On the 2nd April 2020, a very distressed couple named Mr Barry and Mrs Deborah Payne emailed the Timeshare Consumers Association (TCA) with a desperate plea for help because their timeshare resort was demanding they pay a weekly rental fee of £675 or face eviction during the COVID-19 lockdown, even though they were instructed to self-isolate and NOT to return home.
Mrs Payne said, “My husband and I have owned a timeshare at Trelowarren Estate, Helston Cornwall for 15 years”. She said that before travelling, she contacted the resort to see if they were still able to use their week dated 21st to 27th March, she was informed by the resort that they could and that it would probably be safer there because it is a 1000-acre private estate.
On arrival they discovered that all the amenities were closed including the on-site restaurant and supermarket.
Towards the end of their initial week’s stay, Mrs Payne felt unwell and concerned that she had contracted the deadly virus, immediately contacted 111 who advised her that she and her husband must self-isolate for 14 days and NOT take the 5-hour journey back to their home in Poole, Dorset.
When Mrs Payne contacted the resort informing them of her desperate situation, she was told that all future reservations had been cancelled and that they must leave immediately. Given the severity of the situation and the instruction to self-isolate, Mrs Payne was forced to beg the resort to let her and her husband stay for a further 14 days. They eventually agreed however, they informed them that would have to pay a rental price of £675 per week as a consequence.
Mrs Payne explained that paying such an extortionate charge was not possible. Both she and her husband are pensioners with very limited funds available. In an effort to reach an amicable compromise, they proposed to the resort that they pay a reduced charge of £100 per week plus the cost of utilities. Unfortunately their offer was rejected, with the resort citing that the owners of the week would want to be paid the full rental price.
Under the circumstances the resort were clearly not in a position to rent the cottage to anyone else, so one would have thought that surely £100pw was better than nothing. Unable to complete the excessive charge and fearing that they could be evicted at any time, put a considerable amount of strain on the couple, which was particularly upsetting being that the UK was in the infancy of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic.
Mr Payne is 75 years old and has diabetes which under the current UK Government Guidelines is considered high risk and therefore, he must stay indoors. He has also since received an email from the UK Government and his GP instructing him to self-isolate for TWELVE weeks.
Mr. & Mrs Payne have not set foot outside of the cottage since their arrival. Luckily they have been able to have basic food essentials delivered from a local farm shop and vital medications for Mr. Payne couriered by a nearby pharmacy. Mrs. Payne commented; “had this not been the case they could have easily perished under the circumstances with the outside world none the wiser”.
Mrs Payne also commented: “The owners of the estate; Sir Ferrers and Lady Victoria Vyvyan, who reside close by have not offered any form of help or assistance whatsoever and there has been no word regarding compensation for their initial week’s stay, despite there being no facilities open.”
Mr & Mrs Payne have been told by the resort management that they must pay £675 per week or face eviction from the property, they were also sent an email invoice for the charge.
Being elderly and susceptible to health issues, Mr & Mrs Payne are terrified of losing the one place keeping them safe from COVID-19. Mrs Payne said, “This is NOT an extended holiday but a refuge from outside danger.”
With the number of infections rising daily and an ever increasing death toll, even the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is currently self-isolating having been in Intensive care; these are indeed, very worrying times.
Mrs Payne said, “All we are asking is that we can stay on in the cottage, which would otherwise be empty, until it is safe to travel home, I have been in bed for 5 days due to feeling unwell and I am petrified that I may pass something on to my husband. He is in a separate bedroom and we are trying to maintain distance between each other.”
Upon communicating with the distressed couple, the TCA informed their press office of the situation who in turn gained the interest of a Daily Mail reporter. With the intention of getting an article published in the newspaper, the reporter reached out to Mr. & Mrs Payne.
Shocked by their distressing predicament the reporter emailed Lady Vyvyan for her thoughts. To which her only response was a rather unsympathetic and somewhat sarcastic “Really!”.
Having heard about the story, European Consumer Claims (ECC) kindly sent a bank transfer payment of £675 to Mrs Payne in an effort to help ease her worry and fears.
ECC spokesperson Sharon Johnson said: “we understand that the current times are difficult but this vulnerable couple just wanted to be safe and what has unfolded is a 1000-acre estate owner not having their timeshare owners best interests in mind”.
After Intervention from TCA and pressure of a story being written for the media, the owners did reluctantly back down and have allowed the couple to stay without charge.
Upon hearing the news, Mrs Payne emailed the TCA expressing her sincere gratitude “I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, compassion, understanding and generosity. I will never forget how much you have done to help us.”
We understand that the current times are difficult for businesses in the travel-sector however, this situation is absolutely disgraceful – putting pressure on an elderly couple to sacrifice their health is unthinkable and on top of that, they have been happy and loyal timeshare owners for over 15 years!
Posted on: April 24, 2020
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk