The Sterling Holidays experience, and why Timeshares may not be a good idea anymore?!

Posted: August 9, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have been an owner of a Sterling Holidays Timeshare vacation plan, since about 1996-97. I have also opted for the RCI extension that comes with such timeshares, and have used the RCI membership for many a holiday, both in India as well as outside India, over these years.

For a long while in between, Sterling Holidays was in deep financial trouble, and I was wondering if my so-called 99-year membership plan, was going to die an early death. Somehow Sterling resurrected themselves, and stayed in business, and I could continue to get some benefit out of my membership.

Except for the initial 1-2 years, I have not used Sterling Holidays to actually stay at a Sterling resort.

Most of the holidays I have used are with RCI membership and at locations, outside of the Sterling resorts, and few times, outside India as well.

It has been a reasonably rewarding experience over the years, which is what you expect out of a timeshare membership.

In recent years, RCI has been constantly increasing their fees, and the exchange fees as well.

The RCI membership being of a shorter term nature each time, they have the right to revise their terms periodically, and I have accepted these changes over the years.

I have valued the fact that it is so simple to get a holiday set up.

1. Ask Sterling Holidays to deposit your week into RCI – a quick and simple affair.

2. Look for and find the RCI holiday you like. Get it, pay for it, and you are done.

The ease of usage, and the variety of RCI resorts that one had access to, still kept me going with RCI, in spite of the increase of their fees.

Recently however, when I was trying to follow the above-mentioned steps, I ran into problems with Sterling Holidays.

Here’s what happened:

1. I asked RCI to deposit my week from Sterling, as usual. They initiated the process.

2. Couple of days later, I get intimation that they could not do so, as Sterling had regretted the same.

3. I checked if I had paid my annual charges to Sterling, and I concluded that I had paid. So there should not have been any issue.

4. I waited for Sterling to get in touch with me, for reasons why they had denied the deposit of the week. NO such intimation came. I could have kept waiting for ever! Don’t think this regret from their end, triggered any process, to get in touch with their member..!!

5. Finally I got in touch with Sterling, and I was informed that I had to pay another charge now, when I am depositing the week. This was a new, new thing that had never happened before, and for which I had not got any prior intimation, so I was naturally not happy about it.

6. I asked them for details, which they provided on phone, and briefly on email, as this being a new process that they have initiated from April of this year, etc. etc.

7. So my point simply was:

– why did they choose to wait till I am depositing my week, to inform me about this??

– why is it not on any public platform, like their website, or their FB page?

– why was it not conveyed via email to the many members, or via a print circular?

– was this a trivial change? I am sure MANY members deposit their Sterling week, and claim a holiday via RCI. So if there are changes to the terms, and not an insignificant one at that, isn’t it their duty to intimate members proactively, when they initiate the change??

– more importantly, do they have a right to do this at all? There is a certain contract in place, where a fixed amount had been charged, and where a certain small, annual fee was expected to be paid thereafter. But each time you took a holiday via RCI, Sterling could charge you a certain extra – is that even allowed as per the contract?

– if so, how come for so many years, they never charged, and they are beginning to charge only now??

– and if they have charged a sum x this time, can they on their own whim, increase the charge to 2x or 3x in coming years?? After all, as they say, “terms and conditions are subject to change”! You have already paid the initial sum for purchasing the timeshare, now where can you go, except keep giving in to their demands like this??

8. The moot question at this point is, if a Timeshare membership in general, and a Sterling Holidays membership in particular, even worth taking?? If they retain the right to “change terms and conditions”, whatever it is that they promise through ads like the following one, can only be a lure to get you in. Thereafter, they could spring a surprise on you, and ask you for more money?!

sterling_ad

9. Most importantly, does the economics of Timeshares work out then? Say, one takes a decent vacation only once in 3 years. Then, one is still paying annual fees to Sterling, annual fees to RCI, then an exchange fee to RCI when you take the vacation, and now the newly introduced additional fee to Sterling, to enable you to deposit the week, to RCI. All that against the cost of just booking a hotel and staying there? Is it viable or interesting at all?

If not, WHY WOULD YOU LOOK AT TIMESHARE AS AN OPTION AT ALL??

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Comments
  1. PK Gupta says:

    Timeshare is useless, you end up paying more than what u otherwise spent by paying for hotel charges. The accommodation is never available on your desired dates. They keep increasing maintenance charges, there is no check or rule on them. They have lots of time for you, till you becomes member, later on you are liability on them. They will not provide after sales service.

    • piyusha says:

      I agree with you totally.And regret getting taken in by the smart sales talk.The resorts are often far away from the main centre city and one ends up paying more on taxis and commuting.Better to book a hotel when and where you desire.One is spoilt for choice these days and off season discounts are ever ready.
      In timeshare what one pays in arbitrally increased annual ammenity charges and room/electricity charges along with food,it often is more than what one would pay in a hotel.And Sterling is a disaster in customer services.

    • Maya R says:

      I have experienced the same problem. Enjoyed my sterling exchange for quite a few years from 1996 onwards. The last time I called to follow the same process, they asked me to pay for the utility charges. When I calculate the amount I am paying to exchange a holiday, it proves to be more than other exchanges I have done in the past, even out of India. As of now my maintenance is paid, but my week has not been deposited into RCI because I have not yet paid the utility fee. I believe this utility fee should be eradicated especially since we bought the resort years ago and it was not in out contract that they would ever add a utility fee to the maintenance fee.

  2. Shirin says:

    Join me in bringing the Sterling – RCI utility charge fiasco into the limelight and making it an eye sore for Sterling. We cant just shell out money for no reason at the drop of a hat.

    • Shirin says:

      I forgot to mention… join me on the Sterling Holidays facebook page.

      • Sanjay Mehta says:

        Sure, Shirin.. will join you there.

      • Pallav Bhattacharya says:

        Couldn’t find you on Sterling Holidays’ FB page Shirin. Is your comment still visible there or has been deleted?

      • Kal says:

        I never suggest any body take sterling membership because they people r fraud and make money customer lost the money ,time , mentally disturbing
        Be carefully never lost your ,
        First call me save your money time fell mentally free
        My number:9377314177

    • PRADEEP LAL says:

      I agree with you Sterling requires us to pay utility charges for the week deposited with RCI ( at the same rate as if we had actually utilised the week) ie about Rs 7000/- while they get the reciprocal advantage of payment for the week from RCI also (for the Sterling week deposited by us wi th RCI). While Sterling gets double Advantage ie we the member pay twice for the holiday week both to Sterling and also to RCI ie week utility Rs 7000/- + AMC 3600/-aprox to Sterling and Aprox Rs 8000/- per year membership fee to RCI +Aprox 32000/- for week usage to RCI. So a week / year usage at RCI costs us practically Rs 50600/- aprox. which is what we could pay a 5 star hotel as and when we want to holiday without such long advance booking hastle ! The figures i am giving are by memory and approximate but highlight the fact that RCI & Sterling need to relook at their policy which is not cost effective& fair to its customers !

  3. Pallav Bhattacharya says:

    Please read my tweet @NanOrator or the Facebook comment link for how they are currently cheating timeshare owners of their legitimate rights and letting out rooms through travel websites. @WorldOfSterling Big things come in small packages. Dynamite and this small link for instance http://fb.me/2rimPlJOR

  4. Pallav Bhattacharya says:

    Here’s my ( @NanOratoR ) Tweet of yesterday @WorldOfSterling Big things come in small packages. Dynamite and this small link for instance http://fb.me/2rimPlJOR
    For details read the Facebook link to know how Sterling is deceiving bonafide timeshare owners by refusing them IN WRITING ABOUT NON-AVAILABILITY while letting out rooms/apartments through even travel websites! Sterling Holidays timeshare owners must unite and protest against Ramesh Ramanathan’s disgustingly unethical and unscrupulous business practice.

    • SAKTI RAYBARDHAN says:

      Mr. Bhattacharya: Here is my story !!

