Royal Holiday Timeshare Making the News for All the Wrong Reasons – Part I

Part I of a two-part post.

If you ask the people that own and operate Royal Holiday vacation club and timeshare, they will tell you that 97 percent of their approximately 65,000 timeshare owners or members never complain. Yet a recent investigation by ABC’s 20/20 revealed a different picture.

Let’s start with the semantics of what Royal Holiday Club sells. According to an ABC News report, “Royal Holiday calls its Vacations for Life plan an alternative to the complaint-riddled timeshare business.”

We can skip the double talk here. Vacation ownership, fractionals, vacation clubs, and timeshares are all variations of the same thing. The type of ownership will vary. You may have deeded timeshare ownership or you may own the right to use a timeshare resort property. You may even own points that can be used like currency to pay for your vacation accommodations. But in all cases, whether it is one week every other year, or 180 days of glorious vacation time, you still own vacation rights that are measured in intervals of shared time. Voila! Timeshare! And frankly, companies that call themselves something other than a timeshare are usually just looking for an angle they think will improve their marketability.

Two Sides to this Timeshare Sales Story

There are two sides to every argument. Royal Holiday is probably correct, that they have a huge number of satisfied timeshare owners, a.k.a. members. I also think the 20/20 investigators are right that there are unhappy timeshare buyers who justifiably feel ripped off by Royal Holiday.

While the average member at Royal Holiday vacation club, who buys from Royal Holiday, pays $11,000 to join, plus a yearly fee of about $465, this price varies greatly depending on how much vacation time a person is seeking.

And it doesn’t seem that the majority of the complaints are about Royal Holiday’s resorts. The vacation club company has more than 180 destinations, as well as 3000 different cruise itineraries, which members can access by spending their “Holiday Credits” or points.

But here’s the problem. There are some angry people who are very dissatisfied with the difference in what they thought they were buying and what they actually own. And it all goes back to the sales people who sold them their Royal Holiday vacation club memberships, and some very unethical sales practices.

According to the 20/20 investigation, the company has, “…a growing number of members who say Royal Holiday misled them about how the club operates, and the availability of vacations they’d want. The only thing royal about their membership was the way they were ripped off.”

“They lie,” was the accusation raised most often in describing the sales staff at Royal Holiday. And if complaints are the measure of dishonesty, then it looks like lying is a growing trend at this company.

In 2005, there were 282 complaints against Royal Holiday; in 2006, there were 506 complaints; and by 2007, there were 761. Unless the company’s business tripled between 2005 and 2007, their complaint ratio is definitely moving in the wrong direction fast. As further proof of the problems, consider the fact that the Better Business Bureau gives Royal Holiday its lowest ranking, an “F”.

Take a few minutes, watch the 20/20 investigative report on Royal Holiday courtesy of YouTube, and then come back to the Timeshare Owners Blog tomorrow to read the rest of the story…