A broken Disney Vacation Club promise?

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By Christopher Elliott

David Willard buys 350 points in Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s timeshare program. But now he can’t use them. Is he out of luck?

Question

About six weeks ago our salesperson promised to help us with our second reservation as soon as we had our dates decided, because we had booked our first reservation on our own.

When we called, we found out he is on indefinite medical leave, and were directed to speak with another salesperson about the reservation. The second salesperson said she couldn’t help because Disney only offers to help on the first reservation.

We tried to appeal to a supervisor, but she also refused to help. And her tone on the phone was not what one expects of a Disney representative — very negative and condescending.

It is not our fault that our salesperson is on medical leave and we feel Disney should honor what he told us. The longer they delay, the less chance any villas will be available. Can you help us get that magic that we expected from Disney? — David Willard, Newtown, Pa.

Answer

Disney’s policy may be to give priority to first-time reservations, but it is not something that is openly promoted, as far as I can tell. Nonetheless, if your timeshare salesman promised you could use your first-reservation credit on your second reservation, it’s something Disney should make good on.

I’ve attended the Disney Vacation Club presentation here in Orlando, and it’s a pretty impressive program. Disney offers a lot of properties, and the rates were reasonable enough that I even considered buying in. Why didn’t I? Like a lot of Americans, I don’t have nearly enough vacation time to use it.

Lost in the shuffle

The problem with the agreement you had with your first sales representative is that it was verbal. You couldn’t have foreseen his indefinite medical leave when you tried to make the reservation. This incident highlights the significance of documenting every detail.

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Even a brief email from Disney, agreeing to help you with the second reservation, would have prevented this from taking away the magic of your vacation. If you didn’t have something in writing, you could have started a paper trail — or in your case, an email trail — with your request. (Related: Disney promised me fireworks! Where are the fireworks?)

Disney would have been compelled to respond to you by email, and it may have answered differently (and almost certainly without the attitude you got from the supervisor).

I think the Vacation Club staff you dealt with could have done better, from finding a new salesman who had been properly briefed on your needs, to ensuring that all of the promises he made to you were being kept, even if the promises weren’t necessarily in line with stated company policy. And, of course, there’s no excuse for being unpleasant with a customer — ever. (Here’s our guide to joining and leaving a travel club.)

My advocacy team and I contacted Disney Vacation Club on your behalf. A representative called you and helped you make a reservation at the timeshare you wanted.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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