Last weekend, my wife Tina and I used a hotel package I bought for four days and three nights through a company called Wyndham Vacation Resorts®.
After staying in a Wyndham hotel last February while on business, a customer service representative (CSR) called me and said she was with Wyndham Hotels. “As a thank you,” she said, “I wanted to offer you a special hotel package.”
For about $100, I bought the above deal (3 nights/4 days in a luxury resort hotel).
The woman sounded older. She told me she was a grandmother. I never say yes to telemarketers, but there was something that seemed legit. She explained that there was no obligation. This was strictly a “Thank you.” Should I buy, it would be a luxury, multi-room suite with a kitchen. This was their way of saying thank you for staying at Wyndham. All I would be required to do would be to sit in on a two-hour presentation.
When I asked her if the presentation obligated me to buy something, she said, no, the presentation was to show off how great Wyndham facilities are, and it was their hope that we would share with others about the trip. The return, she explained, was that word-of-mouth advertising would spread the message for them. This was a targeted way to do their advertising as word-of-mouth advertising is proven to work best.
Everything she told me was a lie. The presentation was in fact a sales presentation for a timeshare package based on a points system. If you buy the points, you keep those points the rest of your life. The points buy timeshares at Wyndham hotel resorts all over the planet. We did not get a suite with a kitchen. We got a run-of-the-mill room with a kingsize bed.
Wyndham Vacations Resorts and its timeshares operation is a complete sales scam. Their sales people are sycophantic con artists. They will lie to land a sale. It may be a legitimate business, but they are a slimy business with awful business practices. They prey on the weak minded. They go out of their way to confuse and pressure people into buying their product, promising one-time, all-time-low rates.
They will not provide you with sales information that you can review or allow you to check against competitors’ rates to verify the deal.
I’m going to post the rest of my story below the fold (the long version). Should you happen upon this review, the one thing I want you to take away is that
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts is a HUSTLE. It’s a SCAM! It is a FRAUD!
Do not buy! Do not be pressured. It’s a ruse, and they should be shut down for bad business practices.
The rest of the story
Like I said, I bought this hotel package under the guise that $100 got me a luxury $500/night suite. The Wyndham CSR repeatedly told me that it was an advertising technique to get word-of-mouth advertising for their new resorts throughout the country.
“What an amazing deal!” the grandma CSR told me repetitively. “All you have to do is tell your friends about us when you get back for four days of lovely R&R!”
She also said, “I’m a grandmother of five, and this is definitely something I would not pass up.”
Damn you, lying grandmother!
Reluctantly, I bought the package thinking, “Great, it will force me to take Tina on a long weekend on the cheap. How great is that?” If all I have to do is brag about the Wyndham hotel, that’s a great deal.
Months passed, and we never took the trip. We needed to take it within a certain timeframe, or the deal expired and I lost my money.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to go to DC for the Jon Stewart rally. Tina and I recently bought a new/used car, and I thought, “We’ll break in the car with a road trip and use the resort package I bought.”
I called to make reservations, and the Wyndham rep told me, “Great, Mr. Witteveen. We can put you at the Crowne Plaza Alexandria or another hotel (forgot the name).”
“Wait a minute. I thought I bought a resort package with the Wyndham hotel,” I asked.
“Yes, sir, you did, but those rooms aren’t available that weekend. I can’t quite explain why. We’re going to put you in another hotel, though.”
“But I bought this because I was promised a multi-room suite at a Wyndham hotel,” I replied. In the back of my mind, I was going to invite regular reader SAW and his wife to drive up and stay with us. It was, after all, what the original sales person sold me on.
The reservation representative also explained, “Don’t forget, you’ll have to go to a sales presentation during your stay.”
“Sales presentation?” I asked, “I thought this was a presentation to show us your facilities. The CSR told me it was NOT a sales presentation.”
“I’m not sure what you were told, sir,” she told me. “It is a sales presentation.”
After a lengthy back and forth, I said, “Fine. Book the room.”
