Members relate their holiday club horror stories
VACATION club horror stories were heard on the first day of the National Consumer Commission’s inquiry into the industry, prompting panel chairperson Diane Terblanche to say she felt “saddened”.
Terblanche was touched by a consumer’s story of his desperation to get out of a vacation ownership contract which he used only three times in 11 years.
Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed, Terblanche and fellow panellists Zandile Mpungoshe and Aubrey Ngcobo yesterday heard submissions from consumers who had complaints against vacation ownership companies.
At the public hearings in Cape Town, six consumers said they wanted to cancel the contracts, which bound them to a lifetime membership.
Faghrie Meer said he received a call that he had won a free holiday, and when he went to claim his prize, he had been subjected to a Quality Vacation Club sales pitch.
He had to pay a R56 000 once-off amount for 20 points of holiday club membership, with an annual fee of R7 000. At no time did the salesperson inform him that he would be “stuck in the contract for life”.
He and his wife had been on three holidays before 2009, he added, after which there was an over-subscription and they could not get bookings at the places where they wanted to go on holiday.
Meer said he had been trying to cancel his contract for years. He considered cancelling the bank debit order, but had been threatened with blacklisting, which would have affected his chances of paying for a good education for his children.
Alvin Bowler said he enjoyed every holiday he took with his Easy Holiday Club membership, until he found out that non-club members were paying up to R1 000 less than he was.
Bridgitt Fuller paid R100 000 for RCI vacation membership, which she bought into so she could be close to her children in London and Sydney.
But she found out that RCI had no inner-city accommodation in any major capital of the world. When she blocked the bank debit order, she was threatened with blacklisting, she said.