Citizens' Issues
Sterling Holiday attempts to resell failed timeshare plan all over again

The timeshare holiday company has disappointed customers and shareholders for 25 years with promises it never kept. Yet, it is now trying to woo holidayers all over again with the same old promises

They promised people dream holiday experiences and disappeared promptly after cheating many interested customers. Now, Sterling Holidays is back one more time, and playing the same card again. Will we see it repeat its previous performance?

Chennai-based Sterling Holiday Resorts (India) Ltd (SHRIL), which claims to be India's leading timeshare vacation provider, is back after a long hiatus. Suddenly, advertisements promising a holiday at plush locales and a unique experience at Sterling resorts are everywhere. It seems, that for just Rs1,999 a day, one can stay at any of its 14 resorts at 12 locations. The company is inviting people to grab this offer before 31st March.

But this is the very same company that went down some years ago, after incurring huge losses. In 2007, it declared that the board underwent changes. However, to the best of our knowledge there has been no major change in the management. R Subramanian, then chairman and managing director, is still in this position. The company management was unavailable for comment.

Sterling Holiday Resorts introduced the concept of timeshare long before Anand Mahindra started to use it with Club Mahindra Holidays. About a decade after Sterling launched its operations in 1986, timeshare sales plummeted. After some time, sales revived a bit, but the business kept slipping. The company made huge losses and as a result it had to suspend payment to creditors, retrenched staff and adopted other cost-cutting measures.

In 2003, Sterling suffered another reverse. The company had initiated a deal with Days Inn for a take over. But the move to buy out the promoters failed as Days Inn did not seal the deal within the stipulated time.

As business continued to slip, the company accumulated a loss of Rs135 crore, causing much worry for shareholders. In 2006, Sterling admitted that it was in debt to the tune of Rs211 crore and it also declared a three-year cleanup plan. This included restructuring debts and raising $15 million through the issue of foreign currency convertible bonds. In 2006-07, its plan to earn about Rs100 crore through the sale of timeshares also fell through.

In the beginning of 2007, the company decided to sell Rs50 crore worth of surplus assets to pay some of the debts. It also said that it would require another three years to clear its balance sheet.

The task was made doubly difficult by the poor reputation it had earned for the quality of service provided at its resorts. Even during its heydays, Sterling Holiday Resorts got negative reviews for service. Public forums like mouthshut.com and consumercomplaints.in contain numerous accounts about poor service to customers and a lack of maintenance at the resorts. In 2009, a customer wrote (on mouthshut.com) about dirty rooms at the Ooty resort. "It is better to go to some cheap hotel," the complainant wrote.

Several timeshare owners complained that even after making their payments they were unable to avail of holidays at the desired locations. On a group discussion forum (http://www.manaskriti.com/InteractInn/10029903.html), customers also complained about being charged for unexplained items. At consumercomplaints.in, one customer wrote in September last year that he had sold his Goa timeshare but had not received the payment for it. Another customer said that he could not avail of a hotel room despite full payment.

Today, the company claims that it is offering an affordable, world-class holiday experience for customers. Most of Sterling Holiday Resorts shares are owned by the public. After recovering in 2009-10, the stock price has slipped from about Rs98 in October 2010 to Rs75 today.

Mid-January this year, the company also announced that it plans to raise Rs100 crore to refurbish its properties and complete pending projects. It is relevant to mention that it had made a similar announcement in 2007 but nothing came out of that. Now, neither has the comeback plan nor the fund-raising announcement helped the stock price.

So, any body ready for a second ride?

User

COMMENTS

Monique Bessette

4 years ago

Timeshares have always been a bad buy. But for those who really feel they need one I make one recommendation: Never buy from the developer. Always wait for timeshares to appear on the secondary market, usually at half-price. People like you get excited at the new developments and jump right in, only to become disillusioned later and dump the property onto the secondary market, at a loss, for a patient, informed buyer to take advantage of:

http://www.timesharescam.com/blog/155-ti...

Narayan

6 years ago

Its surprising they have not paid salaries to their employees and have defaulted in payment of Taxes, PF and other statutory deduction. They have to court cases in almost all states and the management does not seem to bother. Their bank accounts were frozen so many times but they happily open new accounts. They should come clear before they wish to restart.

PREMANAYAGI VELAYUTHAM

6 years ago

I have been a Sterling timeshare customer for many years. I do not agree with this article at all. while it may be true that the company went through a period of trouble, their customer commitment has always been very strong. In fact, now that they are reviving, the first thing they did was to send an invitation to their existing members to come and discover the changes as their guest. It is only after they addressed their current customers that they advertised. This is unlike most companies who only make efforts to please prospective new customers, and not their existing ones.

I have recently seen the progress Sterling has made in improving the standards at their resorts. And they are very honest. In their recent newsletter to all existing customers they even took the trouble to say that it would be difficult to accommodate everyone in the newly renovated rooms as the renovation could only be done in phases.

