Press release -
Seasons Holidays pushing out elderly timeshare members to cash in on demand for UK holidays?
Elderly owners at Slaley Hall being 'pressured' to pay £15,000 AND give up their memberships. Are parent company Seasons PLC trying to cash in on pandemic demand for British holiday accommodation?
Tim Norman and his wife Fiona paid £11,500 for a week´s timeshare in a luxury 3 bedroom lodge at upmarket Northumberland spa hotel Slaley Hall in 2002.
"It was a lot of money," Tim, 52, says, "but it gave us a week of holiday every year for 99 years and we love the area. It was worth the investment."
Since Bridlington couple Tim and Fiona, also 52, initially bought the timeshare membership from Q Hotels, the ownership of the Slaley Hall site has changed hands 3 times. It is currently run by Seasons Holidays, a Bristol based timeshare company, that members like Tim and Fiona say are now trying to force them out.
"Uk holiday accommodation is at a premium now," explains Tim. "Seasons probably want us gone so they can rent out our lodges for high prices. They are bombarding all the owners with what can only be described as bullying phone calls trying to take our memberships back. Myself and Fiona are among the younger owners. Many are elderly and infirm. Slaley Hall is perfect for them because of how convenient it is to reach.
"Seasons are not even offering us money. They instead want us to pay them another £15,000 for 7 weeks of holiday, and then relinquish our ownership back to them. Our annual fees are only £890 so its like paying more than double for the next 7 years, then giving our membership away for free. It´s an insult.
"Many of the elderly members here are feeling threatened. The hard sell phone calls keep coming and Seasons tell every member that: 'you are one of the very few people who have not taken us up on this offer' even though we know this not to be true. Nobody wants to lose what they own. You hear stories of people who are desperate to escape timeshare memberships. That just isn't the case with Slaley Hall members. We all know the value of what we own and desperately want to keep what we paid for.
"Myself and Fiona are hoteliers and we can see why Seasons are so keen to force the members out. Our lodge is a lovely 3 bedroom and they could rent it for maybe £2500+ a week if us 'pesky members' would just give back what we own.
Aggressive phone calls are not the only tactics that Seasons are being accused of.
"Maintenance fees are being increased, and standards continually dropping," says Joanne, a widow who purchased a membership with her husband 18 years ago. "We used to have a sauna in every lodge, and a big screen TV. These have been removed and it feels like it is all part of a campaign to drive us out. Maintenance used to be £300 a year and now it´s 3 times that.
Joanne is resisting the pressure to be forced out, despite her husband sadly passing away this year. "My daughters love Slaley Hall and are keen to accept the remainder of the 99 years when it passes to them. We all have great memories here with my husband and this greedy company shouldn´t be allowed to take from us what we own."
The owners say they are requesting to mediate with Seasons but the timeshare company is rejecting the requests out of hand. "The telephone harassment is just continuing unabated," says Tim Norton. "They have control over the owners database and are using it in what may be a breach of GDPR with their campaign to get rid of us. They are also preventing the Owners Committee from communicating with other members by denying access to the database for what is essential club business.
"Seasons have control over the Owner´s Club bank accounts too and this means we are being hindered financially in aspects like seeking legal advice."
Race against time
Tim and the other members are in a race against time. The club´s AGM is on the 24th of this month and Tim needs as many of the owners as possible to attend and make their feelings known.
"Seasons own over 51% of the weeks and this gives them the voting ability to make changes on site to put even more pressure on us to give up our memberships. They could use their block vote to put the maintenance fee up to such a high level that nobody could pay it. They could vote to make unbearable changes to the maintenance and refurb standards.
"Seasons are not letting the official Members Committee use the database for it´s intended purpose of important club announcements. We believe this is a deliberate tactic to prevent us from organising our response and defending ourselves at the AGM. Seasons are possibly hoping that they can steam roll changes through at the AGM quietly, without any real opposition."
AGM on the 24th. Vital that members get in touch before then
"The AGM will be virtual so it´s easy to attend. But we need as many members as possible to get in touch with us.
"It´s vital we get together and fight this. The members here are not rich, many of them are elderly and infirm. The membership they own allows them a convenient, affordable holiday. They paid for it and it is not fair that any of us are bullied into giving up what we own."
Daniel Keating from the Timeshare Consumer Association adds: "Seasons Holidays need to do the right thing and mediate with the members. We will be supporting the people who legally own at Slaley Hall and who feel they are being pressured to give up what they own by a dirty tricks campaign.
"We urge Seasons Holidays to allow the Members Committee to have access to the email base so that they can organise their defence. If Seasons want to make a takeover bid to buy the members´ weeks back, then they need to do so in a fair and reasonable manner. Not by harassing elderly and infirm members and making it difficult for them to get together and negotiate.
"Any members are encouraged to get in touch with Tim and be part of the fight back. Please contact Tim Norton as soon as possible on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07837621625. They can also join the Saley Lodge Owners Facebook Group and speak with Tim and Fiona on there.
"Also feel free to contact us here at the Timeshare Consumer Association and we will help too.
"Any media needing more details, please contact us at the TCA."
Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 (ask for Daniel), E: email@example.com (Address to Daniel)
TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations – We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.
An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.
We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff. We know our way around the timeshare business
We are a proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition