Thursday, April 9, 2009

Club Mahindra review - the real cost

Club Mahindra - A good concept, great facilities, but run by rogues !

Guys, think twice before thinking of enrolling with Club Mahindra. Don't get lured by the attractive schemes and advertisements, the picturesque presentation and the sweet-talk of the sales-guy. There are a lot of fine prints and hidden rules, which I'll try to let you all know, about which, the sales-person will never let you know.

1. The newspaper advertisement says "Holidays made un"interest"ing", and means that EMIs will be interest free. The truth is, you have to make 15% downpayment upfront for all the schemes. The 0% EMI scheme applies only if you avail 6 EMI or 12 EMI options. The interest rates for other EMI options are 24 EMI (16%), 36 (16.75%), 48 (17.5%), 60 (18.5%).

2. Ad says "At attractive EMIs of Rs 3481"... The price is for a Studio apartment which can be availed in the Blue season (60 EMI, 18.5% interest) (blue season means the lowest season, for e.g. at the Goa resort, the blue season is March or June-July when they get the lowest tourists). The same EMI for the Purple season (peak season, dec end) would be Rs 8000+. Hence, you will get holidays in bad weather, or when your children/office won't have vacations.

For a 60 EMI package, you can go on a holiday to a resort only after 18 months. Your 7 days of promised holiday starts after 18 months. So after paying 15% and next 17 EMI (for next 17 months, u get nothing), you will be able to start your dream holiday... quite a distant dream indeed!

3. Ad says "Sign up now and get 81cm Samsung LCD TV Free"... Nothing comes free in life, you get what you pay for. Some of my friends have opted out of the free TV offer and got cash discounts on the package. I wanted to buy a LCD TV hence got caught in the bait. Even after 4 months of registration, with 15% down payment and the 3rd EMI paid, there is no scent of the TV. The catch was "I should pay at least 2 EMI and wait for 45 days after this for the TV to get delivered". This was never disclosed at the time of registration. Also, i got a email a week back, informing that the Samsung model will be replaced with a Sony.

Ad says "Holiday 7 days a year, for 25 years"... Not for free. Even after paying all your EMIs or the full fees, you will still have to pay Annual Subscription Fee (ASF) every year (irrespective of usage). The ASF for 2008 was 2Bedroom-Rs14592, 1BR-Rs10402, Studio-Rs7408. Note that this value will keep increasing every year, with inflation.

Free RCI Membership - They will provide you RCI membership for 3 years, but if you want to avail of any RCI Hotel for stay, you will have to pay the Hotel charges... then what is the use of this membership?

Considering Club Mahindra has only 23 resorts, i am not amazed by people complaining that they don't get reservations. Club Mahindra has not disclosed any numbers on the amount of members they have now. Moreover, I'd request people not to get into new memberships so that existing members can at least get something out of their hard earned money, at least we can hope we will have a good holiday for the next 25 years.

When asked about all the negative reviews Club Mahindra has got, the sales-guy says it is normal to have 1-2% grievances in the service industry, and that those who have applied late and not got reservations have bad-mouthed about them. But here i am, writing about them, even after booking my holiday with them!

Not everything is bad about Club Mahindra, those who have visited the resorts, have been fully satisfied and happy. Great locations, nice hospitality. But one has to have a lot of patience and early-planning (5-6 months in advance), then go through lot of un-cooperative and unresponsive sales-guys, customer support professionals. In the end, you do feel cheated, and as a customer, it is a bitter pill to swallow!

I am going for my first holiday with Club Mahindra in Sept'09, will surely update this page with my experience. Thanks for reading, stay away from Club Mahindra!

Update:20th Apr’09
I received my Sony Bravia LCD TV yesterday. Thanks to Club Mahindra! But my feedback for them is, please please please improve your Customer Service. You have started a good concept, a good company, you could have avoided all my complaints and everyone else’s, so why not pull up your socks a bit!

28 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Very nicely documented all the truth about CM. One thing to add or correct is that they don't have 23 resorts, it is just 17 or somewhere around that. Also, the tie up property are not good at all. Very poor service. lot of new property is more of a hotel. Also, charges at their resort during the stay is very high for the members as well.

    Overall, a company who has their sales team hired based on how much they can cheat or bluff a customer. If the management doesn't change this for yers, seems like its driven by them to have this ethics and professionalism.

    -Navin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Shibu,
    Did you have your holiday with Club Mahindra in Sep09?. As a member would like to know your experience. Have read a lot about the dissatisfaction on consumercomplaints.in

    Thanks,
    Kamlesh

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mr Kamlesh, I did have my holiday with CM resort at Coorg. The experience there was really nice, the resort was great, the location, food, all facilities were simply superb.

    The issues I am having are...
    1. Not able to avail a holiday even after requesting in excess of 3 months. Their advise to book in excess of 6 months is ridiculous. As the member base grows, they will ask me to book my holiday 1 or 2 years in advance, is this feasible?
    2. I have had issues right from the beginning with the unresponsive customer service. As mentioned, the LCD on offer was delivered with a lot of shouting from my end.
    3. I had asked for a pre-closure of my membership (i was ready to pay the outstanding amount), so I had opened a ticket on 17 May 2010, but a reply came to me only on 4th August 2010, does it take this much time to resolve a issue?
    3. Not all resorts have good facilities and kitchenettes. Food and games at the resort are pricey. They do not arrange for pick-up and drop too.
    So it is up to you guys to decide if you want to put in your money and do not get any services in return. As I said earlier, the customer service, the sales/marketing team, is a big let down for the company.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for taking your time out to post in your feedback.

    We are concerned that your experience on the product that you have invested for has been less than satisfactory. May we seek an opportunity to speak with you and address your concerns.

    Please do write in to us at indu.mrc@mahindraholidays.com along with your membership details. We would be glad to help.

    Regards,

    Gopal VN
    Member Relations
    Club Mahindra

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am member with club Mahindra since 2002 and I paid 1.5 lac for a peak red season membership. I use every year and I feel now I have recovered entire amount and my next 18 Yeats I have to pay only the annual fees. During may I book on advance and if I don't travel I cancel 15 days before where u don't loose anything. This is how we take it. I have not seen a single complaint in any reviews about the quality of resorts. 
    Club Mahindra Reviews

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree to "quality of resorts". The experience at the resorts has been great. And as I said earlier, the customer service, the sales/marketing team, is a big let down for the company, and I still stand by my words.

      Delete
    2. I totally agree with what is stated, no complaints on the resorts or food, but the big issue is the Customer service, CM increasing their customer base with out increasing the number of rooms in a resort, so when new customers are added the reservation time increased to book your holidays, this will not stop till CM starts increasing the rooms at the resort.
      Regards,
      Rone

      Delete
  6. hi Shib the quoted to us today for CM membership - RED is around 5 lacs...do you think its worth it? its really pricey but i guess holidays r getting pricey too...still in decision making mode..tell me wat u think as u are member for a long time now?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Ruch, 5 lacs is really pricey... I suggest you should negotiate with them and get a much better deal. Do remember that you have to pay Annual Subscription Fees each year in addition to your membership fees. And this fees only covers for your accommodation. You will also have to pay extra for travelling, food and sightseeing.
    Another option is to try buying on resale, a lot of people do want to sell off their membership which you can get at a very competitive price.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks guys, this was more than an eye opener for us, we were about to join CM but having gone through all these experiences you shared you have saved me my hard earned money.
    Thank you aa.
    Shailesh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This blog is exactly about how CM has been misleading consumers. There has been some change in CM, they have automated and out online their booking system, but still there is no transparency. While members do not get bookings, a non-member who makes payment upfront, gets confirmed bookings. Also, they do a lot of mis-selling, they do not let know all the facts, hence I wrote this article to educate consumers.
      An update form my side, after stopping the payments and threatening to go to Consumer court, their executive has been calling me frequently and asking me to meet him... meet him for what... I said you give me in writing that you'd give me confirmed bookings if I book "certain" days in advance, give me my promised goodies during signup, reduce ASF or waive off (since this was not disclosed during signup)... and then take my membership fees!

      Delete
  9. Hi;
    We are a member of club Mahindra and the member id is 276843 and pay about 14000 annually for their soo called maintenance but to be frank it does not seem to be happening. all throughout the year these people will not have rooms available for their members be it anytime of the year and they indeed go about promising during membership that we will be getting studio rooms to stay in but end up giving us some of their filthy hotel units which are soo small and the quality is soo bloody pathetic that an individual cannot stay in these filthy rooms of theirs and their call center too has a very pathetic way of responding.

    These people do sell their rooms to non-members instead of providing the rooms to the members.... we try to make a reservation 6 months in advance even then there will not be rooms available be it any season…..

    I think you guys just need to receive a legal notice from your members to return back their membership fees with interest only then will you all learn a lesson for your cheatings done to the members.

    SINCERE ADVICE NEVER NEVER TAKE UP A CLUB MAHINDRA MEMBERSHIP........ this will be my feedback for your pathetic service and response received and will never suggest anyone to take up your member plan.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Guys
    Following are my understanding before you select CM is meant for you and ready to invest the money.
    1) Be clear about resort and hotel. (Find the difference first).
    2) Be clear about what is time share and your personality suits the same? E.g. time management.
    3) Be clear about your financials and understanding of the inflation.
    4) Be clear about your need of vacation and members joined during vacation.

    Please note CM is only and only make sense for you if
    1) You are a family man and like luxury.
    2) You are going for vacation minimum 2 times in 3 years for 10 days of trip.
    3) You are not greedy to see the complete state within 3 days. (e.g. Himarchal trip of 7 days and just running or travelling from one place to other continuously)
    4) You can plan well in advance minimum 3 months. (e.g. school going kids parents can plan well by going for vacation during the their holiday period only. )
    5) Understand the increase of inflation. Kerala trip in 2008 cost me Rs. 25000. Today the same itinerary cost me around Rs. 75000 for family of 2 adult and 2 kids for 7 days. This is power of inflation. What will be the price of same itinerary in year 2015 and 2020 god knows.
    6) CM resorts are luxury resorts and not small time lodge or 1 or 2 star small hotel / resort. So if you are a person who can compromise the stay in Rs. 1500 / night hotel during peak season, CM is not for you.
    7) If you are a person who would see that food bill does not increase more than Rs. 400 a day (3 meals), CM is not meant for you. In India you can get a meal in 20Rs. And 2000 Rs. Choice is yours. Luxury always comes with price.
    8) There was issue of resorts in past but not now. Many resorts are available now at various places and locations. Infect average utilization rate is 80% for 2012 and 2013. This info available on company’s website.
    9) You are particular about the crowd in swimming pool.

    If any of the point is coming NO request for big “NO” for enrollment as the person do not belong to time sharing concept and luxury resorts.

    Some Advice for purchasing (if you want)
    if you are family. (RED and PURPLE is the only season to choose)
    If your trip generally not dependent on kid’s school holidays (Minimum white)
    If you do not care of any season and free bird. (Elders only Blue season. Strict no to youngsters as they will have family if not today after few years and then they will have conflict of school holidays and CM seasons)
    People fall a trap when they do not see the things in black and white. E.g. a family of 2 + 2 school going kids cannot buy blue or white season as school will not have holidays during that season. And CM will not allow (generally) booking for upgraded season as that season members are already looking for vacation.
    People with family (school going kids) buying blue season is big blunder let it be cheaper price. Most of the guys fall in trap are of (blue or white season)



    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi all,
    Im planning to buy the membership even with those reviews above. The last one us quite right where it is aptly said luxury come for a price. One should think what its the reason utilization and family size before buying the membership.the only thing worries me is the bookong availability in school holidays. Lets see if im not a victim you all people. I know im gambling but I simply liked their coorg property very much. People staying in Taj and spending 1.5 lacs for 7 days is not worth. For kids it is a much better time spending for holidays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see your views... and good to know that you are taking the risk after all your calculations. Even I have been to their Coorg resort and the experience was fantastic. I've pointed that in my review too "Great locations, nice hospitality".
      The issue here is non-availability of booking, bad customer service, due to which I've had to go to the Consumer court to get the benefits which are due to me. If you can plan 4 to 6 months ahead, maybe you will get the resorts... try your luck. On top of it, you will have to pay annual subscription fees each year in addition to membership fees.
      And it would be un-wise to compare all the properties with Taj, Club Mahindra's few properties, like Coorg, Goa, Ashtamudi are very very good... you may get disappointed with other properties, many don't have kitchenettes, many are leased, many are old properties taken over by CM, and many are under construction or being refurbished but opened (so many facilities would not be functional).
      You are wise enough to do the maths to find out the ratio of number of members to number of resorts, and that most members would be in Red and White season. On one hand, resorts won't be available, on the other hand, they will lapse your holidays once you accumulate 21 days.
      And the worst, non-members, who pay upfront, get a booking anytime they wish... hence I've lost all trust with CM.