Twelve-hour Road Trip
Tina and I drove 12 hours from Chicago to DC. We arrived at the Wyndham sales office where we picked up a voucher for our hotel at the Crowne Plaza. It was confusing. We were given a time for our presentation, and off we went. We checked into our hotel, which looked nothing like the building featured on their web site, and it was in a shadier area of Alexandria.
On Sunday, we headed to our requisite sales presentation. We discussed that we’d say no. Thanks for the trip. Buh bye.
Once we arrived at the location, we entered a waiting area. No one greeted us. We waited for someone to come out, and finally a tall sales guy walks out and passes right by us. Tina said, “Excuse me, we’re here for some kind of presentation.”
He turned to us and said, “Oh, you’re in the wrong place. Go out the door. Walk down to the end. Go to the elevators and take it to the third floor.”
We walked to a set of elevators. We pressed “3″, and nothing happened. We tried another car. Nothing. There was a desk nearby with no attendant. A sign on the desk said, “Out to Lunch.”
We waited on a couch. If we didn’t go to this presentation, we wouldn’t get a voucher for our hotel stay. Finally a random guy exited an elevator and we asked how to get upstairs. “You need a security key or the security guard must let you up,” he explained. He let us upstairs using his key.
We walked into the Wyndham Vacations Resorts reception area where Tina explained how disappointing it was that we were having such a difficult time getting up to their space and that the security person was “out to lunch.” A cute, brunette receptionist gave Tina a “What the fuck do I care?” look and said, “I need your IDs, a major credit card and for you to sign this.”
She looked at the IDs and credit card, and handed them right back. I filled out the sheet with our address and income levels and handed it back.
Seconds later, she told us to go around the corner and help ourselves to refreshments. Tina and I poured a cup of water, and waited.
Minutes later, a round man named LaMont, dressed in a three-piece suit introduced himself and walked us to a cubicle. He explained to us that we’d usually go in a group presentation, but today, we would do a one on one with him. We asked why, he said it was just how it was going to happen.
In LaMont’s cubical, it was bare except for a file holder with files in it, three catalogs, three 8×10 photos of his smiling, perfect family, a cup holder that read “World’s Greatest Dad” and one trophy-type silver cross with a bible verse printed on the front. The cross, cup holder and family portraits were planted to make us comfortable. God-fearing, family men do not lie, right?
LaMont opened his presentation with personal information. He’s married. Three kids. He’s worked with the company for under a year, and is also a Wyndham timeshare owner.
“Those are my three kids there.” We should have clued in when he stumbled telling us the kids names and ages. They weren’t all in the same photo.
LaMont took an 11 x 17 folded piece of paper. On one panel, there was information about the company with some logos on it. At the top, the parent company Wyndham. Below it, several offshoots of the company. Hotels under the parent company included AmeriHost Inn, Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Knights Inn,Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wyndham, Wyndham Garden Hotels, and Wingate by Wyndham.
He folded the sheet of paper to a blank page. “NOTES” was printed along the top.
LaMont detailed the history of timeshares jotting down notes on the page as if it was a miniature chalk board. Timeshares used to be one location. It was a failed business model. Wyndham Vacations uses timeshare points.
The customer buys points and uses them in locations all over the planet. He showed us how it worked using the three catalogs. If you buy 150,000 points (roughly a week of vacation stays), you could stay three nights in Hawaii one month and four nights in Galena, Illinois another month. The great thing about his product is you aren’t required to spend all your points in one location. They are yours to spend where ever we pleased.
Tina and I walked into the meeting angry, and we were softened at this point. We liked what he was showing us.
LaMont was friendly, and it wasn’t as if we were still angry.
Then LaMont took us for a tour of the resort. He showed us a model room. The room was impressive. All the luxuries of home in a hotel. There was even a huge dining table inside that could be used for entertaining.
After that, we looked at a touch screen TV that showed us luxury destinations and resorts. LaMont seemed disappointed by some of the images that featured older pictures with drab decor. He promised us that they haven’t updated the presentation yet, but those hotels are updated with new TVs and better bedspreads.
We walked back to the cubical. He said, “Now we’re going to talk money.” He asked us how much vacation we thought we would take in 2011. “Would you take one week, two weeks, or three weeks?” he asked.
“One week,” I said. Tina reminded him that we really only vacation with family as they live far away, and lots of times vacations are spent with them rather than at exotic locations. He seemed not to hear it.
Lemme go talk to my manager
LaMont told us he would talk to his manager before returning with sheet of paper with figures on it. He showed us the package we could buy costs $24,000. But he, out of the goodness of his heart, would offer us the package for $20,000. We could finance the purchase through the Wyndham financing company or find one on our own. The payment would be nothing down, $307 a month for 10 years, and another charge of $57 a month which would act as dues or assessments. Even if we paid off the $20,000, the dues charge would go on forever, and it’s not guaranteed to stay at $57.
“Are you interested?” asked LaMont.
Tina and I looked at each other. “We’re interested,” I said. “It looks like a really great deal. But I would have to think about it. On principle, I would never buy something that I can’t take home and look at.”
“And I would never sell something that you weren’t protected from in the event you don’t want it later,” LaMont responded.
I explained to LaMont that I was a conservative business man. Besides my mortgage, I have no debt. If I was to buy this package, it would have to be something I could sit down with and review top to bottom.
“I know no business man who is so dumb as to take a deal presented in a 2-hour time frame and drop his hard-earned money on it.”
LaMont repeated the line about how we were protected, and our money would be returned to us if we weren’t happy. I told him he had to be kidding.
He told me that regardless of whether we bought this package or not, Wyndham would get our money anyway, because we’d probably stay at one of their many hotels. I told him, “Great. I still refuse to buy something you presented to me today … on principle. What don’t you understand? Send me home with that catalog and the deal you’re offering, and I’ll look it over.”
“Yes, sir,” he said. “I can send you home with it, but this deal is only good right now. Today.”
“Principle.” I said.
“Well, then, can I call you in a week to see where you’re at?” He asked.
“Sure. Call me in a week,” I said.
I think he was taken aback, because most people would have said, “No. I’ll call you.”
Later he said, “If you’re interested, you can call me in a week.”
“Great, I’ll do it,” I said.
Here’s the great part: He didn’t give me his card. He got up and said, I have to send you with a customer service representative who will give you a survey and have you sign off that you are refusing this deal. LaMont walked out of the cubical without saying goodbye.
The exit “survey”
We were ushered to another area with about 20 tables with a guy named Udu, I think. He spoke with a slight African accent, and even pronounced Paris like a native Francophone (“Pair-ee”).
The exit survey wasn’t a survey, it was another sales pitch. We were offered a week in Honalulu for “349 down”. He left out the word dollars. I think it was on purpose. All we had to do was give him $350 as a down payment? But he said it like the trip was $350. This had to be a scam.
I politely looked at him and said, “We decline.”
He escorted us to the door where we were given a $75 AmEx card. We were let out a different door from which we entered.
We left without any paperwork. We had no business card. No contact information for any of the people we talked to. We didn’t even have a last name for either rep.
That’s the kicker. They don’t want you to have that information. They don’t want you coming back. They are locked in a secure building. If I wanted to get back in, it would take a miracle. Plus, I’m in from out of town. It’s not like I am going to go down the street to a local business and talk to a sales rep. They want to make it as difficult as possible.
It seemed like I was in the movie, “The Sting.”
Wyndham Vacations and Resorts is a modern-day, full on hustle
To wrap it all up, don’t buy from Wyndham. Don’t buy anything that you can’t review. Don’t get sold.
There are plenty of places on the Internet detailing stories like mine. I wanted to write the entire story, as long as it is, because I wanted other people to learn what lengths Wyndham goes to in order to sell you on a “deal.”