Monday, 2 March 2015
Infiniti Exit Concerns
But as is stated in its “Disclaimer” this blog is not under the ownership or influence in any way of MGM Hotels, Infiniti, RCI, Petchey Leisure or any of the various entities which seem to have a stake in the resort and/or in its marketing as a holiday destination. This humble blog is solely the property of its author and when something gives me cause for concern I feel I have a right and a duty to comment on it. I am nobody’s shill.
Just a couple of weeks ago I had an unpleasant experience which I feel obligated to share, if only for the benefit of others who may be labouring under misapprehensions about their membership.
Having been given a timeshare at the resort back in 2006 I was a regular visitor to CPO, and I always enjoyed my stay at the complex whether I was in the company of my family or, as was often the case, I travelled alone. However the relentless annual increase in maintenance fees under the old regime, coupled with changes in the whole dynamic of European travel, meant that the arrangement became increasingly unviable, to the point where I was paying more than twice as much for my timeshare as a cash customer would have paid for the same service.
Something had to give. It is one thing a timeshare company demanding unrealistic payments with menaces, but at some stage the point is reached at which customers just will not and in some cases cannot pay. Seeing the writing on the wall, the new management offered a new approach via the points scheme. One option was the Exit program involving the payment of a rather substantial sum as a “buy out” from the timeshare contract, with the blow softened by the inclusion of a generous points allocation over a two year period, enabling the customer to travel to CPO and other resorts within the group for a total of several weeks during the remaining period of the contract.
This was the option I took. At a cost of £4,800 I was awarded 80,000 points for each of two years, which enabled to me to travel three times in 2014 with a similar allowance for this year. Last year I used these to good effect, visiting my beloved CPO on three occasions – for 12 nights in February, 9 nights in July and a fleeting 3-night visit in December – on each and every occasion, I should add, as a high-spending customer.
This year however I was in for a shock. When a few weeks ago I attempted to book a July holiday at the resort I was told curtly that there was no availability whatsoever throughout the months of June, July, August or September. Everything was fully booked.
Having promised my daughter a holiday I settled for a week at the Infiniti Beach Resort in Almeria, Spain. I’m sure it’s a very nice resort, however I am something of a “homer” and when I find a place and get to know it I tend to plump for it rather than for the uncertainty of something unfamiliar. No matter, I’m sure we’ll enjoy it.
I did though harbour a nagging feeling, call it a sixth sense, that I wasn’t being told quite the truth. And so I contacted MGM Hotels via the Customer Chat mechanism on the company website and asked whether any availability existed for CPO on my chosen week in July. This was the reply I received:
It is self-evident that MGM, having my money and that of others like me securely in the bank, had decided to reserve the high-season slots for cash customers and to offer the loyal but already committed points customers the off-peak slots which were left over. In other words I have paid nearly £5,000 to be a second-class customer.
For a while I felt so incensed by this that I seriously considered never returning to the resort, as I was reluctant to give my money to a company with such a poor ethic. But CPO is my “home” – I feel welcome when I visit the restaurant, the bars, the Reception area, and the sister resorts. I know many of the waiting staff, the entertainment staff and the visiting acts. This is my holiday home and I’m not going to be driven away by the anonymous faces who manage from afar, but it leaves a bad taste all the same.
Next year, health permitting, I will return to CPO as a cash customer. But I wouldn’t like to be the poor sales rep who comes to my apartment in Spain in July, or at the CPO in October (when I did manage to secure a booking) and tries to sell me an extension of their points scheme!