      Delete
    2. I second the same, I am also a member of CM rooms will not be available if you plan to book if you are a white or red member unless if your holiday is planned 3-5 months in advance, but the rooms will be available if you say you are a non member and ready to shell out the price they fix during the time

      Delete
  12. hi Shibu,
    yesterday i had a meeting with CM executive..he was very convincing on first time ...i have for now opted for downpayment of RS 25k and rest will pay in 48 Emi's..Being newly maried person, i thought it would be benefitail to book a membership early so that i could enjoy as much it is..however as per the post seen above..i feel bit chetaed and my feeling to opt for cm seems to get declined..they are offering me Coorg stay for 3n and 4D..is it really worth to invest here..i am very punctual about money and want to get as much benefits as invested...please help..should i go ahead or ask for refurnds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sumedh... your decision should be yours... but let me update you where I am with Club Mahindra currently...
      1. I'm in the process of filing a consumer court case to get my rights as a consumer
      2. A legal notice sent by me was not even responded by CM
      3. Availability of resorts is a great issue, you will never get reservation if you don't plan 5-6months in advance of your holiday
      4. If you are a non-member and ready to pay upfront, you will definitely get accommodation (malpractice by CM)
      5. Hence, once you pay, you will be trapped and won't have a way out.
      6. Ask CM to put in writing that you will get guaranteed accommodation in the season you bought
      7. Extra charges... please be aware of the membership cost, the extra interest amount you will pay for EMIs, check the interest percentage, and the annual maintenance charges to be paid each year in addition to all the above.
      8. Also, membership means only accommodation. All activities at the resorts, travel, food, etc are definitely more than normal.
      As a ending note, I was in the same situation and had the same thoughts as you when I had bought it. But even after paying up so much, I am not able to get a booking when wanted. In fact, in the last 2 years, I have had holidays all booked by myself, in hotels, etc. and it has been a good experience so far. This gives me flexibility and more control, and if I plan couple of months in advance, I get a very good rate/offer from most hotels... some even included pick-up and drop to the airport.
      Coorg resort is one of the best, hence they want to offer that as a bait to all perspective buyers. What you can do is, ask them to give you the 3N/4D as complimentary, enjoy it, and then say bye bye :)

      Delete
  13. Hi, I think Club Mahindra trained their Sales team in manner that they should report the office with100 cheques otherwise they will not get their salary.

    As I was going through the comment and review, I totally agreed about their rude behavior, un professional behavior even I found them humiliating the client if you call them for presentation and not buy the products.

    Few Names I dealt with was Mr. Khan, Mr. Sunil Tiwari. They even comment to a extent of your inability to purchase their product. The Comment I got was " You can not afford our product then why you called me ?"

    I am very much sure, the whole management of CM is involved in this.

    Just beware and don't called their Sales man for presentation.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well observed Shaheen SYED Asif ! Each company has its way of conducting business and so sales pitch, but I find Club Mahindra's methods to be frustrating, unethical and humiliating.
    The purpose of writing this was to let consumers know about this. Please do spread the word about Club Mahindra and do not let your friends and family fall into their trap.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dear Shib,
    I carefully read all the comments and replies. Kudos to you .My experience with CM is all together different. I am a member of CM for past one and half years. I have visited several destinations and had wonderful experience. we have visited five resorts within this one and half years. The hospitality,food , locations and other amenities are too good, which we wont even got at Taj Gateway hotels. But I wonder about these comments.Is worst is yet to happen? or I am very lucky ? Please reply. Thank you- Srinivas Deshpande

