December 12, 2014 — I was trying to remember what the weekly RCI exchange rate was when I started selling slices of Paradise decades ago. I thought it was around $39, $49 or $59 for each week exchanged but I just couldn’t remember. So I did some digging and discovered that in 1974 when RCI first started their exchange system the fee was a whopping $7.00 for an entire week! If true, then adjusted for inflation that same exchange fee today for owners/members should be around $34.41 (for the week) – which is far lower than RCI’s current call-in exchange rate of $219.00 for a week or their $209.00 online rate.
So Here’s The Scoop:< Last week a reader of my column posted a comment in response to the article I wrote regarding timeshare owners’ (members) annual maintenance fees actually being a pretty darn good deal. In the comment section this person said: “The real problem is the exchange fee; $200 or about $30 per night.” And “That is a rip off for what amounts to nothing more than making a reservation.”
I have written on that topic previously, specifically on the issue that, IMO, exchange fees imposed by most exchange companies amount to just that, a fee for making and securing a reservation somewhere inside the ‘system’. And for a company like RCI, owned, I believe, by the Wyndham Hotel Group (‘W’), that begs the following question.
Why is it that ‘John, Q Public’ (JQP) or anyone else can get online or make a toll free call to ‘W’ and at no cost to them they can check for availability, book and secure a reservation for the accommodations of their choosing and then receive an instant verification for one or more nights at most Wyndham Hotel Group properties w/o any additional costs; yet a timeshare owner has to pay hundreds of dollars extra to reserve their ‘time’ through RCI?
Now I’m not picking on the ‘W’ and/or the RCI crowd because free reservations can be secured with just about every hotel or motel operation, etc. around the world – including at timeshare developers’ properties everywhere.
And, as an example, for JQP renting those accommodations within the ‘W’ chain, they can book free reservations at (e.g.): Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham® – Howard Johnson® – Planet Hollywood® – Travelodge® – Days Inn® – Ramada Worldwide® – Wingate by Wyndham® – Microtel by Wyndham® – Wyndham Garden Hotel® – Dream Hotel® – Baymont Inn and Suites – Knights Inn® – Super 8® – Night Hotels – Wyndham Grand Hotel & Resorts® – TRYP by Wyndham, etc.
It also appears renters can do the same via the “Wyndham Exchange & Rentals” program which ‘W’ states is: “The world’s largest professional manager of vacation rentals, Wyndham Exchange & Rentals helps to deliver dream vacations to leisure travelers”. JQP (anyone) can rent w/o a reservation fee at “over 107,000 vacation properties in more than 100 countries, including vacation ownership condominiums, traditional hotel rooms, villas, cottages, bungalows, campgrounds, city apartments, second homes, fractional resorts, private residence clubs, condo hotels and yachts.”
“What’s that Lassie? You say Timmy can reserve vacation accommodations at all those ‘W’ properties without any additional fee or cost for their reservations and often at discounted nightly/weekly rental rates? Good girl Lassie – at least Timmy didn’t fall down the well again!”
But like I said, I’m not picking on the good folks at ‘W’ and/or RCI. We love them, their programs and services as much as they love the services we provide our industry.
However, I do get confused with this darn owner/member RCI ‘EXCHANGE’ fee because, IMO, I doubt anything is truly being
swapped ‘exchanged’; and when I adjust the original RCI weekly rate of $7 in 1974 to the current rate today for a phone-in weekly reservation exchange fee of $219.00 that concerns me as well.
And if I add to that all those RCI members who only pay their annual RCI dues on a year-to-year basis – and in 2015 that additional fee will increase about 11.24% over the 2014 cost – then an
reservation exchange will cost those members about $318.00 for the week or about $45.43 PER NIGHT, and I believe, say a four-week owner/member will pay RCI a whopping $1,272.00 fee for their trade, swap ‘exchange’.
Perhaps it’s time for RCI and others to call it what it is – not an exchange fee but instead, maybe, a discounted nightly/weekly rental rate. Especially when considering JQP & TS owners/members can rent discounted ‘bonus’ nights/weeks from most exchange companies, developers, travel agents, etc. ANYWAY!
And they can do so for much less than it cost TS owners/members for the privilege of outright purchasing their vacation plan (up to tens of thousands of dollars and more), the often excessively high interest rates charged by some developers to ‘tote the note’ (thousands of dollars more regardless of how good their FICO score), the annual maintenance fees (average $800 per week owned and exchanged) and potential special assessments (often thousands of more dollars per owner/member) etc.
And then, on top of all that the fact that, for a few minutes of labor and data input into a computerized central reservation system RCI (and other exchange company) owners/members are paying an ‘extra’ $45 PER NIGHT when using their TS plan away from their home resort is, IMO, a full blown slap in the face if not downright insulting and being excessively greedy!
Good Luck Out There
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Contributing sometimes extravagant, bombastic, emotional, pompous or even pretentious writings about the timeshare industry, Scoop covers an array of industry related subjects each week including inside information, tips, scandals, interviews, forecasts as well as new (good or bad) products and services — and, of course, all the ‘Good’, the ‘Bad’ and the ‘Ugly’.
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