|Your Location: Timeshare Users Group Advice: RCI - Online vs Ongoing Search |updated: 5/23/08|
Note: Online searching is an option available to RCI members in the US and Canada via the RCI website. This is not currently available to RCI members in other countries.
If RCI really does things the way they say they do, here's how it works:
An online search on RCI's website shows you the inventory of deposited but unrequested weeks that are available to you at the moment. To perform such a search you must have a week deposited into the RCI spacebank to run the search against. A deposited week is necessary to determine the amount of trade power associated with your week - the search will then show you the available weeks your deposited week has enough trading power to obtain. This basically is the same as calling an RCI Vacation Guide (VG) and asking what is currently available to you, except that the inventory seen by the VG may be more extensive than what you can see online. The VG may see more inventory because it includes those resorts you don't have enough trade power to get, and those resorts that RCI doesn't show you because their quality rating is too far above or below yours to be considered an equitable trade.
But what if the exchange you want and are qualified for is truly NOT in current inventory? This could be because no weeks have yet been deposited, or those that have been deposited have already been taken. You can get on a wait list for a deposit to come in, more commonly called an ongoing search, in which you tell RCI what resorts and/or locations and times you want them to watch for. When a new deposit comes in, RCI will check it against all ongoing searches. The same minimum trade power requirements, and quality rating limits apply as with online viewing. If there is a match, RCI says the new deposit is offered to the ongoing search which was initiated the earliest among those with enough trade power to qualify for the match -- if the match is declined, it is offered to the next down the list of qualified searches, and so on. (Note that this is counter to our long standing belief that the match would be offered to the request with the highest trade power, not the request that was entered earliest.) This puts a real premium on making your request as early as possible.
Since a deposit is supposed to be placed into the current inventory only if nobody with an ongoing search takes it, many deposited weeks never show up online at all. So your best chance of getting a particular exchange for which you qualify and that is not currently in inventory is to have RCI do an ongoing search -- you'll be in line AHEAD of all the people that wait for it to show up online, even those people who may have more trading power than you do, provided your deposit has the minimum trade power needed to snag that trade.
Many people feel that doing your own search online is a lot more FUN than waiting for RCI to call with a match on an ongoing search. Plus, you can find resorts available that you may not have thought to put in an ongoing search for. And once in a while some real "plums" come in at a time when there are no ongoing searches waiting to snap them up and they get posted for all to see. When TUG Members notice such availability, they will often inform their fellow TUGgers by posting this information in the Sightings forum of the TUG BBS.
Until mid-2000, the major drawback to an ongoing search was that, once you had committed your week to an ongoing search, it wasn't available for further searching online. Now, however, you can enter an ongoing search and have it working behind the scenes for you 24 hours a day. Then, when you want to search manually, you can temporarily change your defined ongoing search parameters online, as follows:
RCI charges you the exchange fee in advance when you start an ongoing search; when you confirm the exchange there is no further charge. If you should change your mind and cancel the search, your exchange fee is returned. Their standard way of handling this is to credit it to your account against future use. You can get it credited back to your credit card if you specifically request it, though.
At least that's how the whole thing works "on paper" - many folks are convinced that a periodic phone call to RCI helps "prod" the system (perhaps the VC will give you a week that you were not strictly qualified for), and we do hear the occasional anectodal evidence of weeks that SHOULD have matched ongoing searches showing up online.
So should you enter an ongoing search, or should you just search online? Only you can decide what is "best" for YOU at any given time.
Doug Wilson, "The Makai Guy", firstname.lastname@example.org
TUG Volunteer Coordinator
Revised 17 February 2003
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