Moness Murmurings Mounting

Frustration and confusion has intensified among timeshare owners at Moness following the in-depth article in Comment’s last issue on the financial and organisational problems the once popular resort is attempting to combat.
That exposure has pointed up an increasingly bitter divide between
MonessfrontWeb•  some of the people who own the right to occupy apartments or cottages for a specified week every year, and
•  the management which runs the resort for them.
This has generated a spate of responses from both sides.  It vividly demonstrates just how complex the issues have become and how difficult it will be to find a lasting solution.

Depressed Market & Soaring Fees
Not just locally but all over the world, the timeshare concept is proving to have been a flawed business model. In addition to having to buy a week for several thousand pounds, owners are obliged to pay an annual management fee.
Depending on how many sleeping berths their unit has, this now costs Moness owners well in excess of £500 every year – almost as much as what people might pay for a self-catering cottage in this area.
It is these increasing annual fees which are driving many owners to despair. Their plight is demonstrated by the inflation scaling over the past years. Between 1992 - 2014 this rose  by an average 2.548% per year (a total increase of 50.96% ).
However, in the same period the Moness management fees rose from £94 to  £509, an average of 27.07% per annum, (a total increase of 541.49%).  
Even with this hike of the management fee, there are complaints that the resort is not being maintained to an expected standard high enough for it to achieve top quality billing.
Due to this, and to the ageing profile of timeshare owners, the vacancy rate for weeks is growing and many owners simply want to get out.
One independent website currently advertises 560 weeks available for sale at Moness Country Club at prices as low as £995. When the resort began in 1987, individual weeks were being marketed for £5-6,000 and the management fee was set at £160. A key selling point was that it would become a financial asset, and not the liability many owners believe it now is.

Owners ‘In The Dark’
Finding a way to heal the growing rift with the management is aggravated because timeshare owners live all over the UK and some on the other side of the world, and they are not entitled to know the names and addresses of other owners.
As the management apparently refuses to release this information to its critics, canvassing opinions and gauging the level of dissent is almost impossible.
Following our article, more timeshare owners have come forward to voice their concerns about the running of the resort and the conduct of the management committee. Some call into question the relationship between this committee and the resort’s CEO Terry Vose, who now owns numerous cottages in his own right. Terry has been responding to some questions and space is allocated in this issue for the explanations provided (see page 8).
Comment’s online edition currently contains some lively discussion on this issue, where frank exchanges (within limits) might help to set the scene for a planned Special General Meeting (SGM) of the owners now scheduled for sometime in the second half of April.
At this, some proposed amendments to the club’s constitution will be voted upon to perhaps begin to address the problems faced by the resort.

Some Questions Addressed
On 2 January Comment had emailed the Moness CEO explaining that the persistent concerns that had been voiced to it by timeshare owners at the resort had grown steadily.
Eight resultant questions were posed and four days notice was given to permit the unedited inclusion, up to a maximum of 500 words, of any observations that Terry Vose wished to make. A ‘read receipt’ request with that email indicated that it was opened on Friday 3 January at 11:30am.
The reply this evoked was that there was insufficient time for the management committee, which he chairs, to respond fully. He held that the questions were based on ‘mistruths and lies, and do not represent the membership as a whole’.
He described Comment’s informants as members of a forum who were ‘a very, very small number of unelected, self appointed, anonymous and vociferous timeshare owners’ whose ‘opinions are based on lies, untruths and fictitious conclusions presented as facts’ but ‘based on suppositions’.
In addition, he maintained that ‘none of them approached the committee to voice any concerns’. 
In turn, one of Comment’s sources, speaking for several in that number, said: “These fortuitously and intemperately insulting remarks about owners who express reservations about management practices at Moness are sadly typical.”

Allegations Challenged
TV ClarificationWebTerry Vose also objected to the observation in Comment’s January article that he ‘has a string of wound-up holiday companies behind him in both the UK and Spain.’
This he refuted as follows (verbatim): “... (it) is entirely news to me, and i would ask you to re-examine that allegation and retract this with an apology, as it is wholly incorrect and slanderous. I was a director of a small uk holiday company some 7 years ago that, unfortunately, went into voluntarily administration, that’s it. I have never had any associations or directorships with any Spanish companies and why you should assert such is a mystery to me.
“Can you please let me know what these string of Failed companies were called and what my association with them is/was? This is a serious allegation and if you cannot substantiate it i would ask you to retract it and issue an apology....”

Comment’s background research indicates that there are a number of companies where a Terence Louis Vose, with a date of birth 18.01.62, was involved in various tourism related/timeshare companies (including Club Pollensa Ltd and Club Menorca Ltd) which are now dissolved, and that this person is the same Terry Vose who is involved at Moness and is also a director of Vose Group and other companies.
The information revealed indicates the volatility of the business environment in the holiday sector. It does not imply, of course, that there is any connection between the directorships he held and the dissolution of those companies.
Nor does it have negative implications upon his management of the Moness operation. and Comment regrets that he appears to see it in this light.

Facing A Changed Future
It was surprising that Terry Vose did not take up the opportunity, offered for Comment’s January edition, to demonstrate and explain the revised business model for the resort which has been pursued both under the former Paradise Group regime and latterly since his buyout and the subsequent management by the Vose Group.
Now the resort’s management continues to be the object of criticism on a number of fronts, some with potentially serious legal implications and complications.
An increasing number of owners hold that, in the years since the recession the sales on resort have stagnated, defaults on payments among members are proliferating and his company has greatly increased its share of the units on the resort. All this, some allege, means that his company is now able to impose its terms and business model for a changed future upon the diminished owner group.
13 resort cottages have been declared to be scheduled for demolition, or for refurbishment and subsequent sale for private housing. Some owners in these protest that they are victims of a modern ‘highland clearances’.
Other owners, claiming to be bemused and ill informed, allege that ‘The Vose Plan’ for the resort’s greatly expanded rental use, as opposed to timeshare ownership, was foisted onto both the club’s management committee and then later upon the owners’ 2014 AGM' .

Adapt To Survive - or Die
The draft 2014 AGM minutes, supplied by the Moness staff, made no mention of the intense anger and resentment shown there by the bulk of the owners attending.
They did, however, record that Terry Vose was ‘sorry that owners were shocked by the alleged changes to the constitution and proposals to reduce the size of the club. That was not the intention at all; the proposals are about saving the club and ensuring its longevity. The timeshare club plays a major part in plans going forward.’
The minutes added that ‘he stated categorically that there is a place in his plans for the club, in fact it’s an essential element’ and that his buy-out ‘will mean little change for the Club’ 
They recorded, also, that he maintained: “Financially the club is in good shape and so is the company; and I can see that by changing we can make it even better... That’s a commercial decision because (I believe I) can sell more rentals on the back of the improved facility, but the owners will benefit at no extra cost.
“Going forward the owners club is an element of a 3 or 4 pronged business plans to bring the site on. (My) aim is to have a successful timeshare club, alongside rentals and possible buy to let properties with everyone benefitting including (myself)...’"
The minutes noted him saying: “The club has to adapt to survive or die. Without the timeshare club Moness does not exist. The whole future is not the hotel and rentals, the club plays a key part in the future .”
The draft minutes of the following year’s AGM, in September 2013, recorded an owner’s assertion “that everything came down to a complete communication failure; people are worried about the unexplained disappearance of the election vote and the sudden issue of a management buyout which has appeared at the last minute.” The minutes then noted that Terry Vose took that on board.
His minuted assessment of the situation in hand was: “The biggest challenge going forward is the membership as (the club) cannot attract new members without changing the club. Membership and income are both decreasing year-on-year but the club still has 4,400 weeks...income has fallen and so far this year we have already had 50 or so reposessions...
“The marketing team at the company try their best to rent these weeks out so that the company and club obtain income. However with 1,800 weeks unsold it is a big weight around the club’s neck.. (and) the (present) mechanism is not currently in the best interests of the club because the weeks just pile up and cost the club...”

Possible Rapprochement?
On 20 January Terry Vose emailed Comment attaching reactions to the questions raised by Comment. He described these as ‘the committee’s concise and carefully worded response’. Despite it far exceeding the length promised by Comment for the purpose, its full text (unedited) given here in blue, below.
The response contains detail of

  • both the annual costs and occasional levies made upon owners;
  • a rationale for the downsizing and reshaping of the resort;
  • recognition of past unconstitutional practices;
  • acknowledgement of the management’s failures in critical communications with club members;
  • assurances of future improvement with these;
  • commitment to an SGM in April this year to address proposals for removing 13 units from the site. (In 2014 the owners were also told that an imminent SGM was planned. It never occurred).
  • an appeal for greater owners’ participation in managing the club’s affairs; and
  • a pledge to meet with representatives of the dissident owners’ forum.

Earlier, on 12 January, an owner had reported receiving an ‘Update’ from the committee announcing the convening of a Special General Meeting ‘in the second half of April 2016’. This Update included the committee’s ‘proposal to the amendment of the constitution’.

Helpful Protocol
John Sturrock (of Core Solutions) has developed and recently published a ‘Proposed Protocol for Respectful Dialogue.’
Signatories to this Protocol have agreed its adoption by both sides for the conduct ‘with civility and dignity’ of the campaigning for this year’s Scottish referendum. It might also usefully be adopted by participants at that meeting at Moness in April, as follows:
•  To show respect and courtesy towards all those who are engaged in these discussions, whatever views they hold;
•  To acknowledge that there are many points of view and that these have validity alongside our own;
•  To listen carefully to all points of view and seek fully to understand what concerns and motivates those with differing views from our own;
•  To express our own views clearly and honestly with transparency about our motives and our interests;
•  To use language carefully and avoid personal or other remarks which might cause unnecessary offence;
•  To ask questions if we do not understand what others are saying or proposing;
•  To respond to questions asked of us with clarity and openness;
•  To support what we say, where we can, with clear and credible information.

The Owners’ Committee Responses
•  The cost of the management fees has risen steadily over the years as have all living costs. The committee strive (sic) to keep these costs to a minimum and look (sic) to make savings wherever we can, but in order to keep the service expected this has been a difficult task. Despite extreme cost pressures especially re utilities, no more than 4% increase in fees has been applied over the past 5 years.
•  2 levies have been applied. In 2003 owners were asked for a proportionate payment (£293 for a 1 bedroom cottage) towards rebuilding a section of the resort known as the Courtyard. In 2009 a levy of £30 was applied to top up  the sinking fund which is the fund to maintain and refurbish the owners, (sic) cottages.
•  there was a breach of the Constitution at the 2014 AGM when no election took place for a vacancy on the committee. The owners (sic) committee were (sic) not aware of this as a breach and thought that an election could take place at an SGM (Special General Meeting). However after taking advice this was not constitutional and so the committee decided to offer to co-opt the 2 owners who were seeking election onto the committee until an election could take place at the next AGM.
MonessLodgesWeb•  Between 2002 and 2008 Moness Group Ltd purchased tranches of weeks in negotiation with the committees at that time. The club was consistently in deficit and Moness Group Ltd paid the club for these weeks to address these deficits. The going wholesale rate was paid as appropriate.
•  The committee agreed to downsize the timeshare element of the Resort as there were so many unsold weeks which were being marketed for rental. Plans were being put into place on the best way forward on this, but unfortunately were actioned before discussions were complete. The committee are (sic) aware it could have better handled the communication around this proposed reduction in club size and do agree that communication over this issued needed to be improved. To this end it has tried to improve communication by posting all committee meeting minutes on the website. Although the timing of the posting of these minutes has not always been timeous, the committee agreed at its last meeting that they (sic) shall to have (sic) a three week turnaround from now on. An email address for contacting the owners on the committee is also now available on the website.
At the present moment there are now less than 25 members in the cottages which are proposed for reducing the club as over 400 have elected to take various options offered to them. The final stage of this process will be taken at the SGM which is planned for April 2016.
•  The club is diminishing as timeshare is now not as popular as it once was. The club now has too many weeks and too few members to cover these weeks, resulting in financial pressures to keep the club solvent. The club have (sic) been discussing the club reduction programme for over 3 years. It agreed on a course of action to reduce the club by 13 units to ease the financial pressure and allow the club to prosper going forward.
•  As the club is reduced the allocation of costs is being renegotiated. The club’s accountant will attend the next committee meeting in February to clarify the situation.
•  The “sinking fund” is the sum of money allocated from the management fees which is spent on maintaining the owners’ property. It represents only 5% of the management fee which is approximately £25 - £30 per week held. Many owners are not aware of this and think that the management fee is a maintenance fee. Between £50 - £75 thousand each year is available to the committee to maintain and refurbish the properties. Some properties are now 20 years old and ultimately hard choices have to be made. To assist in prioritising and planning how this fund should be used an audit of all cottages is being planned. Audit sheets have been designed and the audits will be carried out this year. Owners on the committee have agreed to assist the management team to carry out the audits. This will enable a planned programme to be recorded for each property which will be implemented as funds become available.
•  Communication has historically been via a newsletter annually plus any correspondence received. As already stated the website has access to committee and AGM minutes and contact details for the owners on the committee. Unfortunately the last committee meeting which was to be held in December had to be postponed because of the bad storm that day. Holidays and family commitments has (sic) resulted in the next meeting being planned for February. As there has unfortunately been a long gap between meetings an update has been posted on the website beside the minutes. The committee are (sic) willing to listen to any suggestions as to how we can improve in this area.
•  Charlie Taylor is not the chairman of the club committee, he is an elected commitee member.  The Chair is normally rotated amongst committtee members.
•  It has unfortunately been the case, in the past, that requests in the club newsletter for persons to put their names forward for election to the committee have failed to attract any interest, despite the committees’ best efforts. It has been the case that many elected committee members, both before and after Charlie was elected onto the committee, have been re-elected unopposed. Nominations from forum members would be accepted and put forward along with other applications.
The committee is always willing to discuss any queries and concerns with any member of the club. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with 2 or 3 representatives of this ‘forum’ to talk over any further issues. 

See also:

http://www.gocscotland.org.uk/general-news-main/timeshare-nightmare-for-owners



 

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