Carla Hill thought she’d found an unbelievable rate at the El Dorado Royale & Spa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, through RCI, a vacation timeshare company: one week for $189.
It was unbelievable. Not just to her, but to me.
Turns out the price was not available, which isn’t that unusual. Rates can change by the minute online.
What is a little odd is that RCI initially refused to fix what it claimed was a pricing error and wouldn’t talk about it. Not even to me.
Hill sent me a screen shot, along with an account of her attempt to make a reservation.
There was no disclaimer on the page in regards to published amounts possibly being inaccurate. When my husband called to book it he was told it is a typographical error. I have had several conversations with RCI and they have yet to fix the Web site.
Hill thought RCI should honor the rate on its site. So she called the company, which told her that it was a typo and “they did not have to honor it.”
I recommended that she appeal her case to someone more senior at RCI. The rate she had been quoted wasn’t a so-called “fat finger” or “zero” rate. If RCI didn’t fix it, and didn’t want to explain what went wrong, it needed to give her a room at that rate.
After more back-and-forth, Hill got her “final” answer from RCI.
The correct All Inclusive rates are within the information received prior to confirming the vacation and at this point there is a box that must be checked that you understand before finalizing the confirmation. The All Inclusive information connected to the confirmation is what establishes the rate.
Sec (c), page 6 – All-Inclusive Package … Fees, terms and conditions of All-Inclusive Packages are determined solely by the resort, and are subject to change at any time.
It seemed RCI was throwing the book in a customer’s face. Which is certainly its prerogative, but from a member’s point of view, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Under these rules, and given the way in which the policy is enforced, nothing on the RCI site can be trusted.
I thought I’d give RCI another chance to respond, so I asked.
In respect of Ms. Hill’s confidentiality and the confidentiality of all of our members, our practice is to work directly with our members on these matters and not discuss any member-related matters with anyone outside the company, including the press. Thank you.
Interesting. I’ve said this before — and I’ll say it again — but I find that companies that cite the “privacy” of their customers when refusing to discuss a legitimate customer grievance are usually more concerned with their own privacy.
Besides, given the fact that Hill had furnished me with her login credentials and other personal information, and asked me to write about her problem, RCI’s claim that it wanted to “respect” her privacy is both absurd and self-serving.
I asked RCI if Hill could expect to hear back. It didn’t respond.
But Hill received a final kiss-off from RCI later in the day.
We have emailed Mr. Elliott to let him know that in respect of your confidentiality and the confidentiality of all of our members, our practice is to work directly with our members on these matters and not discuss any member-related matters with anyone outside the company, including the press. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
As of this morning, RCI claims to have corrected the rate for the El Dorado Royale & Spa, but it hardly matters. This isn’t about a company displaying a price that’s unavailable. It’s about inadequate disclosure, poor customer service and corporate arrogance.
(Photo: Henry0/Flickr Creative Commons)