- Customer No. 5093 -



REPLY

Angelo

In Reply to PREMANAYAGI VELAYUTHAM 7 months ago

AAC (Annual Amenity Charge)
I had purchased a Sterling Timeshare around 1995. At that time I was clearly informed that apart from the payment for the timeshare and utilities, THERE WOULD BE NO OTHER PAYMENT. The utility charges have been raised year after year without any justification. Then they started levying Annual Amenity Charge for maintenance !!!!!!! This too has been increasing year after year, again without any justification. (The latest increase is a steep 20%). Are the members supposed to contribute to the maintenance of the resorts? Maintenance is Sterling's responsibility, not the timeshare members'.

Further, there is a Court judgment which clearly states that agreements cannot be changed unilaterally. If one party wishes to change any part of the agreement, then the other party has the right to opt out and he should be compensated for it.

It is disturbing that members like us who are among the first to have bought the timeshare, trusting the Company, are now being cheated and let down by the present management.

I had raised this issue with the Company a few years ago but received absolutely no reply.

I expect Sterling to take an ethical stand on this issue. It might be OK for them to charge AAC from the new members if they are informed about it before they purchase the timeshare, but it is downright unethical to start levying charges after one has bought a timeshare and one has been told that there would not be any charges. Hiding behind the pretext that 'conditions apply' or such ruses is not going to whitewash Sterling's unethical and illegal practice.

I therefore, request the Management of Sterling to withdraw this charge immediately from all those members like me who bought these timeshares when Sterling began this business.

Nagappan

In Reply to PREMANAYAGI VELAYUTHAM 4 years ago

glad to c atleast 1 satisfied investor; many are suffocated by the higher Annual Amenity Charges, increasing Utility Charges, sudden Guest Fee, Higher food cost, non-availability of rooms when v need them, . . . does it make economic sense anymore ?

gs

6 years ago

Is this the same group that floated Sterling Teak Magnum plantation scheme?

Sudha Seshadri

6 years ago

The article focuses just on past failures. It
fails to present a fair view of Sterling. Journalism must be clean and present both sides of any story. I have recently spent a few days at a Sterling resort and found that renovations are in progress and personally I had a great time--the room was comfortable, food delicious, the staff friendly and caring. I took part in several activities and enjoyed my days.

I urge one and all to be objective and not just focus on articles and comments that present the dark side of things.

REPLY

Nagappan

In Reply to Sudha Seshadri 4 years ago

agreed; this article is a little soft on the timeshare industry and has not brought out the complete truth about their unethical malpractices like promising something and not delivering it, introducing new charges & increasing other charges in order to demotivate the timeshare owners from utilising their holidays - in order to sell the same to outside non-members & profit from it,just to list a few . . .

Pantulu

6 years ago

I took this in 86 since there was a promise to pay some annuity in case we do not go for a holiday. We got the amount for a couple of years. Later they stopped paying. My investment did not get any return for a number of years. Finally I had to sell it off. Why should such companies be allowed to perpetrate such mismanagement? Our rulers are not bothered about common man's money. They go allout to help vested interests playing with common people. Should we call this a democracy?

Aruna Trada

6 years ago

I live in Malaysia and have been in India for the last two weeks. I just spent 4 days at the Kodaikanal Lake view Sterling Resort. Having always stayed in five stars in the past i was a little dubious about the sterling resort to begin with. But my stay exceeded all expectations. The rooms were extremely comfortable, the staff very efficient and available at our every need.I could not have asked for better service.We enjoyed a wide variety of delicious meals and our every wish was catered to.We saw that renovations and upgrading of the resort was going on and we were told by the resort manager that fresh investments have come into the co.and that a great deal of money is being spent .I went to their new spa Subuthi and found it to be a better experience than the one at Club Mahindra ,Munnar where i stayed a few years ago.

ASHFAQ AHMED

6 years ago

You're right! I too a member of time share scam but everytime you call them for reservation they will say, its already booked and when you get the resort, its condition is very poor.
Sterling resort is cheating public with false promises.

RNandakumar

6 years ago

A doctor couple friend of mine had bought one week time share in a popular hill resort our district. But due to their professional commitments accumulated it for four years. Their plan to avail the same in May game unstuck as they were told of non availability due to earlier booking by other members. The story repeated everymonth till December when they received intimation of availability for a week. As they did not wish to loose their time value they availed the same braving biting cold. And to their surprise they were the only occupants at that time. My friends furiously cancelled their time share and yet to get their money after 5 years.

