PLANNING THE TRIP
In early 2010 my wife booked an almost free Florida trip through Caribbean Cruise Lines. My wife was told that our only obligation for the vacation package was to take a Group Tour and then complete a one page survey. She was told that we had to do this at Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas in Palm Beach Shores, Florida. My wife made it perfectly clear that she was not interested in sitting through a typical one-on-one, high-pressured timeshare presentation. She was promised that we would not be required to sit through that type of presentation.
On March 30, 2010, the timeshare salesman at Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas told me and my wife that we were required to sit (one-on-one) through his presentation. We were also required to tour the resort property and then tour the nearby marina. When we objected to this, the salesman told us that my wife and I would be charged the full price of the trip if we didnt sit through his presentation and take the individual tour with him. So, we had no choice--my wife and I sat through the timeshare presentation, which took almost six hours!
DEEDED WEEKEVERY ODD YEAR
On March 30, 2010, my wife and I spent about six hours with the salesman. It was in fact a very high-pressured sales presentation. My wife and I made it very clear to Watson that our children were teenagers and that we were primarily interested in beachside resorts that were within twelve or thirteen hours driving time from Indianapolis, Indiana. We told the salesman that we wanted to take our trips to resorts in Panama City, Myrtle Beach, Florida Panhandle, North Carolina beaches, Mississippi beaches, etc. We told the salesman that we would be taking many of our vacations during spring breaks and early summer. We told the salesman that we were not interested in returning to Palm Beach Shores or to southern Florida.
So, we told him that we were interested in the RCI exchange program that would allow us to vacation at beachside resorts at the above mentioned locations. The salesman promised us and convinced us that we would be purchasing a very special membership that would allow us to book beachside resorts with absolutely no problems at all. The salesman showed us the thick RCI catalogue of resorts and made it seem like we could easily get into any resort found in the catalogue. In November, 2010, I began the process of booking a desired resort in Panama City for a trip in late March/early April, 2011 (odd year deeded week exchange). Because I began looking for resorts four months prior to travel, I figured that we would get a very nice beachside resort in Panama City.
However, THERE WAS NOTHING AVAILABLE!!! Not only was there nothing available on the beach in Panama City, there were no resorts available in Panama City at all. I then attempted for weeks to find an beachside resort available anywhere in the Florida Panhandle, Myrtle Beach, Mississippi, Alabama, etc. There was nothing available anywhere on a beach. My wife and I finally had to settle for a less than desirable resort in Myrtle Beach that was over a mile away from the beach. When we took the trip, we found the resort in Myrtle Beach, which was over a mile away from the beach, just average--nothing special. So our 2011 deeded week exchange was an absolute failure. Neither my family nor I enjoyed being in an average resort over one mile away from the beach. We learned that the salesman's promises were lies.
RCI MEMBERSHIP CARD PROMISEEXTRA WEEK VACATION
After my wife and I told the salesman that we were not interested in the every other year timeshare deeded week, the salesman (in a very excited voice) told us that his boss was offering us an additional Extra Week Vacation" every year. The salesman made this offer sound like we were really being offered something of great value. The salesman said that the "Extra Week Vacation" was good every year, but then explained that the "Extra Week Vacation" could not be booked prior to forty-five days of the check-in date to the resort. Again, the salesman pointed to the RCI catalogue of resorts and made it seem that we could book any resort that we wanted using the "Extra Week Vacation" feature.
At some point during this "Extra Week Vacation" offer, I informed the salesman that I wanted to take my teenage daughters and two of their friends to a beachside resort in Panama City during the last week of May/first week of June, 2010 time period. I asked the salesman if the "Extra Week Vacation" would work for that trip. The salesman told me and my wife that we could definitely use the 2010 "Extra Week Vacation" for our trip to a resort in Panama City. Together, the salesman and I even went through the RCI catalogue and picked out a two bedroom beachside resort in Panama City. The salesman said that we could definitely get that resort for a trip during the last week of May/first week of June.
The salesman even said that he would help us book the resort as soon as we were within the forty-five days of our desired check-in date and as soon we received our RCI membership cards in the mail. When the salesman said something about not being able to book a trip until we received our RCI membership cards, I thoroughly questioned him about this. The salesman said that there would be a short time delay before we received our RCI membership cards in the mail. The salesman said that it sometimes takes a couple of months to receive the membership cards, but he said that the membership cards usually arrive much sooner than two months. The salesman guaranteed us that we would receive
our RCI membership cards in plenty of time in order to book the resort in Panama City for the last week of May/first week of June. Please Note: The last week of May/first week of June was the only time period that I could take my daughters and their friends on a trip to Florida for that summer. After the first week of June, 2010, my daughters were not available to take a trip and I was not able to take off work for a trip.
