Extortion, coercion? You decide. 

As we said in Part 1, we are receiving a worrying number of calls from Sutton Hall owners who are receiving threats of legal action for unpaid maintenance fees.  We also know of some owners who have actually received a County Court Summons.  In all these cases the owners are elderly and possibly vulnerable people, who are naturally distressed at the prospect of being sued, and forced to continue to pay for a timeshare for the next 43 years.

It is fair to say that most of these owners will not live another 43 years, but death (according to Sutton Hall) is no excuse for non-payment of the fees.  Sutton Hall states:

“….and upon the death of an Owner it becomes part of the Estate.  We do not wish to see children who have inherited the liability of their parents’ timeshare to be financially encumbered by something they did not sign up to.  Therefore, in these instances, we will offer the beneficiary the choice to take on the timeshare or to choose the 3 year exit option from the deceased’s legacy.”

The “3 year exit option” means that the beneficiary would be lumbered with paying around £1,500 (for nothing, because they can’t use it during this period) and that’s assuming that they can win the exit lottery of making it to the shortlist of 20 per year allowed to exit.

However, there are more hoops to jump through.  They also say that there could be exceptions:

“….we wish to recognise that there are sometimes genuine cases of death….that warrant recognition and empathy.”

Genuine cases of death?  As opposed to the deaths that owners are faking to get out of their onerous timeshare contracts, do you mean?  Is Sutton Hall saying that there are some cases of death that don’t warrant empathy?

Unowned weeks

During 2018 Sutton Hall “lost” 61 weeks of timeshare – 13.5% of its active member base.  What we mean is that at 31st December 2017 there were 247 unsold weeks, and 12 months later this had increased to 308.  That’s 308 weeks that Sutton Hall Timeshare Club Ltd own – more on that later.

Today there are 133 privately owned weeks for sale with Sutton Hall – some are advertised as “Free”, such is the demand: NOT!

This means that 441 weeks (out of 700: 63%) are either unsold (owned by the resort) or owned by owners that don’t want to own them.  Our guess is that this figure could easily be 80%, by the time you factor in owners that own, don’t necessarily want to own, but don’t do anything about trying to sell – maybe because they know they won’t be able to.

Let’s just summarise this:  80% of the owner base either doesn’t exist or wants out!

Hang on, is this some abusive arranged marriage, or a timeshare club?  Forcing people to do what they don’t want to do, based on a contract from 1982?  Based on a contract that the Council (committee) says they can’t do anything about, yet then vary the constitution whenever they choose.

Why does this club still exist?

If any democratic constitution (remember, they say it’s run by the members, for the members) knew that they had the support of only 20% of its owner base, the 80% would surely vote to disband the club, wouldn’t they?

Ah, I see – the rules are set by the 11 Council members, and to the rest of the owners/members it’s hard cheese!

Fact:

If Sutton Hall continues to lose owners at the 2018 rate, in 2 years’ time the average maintenance fees could have increase by another 50%+ to £740 a year.  And in 6 years’ time they would have no owners left.

In Part 3, we’ll draw our conclusions on this sorry tale. As always, if you have been affected by anything in this article, please let us know.


Posted on: June 26, 2019

For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk


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