      I stayed at Goa Villagio of Sterling for 3 days ( Dec. 16, 17 and 18 of 2015 ) using my son’s membership. On the night of Dec. 18th,, I paid at the front desk all dues and unfortunately
      the AAC ( Annual fee ) for the year 2016. Till this day( Dec. of 2016 ) Sterling hasn’t updated son’s AAC for 2016. I called their Chennai office as well as Goa Villagio several times without any success__ in fact they hung up on me. I also e-mailed to both offices copies of invoices and MC payment receipt.Fortunately, I have 3 separate GUEST INVOICES showing the amount of payment to be made and the Mastercard payment receipt that I paid. One of the INVOICE s clearly shows the payment of ACC fo 2016.

      I am out of town at this time and hope to hang Sterling and its management with the invoices when I return. They should better learn before they DROWN !!

      Any advice from you or other member brothers ???

      • Pallav Bhattacharya says:

        Dear Sakti Raybardhan,
        I don’t think you have anything to worry about since you have paid the AAC for 2016 by card.
        Whether or not Sterling updates your payment in their records is Sterling’s problem, not yours.
        Your card statement is proof enough of your having made the payment.
        I presume you availed of no holidays with Sterling during the whole of 2016 that’s coming to a close. If and when you book a holiday during 2017 (or a later year), you’ll have to pay the AAC for 2017 and for all subsequent years.
        Keep the 2015 invoice containing the AAC and your card chargeslip until you book another holiday. After that you may throw those away.
        Don’t waste your time phoning and emailing Sterling. I do not believe you shall face any problem in booking a holiday if your AAC is paid up to date.
        Cheers!

  5. Sneha Dharwadkar says:

    Hi. Your article was quite helpful. I have a query. Have u been approached by the time share group for a lifetime membership of 10000₹ and in return they will give u 7000₹ as rental returns? I hve just been approached by this lady and she says pay your membership and since i have a long term unused membership, i will b paid back 50000₹ ! This all seems a little fishy to me. I am trying to find articles and experiences just like your’s. I wud b glad if tou shed some light over this funda of earning this much money. Does this really work or is this a scam? Thanks

  6. Arun Kapnadak says:

    Arun Kapnadak

    Wonder are there any members of Sterling Holiday Resorts Lonavala, like me who have been waiting since 1997 for the completion of the Resort project. As per the agreement that we signed with the management they are required to pay us 18% interest per annum of the total cost of the time share for the delay. The management has been leasing out various substandard properties in Lonavala since 1997 and claiming it to be the equivalent of the promised Resort and thereby demanding Annual Amenities Charges from the members. Would welcome inputs from Sterling HR Members.

    • ALOK says:

      I have two memberships of goa & lonavala resort. Sterling people are palying a trick when you plan to sell or transfer memberships of lonavala/mahabaleshwar/goa or any any location at which they do not own resort. Once you submit transfer documents, transferee gets a call from Chennai asking them to visit a letter called Undertaking letter. And letter mentions : A member assures he will not claim 18% of the amount paid as per clause 4.2.
      It also says that company do not accept any third party transfer for non operational resorts like lonavala.

      They won’t give you a copy of the letter as this is confidential according to them !!

      Company will ONLY transfer membership if transferee signs letter or they will return documents.

      They are trying every trick to stop further sell / transfer of old 99 years memberships.

      • Arun Kapnadak says:

        Would appreciate if we can contact more such members of Sterling Holiday Resorts who have been duped by the management so that we can make a common appeal to Consumers Court against Sterling Management.

    • mansi says:

      Hey Arun, we have also taken sterling lonavala membership and have refused to pay the AMC charges until they can provide suitable resort at lonavala instead of substandard tie ups. However we do have to keep fighting every time we try to book exchange and use the days to credit. Have u taken any action against them ? We would definitely want to join forces to fight this fraud against them.

