages that we want to get out to our members:
  1. No reputable company will ever call, email, fax, direct mail, message or in any way initiate contact first. If you are contacted by any firm or individual without contacting them first, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM. PERIOD. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  2. Use caution when clicking on web based links, filling out forms for prize drawings, etc. Many times those actions legally allow companies to contact you. As with any unsolicited e-mails, do not click on any links.
  3. Report any suspicious telemarketing activity to the NTOA immediately for appropriate referral.
I strongly urge everyone to keep these tips top of mind.  Unlike many other organizations who have taken a soft approach, i.e. be careful with cold callers or talk to a lawyer before doing any business with anyone who contacts you first, the NTOA tells it like it is:  DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM.