Mem­bers re­late their hol­i­day club hor­ror sto­ries

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BRON­WYN DAVIDS

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.

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