Tushar Choksi

6 years ago

i am one of the timeshare member of sterling and i had a bad experience when i went to goa ,i was told by the resort manager that sorry but this time share has been sold and we can just provide you accomodation for one day while i was provided with a holdiday voucher for one week by their mumbai office.This experience was so bad that i haven't visited any of the sterling resorts thereafter.would urge pepole not be lured by their ads as they are cheats

Pankaj Gera

6 years ago

I agree with observations and have been ex-employee of Sterling. They have yet not done final settlement of their employees and PF settlement is long overdue. But considering that this site is promoting Mahindra Holidays (advt on top & bottom) I feel this news is motived. There are many companies which are trying to make come back and hence should be given its due share. Further the fact is Sterling owns maximum number of resort while others have leased resorts and kudos that it is trying to revive. Before giving negative news, please give your association

REPLY

sucheta dalal

In Reply to Pankaj Gera 6 years ago

I think you need to understand how the internet works. Look carefully and you will see that it is a google ad which is thrown up through and automatic algorithm. We have nothing to do with it. Do even better. Do a google search on our website and you will see that we have written against Mahindra also.
So think before you make uninformed statements. Getting these advertisements is an automatic process. Why on earth would we have advertised the connection if there really was one??
sucheta dalal

ASHFAQ AHMED

In Reply to Pankaj Gera 6 years ago

I am a member of sterling resorts and whenever you want to make a reservation, they will say its already booked.
But when you went there, the resort is empty and full of cockraoches

Pradeep H

In Reply to ASHFAQ AHMED 6 years ago

What they meant by booked is that the resort is booked by the cockroaches.

K Narayanan

6 years ago

Cheating is their birth right.It is easy for the corporates to get away.They got away diverting the money collected for life long maintenance from the time share holders for buying golf course in Noida.It was mortgaged to ICICI and the bank sold it to realise its dues.Then the company asked the time share holders to pay annual maintenance charges and went on increasing year after year.They can never earn the confidence of the share holders or the time share holders.I am a victim of their fraud.

Hiring activity improves across sectors in January

The Monster Employment Index climbed to 113 in January this year, a growth of 27% as compared to the year-ago period, while Naukri.Com's Job Speak index went up 969 in January from 808 in the same period a year ago

New Delhi: Starting off 2011 on a positive note, job opportunities in the country improved across most sectors in January and hiring activities are expected to gain momentum in the coming months, reports PTI.

Leading job portals Monster.Com and Naukri.Com in separate reports released today said that hiring activities picked up in January.

The Monster Employment Index, a monthly gauge of Indian online job demand, climbed to 113 in January this year, a growth of 27% as compared to the year-ago period.

Reflecting the buoyancy in the labour market, Naukri.Com's Job Speak index went up 969 in January from 808 in the same period a year ago.

Monster.Com's managing director (India/ Middle East/South East Asia) Sanjay Modi said in a statement that its index indicates a strong recruitment start in 2011, as online demand hit a new high in January.

"With the beginning of the new year, the employment marketplace seems to be moving in a positive direction. The hiring momentum is expected to move at a faster pace in most of the key industry sectors...," Info Edge India's CEO and MD Hitesh Oberoi said in a separate statement.

Naukri.Com is part of Info Edge.

According to Monster.Com, travel and tourism industry saw 56% growth from January 2010 to January 2011.

"Retail sector with 55% yearly growth was second in the list. Education led all industry sectors in month-on-month growth (7%). The government/PSU/ defence sector followed closely with a 6% monthly growth," the job portal noted.

Meanwhile, Naukri.Com said that all top industry sectors registered positive monthly growth in January as compared to December.

Both, IT and ITeS sector witnessed strong hiring trends this month with the index moving up by 11% and 6% last month as compared to December, it added.

User

Over 17 lakh users opt for MNP: TRAI

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators

New Delhi: About a fortnight after the national roll-out of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service, more than 17 lakh mobile subscribers have opted for the facility, that allows users to change their service provider while retaining the number, reports PTI quoting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The MNP service was introduced on a pilot basis in Haryana on 25 November 2010 and later rolled out pan-India from 20th January this year.

Of the total 17.11 lakh requests received, about 2.29 lakh were from Haryana circle where MNP was first implemented, TRAI said in a statement.

In other circles, Gujarat saw the highest number of switching requests at 1.67 lakh, followed by Rajasthan (1.44 lakh) in Zone-I (Northern and Western India).

In MNP Zone-II (Southern and Eastern region), maximum number of requests were received in Karnataka (1.16 lakh) and Tamil Nadu (1.14 lakh) circles

TRAI said it is constantly monitoring the implementation of the service. It noted that certain requests were rejected by telecom operators because subscribers had quoted incorrect Unique Porting Code (a unique number given to a subscriber who wants to change his operator) in the porting form.

The rejection was also on account of non-payment of outstanding bill and non-completion of 90 days from the date of activation of mobile number.

Telcos including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have been aggressively marketing their services to woo subscribers from other networks, who were looking for switching operators.

With the roll-out of MNP, subscribers will look at changing operators if they are not satisfied with the network coverage or customer care services, say operators.

Customers have to pay a maximum of Rs19 to an operator to change their network and the new operator has the option to either waive the fee or reduce it. However, a consumer would be required to continue with an operator for a minimum period of three months in order to avail the MNP service.

The authority has also instructed telecom operators to strictly comply with the provisions of MNP regulations based on complaints received from subscribers saying they were unable to get the process started.

India is the fastest growing telecom market in the world with a monthly addition of about 15 million subscribers.
 

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