After about one month of purchasing the timeshare, we had not received our membership cards. I started calling both Palm Beach Shores Resort and RCI about this matter. I was getting very nervous about our Panama City vacation getting messed up. In May, during one of my calls to the Palm Beach Shores Resort sales office, I was told by a female employee that the salesman should have never promised me and my wife that we would receive our RCI membership cards that quickly. She told me that it takes at least two months, and usually longer, to receive those cards.
Well, we did not receive the RCI membership cards until sometime later in the summer, way past the first week in June. We did not get to take a trip to Panama City that first week of June, 2010 using the "Extra Week Vacation". My wife and I totally counted on using that "Extra Week Vacation" in order to take the trip. Because we had put down over $1,300.00 as a down payment on the timeshare purchase, we did not have the extra money to take a trip. Additionally, as I will explain, the salesman not only knew that my wife and I would not receive our RCI membership cards in time to book a resort during the first week of June, 2010, he had to know that we would have had absolutely NO chance to ever get into an beachside resort in Panama City using the Extra Week Vacation.
EXTRA WEEK VACATION SCAM
My wife and I finally agreed to purchase the timeshare from Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas because of the offer of the Extra Week Vacation offer. The salesman made this "Extra Week Vacation" sound like we really hit the jackpot. The salesman understood that we wanted to use our every odd year deeded week and our every year Extra Week Vacation in order to take trips to Panama City, other cities in the Florida Panhandle, Mississippi, Myrtle Beach and stay at beachside resorts. My wife and I thoroughly explained this to Watson. We were with the salesman for several hours, and we made it very clear to him that was what we wanted. At no time did the salesman ever indicate that we would have problems booking desired beachside resorts.
On April 14, 2011, I contacted a booking agent at the RCI corporate offices in regards to booking a beachside resort with our 2011 "Extra Week Vacation" that was due to expire at the end of May 2011. I already had an idea of what to expect because I had been checking on the RCI website for months searching for beachside resorts. During all of my searching for a beachside resort in northern Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina, I found NOTHING available. So when I spoke with the RCI booking agent on April 14, 2011, I had fifteen resorts on my list, and I wanted a check-in date of either May 27th, 28th or 29th. I went down that list and asked the booking agent about each resort. Not to my surprise, there was absolutely no availability at any of the fifteen resorts. I reminded myself: "Why am I paying all of this money for this worthless crap"?
When I got on-line and looked up available resorts, I was really not too shocked t learn that there was not one available beachside resort with check-in dates of either May 27th, 28th, or 29th anywhere in the United States. I then spent the next month or so trying to find a beachside resort so that I could take my daughters on a trip. I found nothing available. So I called RCI again and spoke with a representative. The representative told me that the resort availability for the "Extra Week Vacation" is very limited. She told me that the available resorts for that program are basically left over resorts that the timeshare owners do not use. The RCI representative told me that it would be extremely rare to find a beachside resort in a desirable location using the "Extra Week Vacation" feature. Obviously, the "Extra Week Vacation" promise by the salesman at Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas was a lie and misrepresentation.
FINACIAL BENEFITS OF OWNING A PALM BEACH SHORES RESORT TIMESHARE
Another selling point that our salesman threw at us was the substantial financial saving with owning a timeshare at Palm Beach Shores Resort and Vacation Villas. Now having dealt with this mess for over eighteen months now, I do not see any savings. Between the purchase price, the interest on the loan, the yearly maintenance fees, the yearly property taxes, the yearly membership fees, and the exchange fees for booking resorts other than our deeded property resort, there is no savings.
Additionally, my anticipated expenses of booking my own beachside resorts separate from Palm Beach Shores Resort will cause me to spend a lot of extra money in order to get some desired resorts on our own. And I do not include any benefit from owning the "Extra Week Vacation" because those weeks are worthless to me and my family.
In conclusion, ownership of a Palm Beach Shores Resort timeshare has not been good for me or my wife. The salesman completely lied us regarding the availability of resorts for exchange purposes, the arrival of our RCI membership cards, the "Extra Week Vacation" feature, and the financial benefits of timeshare ownership. So far, our experience with Palm Beach Shores and Vacation Villas has been a huge disappointment.