      • Arun says:

        Hi Mansi,

        So far we have not taken action other than sending repeatedly strong emails and demanding the compensation over the phone. I did consult a lawyer once, a year back and he advised me to settle the case with mutual understanding as he felt that the amount of money involved did not justify the time and efforts that would be required to go through a small causes court or a Consumer protection court. I feel that if we have enough support from other Sterling Lonavala members we can pursue the matters. In any case please feel free to express your ideas and try to get in touch with members like us, who have made a blunder in investing in Sterling Lonavala Resorts.

      • Kal says:

        I also join againststerling holidays
        My contact no9377314177

    • piyusha says:

      I am facing the same problem in Corbett.You can send Sterling resorts any number of mails/phone calls and they will reply with some standard mails and pressurize you to holiday in a place of their choice along with arbitarily increased annual amenitiy charges.
      Inspite of a signed contract/agreement,Sterling makes its own rules.They are at their best with all false promises when they need membership yet nothing to deliver once they have got their money.How does one deal with such hypocracy,lies and failed customer services?

  7. Mohit Upadhyaya says:

    Hello Mr. Sanjay,

    I am just curious about sterling holidays package that i just bought in the special offer scheme. Can you tell me the maintenance cost they charge every year?

    Is it worthful to take such packages?

    My package is for 25 years where I took in White (S).

  8. DayisGreen says:

    This is atrocious. After the 3000 something Rupees I Paid for RCI membership for 2 years, when I wanted to bank my 7 Days of 2015 Sterling Resort days I was asked to pay AAC (maintenance) of Rs 4758 and Utility Charge of Rs 10,814. I don’t understand what is the point of using RCI/Sterling.. I can book a hotel on my own with that money. Now RCI will charge another 4000 rs or so if I book a domestic resort..

  9. anubhav says:

    i too have been cheated by these sterling people . actually there business is full fraud . the rooms they offer for members look so very old . the furniture looks like its been second hand or they might have used those for the guests and then shifted to the members section . all in all total fraud .

  10. Mujhe sterling ka member bane 1 year ho gya but sterling ki taraf se Mujhe koi benefit nhi Mila Mujhe to koi documents bhi nhi miles.Sterling ne mere saath fraud kiya h. Sterling ne Aaj tak Mujhse jo bhi commitment kiye h wo saare wrong kiye h. Maine iss baare me bahut bar compliant ki but koi reply nhi mila. Mujhe mera puraa paisa wapas chayea. Agar Mujhe mera puraa paisa wapas nhi Mila too Mujhe koi legal action lena padenga.

  11. sagnik sengupta says:

    Hi

    I had purchased Sterling Timeshare in 2014 and since then never availed a holiday every time I enquire for the desired location and dates they say it is full, on one hand they say to book 6-90 days in advance even then you dont get the rooms.
    Its the worst thing to purcahse by spending some 3.65 lacs and they dont have any buy back option it is totally FRAUD on their part.
    Even after not availing a single day holiday I have been charged annual maintainence charges and until unless I pay that I cant book any holidays my question is is there NO VALUE FOR OUR MONEY which we have paid its not in thousands its in lacs.
    The customer support is worse…..
    I WOULD NEVER SUGGEST ANY ONE TO BUY STERLING it is the worst experience which have ever happened to me after spending so much money.

    Sagnik Sengupta

  12. asha says:

    Yes . what you have written is absolutely true and right. I went through similar experience. Also Sterling never built resorts at Lonavala,Mahabaleshwar etc and members who had their weeks there have to make do with substandard hotels. So there was a breach of promise there. Also where do you get bookings whenever you want. One needs to book very early on and for RCI I have booked even 10 mths before esp in popular destinations. So a hotel stay today would be marginally expensive and we can get bookings easily and one can get discounts too if one books at correct times and on correct web sites. This is same or worse with club Mahindra where I have another timeshare. So all in all timeshare doesn’t seem to be really a good proposition as it doesn’t guarantee you a holiday when you want and where you want.

  13. Gopi says:

    Thank you so much for the blog and the comments. I was looking to pick up one of these as I was getting lots of mails from them. But thought would check on line before spending the money, as all offers were only telling the EMI and didn’t mention how much I’ll end up paying eventually. Based on all that I read here, deciding against picking up one of these.

