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Friday, 26 July 2013

Get the full story before you sign up: Accor Vacation Club

This is not to be confused with Advantage Plus and Le Club Accor.

We went to one of those hard sell Accor Vacation Club information sessions during a stay at a Queensland resort.  We had a morning to kill and the offer of $150 credit for your hotel bill was enticing. You have to sit and listen to the spiel for at least 90 minutes. These guys are professionals, they know every trick in the book. You need your wits about you.
They have to give you a Product Disclosure Statement, but they don't want you to read it while they are doing their 'smoke and mirrors' floor show. They have a choreographed patter to deliver. If you ask questions like "How much?"- you will be told, "Later, later, let me tell you this first ..."
Read the Product Disclosure Statement.
They want you to sign up on the day.... hurry hurry, think quick, you get bonuses if you sign today... look at all the money you'll be saving....read these testimonials....watch this slick video.... let me draw another enticing multi-coloured graph. When we seemed a bit restless after 75 minutes, our chirpy consultant turned a bit narky with the line, "I've got you until 10:30 you know!" The veneer was slipping.
It's not what they say, it's what they DON'T say.
Extra fees
There is an annual club fee (which could be over $1000 yearly). This will increase over the years. You might have to pay for special club fees and rooms servicing (starting at $85 per room). When making an international booking, getting the room you want, in the place you want, at the time of year you want, could incur hefty costs.
Properties
Only 21 Accor properties are offered in Australia, N.Z. and Bali (only one, and that's in a crap part of Nusa Dua, away from the beach). We have already stopped at most of these properties, we would only return to 2-3 of these resorts. Accor may pull out of this arrangement down the track, if you read the PDS.
Anyway, you can get better deals through internet special, particular out of school holidays through Accor Advantage Plus and Le Club Accor, without being tied down for decades. We do belong to Accor Advantage Plus (Asia Pacific). For $300 per year we get half priced dining, a free night and killer deals (e.g. $75-$120 a night). This blitzes the AVC idea.
Other considerations
Points expire if you don't use them after two years, so beware.What about if your circumstances or travel preferences change?
It's time share, let's face it. They want your money NOW ($46000 was the suggested quote for our needs, this was a mid range quote). They then invest this money ... remember compound interest).
I am no financial wiz but a careful read of the PDS will put a sour taste in your mouth compared to the euphoric chat that your sales rep gives you.
Once you sign, you have it for life, so be damn sure what you are doing. If it is so great, why use such a big carrot for you to attend these sign up sessions?
The big argument touted is that you are inflation-proofing your money. But if you put $46000 in a low risk/conservation superannuation account, after 20 years compound interest, you'd have more money that 20 years of AVC membership.
Trying to sell your points/membership
You only have to look at all the people (5 pages) who desperately (e.g. "ONO", "reduced for quick sale", "negotiable", "for family reasons") want to sell their membership on the Vacation Club Resales website.
Buyer beware.
Update
My wife and I stopped at the same Queensland resort this year. We were approached to do the 90 minute sales pitch again. We were given even less accurate information after 100 minutes. Lots of prattling on about the consultant's overseas jaunts. No mention of annual fees/maintenance. Doing our own research (staying in some of these properties and using the Accor website) revealed three things:
1. Not all Accor Vacation Club properties are now managed by Accor (e.g. Legends in Surfers Paradise, Queensland and The Links Lady Bay, South Australia).
2. Some of the units are on low floors with limited views.
3. "Exclusive" Flight Centre "bargains" on flights (an extra 'benefit' if you signed up on the day) weren't that great, we could beat them going directly through the airlines' websites.


55 comments:

  1. We just booked into an Accor resort in Queensland and were sent to the Accor Holiday Club desk where they tried very hard to get us to attend a presentation. I hopped on the internet to find out what it was abut and decided it was a timeshare racket and as an A club plus member I get way better value and flexibility. I wonder why Accor has put their name on this.

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    1. Because it works. My family have 6 weeks of holidays a year saving close to $9.000 a year for an investment of $21,000

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  2. The two are separate entities. Look at how many of these people who signed up (in haste) over the years are now trying to sell their shares on Gumtree, etc. Buyer beware. Same with Wyndham - biggest worldwide time share.

