Q: We recently purchased 350 points in Disney Vacation Club, Disney's timeshare program. New members of Disney Vacation Club are given help with their first reservation, and salespeople can go into Disney's cash inventory, if necessary, to get a better selection.
About six weeks ago our salesperson promised to help us with our second reservation as soon as we had our dates decided, because we had booked our first reservation on our own.
When we called, we found out he is on indefinite medical leave, and were directed to speak with another salesperson about the reservation. The second salesperson said she couldn't help because Disney only offers to help on the first reservation.
We tried to appeal to a supervisor, but she also refused to help. And her tone on the phone was not what one expects of a Disney representative — very negative and condescending.
It is not our fault that our salesperson is on medical leave and we feel Disney should honor what he told us. The longer they delay, the less chance any villas will be available. Can you help us get that magic that we expected from Disney?
— David Willard, Newtown, Pa.
A: Disney's policy may be to give priority to first-time reservations, but it is not something that is openly promoted, as far as I can tell. Nonetheless, if your timeshare salesman promised you could use your first-reservation credit on your second reservation, it's something Disney should make good on.
I've attended the Disney Vacation Club presentation here in Orlando, and it's a pretty impressive program. Disney offers a lot of properties, and the rates were reasonable enough that I even considered buying in. Why didn't I? Like a lot of Americans, I don't have nearly enough vacation time to use it.
The problem with the agreement you had with your first sales representative is that it was verbal. Of course, you had no way of knowing that he'd go on indefinite medical leave just when you were trying to make your reservation, but what happened to you underscores the importance of getting absolutely everything in writing.
Even a brief email from Disney, agreeing to help you with the second reservation, would have prevented this from taking away the magic of your vacation. If you didn't have something in writing, you could have started a paper trail — or in your case, an email trail — with your request.
Disney would have been compelled to respond to you by email, and it may have answered differently (and almost certainly without the attitude you got from the supervisor).
I think the Vacation Club staff you dealt with could have done better, from finding a new salesman who had been properly briefed on your needs, to ensuring that all of the promises he made to you were being kept, even if the promises weren't necessarily in line with stated company policy. And, of course, there's no excuse for being unpleasant with a customer — ever.
I contacted Disney Vacation Club on your behalf. A representative called you and helped you make a reservation at the timeshare you wanted.