  14. Rakesh Gupta says:

    We have a Sterling membership. The original purchase was for 99 years for Jim Corbett but this resort never came up. Sometime about 12 years back, Sterling offered to convert it into 25 units but we had to buy additional 3 units at a total cost of 12K. Holidays are for next 50 years at the time of exchange.

    We took holidays twice at Mussorrie. The second time in 2002, the resort was in pathetic condition. We were told that the local authorities are not allowing any building material to be brought & they cannot renovate although all hotels in Mussorrie were doing so.

    There after we never took any holidays nor we paid any annual maintenance charges. Their office location in Delhi kept changing from south Delhi to Noida & back and so on.

    After the news that Thomas Cook taking over the company, we again tried to revive and have been told that:

    1. We have to clear all pending annual dues which is about 23k and start holidaying with them. These dues can be paid in two installments. (One immediately & for second, they keep changing the time bringing it nearer to the present). The annual charges are approx Rs. 78/- per unit which amounts to Rs. 2200/- per year for me.

    2. Daily utility charges are now ranging from Rs. 740/- to Rs. 1400/- depending upon the size of room & resort.

    3. All their 18 or so resorts have been renovated or are under renovation and they are converting most of them into Gold category. (Which could also mean higher utility charges if their standards are Star standards)

    With my 28 points, I can take 4 days holiday annually in peak season in a 2 bed room. (not sure of type of accommodation – have to refer to my file & papers)

    My points are :

    A. Has anyone recently visited any of the Sterling Resorts and if their condition can be described here.

    B. Is it worth it ?

    C. Someone Legal should also look into the merger of Sterling & Thomas Cook. As per telephonic conversation with their Chennai office, the management of Sterling is same and will remain same. The merger application must be in High Court. (Either Delhi of Chennai depending upon the registered office of companies). SHOULD HIGH COURT NOT BE ASKING FOR CONSENT OF TIME SHARE HOLDERS FOR THIS MERGER & OF COURSE MADE AWARE OF CONDITION OF THIS MERGER.

    Please share your views. Will be delighted to read them.

    • piyusha says:

      I also have week 50…premium time…in Corbett for 99 years.I did not go with any changes they tried to make, over the years, in the original agreement. According to the agreement,clause23ii they are liable to give compensation for the years they are not able to provide us with ANY accomodation at the promised destination.
      In 2014 I had booked 45 days prior to my holiday week 50 and I was constantly being requested by mail and phone calls to take a holiday in Nainital instead.This was not agreeable to me at all.They did not give me Corbatt and ruined my holiday mood and time.
      Sterling clearly deviates from their commitment of memorable holidays,instead only ends up stressing and pressurizing customers to give in to their whims,all the while bombarding with mails and messages to pay arbitarily increased annual maintenance charges.
      I have decided to not waste anymore time or money on Sterling.Instead of fighting in court let us just spread the word on their inefficiency and crooked ways so that no other unsuspecting customer invests with them in the hope of taking “cheap”holidays.
      The amount one pays as various charges to Sterling besides the main investment,one can easily have great holidays in other hotels which are totally customer oriented.

  15. Pradeep Kumar says:

    I wanna be a member of sterling group for 25 years scheme. Please guide whether its worth spending money around 4 lacs. please guide…

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Most certainly NOT. Don’t buy Sterling under any circumstances!!!

    • piyusha says:

      Do not go anywhere near Sterling group.They are a bunch of liers and will follow you till you part with your hard earned money and then just keep demanding various charges without giving any customer services.They will leave you exasperated and angry.
      And please spread the word.

    • amit says:

      plz don’t buy you wiil be in trap

    • Manjula says:

      Sir, more than sterling I would suggest you to buy mahindra holidays membership. I am already a member and satisfies with all ther services and resorts. I got the membership done through Mr. ROHIL (club mahindra, bangalore) +919916367627 he would guide you with all of it . He would come to your place and tel u about the membership and them you could decide whether to take it or not .

  16. ANIL JAIN says:

    I and my friends in Kolkata took some 15 sterling membership in 96-97 both vistas and heritage, recently they are demanding AAC. They are neither giving any written letter nor invoice and citin the cases of those who have fallen trap to their demands and paid AAC. The money paid by us 20 years back would have grown 20 times by now and after paying that initial hefty amount their asking of this AAC is unjust, it is illigal otherwise they could have raised genuine invoices.

    Some legal opinion has been taken, please send me the same. If required we shall all unite and submit a PIL

  17. Alok Birla says:

    Definitely ! We feel the same , and want to take an action against sterling resorts

  18. kaul says:

    giving money upfront and expecting services is nono in hospitality industry…don’t fall for it ..I did and I m struck

  19. sameer says:

    Hi Guys.
    I read your reviews about Sterling Holidays. I was in middle of finalizing my deal with the Sales Manager. Is there anybody who recently joined Sterling Holidays and can suggest how was the experience. I had a discussion with these guys related to AMC & Utility charges. Came to know that there are no Utility Charges being charged now. It was for earlier members. Can anyone please comment on it? Also how are the resort conditions now??

    Regards

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Well, when we purchased, we were also told that there were no AMC and Utility charges applicable.
      They sprung it on us later.

      So you never know.

      if you still want to be venturesome, go ahead.

      My humble suggestion – avoid Sterling like the plague!!

      • rohit k s says:

        Never fall into the trap of Sterling or other time share companies. Firstly they take payments to build their resort, then charge annual maintenance charges for their up-keeping and thereafter take utility charges per day of usage. Factually when you need vacation, their call center employees behave rudely and avoid giving you vacation because these companies prefer outside customers to earn money, at the cost of moneys given by the time share holders.

        Rohit K S

  20. Basu says:

    Hi, If anyone is interested in selling their 99 year membership in Bengaluru, pls call 9980000229

  21. i also want to join the sterlinig holiday what can I do pls suggest

  22. rohit k s says:

    It is better to deposit your money in fixed deposit and with its interest enjoy your holidays any time, any year, instead of hearing barking replies from time share companies , after your money is taken by them.

  23. Radha says:

    I’m a shareholder of Sterling holidays since 1995.Now booking for my holidays at goa, they are saying to pay since 2001 to 2015 AAC including penalty 10%.Mr.Ramesh, a team manager said the amount due from 2001 to 2015 is Rs 21494+10% penaltyRa 2149=Rs23643 till 2015 and year 2016= Rs 3174. Total= Rs26817. But when i talk to Mr.Satish on 06/02/2016, he given me break up like this::year 2001 to 2008= Rs 900 each year so Rs 900*8=Rs7200+10% penalty so Rs 7920, year 2009 to 2011=Rd 1100 each year so= Rs3300+10% penalty=Rs 3630, including penalty in year 2012=Rs 2117, year 2013= Rs 2117, year 2014=Rs 2329, year 2015= Rs2922. So total coming as from 2001 to 2015 year including penalty is = Rs 21035+ year 2016= Rs 3174= Rs 24209. So you can see the manipulation in accounts, in order to cheat customer.
    Complaints against Sterling Holidays::
    1)Unethical AAC which was not mention at the time of taking timeshare.
    2)Even if we are paying AAC, they are manipulating accounts in order to extract more money from customer.
    3)Reason for imposing penalty when they don’t intimate the AAC to customer, fault is on the company not customer.
    4)Improper customer handling as when I talked to Mr.Ramesh, team manager, he said there is no point sueing the company, as many customer has done that but we have won all the cases.
    Kindly help me so that I can resolve the issue.
    Radha Yadav

  24. Shubham Jain says:

    I just became member of Sterling Holidays 770 points membership. Have paid 95k upfront and remaining I will be paying in EMIs. But after going through the reviews, I am very doubtful. Can anyone please let me know if I go for cancellation, will they refund my money?

  25. Sterling holidays never take the membership because his sales person is wrong commitment and collect the customer money through cradit or debit card and customer are suffering no local sterling holidays employee are reply and meet u and head office people also no reply customer lost his money time mentally suffering

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