Wyndham is the world’s largest timeshare brand, and generated $5.2 billion in sales in 2022. However a delve into their online reviews shows a great deal of dissatisfaction.
Wyndham timeshare reputation
Instead of living up to their “idealised dream holiday provider” image, Wyndham Vacations’ online reputation is dogged by accusations of high pressure sales, duplicitousness and lack of availability for owners’ preferred resorts.
Timeshare is almost universally acknowledged to be an expensive and complicated way to holiday compared to regular booking sites, yet tens of thousands of us still end up in sales presentations every year.
Wyndham timeshare reps are skilled at their job. They weave the dream of pristine annual holidays at Wyndham paradises around the globe. They use finely honed psychological sales tactics to break down our resistance, and somehow huge numbers of people hand over their cash to the holiday giant.
So let’s look at the real story as told by people who have bought Wyndham memberships and tried to use them. We will cover the three main complaints on the online review sites, and also how to escape from an unwanted Wyndham timeshare contract
1. Wyndham “don’t let you cancel”
Most of the world has realised the danger of high pressure timeshare sales and enacted laws which guarantee people a Recision Period (Cooling Off Period). This is an amount of time following the sale during which the buyer may cancel, without explanation and with no questions asked.
Mandatory Recision Periods range from a few days in some US states, to 2 full weeks in Europe.
North Dakota doesn’t provide any specific timeshare cancellation rights at all.
In Europe it is illegal for a resort to take any payment whatsoever during the Recision Period, and as a result, new timeshare sales in Europe have essentially died out. Many see this as proof that timeshare as a product is not something people would buy without the intense sales pressure championed by companies like Wyndham.
Often a promised ‘one hour’ presentation can extend into many hours. People report signing the contract just to escape, knowing that they have the protection of the Recision Period and can cancel later (in writing and either delivered in person or by a recorded delivery service) without losing any money.
One Wyndham owner claimed he attempted to cancel his timeshare contract the very same day he signed it. He reports that Wyndham refused his cancellation and even denies him having doing so. According to him, the company is now trying to destroy his credit score.
Despite it being against the law, companies like Wyndham have been accused of trying to convince prospects to waive their cancellation rights or deny receiving the written notice. When dealing with Wyndham or any other timeshare company protect yourself and your rights by keeping an accurate record/timeline of your interactions with them.
2. The sales pressure never stops
Ok, so you suffered through the several hour presentation and signed up. You are now a member with only amazing holidays to look forward to. The high pressure sales are in the past for you, right?
Sadly, that is not how Wyndham operates. Every single time you visit one of their resorts you will be targeted by their In House sales team, who put a huge amount of effort into making sure you meet your Wyndham rep for a free breakfast and resort update. This ‘update’ will be yet another, several-hour sales presentation where they will try to persuade you that you need to upgrade/buy more points/buy another product. You will be told why your current membership is not quite enough and how you need to spend some more money with Wyndham.
A Wyndham member on the Consumer Affairs website tells of being invited to his owner update, and being promised a $100 gift card for his time. Three hours later he had been pressured into buying a Club Wyndham pass (which he didn’t need). They also made determined attempts to sell him $23,000 worth of extra Wyndham points. $17,000 of this cost was to be financed on a 10 year loan (which the sales person was arranging) at 13% interest. The repayments on this $17,000 loan would have totalled $30,459.39 on top of the $6,000 deposit
Wyndham may also target your friends if they accompany you as guests to your timeshare. This TripAdvisor reviewer recounts holidaying in a Wyndham resort in Tennessee with her owner friend. The sales team cajoled her into attending a sales presentation for which they would award her free gifts.
After a gruelling ordeal where multiple attempts were made to sell her a membership, she declined to buy.
Wyndham then allegedly refused to hand over the the promised gifts.
3. You can’t reserve the holiday you want, but you still have to pay the annual fees
Central to many Wyndham complaints is out of control maintenance fees. The average annual maintenance fee in 2022 was $1200. More for people with larger units or more points. This fee can increase at any time, and without your permission. You have to pay it whether you holiday or not. During the pandemic, for example, their owners were obligated to pay in full despite not being able to visit their resorts.
In return for these mandatory fees you might expect that you can book your preferred holiday every year.
Unfortunately not. A very common theme running through online review sites is a lack of availability. People just can’t book when and where they want in the same way as they can through booking.com or similar sites.
This example on the Better Business Bureau website documents the experience of a woman who utterly failed to make any progress booking a holiday through Wyndham’s online booking portal despite trying for two whole months. She contacted the company many times without success. Only after posting her experience on the BBB review page did Wyndham get in touch to help.
A different owner complained about being told she would either need to book more than 12 months ahead, or buy yet more points. In the reviewer’s opinion, when she took into account the ever increasing maintenance fees and other costs associated with Wyndham membership, she and her husband “could have travelled the world for a year.”
Wyndham will also try and enroll you in the exchange system RCI (which they happen to own too). But be aware, if you are not getting the holidays you want directly from Wyndham, RCI’s track record is not a great deal better.
I’m an unhappy Wyndham owner. How do I escape?
“Firstly, do not Google ‘how to exit a timeshare’.” advises Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims. “Most of the results will be for dubious, disreputable firms who will take your money but then either disappear or file for bankruptcy.”
It is possible to escape but most people need expert, trustworthy help.
Look for a company that has been in business for several years, has excellent online reviews, posts video reviews (rather than just written ones) and has physical offices that you can visit either in person or by video call. Make sure they give you the choice of paying by credit card, rather than insisting on only bank transfers.
Companies covered positively in reputable media are generally trustworthy as a result of the fact checking by those outlets.
If you want to discuss your timeshare situation further, get in touch with our experts at ECC.
We can help.