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Mr Deshpande,
    Good to know about your experiences. If you read carefully, I've commented "Great locations, nice hospitality" in bold. The issue here is bad sales people, bad customer service, and non-availability of resorts when you want to holiday. The sales people make false promises to lure and trap people, they go to the extent of humiliating those who attend the presentation and do not buy membership (as said by Shaheen SYED Asif). The customer service is non-existent, even after I threatened them to go to a consumer court, there is no response from them... they have my money so they feel I'm trapped and they are least bothered. Club Mahindra asks us to book holidays 3-4 months in advance, and to my dismay even then I didn't get booking on my allotted season and selected dates. I asked a friend (a non-member) to call them and ask for a booking, to which CM said they do a availability and they will confirm if he makes a cash/credit card deposit. Also, booking months in advance is not practical, even railways do not open bookings that much in advance. The above were my experiences, a little of sweet and more of sour !! I'll keep this post updated with how the consumer court thing progresses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would also like to add to Shib review that CM is increasing their customer base without increasing the number of rooms in the resort, so when new customers are added the reservation time also increases to book your holidays, this will not stop till CM starts increasing the rooms at the resort, Which I have seen has not happened in last seven years.
      Regards,
      Rone

      Delete
  17. Club Mahindra Membership is my biggest Financial Mistake - See more at: http://www.tflguide.com/2012/07/club-mahindra-membership-fees-review.html

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi,
    I am a member of Club Mahindra since last 6 years. I recently got upgraded to White membership. I felt the resorts are quite good with all the facilities and comfort. But yes, even I faced the problem of availability which I was promised during my upgradation. Also, the cost I am paying is very high considering that I am not able to plan my trip according to my convenience.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am a member or if I use the correct term a customer of Club Mahindra. As everyone knows that there are terms and conditions for everything. So is the case for a booking with them. 7 days before I was to travel to a resort for which I had made a booking, I had a death in the family. We all were mentally and emotionally disturbed. But since the days left to travel were few, I cancelled the days booked to help others make a booking for the room which I had booked for myself. I had the option of retaining that booking in my name. But I was honest and had a realisation that getting a booking in the CM resorts is extremely difficult as they have a huge base of members and very few resorts to acommodate. Over and above this, there are terms and conditions. Therefore it would be best to cancel the booking so that others are not deprived of a possibility to travel to this resort for which I had made a booking.

    I subsequently called up the customer relations and discussed the issue with them. Informed them of the tragedy in the family. And requested that in this case at least they should not forfeit my days as I did what was the right thing to do, considered others and that the CM site showed that no rooms were available on the days that I had cancelled the booking - meaning that the company suffered no loss. I had also written an email to them describing the entire incident.

    Guess what was the answer that I got. As per the terms and conditions - no days can be credited back to you and that tragedy in your family has no meaning.

    So when you think of buying a membership with them do consider this aspect as well besides others like cost of membership, limited scope of bookings which are possible etc.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am a member or if I use the correct term a customer of Club Mahindra. As everyone knows that there are terms and conditions for everything. So is the case for a booking with them. 7 days before I was to travel to a resort for which I had made a booking, I had a death in the family. We all were mentally and emotionally disturbed. But since the days left to travel were few, I cancelled the days booked to help others make a booking for the room which I had booked for myself. I had the option of retaining that booking in my name. But I was honest and had a realisation that getting a booking in the CM resorts is extremely difficult as they have a huge base of members and very few resorts to acommodate. Over and above this, there are terms and conditions. Therefore it would be best to cancel the booking so that others are not deprived of a possibility to travel to this resort for which I had made a booking.

    I subsequently called up the customer relations and discussed the issue with them. Informed them of the tragedy in the family. And requested that in this case at least they should not forfeit my days as I did what was the right thing to do, considered others and that the CM site showed that no rooms were available on the days that I had cancelled the booking - meaning that the company suffered no loss. I had also written an email to them describing the entire incident.

    Guess what was the answer that I got. As per the terms and conditions - no days can be credited back to you and that tragedy in your family has no meaning.

    So when you think of buying a membership with them do consider this aspect as well besides others like cost of membership, limited scope of bookings which are possible etc.

    ReplyDelete