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  3. We were actually stupid enough to get sucked into paying a deposit & by the time we decided not to go ahead , the cooling off period had gone by. Can they actually not refund the deposit ? We just don't want to buy it now. What can we do??

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    1. If there is no joy in the Product Disclosure Statement and the cooling off period has elapsed, sounds like they have you by the short and curlies, as you signed on the dotted line. Try compassionate grounds? or ...Try to make the best of a bad situation and lose the deposit but be glad you came to your senses before you were locked into a lifetime commitment. These buggers are almost impossible to sell.

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    2. Put in a complaint as they are meant to let you read and understand the PDS which they don't do

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    3. Contact Darren at fampet1@gmail.com if you would like to lodge a complaint and provide him with full details of the date you signed up and the complaints.
      Regards
      Andrew

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  4. Yes BUT, I do look at it in a positive light. We paid $2000 last year at Noosa Heads in a 3 star townhouse - 9 days total over 2 holidays & were sooooooo disappointed. We would spend that money over say 10 years for sure & this will go up so could well be spending $3-$4000 for this same crap vacation. The $20,000 investment is YES in THEIR resorts but they are really nice. We stayed in the Grand Mecure in Melbourne & it was on Flinders Lane & gorgeous, we stayed up the Novatel at the Sunshine Coast & this was also memorable & beautiful. They now have 55 locations across Australia, Tasmania & NZ, 2800 internationally AND are affiliated with EVERY cruise line in the world so points can be used on cruise holidays ($1200 anchor rooms are automatically upgraded to balcony rooms on a cruise), they are affiliated & can use your points in the HYATT, SHERIDAN etc, AND accor FLIGHT CENTRE priced our tickets to Europe return for 2 adults & a toddler (who travels price wise as an adult due to taking up the seat now) - at $1200 return to London !!! We were going to book our flights which would cost us over $8000 aus dollars. With the memberships I look at like an investment, you get holidays for the rest of your life - 2 weeks a year, yes you have to book but so would you in all other places, the resorts & hotels are lovely - same as elsewhere & the service we have experienced has been awesome. We were going to spend $30,000 aus dollars next year to Europe for 4 weeks, we can now use our points & still have holidays for the rest of our lives costing us only air fares or other which you would anyway spend. Stop being negative. This whole family vacation club idea was invented by WALT DISNEY & I see it as a good thing. Takes the time out for me to have to stress if accommodation will be good or not. This is my opinion anyway.

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    1. Sounds like you're happy. To each his/her own. But I like flexibility and not tying up my money....
      Signing up with Vacation Club (on the day) probably got you Advantage Plus membership as well. Joining Advantage Plus (for everyone else, $300 a year) gets you half price dining for two, one free night at any Accor Asia Pacific property, member rates and special offers throughout the year (e.g. Hot Deals are 50% off member rates). You could have stopped at the Grand Mercure Flinders Lane (during a recent sale,1 bdrm suite for $140). Twin Waters Novotel Sunshine Coast (same recent Hot Deal, Resort room $82 a night).
      Good luck booking with Hyatt Hotels and Sheraton (Starwood Hotels) with your points, though.
      $30,000 for Europe? You must be travelling Business Class. You can get a round-the-world fare (via Europe for around $2600 economy).
      Happy holidaying.

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    2. Maybe the anonymous contribution 13rth may above was actrually a salesperson for AVC??

      There is another way of getting out of the contract. 'Misleading and deceptive conduct' during the sales process is a breach of several federal laws. They usually insist on 2 (both) people attending so you have a witness. From what I noted during the presentation there was plenty of 'deceptive' conduct. Anyone who has experienced this should write to ASIC and their state fair trading body. (Enough compliants and ASIC starts to take notice). A pretty toothless tiger is ASIC but it may prevent future, less 'astute' customers being exposed to misleading information. Check with your local state body but you may be able to have the matter dealt with in a Tribunal for a vrrey small cost. espceiclaly if AVC did not disclose everything at the time of signing your contract.

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    3. That is feedback from a manager as they regularly told us to get online and put positive comments up about the club. They don't even tell you its timeshare when you apply for a job with them.

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  5. Thanks. Sound advice. I tend to agree with your first comment about May 13, otherwise a happy customer, still in the 'honeymoon period'. When a salesperson stresses not to open the PDS until afterwards, it sounds like 'misleading and deceptive conductive'.

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  6. They are the best sale people I have ever came across, they don't tell you that you are locked in for life and that the fees rise every year, they told me that I can sell them at any time but they are worth nothing to sell, also when ever I try and book I can't get in when and where I prefer.
    STAY WELL AWAY THIS IS A COMPLETE RIP OFF.

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    1. Some Australian properties have only a few 1 bedroom suites owned by AVC so this makes it harder to get the unit you want as well as the time you want to book. Properties owned and number of units available are set out in the PDS.

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  7. Hi,
    Just had a very pleasant Weekend at Mercure Palm Meadows, thru an Accor "interview" linked sales weekend
    $30 for a lovely room and free breakfast. Really enjoyed the interview process as we proceeded to unravel what was being said, & what you really get. We found it a stimulating exercise, & I think the sales lady (an absolutely charming Charmaine)was happy to see us go, as we worked her over analytically (but always friendly), to leave the presentation in bits. She was initially rescued by Jeremy who was on the ball but left a few gaping holes before they were both rescued by Sergio, who finally told it as it was & renewed our Accor advantage card, which in spite of never quite meeting expectations, simply needs to be used more wisely.
    Key omissions were not clarifying expiry of points, not mentioning increasing yearly costing, the word flexibility (when limitation is a better word) & being unwilling to translate points into dollars(asking us to disregard that concept) . thing is Jeremy had already shown us that $800 had translated into 1100 points.... pretty simple maths really! When we sat down with Sergio he was happy to concede that it was 80cents a point & in the past had been as low as 50 cents... perhaps the future will vary.
    Its all sales.. if you don't like sales don't go.. I found it stimulating, the company polite & accepting of the result & the whole weekend a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately the vacation club won't be for me... but some form of this concept could be valuable for many people. All the best Accor :)

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    1. The Advantage Plus Card, used wisely, is the way to go for us (my wife and I). You made some great points. The AVC team at Palm Meadows sound like quite a nice bunch. It sounds like you knew your stuff. We had the spiel at Twin Waters.

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  8. Just had a weekend away on Accor, as long as we attended the said spiel. Talk about trying every trick in the book…gushing over my hubby's name (mentioned how lovely it was at least 5 times), to sharing personal stories to try and grab my female emotions (not into that crap), to harping on about how many other people had signed up with like jobs, to getting frustrated and asking "What does the Madam think"…ahhh you have my name already, use it wisely! To complete frustration that I couldn't see the benefits of giving them our money for them to assist us with our holidays…I mean, apparently Im incredibly difficult and unwise. Came away annoyed for the attempt (and being called a "Madam' as Im not that kind of lady!). Do the maths, invest the money yourself (their great offer was a loan at 13%), and from the interest from your own investment,go on holidays using hot deals on the internet. Its no longer a small world out there. Don't be scammed.

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  9. Wise words. The 13% loan, wow. Thanks for your comments.

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  10. I have just returned from listening to their spiel sessions and kept thinking this is like one giant Ponzi scheme as far as needing new recruits to fund upgrading and acquisitions. They tried to push a $29k deal but that would only give us a week away somewhere. With the $870+ yearly fee multiplied by an estimated 20 years which is what they work on, equates to over $47k. The merit in the idea is if you travel that many years but that's only a 'maybe' and with projected inflation, that is when you may see the benefits. My opinion is that it isn't value for money.

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  11. Exactly. Imagine investing that same $29K over 20 years, compound interest.

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  12. How do you get out of a deal with Accor. we bought 10 years ago and have regretted it ever since.

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  13. Strictly speaking, it's not a deal with Accor. Vacation Club use the Accor name and a limited number of their properties ... but the two organisations are chalk and cheese.

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  14. Anyone interested in joining me to expose Accor Vacation clubs bogus, valueless and grossly mis-represented holiday membership scheme to media outlets such as A Current Affair, ASIC and the ACCC?

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    1. Sure. I'm about to commence legal action anyway I think.

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    2. It would make such a great undercover investigation. Accor Vacation Club not only rips off the public, they don't pay minimum wage conditions as required by legislation and there is a culture of sexist, racist and bullying behaviour which is not only accepted by management but encouraged. In my professional career I have never experienced anything like it.

