Follows are excepts from the article along with additional comments from me in italics. I encourage you to READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE.
"...while vacationing with my film-obsessed son, I thought it only natural to stroll into the free-admission Sedona Motion Picture Museum... (a) museum attendant stopped us and soon revealed the true purpose of this pseudo-attraction. The museum was partly a marketing device to entice tourists to timeshare pitches at a 14-year-old resort development (Sedona Pines, a RCI points based timeshare) affiliated with RCI (a timeshare exchange company).... Like slow-witted sheep, my son and I had walked clear-eyed into a booby trap...."
The author goes into a very detailed explanation of her experience, and the high pressure sales tactics used to entice her to decline a potential "developer swap" that would have taken her Marriott timeshare week and $6,000 in exchange for a 30,000 annual point RCI membership based out of the Sedona Pines Resort (similar RCI point ownerships are often sold on eBay for less than $100. and there is currently a 42,000 annual point ownership for Sedona Pines advertised on Redweek.com with an asking price of $900.). She eventually paid $1,295. for a one time allotment of 30,000 RCI points (estimated monetary value of approx $450 to $550 as a rental transaction) just to escape the sales presentation.
She exposes two of the biggest "almost lies" that are used in many developer sales presentations:
Timeshare Developer Sale Weasel Misrepresentation #1 in this Sales Presentation...
"Points members pay no annual maintenance fees, which make traditional timeshare ownership so expensive, he said..."
This is a blatant twisting of the truth by a developer sales weasel in an attempt to deceive. While there are no "maintenance fees" associated with an RCI points account- there are in fact maintenance fees that are associated with the underlying timeshare interval which generates the annual point allotment. In this particular instance, if she would have agreed to the purchase she would have still been responsible for annual maintenance fees to Sedona Pines of approximately $450. per year. She would also have been responsible for the required fees to RCI described below (information taken from http://www.rci.com/CDA/Common/Documents/DisclosureGuidePoints.pdf).
SUBSCRIBING MEMBERSHIP AND TRANSACTION FEES.
Network Dues and Subscription Fees (“Network Dues”) are payable to the Network each Use Year. The 2010 Network Dues are: 1 year: $124 USD
2 years: $229 USD
3 years: $319 USD
4 years: $409 USD
5 years: $499 USD
Each time a Member makes a transaction, a transaction fee is charged. Transactions include but are not limited to making a Reservation, canceling a Reservation, saving RCI Points, or making an External Exchange Reservation. The ranges of 2010 transaction fees are as follows:
Reserving Member’s own Vacation Time for 7 nights only: No Charge
(This means that you use the exact underlying ownership on your deed or resort contract. In other words, you are not charged a transaction fee if you do not use your RCI points account, but are still responsible for the annual dues to RCI).
Home Resort Priority Reservation for 7 nights only: $40 USD
(This means that you simply trade your full week for another full week at your home resort. This is often something you could do at your own resort for free (floating timeshare weeks) before you "converted" to RCI points.)
Reserving Vacation Time other than Member’s own Vacation Time or Home Resort Priority Reservation:
For 7 nights or more: $139 USD
For 6 nights: $119 USD
For 5 nights: $109 USD
For 4 nights: $99 USD
For 3 nights: $79 USD
For 2 nights: $59 USD
For 1 night: $39 USD
(This is the fee you pay when you make a reservation. Also, it's not shown here but many individual resorts also charge a housekeeping fee on top of this fee.)
RCI Points Partner Inventory Reservation:
Fees vary by product type.
(There are various services including rental cars, airline tickets, gift cards, etc.)
Guest Certificate: $59 USD
(You pay this if you allow family or friends to use your reservation.)
Points Transfer: No Charge
Point Borrowing: No Charge
Points Rental: $0.02 USD per point
(This is a per point fee charged to you if you need a few extra points to secure your reservation. You can rent one-time usage points equal to half of your annual allotment each year. This is normally much cheaper than adding another small point package ownership to your portfolio.).
Points for Deposit: $26 per use, limit 4 uses per year
(Points for Deposit is a program where an RCI points owner can deposit up to four RCI weeks intervals into their RCI points account each year. When a RCI Weeks resort converts and joins the RCI points program- you are no longer allowed to use that ownership for points for deposit, but instead must pay the resort developer any amount they determine as a conversion or upgrade fee. This is often a very nasty surprise to timeshare owners who were sold a combination portfolio advertised as RCI points but which actually contained one or more points for deposit intervals.)
If Reservation Made During Use Year: No Charge
If No Reservation Made During Use Year: $26 USD
13,999 points or less: $39 USD;
14,000 points or more: $99 USD
Membership Transfer Application:
RCI Vacation Protection:
For 5 nights or more: $49 USD
For 3 – 4 nights: $39 USD
For 1 – 2 nights: $29 USD
Call Center Domestic/International External Exchange: $194 USD
RCI.COM Domestic/International External Exchange: $179 USD
(These are the fees charged to RCI weeks members for exchanges. If you talk to a person, it costs more!)
What all this means is that the salespersons statement of "no maintenance fees" would have resulted in about $700. in fees each year for ownership, membership, and a full weeks exchange.
Timeshare Developer Sale Weasel Misrepresentation #2 in this Sales Presentation...
"With flexibility, you could always find a destination for 7,000 points or fewer, he said, thus stretching your vacation time to as many as three, maybe even four weeks."
The author herself found out just how difficult it was to accomplish this:
"I’ve spent many hours on the RCI Web site trying to pull the same kind of magic that The Starter achieved — spinning 30,000 points into a series of luxurious getaways. But because I’m not so flexible and usually take vacations along with millions of other regular Americans, I found that my 30,000 points would get me just about what I could expect with II — one week’s stay in a given destination. Many of the nicest places require double my points for prime vacation weeks. I used virtually my whole allotment to book a summer week in New Hampshire, and when I had to reschedule unexpectedly because of work, I discovered to my horror that I would lose 75 percent of my points because I hadn’t bought a $49 “vacation protection” plan."
This developer almost-misrepresentation is a true staple in the industry sales pitch. The promise of "Endless Vacations" by using getaways and last call offerings to travel at pennies on the dollar prices. While these programs exist, members often find that the destinations available are not nearly as desired as the sales person would have you believe. The other big issue for members is that while the point cost of booking the reservation goes down the closer you get to the usage dates- often the travel expense to get there goes up and eats away any savings you would have enjoyed.
The above example is just another illustration of a common-sense truth! Consumers should never agree to any type of purchase when confronted by a high-pressure sales presentation or a threat of a "today only" offer. Consumers should never buy or sell a timeshare on impulse. Timeshare ownership is often a lifelong commitment with annual fees and associated costs of ownership that should only be purchased after a period of careful consideration, research, and due diligence.