Having endured many difficult things in life, I have trouble understanding how something that seems and sounds so simple as an ‘ affordable vacation plan’ can cause my blood to boil every morning, result in sleepless nights, and fill my soul with so much disgust that I can literally feel it oozing out of every pore of my skin. In this article, as difficult as it may be to contain myself, I will express my personal experience with Viva Vacation Club, attempting to only state the facts. The reader can then make of them what they will, and hopefully for the better, learn a valuable lesson from my mistakes. First and foremost, here are some facts to consider when and if you are ever approached by a Viva Vacation Club or any other time share representatives (Usually they prey on vacationers at the Viva Wyndham Resorts, but who knows). Conditions: A. Basic package costs around $3,500 USD B. Package promises 15,000 points per year for 5 years. C. you can use the points to stay at a hotel which accepts these points D. you can sell or trade the points as weeks through ‘affiliated’ companies RCI and HSI. E. After one year, you have to start paying $89.00 annual fee to HSI and after two years you also have to start paying RCI fees as well. F. The Package is NON-REFUNDABLE regardless of what happens after you sign the contract. Some Relevant Facts. 1. In signing a contract with them you agree to abide by all the laws of Panama. 2. You have to pay a yearly ‘maintenance fee’ of around $380.00. The fee increases every year. 3. To stay at an all inclusive resort you have to pay a daily fee of anywhere from 35.00 – 49.78 USD. These prices also are subject to change. 4. You are not allowed to use your vacation package right after you sign. The year begins on January. However, they start paying the RCI HSI fees 30 days after you sign the contract. This means, that come January of next year when you are able to use it finally, you have to pay 89.00 to HSI annual membership fee and you have not had the opportunity to use any of the ‘free’ privileges. 5. Having a location in Florida, and one in San Diego, presumably doing business there as well as in the DR, the Better Business Bureau’s of both states have given Viva Vacation Club a rank of F. RECAP: If you only have one week for vacation a year then a week’s stay in an all inclusive resort with this package, when taking into account the cost of the membership, the yearly fee and the all inclusive fee is from 1,255.00 – 1,328.75 USD. and finally, you have to pay for your own airfare, and when the time comes, you have to factor in the RCI and HSI fees. All together, this adds up, and if you compare these prices with what Travelocity or some similar company charges for a stay at the very same hotels (Viva Wyndham), then it’s obvious that this package is a giant slap to the face rip off. Once again, here are the facts: On travelocity, you can buy a 5 night stay at the Wyndham Mayan all inclusive resort in Playa Dorada, Mexico for $795.00 USD, not including airfare. Viva Vacation Club package forces you to pay 49.75/day to stay at this hotel. In total, for a week that can cost you 795.00 + airfare, you are now stuck paying Viva Vacation Club $1,328.75. By indulging these vampires and signing a contract with them, you bestow upon them an extra gift of 533.75 every time you want to go on vacation to the Mayan Resort. And what’s more, once you sign, you are agreeing to abide by Panamanian Law, which is as accessible as the logic behind why anyone would ever want to do business with Viva Vacation club or any of their affiliates knowing what I just explained above. Of course nobody ever explains any of these things to you, and it’s extremely difficult to understand the terms of the contract when you are slightly drunk from the night before, and are at the same time, listening to the incoherent babble of the sales representative five feet away from you, trying desperately to distract you from reading the contract and comprehending it’s contents effectively. The Sales Tactics: The method through which Viva Vacation Club obtains their members is not within the realm of what normal Americans would typically expect. In my case, there was this guy in the resort who would stand around and periodically could be seen talking to people. From his appearance you could not tell what his purpose was exactly. We thought he was a security guard. My girlfriend, being very chatty, insisted on talking to him and after a few minutes he had us nearly in tears with some sad story about poverty in the Dominican Republic, and his children. Finally, to top it off, he asked us to watch a 30 minute presentation in the Viva office or else he would lose his job. So being good and kind, but very naive people, we went, and instead of 30 minutes, this process dragged on for nearly 5 hours. The salesmen had us figuratively pressed up against a wall. The second we tried to get up and walk out the door, one would block our path, and another would say just about anything he could think of to get us to stay. There were three of them taking turns, sometimes coming in to the office together to back each other up; trying very very hard to make the sale. At first they attempted to get us to take out loan for $15,000. After we had attempted to leave the first time, they lowered it to $10,000. A few hours later, both me and my girlfriend weary and exhausted, finally agreed to the $3,500 package. Which, as it appears, is still a pretty big rip off and a waste of your hard earned money. The Vacation Package as a Timeshare? The contract explicitly states that this package is not a timeshare. Unfortunately the representatives of Viva Vacation Club and RCI do not seem to think so. They periodically call it a time share to your face, over the phone, and in written communications. Apparently this is not considered a breach of contract, even if you purchased it with the expectation that you were not buying a time share. But in this business it seems that it’s the norm to sell somebody something under the guise of something else. This has been the consistent pattern. The Service It would be great if only the customer service representatives put in as much effort into helping you as the salesmen did when they were trying to sell you the contract. But being as how this is not a perfect world, the service is downright abhorrent. At first I thought it was because of the whole language and cultural barrier. But after a while, the fact that my calls would get transferred for a half an hour before being disconnected, or the fact that it would take forever to get any information; became a problem. At one point they stopped charging my bank account and charged interest and late fees. After I tried to settle the problem, and paid the bill, they did it again. In both instances it took me about a week each time to get a hold of someone. When I finally got through, and asked why it was so difficult to get a representative on the phone every time I call, he told me it was because they were prejudiced against me for not paying on time. Currently, due to some misunderstanding, they have cancelled a few of my benefits, and are stalling in responding to my pleas to reinstate them, even though they are included in the contract. And throughout all this, they have been extremely rude and disrespectful. The Conclusion: Terrible Service + Paying too much for a hotel + Shady and Pushy Sales people = Rip Off. I have suffered way too much at the hands of these imbeciles. And a week at their resorts once a year for inflated prices will only remind me of how detestable this company is. I will never so much as consider doing business with them again, even to humor someone. And as for you, well, I can’t tell you not to, but if you asked, you know what my answer will be.
Av. Winston Churchill No. 1099 Nationwide United States of America