At Aconsumercredit™, we are committed to helping consumers stay informed about the timeshare industry, offers and contract law. We had some clients recently ask us about Interval International Gold and Platinum Memberships, to find out whether it was still classified as a ‘timeshare’, or whether Interval offered something more flexible, than standard predatory contracts. So we thought we would do a little digging, and gather some more information about this new timeshare option.
Who Is Interval International?
Interval International is changing the language and terms of what most consumers recognize as a traditional timeshare membership. The company is one of the largest timeshare exchange organizations around the globe, and states that the vacation network offers 2,900 resorts internationally for members to enjoy.
What has lead to the rapid growth of the vacation membership, is the low entry cost of only $89 per year. The membership fee is so low, that many larger timeshare groups include a free membership to Interval International, to be able to offer consumers the opportunity to ‘trade weeks’ for other exotic or overseas destinations. Accessing 2,900 potential resorts worldwide, is an incredible incentive and signing bonus, for new timeshare buyers.
In fact, when you take a look at the sale and rental inventory for Interval International, you cannot help but feel impressed. The list includes some of the most luxurious high-end resorts in the Caribbean, Europe, and across the United States.
However, a closer look at some of the most value priced timeshares in the portfolio, demonstrates that low demand weeks (which are usually during inclement weather conditions) are readily available. Getting a quality destination trip scheduled, during a peak month (according to consumer complaints) is virtually impossible with the timeshare.
One customer commented “good value for the money, if you want to stay at a resort in Alaska, in February.” According to the website, the use of weeks revolves procedurally around members who deposit their timeshare week first, to access an opportunity to exchange for another resort. The appeal is the concept that consumers will be able to trade weeks for a new, affordable and exciting locale annually. But inventory is subject availability, and extensive double booking and wait lists.
Online Consumer Complaints
Yelp is a reliable destination to research consumer feedback about any company, or timeshare. While we were reading through the multitude of reviews and comments from American consumers, we found that the complaints were consistent by members. It’s a story that our timeshare cancellation team hears all the time, and a problem we know to be systemic in the vacation membership industry in general. Timeshares are more than willing to take your money, while promising a service that they never truly deliver.
Interval International (Interval World) is located in Miami Florida. Consumers can learn more on the organizations Yelp page, but these comments were some of the most attention grabbing for our team, and we wanted to share them on our blog.
“I paid my dues (which are becoming exorbitant – higher and higher every year) and yet the week I requested was cancelled without explanation. I lost a very nice location in May because of this, and I am yet to find out WHY. I’ve called them and can never get anyone on the phone. I’ve emailed them and they don’t reply back. Finally got a person’s name at the Executive Offices, but we are currently playing phone tag. I’m very upset that we lost a good exchange. And now I see their website is offline” – Linda C., Centerville, PA
“I tried to use II to do a “hotel exchange”. This means i trade them in for hotel stay. I tried to book one week at the Westin on Oahu. Yep, use both weeks of my timeshares for one week of hotel stay. They would not even give me five days of stay covered for my two weeks!!! I called (waited 20+ minutes to get thru) to confirm i wasn’t doing something wrong. They first told me I would need to pay $67 to upgrade my membership to even use this service. Note a huge deal I guess but when they told me I’d have to pay an additional $700+ and give up my two weeks I was livid. I asked why the value for my 2 weeks in Maui was so low. They didn’t have a good reason other than stating that’s how it converts.” – James C., Sunnyvale, CA
“Just adding my voice to the chorus expressing total loathing of Interval International in particular and the timeshare scam industry in general. Interval serves as the “fence” for the criminal Timeshare industry whereby they get cheap blocks of rooms at run-down “resorts” and offer these to timeshare owners who are trapped into the point system but cannot use or do not want to use their allotted home-resort time slots in any given year. Interval will charge you exorbitant exchange fees to convert your timeshare points into their system, and then when you want to make a booking they hit you with more fees.
Want to split your points into multiple weeks? That just doubles your Interval booking fees! Interval’s fees alone will cost you more than what the rooms are worth in many cases, and then you also just wasted your crappy timeshare points, which you had to pay to convert to Interval points. What is even more criminal about this scam is that Interval owns some of the timeshare companies themselves, such as Hyatt Resorts, thus when you are paying them to convert your Hyatt points to Interval points you are giving them your hard-earned money just so they can pass it from their left hand to their right!” – Ethan Z., Napa, CA
Weighing the Benefits with Financial Obligations
Finding something positive to say about the organization, on a page with so many consumer complaints, seems difficult. However, we did notice that Interval International was spending time responding to complaints on Yelp, in a service focused and professional way. Generally speaking, most timeshares try to ignore online complaints, and rarely respond.
This can be a positive sign of a timeshare company that wants to resolve service issues; but it can also be an attempt to limit the public relations damage that complaints can do to the reputation of the organization. Are they doing it because they care to correct the problems, or simply because they are concerned that growing public complaints will limit their new sales potential? The comments for each consumer are copy and pasted verbatim, as a response from Interval International.
To answer the questions asked recently by some of our online readers, yes, Interval International is a timeshare. The marketing of the organization is careful to use other words that help to distance itself somewhat from the timeshare industry, by using other language, including “Deposit First”.
The options seem to be a more flexible plan than the average timeshare, but how useful is all that flexibility, if consumers are complaining that they are never able to book their weeks? It’s a question we think that many Interval International vacation members have been asking themselves.