So, a few nights ago, Jerry Sydow from the DVC Store, Paul Krieger, and I did a live stream Q&A on our DVC Fan Facebook Group. I knew that the topic of coronavirus would come up, and I knew there would be some upset members looking for answers. I had no idea how bad it was, though – and the anger of the members joining us in the live chat room was palpable.
Why is everyone so angry, you ask? Well, there are a few reasons. First – what little direct communication there has been from DVC has routinely been contradictory. An email says one thing, member services says another, and the website says something else altogether. No one knows what to believe or whats going on. That’s a really bad situation to have in the midst of a global crisis.
Second – People who used banked points for canceled trips are going to lose them, and with very few exceptions, DVC has offered nothing more than “we’re evaluating the situation” as a response. They’ve been ‘evaluating’ for three weeks and have yet to do anything.
Third – future availability concerns. People are (understandably) concerned that they will have to spend more points for larger villas resulting from decreased availability on future trips. Many suggestions have been made, including relaxing the amount of points required to book moderate resorts. While not ideal, it would alleviate some of the issues.
In addition to this, members who are being financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have reached out to Disney to ask if loan payments can be deferred. They have been met with a clear and unequivocal NO. At least there’s one thing about this situation they’ll be clear and unequivocal about.
But, what really got to me was a story shared with me by a member, Britany Lynn. I asked her to write out her experience, and I’m sharing it here with her permission:
Disney Vacation Club: Missing the mark during COVID-19 by Brittany Lynn There is a major disconnect within the Walt Disney company. You hear of upper management taking pay cuts, offers being extended to cash bookings to Disney World and Disneyland, all incredible gestures, but go talk to a Disney Vacation Club Member for their Disney experience during this horrible pandemic. Now yes, there are some stories where everything is magical and members whose trips are impacted by COVID-19, have a happy ending, but overall this is not the case. Reading through Facebook groups & posts, many members are being faced with tough decisions and some decisions that are completely out of their hands. I come from a DVC family. My parents bought back in 1992 at Conch Flats (now Old Key West) and my fiance and I bought direct from Disney in 2018 a contract at Old Key West, too. When we purchased these points, it was strategically planned to go towards our honeymoon which is set for this July. We banked and borrowed to get a week at the Grand Californian, a dream for us being that I have been to Disney World 50+ times but never out west. Our wedding is planned for the end of June and with everything going on in the country and the world, we have taken steps to come up with back up plans. We have been planning our wedding and honeymoon since December 2018, so neither are things we have taken lightly. Once I read about the rules via email from DVC and people’s experiences I decided I had to reach out myself. Now the phone lines over at DVC are insane and unbelievably hard to get through--which is understandable, so I turned to the live chat feature on dvc.com. When chatting online I explain the situation. We do not want to cancel but because of the situation of the country and world we may be forced to do so. I was basically told there is nothing, not even a supervisor can do to help the situation. Because my points were used at a Disney Collection Resort, I have to use them by December 1, 2020. No remorse, no supervisor to talk to, just a use them [points] or lose them mentality. Even when I asked what if there is nothing available because everyone is rebooking, and was told, “if nothing is available, we can’t make something available.” True. But you can extend my points into my next use year (because my parents have had that happen before). So I asked about that option and was told, “I understand, and yes in the past under normal circumstances we could look at things on a case by case basis. But this is not coming from our supervisors. It is coming from above them. We have been limited on what we can do. That includes our supervisors.” I just find it hard to believe that the people, us Members, who have committed to vacationing with Disney for 40, 50+ years, are unable to be helped. None of us asked for this. No one wanted their trips, family reunions, birthdays, honeymoons, or weddings cancelled. We are all going through a complete low in our lives, and the one thing us Members find hope, solace, and comfort in is Disney. But Disney isn’t there for us right now. I understand that they don’t want us all booking at the same time so they can’t just give our points back and they have rules to follow, too. I get all of that. But there is NOTHING they can do? There is no way to make this situation better. At least if they gave us another year to use our points and the availability was low, we can say, they worked with us but it just didn’t work out. Instead they are potentially giving me four months to rebook my honeymoon, with already low availability, while I am trying to rebook a wedding, and I am a teacher. I know I am not alone in this feeling. I am already confused, anxious, and nervous about other aspects of my life and now my vacation--not just any vacation--my honeymoon is giving me more stress than I should have to carry. Shouldn’t Members be a priority? From talking to other Disney fans, Disney World and Disney Cruise Line have been wonderful to work with...so why not DVC? Why isn’t Disney taking care of the people who have committed to them?
There may be real reasons why certain things can’t be done. Few, if any of us, genuinely know the full scope of timeshare laws in Florida. Whatever the case, or whatever the reason – it is time for DVC to address these issues, explain what can or cannot be done and definitively, with one voice let members know that they actually care about these issues. I’m not talking about the “We here at DVC care about our members” bullshit that we’ve been getting. I’m talking about communication that outlines the various concerns directly and what is being done about them – and if nothing can be done, explain why. While I’m certain their intent (or the reality) is not that they are petulantly refusing to act in an effort to preserve their revenue streams- they need to understand that their lack of communication or consideration is being interpreted that way by more and more members every day. If nothing else, they should be aware that potential members are watching this play out. If they are concerned about revenue, they better start thinking longer-term because more than a few people that were on the fence about DVC are starting to say ‘no thanks’.
We’ve all been asking the question, “what will WDW be like when this is all over?” I think DVC has to start asking themselves the same question. You did yourself no favors with the general membership with the resale restrictions. This situation is going to make that look like a garden party.