Help! Our timeshare charged us $700 after changing our presentation date

Trish Collins gets a surprise bill from Holiday Inn Club Vacation after the presentation dates for her timeshare are changed. Does she still have to pay?

Question: Last year, I reserved a Holiday Inn Club Vacation package for this summer. The resort offers a discount if you attend a timeshare presentation.

We agreed that our timeshare presentation would happen on Monday, June 27, at 2 p.m.

Holiday Inn Club Vacation then changed the presentation date to Thursday, June 30, at 1:30 p.m. I wasn’t scheduled to be at the property then.

When I found out later that our presentation date had been changed, I spent hours on the phone trying to get a new appointment for a time that we would be at the resort. I was told that no appointment was available, despite the fact that the resort itself told us they had appointments available on June 28.

During these phone calls, I was informed that a review would be made of the phone call when I made our reservation, and if I had made it clear we would only be there for the four days, then we would not be charged for the missed presentation date.

I was charged $700 for missing the presentation.

I called Holiday Inn Club Vacations and spoke with a representative. She spoke with her supervisor and said the best she could do was refund us $300. I asked to speak with her supervisor, who was combative, rude, and condescending.

I’m writing to you because I have done everything in my power to keep up my end of this bargain. I never changed our presentation date, and I wasn’t informed that our date had changed. I blindly confirmed our reservation for the presentation date via email because I had no reason to believe our date had been changed. I hadn’t changed the date so why would someone else?

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Can you help me get my remaining $400 back? — Trish Collins, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Answer: You made every effort to attend the timeshare presentation and meet your end of the bargain. If Holiday Inn Club Vacation changed your dates, then it needed to find a date you were actually on property.

These timeshare offers can be a great deal if you know how to say “no.” But the folks selling these vacation products know that they can persuade enough people to say “yes,” and that makes the discounts worth it — to them. But as I’ve described time and again, timeshares are a questionable investment for most travelers.

A few get real value out of them. A vast majority don’t. The biggest beneficiaries, of course, are the resort developers and the aggressive salespeople pushing folks like you into a purchasing decision. (The dynamic is similar, but not identical to that of loyalty programs. But I’m not going there today.)

There’s no excuse for being “combative, rude, and condescending,” as you put it. Rather, a representative from Holiday Inn Club Vacation should have taken the time to review your grievance and determine who was responsible for the missed presentation. Clearly, the company was responsible.

You could have contacted someone at a higher level at InterContinental Hotels, Holiday Inn’s parent company. But in reviewing your paper trail, it seemed as if you had already gone back and forth with the company enough times. Time to get a little professional help.

Our advocacy team contacted Holiday Inn Club Vacation on your behalf. It apologized to you and refunded the additional $400.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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