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    3. HI! Im thinking of going to A Current Affair or lodging a Class Action. I hope this thread is still being checked. My email is j_trkulja@hotmail.com

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    4. we'd be in on a class action, i'm sending you an email

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    5. There is a list of 80+ people. Keep me posted tony@cosyne.com.au

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  15. Interesting views. A friend of mine purchased the Vacation Club 2 years ago for $20k and has just realised she can't add up the points until retirement and as her work pays all her accommodation she has no need for it. She has offered it to me for free and for me just to pay the annual fee of around $500. I am thinking that I can't really lose as we do spend several thousand dollars a year on accommodation, mainly overseas. Can anyone advise if I should be wary of taking this on ? I am thinking that as I have no upfront costs it could be a good deal.

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    1. Interesting, if you get it for free maybe you could win. but yes you can lose. the only way to get out of the vacation club is to on sell it. with a $300 transfer fee payable to AVC. I believe in 2080 they will divy up the worth of the properties between the members. if the annual fee stays the same you will have paid $34,000 into it. Don't you think if it was a good deal your friend wouldn't want to be dropping 20k? I have found that whenever you try to book a holiday it is unavailable. maybe if you like going to the snow in the summer and the beach mid week in winter you might be able to swing something. but then you can get on any number of websites and probably get better value for money. source: my parents are founding members and are into this deal for about $20,000 with no end in site.

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  16. I agree with the rip off comments. We have enjoyed some pleasant holidays through AVC, but we have always had to fit in to what was offered not what we originally wanted. Short stays, forget it!. We have been lied to and mislead. I will not recommend this company to anyone unless things change. Allan Worthy

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  17. the only room i've been able to get in the last few years is mid week at Legends on the goldcoast. it's not on the beach side of the building. i wouldn't recommend it to anyone. barely getting value enough to cover the annual fee

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  18. By the body of comments above, I hope prospective AVC clients think long and hard.
    If it seems like a such good deal ...it probably isn't.

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  19. Wow, we just had the spiel yesterday at Palm Meadows Gold Goast, even my logical mathematical hubby was interested half way through. I was keen, it all sounded SO GOOD. The little alarm bells throughout were dismissed effectively.
    While the guy went away to give us time to decide we decided to buy if we could go away and crunch the numbers. No way.... Its NOW or NEVER!
    SO glad we went with never. We would be cancelling today. A 13% loan, no opportunity to read the PDS before buying, thousands of dollars each year to get ok discounts. As Anonymous Madam above said if you invest the same money yourself you will have more than enough for great holidays.
    So glad we dodged this bullet

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    1. You were very lucky, as they would have worked on you if you showed even the slightest bit of interest until they get you to buy.

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  20. Ah yes, I am another sucker, but just to rub salt in the wound I received my "new Statement"from their new system yesterday and there were my points, that don't expire till 31/07/2015 and 31/07/2016 in the points allocated column, and then there they were again with a minus sign in front of them in the unused points expired column! That could be their new way of raising funds, charge us for our points, then take them off us so that we can never use them, as if you can anyway, then they don't have to provide any thing at all and we just keep paying! Please, if anyone is actually considering this despite the pages and pages of negative comments, please, just walk away, you will be doing yourself a big favour, how can this many people be wrong

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  21. Wise words. Expiring points don't get mentioned in "the spiel".
    Accor should pull out because the AVC is giving the company a bad name.

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    1. IS there anyway you can sign ownership back to them to get out

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    2. After the cooling off period has expired, I think you are stuck with the membership. As mentioned earlier, many are trying (unsuccessfully) to sell their memberships on Gumtree, etc.

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  22. Having recently worked for Accor Vacation Club in sales and seeing how things are done I would recommend anybody thinking of buying this product to think again. If you thought you were getting the run around you are!!! They skim over and cover things up in the presentation. I come from a customer focused framework and Accor Vacation Club is anything but, and the fact that they say it's on the day or never is a blatant lie they will invite you back as many times as it takes and you will still get the first day benefits. I would warn anybody to read the PDS thoroughly before they decide and do the sums as it just doesn't add up. The work environment is both sexist and racist and the reason why they are so convincing is that all of the sales staff are on 'Commission Only' they don't get paid unless you buy and the company has a 'Anything to get the deal done' including deceptive practices.

