Royal Holiday Club / promises & mexican laws broken
Our story begins on a beautiful Mexican evening in Cozumel. It was shortly after dinner, and our family were enjoying the evening together walking around the town square in San Miguel (Cozumel). We were approached by sales representatives from Royal Holiday. We agreed to meet at the Park Royal the next day. We were not interested in purchasing a club membership, but we were interested in looking around the resort for future trips to Cozumel.
We arrived at the Park Royal on the morning of April 5, 2008. We were met by Nico. We went to breakfast with Nico. Our conversation over breakfast was pleasant. We then had a tour of the resort. The property is very beautiful, and has a lot to offer families. Finally, we went to the sales office. During our meeting we were promised:
Five Years Unlimited usage of the Park Royal in Cozumel. We were told that this was to allow us to reserve any room in the resort, we could reserve as many rooms in the resort as we wanted, use the resort during any season (including prime because that is the only time Wendy can get off of work), and use the resort whenever we wanted with a 30 day notice.
Ability to accumulate our member points during that five year period for a total of 50, 000 membership points.
When we visited the Park Royal the only fee that we would have to pay is the all-inclusive fee. Which we were told was $38.00 for adults.
Our “Membership Purchase and Sale Agreement” states that our maintenance fee for 2008 would be $375.00.
After and hour and a half we walked away, and decided that we wanted to talk without Nico or Gina Cordero (Royal Holiday Sales Manger) present. We should have kept walking. Instead we sat by the pool, and did the math. With the promises made, we felt the membership would have all of the amenities we require. We, however, did not intend to join.
Around mid-afternoon, Nico found us by the pool, and asked if we had any questions. We did. We followed Nico back to the sales office. We asked questions to make sure we understood what the membership included. The above points were intensively discussed. We were still not sold. Gina came back to the table and added another 30, 000 membership points as an incentive to sign. When we asked if we could think about it, we were told that this offer was only for the first one- hundred new members. Of these memberships only three were remaining. With much regret, we decided to join Royal Holiday Club.
The next day, we went back by the sales office and the number on the wall was now six. Meaning that there were six memberships left. We had a sinking feeling that we made a mistake.
After returning to the United States, we attempted to formally cancel our membership over the telephone on April 10, 2007. The Royal Holiday representative said that our contract was not entered into the Royal Holiday system yet and the contract information was needed to cancel, but would make note of our call and a representative would call when the contract was available. On April 17, 2007, another Royal Holiday Club representative called and left a message welcoming us to Royal Holiday (obviously our first message to cancel went unheard). When we returned the call, later that day, again in an attempt to cancel, we were told that our “Membership Purchase and Sale Agreement” states that the membership cannot be cancelled by either party. This agreement also states that “The buyer agrees with the legal effects of this agreement…for which there is no reconsideration period”.
We were completely embarrassed and angry about our mistake. We wondered, during many sleepless nights, how could we have overlooked that we had no right to cancel our contract and the verbal promises made by Gina and Nico were not binding? Over the next several months we found out that there were many discrepancies with what we were told and what we were entitled to under our contract. For example:
Five Years Unlimited usage of the Park Royal in Cozumel cannot be used during the prime vacation season, and the only room available was a studio.
Ability to accumulate our member points during that five year period for at total of 50, 000 membership points was not true. In fact we can only roll over 20% of our points per year (2, 000)
In our sales presentation Gina and Nico stated that the all-inclusive fee per person each day was $38.00. When booking our first trip, to return to Cozumel to try to meet with Nico and Gina to get answers about the inconsistencies, the all-inclusive fee we were charged was $78.00 per person per day. This was over double of what we were promised. When we visited the RHC website the published price for the all-inclusive fee at the Park Royal is $60.00 per person per day.
Our “Membership Purchase and Sale Agreement” states that our maintenance fee for 2008 would be $375.00. We were actually charged $395.00. When we questioned this we were told that the telephone representative could not make a credit to our VISA. So we were out another $20.00.
Royal Holiday also charged an extra monthly payment to our credit card, but did not subtract it from our balance or the number of payments remaining. This was a two hour phone call to get resolved. The operator agreed that they would not charge us in January because of the extra payment taken in December, 2007. When January came we received a collection call. Another long call with the collection agency and Royal Holiday Club.
We were reserved to the fact that we made a very bad investment, but would work very hard in trying to get our problems resolved. After many stressful and unsuccessful telephone calls to Royal Holiday, we decided to return to Cozumel to meet with Nico and Gina personally to attempt to resolve our problems. Booking our first and only trip was a nightmare not to mention that it cost us $1, 230 more to use our membership than to book through a local travel agent for the same accommodations.
With that said, we were still optimistic that our trip would resolve our difficulties with Royal Holiday. However, to our surprise Gina and Nico were no longer employed at the Park Royal in Cozumel. Instead we met with Susana Nunez and Fernando Vazquez on March 21, 2008. Susana had us fill out a survey. We were honest about our stay and the major frustrations that we have had with our membership. Both Fernando and Susana took notes on the back of our questionnaire and on a Royal Holiday legal pad. Fernando said he would look into our concerns and requested that we return to meet with him the next day because he wanted to get this cleared up and he wanted us to be happy Royal Holiday customers.
Optimistically we returned at nine o’clock the next morning. Fernando did not come with solutions. He came with a plan for us to buy and additional 10, 000 membership points for $9, 995. He tried to persuade us to put it on our credit card with the incentive of up to five years of interest fee financing. He then said we could put it on our credit card, and if within five days we wanted to change our mind we could cancel. We shared with Fernando that we bought our membership last year on April 5th. We called RHC on April 10th and we were told that we could not cancel because our membership was not in the system yet. Fernando replied “you tried to cancel last year.” This quickly ended our twenty minute meeting, Fernando told us he would send us information by email so that we can think about updating our membership. We have not yet received his email or heard from him.
This year upon returning home (March 23, 2008) we were angry and determined to end our relationship with Royal Holiday once and for all. We have spoken to many Americans with fates similar to our own, and have since learned that Royal Holiday Club’s practices are unethical according to the American Resort Development Association, and violate Article 56 OF LEY Federal de Proteccion al Consumidor that states the following: “The contract will be perfected within five working days from the delivery of, or the signature of the contract, which ever occurs latest. Our first and second attempts to cancel were within the five day limit. We have also become aware that our right to cancel and to receive a full refund is not waivable. This right is guaranteed to all buyers even if the buyer signs a contract or form waiving this right. Such clauses in our “Membership Purchase and Sale Agreement” state “This Agreement cannot be canceled by either party, ” The buyer agrees with the legal effects of this agreement…for which there is no reconsideration period, ” and that my deposit and monthly payments are non-refundable are also invalid according to Mexican Law.
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