NCC told of tricky timeshare tactics
HOLIDAY clubs allegedly tricked holidaymakers into lifetime contracts in the timeshare industry by misrepresentation and unfair delaying tactics to avoid allowing them to benefit from the seven-day cooling-off period.
This was among the problems presented to the National Consumer Commission (NCC) of South Africa during the Gauteng leg of the public hearings as it is investigating complaints of poor treatment received from club members who entered into holiday ownership deals in the “timeshare” industry.
Consumers have told the NCC panel, seated at the Sierra Burgers Park Hotel in Pretoria, that holiday clubs have prevented them from exercising the legal right to cancel their timeshare contracts within the grace period by stalling procedures.
They said the clubs would deliberately ignore telephone calls and e-mails after signing the contracts.
Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson, said: “People have said the holiday clubs only provide them with a copy of a contract which they signed after the seven-day cooling-off period expired.
“They then realise after carefully reading their contracts that they are effectively locked in life-time contracts with detrimental terms and conditions, forever,” he said.
The spokesperson said the clubs were also accused of using false and misleading marketing tactics, which promised customers one thing, only for them to receive something totally different.
The holiday clubs reportedly refused to cancel contracts and charged exorbitant levies for the upkeep and maintenance of facilities owned by them.
Hattingh said the charging of levies by the clubs had continued despite a directive from Sars in 2014 stating that levies could not be charged to people who did not have a title deed or ownership of the property.
Other complaints which complainants said had fallen on deaf ears were of the overselling of limited accommodation. The overbooking resulted in the common complaint of unavailability of accommodation when consumers attempted to make bookings.
“In effect, consumers are charged for the upkeep and maintenance of facilities which they never get access to because they are always fully booked.”