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Where's The Beef? HSI

What is more prophetic than the question all of us remember - Where's the Beef? Where's the value? What's the punchline? How do we benefit? The timeshare sales industry is full of empty promises, and this section of our website will be devoted to disclosing examples of companies to be aware of.

A member of the Mayan Palace Owner's Group at Yahoo.com and a very seasoned timeshare owner posted a great article about HSI (Holiday Systems International), and she has allowed us to post her comments here. She would like fellow owners to know about the empty promises made by HSI.

Please consider her comments:
[email protected]
March 3, 2009

We decided to give HSI a try this year since the Buganvilias, La Jolla, and MP/GM are all affiliated with HSI.

Here is my story.

Back in November 2005, we first heard of HSI when we took an upgrade tour at the Buganvilias. They were just raving about HSI, so we bought a hotel unit in white time so that we could be part of this program.

After reviewing all the information after getting home, we were a little skeptical. I could not find any redeeming value, no cheap Burn Weeks that they promised. The prices are more like the Last Call weeks available on RCI or the last minute vacations available on SFX – not $100. Breakaway weeks are basically the same as RCI Extra Vacations or II Getaway weeks.

We also found that it was not really an exchange company per se. They want your week and will put the amount you paid in maintenance fees in their "bank" and you can use the banked amount towards the purchase of a breakaway week.

We did not renew after our trial year.

Last year when we bought at the Boutique La Jolla in Mazatlan, we were given another HSI membership. Since we had also attended a Grupo Mayan upgrade presentation and were told how wonderful HSI was, we thought we would give it a real trial and paid our $89 renewal fee for 2009.

Since the economy is plummeting and we are retired, we thought we would try the program where you could give them your weeks and they would give you air travel for your weeks.

OK, this sounded great. We had a week in Maui booked for our kids and they could not go, so I thought – this will pay for us to go to Maui. Good deal, right!

Well, it does not work that way.

I called in for verification on how to work this and was told that I really needed to just buy my tickets using their travel agency and then use the Cash Exchange Program to get money back from them and use the money for my tickets. I talked to the Travel Agency and they said they would process my request and send me an email with what they found. Well, they sent an email saying that while it does not happen with cruises, Expedia had better prices for tickets to Maui.

I had already found lower prices on USAir than Expedia had! So much for their travel agency.

Now for the Cash for Exchange program.

According to all the documents online and in their manual, you just sign over your weeks and they will pay your maintenance fees less $50 for administrative fees, and you just pay them the $50 via credit card.

This does not work that way either.

You have to pay your maintenance fees and then apply for reimbursement minus the $50 administrative fee.

I did this and received a call asking if I could get different weeks than the ones I wanted to deposit. I have fixed weeks that they did not want, but at the Buganvilias, you can pay an additional fee to change your week.

Of course HSI wanted either Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I contacted the Buganvilias and found that I had to pay an additional $120 per week for Thanksgiving and an additional $510 per week to get Christmas.

I called the person that I had been working with and told him what it cost.

He was not willing to reimburse me for the additional amounts, so I told him no thank you, I wanted to keep my weeks and deposit them with RCI.

He then said he would take my weeks for week 50 (which I had been told I could get for only $10 extra for each week at the Buganvilias), but then he said he could only pay me my maintenance fees minus the $50 administrative fee, minus taxes and other fees on the Buganvilias – basically another $50 per week. So, to give them my two weeks, I was going to be paying my maintenance fees and getting 78% back.

Oh, and he does not want that white week either!

As soon as I got off the phone with him, I emailed the lady at the Buganvilias and told her to deposit my weeks with RCI. While typing this, I received and email from her that both my weeks were now deposited with RCI.

We will not be renewing with HSI next year.

Pretty interesting, for sure. All the way through the post, we are sure you were asking the same question we were asking......WHERE'S THE BEEF?

Thank you for your post. Instructional to be sure!

Anyone else who would like to share information about tricky programs we all should be aware of, please let us know. You can contact us at infoaboutus at aimfair.com.