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  23. What would happen if you stop paying your annual fees?

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  24. I spoke to my bank and you can risk damage to your credit rating as per any unpaid bill. It is unlikely to make too much impact alone, but I find their business unethical and disgusting. I'm going to wear "Don't buy Accor" tshirts next stay.

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  25. Accor is only a figurehead.
    The organisation "Accor Vacation Club" is the problem. I have NO problems with Accor Hotels. I get great deals being a Le Club Accor member, and it costs NOTHING to join.

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  26. How long are you legally obliged to sit through a second brainwashing? My partner and I sat through what was equivalent to "War and Peace" at a Sunshine Coast resort. I am thinking about recording the session coming up (somewhere in NSW) on my iPhone. It IS legal if one party (in this case me) knows that we are being recorded. Comments please.What is the point of "Under Duress", legally speaking. Can you get up and leave after say, 60 - 90 minutes? Yes, these are serious questions.

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  27. They have you for 90 minutes (that's the deal you strike), otherwise you are not entitled to the credit off your room bill (or whatever financial enticement the beaming sales assistant/spruiker offers you after check-in). We always tell the salesperson we have organised sightseeing straight after the session so we have an excuse to up and leave when that clock reaches 11 a.m. (We used to book the 9:30 a.m. spot so the rest of the day is ours). Good luck.

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  28. We got caught into this,we paid $13,000 and $525 yearly for membership we can never use it as every time we I get up to do so they are booked out. Have written to them to cancel our membership but to no avail, refuse to pay membership fees for something we can not use.

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  29. j_trkulja@hotmail.com please email me. I'm looking to lodge a class action or go to current affair.

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    1. https://www.facebook.com/Accor-Vacation-Club-Problem-Review-711693292185594/

      Possibly contribute here. There is a large group of like minded suckers who are also victims of the Accor Lifestyle sentence.

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  30. We signed the contract back in Jan 2009 and found out a couple of years after that we were deceived. So many things that we were not told that we were supposed to know before signing. Now since 2009 we believed we owed a total of $35k as this is the figure we have on our first receipt after making the initial payment. I got the big shocking info today when talking to somebody from Accor that we have a loan of $76k for 15 years term! Telling me that we signed the contract and that i should have a copy of it. Well, I don't have a copy of it and was not aware of this debt until today. We were blind sided by all the good things thst those sales people were telling us. These people are so opportunistic to couples who love to travel. To book a hotel is a nightmare and we lost so many points as our lifestlyle has changed. We are looking at speaking to our lawyer about how we go on with this. Class action would be great. Count us in. Email: ellen_foulds2004@yahoo.com.au

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  31. The title of the post says it all. Did you expect an interest free loan?

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  32. I got my annual statement today, and its going up and up every year. I agree, I can never get the dates I want when I try and book accommodation. I also tried to use the points for cruising last year overseas, when it was our wedding anniversary. Only to find that I had to pay a fee for the cruise - which was the same s the online fee and use all my points. What was the point of that??? My annual fee is now $690 bucks and it is getting more each year. I can get a weeks accomodation for that anywhere in Australia if I search the specials. So I am thinking not to pay this year, for the first time. I am not certain what is going to happen by doing this. Does anyone have that experince recently?

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    1. My wife and i are Bronze members and purchased the membership back in 2008. Buying a membership is only worth it if you have the cash up front or pay off the loan as soon as you can otherwise the interest will make your loan a lot larger than the initial cost. We purchased a membership as we saw it as being ideal for when we had kids as holidays will be less affordable on 1 income. We've enjoyed utilising the membership until recently where we've found booking accomodation is becoming harder and harder. Looking from the outside im coming to the assumption that there are more members than there are rooms available and if you have anything less than a gold membership you're less likely to get desirable accomodation as the higher members with their longer booking windows are taking all the rooms before bronze members get a chance! Its becoming frustrating and i hope AVC are looking out for their loyal members as they're only shooting themselves in the foot as we wont recommend them to any of our family and friends if we know we cant utilise it. Dont forget about your Bronze members AVC!!!

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  33. I have not paid for a few years now...up to $2500 in fees and fines..when i last spoke to someone at accor they just said dont pay it and they will take away my membership....still waiting...

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