How RCI has gone from a good idea for timeshare owners, to causing rage
One of the great things about my lovely Gran and Grandad ever getting a timeshare, is that when they got it, they also got what at the time, was a little gem called an RCI membership. This little gem of a membership allows the timeshare to be exchanged throughout the world, so that we didn't always have to stay at our home resort in Spain.
So, fast forward to 2018, where I've promised my gran that despite being a wheelchair user, and not having even thought about using the timeshare for the last 3 years, that I'd start using the timeshare even if it means transferring it to a better equipped resort. Luckily for me, when I turned 18 I was put on the account of our timeshare, meaning that at the home resort, and any of the sister resorts, I don't have to pick up the quite frankly sneaky guest certificate fee. However, RCI don't seem to want to accept proof that I'm on the account at Macdonald resorts (the company who manage where our timeshare is based). They want me to pay the guest fee every time I want to use RCI, despite 1. living at my grans address since I was 14, and 2. being the only family member actually interested in using on the timeshare, let alone formally taking it on when the time comes.
Then there's another bugbear of using RCI. 10 years ago, gran used to let me go on RCI with her, pick out resorts I liked, and then she'd look at the various costs the resort charge when we were there. That was way before my spine happened. Now, not only do all the resorts I like the look of seem to have nothing in terms of accessibility information, the ones that do tend to be mandatory half board with fees of up to 900 euros a week! The other bugbear I have, is that half of the resorts I've stayed at in the past with gran, for example in Malta and Gran Canaria are no longer on the list of RCI resorts. Annoying, because I know that these two resorts actually had lifts, ramps around stairs, and looking at the holiday photos from when I was there last, would have been perfect for me to get around! The even cheekier thing that RCI have done, is that their phone number is a premium number - not great if you need to talk to someone, and if there is no accessibility information on a specific resort on the website, you have to contact the resort itself, also sometimes requiring you to phone the actual resort (no thanks). Considering that most timeshare owners are now well into their 60's and 70's, you'd think that RCI would force resorts to list their accessibility (or lack of), on the website in order to be allowed on in the first place!
The website itself is often down, and has constant faults which when you're trying to book somewhere is the last thing you need. The only good thing RCI does is the deals where if you're clever and work it out right, you can get 7 weeks of holidays on 46 points. The points depend on what your timeshare is worth during the year. For example, the timeshare at the home resort is 1 bedroom with 2 weeks in the peak season so 23 points per week a year to spend. However, the exchange really isn't worth it if 1. you don't know what the resort is like accessibility wise, 2. the resorts are all mandatory half board and 3. if RCI are going to add quite frankly sneaky fees here, there and everywhere. The fees that they add actually make an all inclusive package holiday from British Airways look value for money!
Have you had problems with RCI or similar exchange companies? Let me know in the comments, it'll be interesting to see just how widespread the problem is.