Welcome to the start of another week with AIT, today we have a quick look at one of the most common complaints in timeshare, availability, or rather the lack of it. First, we have a quick review of our Friday Article: Veterans with Security Clearances and Timeshare Lending.
The comments received and also those posted on the different forums all expressed horror at the plight of this particular veteran. He is aged 64, and is 100% disabled, he has served 24 years which has included deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet all this means absolutely nothing to Westgate, who has yet to make any response to his situation. For any person with a sense of honour, this is totally unacceptable, and we have to question the Lawmakers and AGs who appear to be doing nothing to protect consumers let alone this Veteran.
We will keep you informed on this story and we do hope that it will be good news and not another tale of woe.
Moving now to our main story today on availability or the lack of it, and is probably the most common complaint from timeshare owners on both sides of the Great Lake, yet no one seems to get a proper answer when they complain.
We have heard from owners/members who have tried to book as soon as the new booking year opens, only to be told “No Availability”, yet they have found their resort for the dates they want on booking.com.
One of the main reasons is obviously the points or floating weeks systems, you are a member of a “Vacation Club” and part of the terms & conditions is that it is all subject to availability. To explain in very simple terms, a resort has 189 apartments, each apartment is divided into 52 weeks, now the resort will hold back at least 1 week, possibly 2 weeks for maintenance and “marketing” purposes.
This resort began as a fixed-week fixed apartment resort, where each “owner” was allocated a specified week and apartment, it was theirs to use each and every year. So when sales began they had 189 apartments at 50 weeks each, that is 9,450 weeks or “owners”. Once sold you can’t sell anymore, sales are now closed. Or so we thought.
Enter the points system (or floating weeks), some bright spark in sales and marketing came up with the idea of changing the fixed weeks into points, a kind of currency, and they become “Members” of a “Club”. They begin to introduce the new system and the sales force is out to convert the fixed week owners into points club members.
You no longer have the luxury and guarantee of the fixed week fixed apartment, and the original 9,450 maximum members doubles. There are still only 9,450 weeks available, but now there are 18,900 members (also double the income from maintenance fees). How do you fit them all in?
But there are also other reasons, one has been the misuse of weeks by resorts for profit denying members the availability. This particular allegation has now been presented to the United States District Court For The District Of Delaware, Case No. 1:20 CV-00436-RGA-JLH
STEVEN ERIC KIRCHNER, ELIZABETH LEE KIRCHNER, and MARCIA RICHARDS, Individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
WYNDHAM VACATION RESORTS INC., Defendant.
What makes this of interest is the “Declaration” of Danielle Henderson on behalf of the plaintiffs. It turns out that she was Vice President of Resort Operations with Travel + Leisure Co. (T L), formerly Wyndham Destinations Inc., the parent company of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc.
“I am prepared to testify that T + L improperly allocates and misappropriates owner inventory for its own financial gain, which severely reduces the availability of accommodations for owners”.
Well, this is a turn-up for the books. Irene, who is currently on a road trip will be doing a full follow-up of this story, which we hope will be in the next week or so. It is also a story that we intend to keep an eye on.
What this also shows is that with the move to points-based membership, timeshare took a turn for the worst, it became the industry we know today, one of sheer greed and making money no matter what. It also allowed all the lies to creep in, the constant upgrades and one of the worst sales tactics we have come across is the sales agent telling the client that what he was told by the original agent was nothing more than a lie. Don’t worry I’ll put it right for you, just pay another 25 grand.
In Spain, the points system was seen for what it is, nothing but fresh air, it is a “product” without substance. Hence the Spanish Supreme Court has made numerous rulings which have made the points system illegal. We have yet to see what will happen if & when sales resume, how will developers sell points or club membership in Spain, will they find what they think is another loophole?
PDF of the Declaration of Danielle Henderson
We hope you all had a good weekend, Baby Dog is a little annoyed because he wasn’t allowed to chew any ankles, he’s still sulking.