I'm a new customer and have both positive or negative to say about the company. I was a little aggravated with the sales-pitch trip that I took, which seems to be the general consensus, but if you are one to believe that everything a salesman tells you is true then I have some stuff to sell you.
I sat through the pitch in order to get the "free" stuff and, in trying to cash in the trips, found out there are large fees and conditions associated with these. It would have been far easier and possibly not as expensive to reserve a cruise without these "rewards" but I don't know if this is Silverleaf or the cruise company itself. They also told me that I should have no problems re-financing the loan based on my credit, but that didn't pan out. Can't figure out if that's a Silverleaf lie or loan company knowing more about my credit than the resort. At the end of the pitch the kid told me what the resort cost. I told him there was no way I could afford it and he said that's fine, shook my hand and let me leave. When I was in the office for the scratch-off rewards tickets, he and his manager stopped by simply asked whether I might have considered it if I could afford it. I basically told him that it looked interesting, but being a single dad with custody of a child it seemed a little foolish to buy the base package that I could only use while my daughter was in school. After all of the following BS, I ended up getting a year-round package for 25% less than the original useless one. The only person that didn't seem real satisfied was the kid, probably ate into his commission rather seriously. I don't know if the meeting with the manager is a planned setup, but I would generally assume that if the salesman looks unhappy with a sale then you've negotiated well.
I haven't had any problems using my bonus time, which appears to be a major complaint by people. I've gone to two different Texas resorts with no problems. Maybe I just haven't been trying to go to the right places or tried to use it in the peak season yet? I guess I'll report back on that in the summer when I try to take the kid to the Galveston beach. Transferring my reserved week in Canyon Lake to Spring Break at the Village went rather smoothly, too. I'd assume Spring Break to be a peak season, too?
It is a little bit more expensive than I'd like, but I've looked into it and you can put as many names on the membership as you want. I plan to put my parents and siblings on it so that the bonus time gets used as often as possible and simply ask that when each member uses it they pay the fees themselves and cover the maintenance fee for that month to save me a little of the cost.
Personally, I don't think it is any more of a scam than any of the other timeshare resort setups, as long as you can take what a salesman pitches with a grain of salt and know what you are willing to spend before you go to the meeting. Don't get me wrong, I have broken down the cost of the timeshare, with the maintenance fees and everything it is not cheap (especially if I can't get it refinanced). However, conceptually, if I were to stay overnight at a hotel for one weekend a month instead of a two-room timeshare it seems that the costs end up balancing themselves out after awhile. And that doesn't include the automatic week. If I had it to do over again I would probably have to flip a coin, but I wouldn't refer to this as a scam, either.