WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Manie van Schalkwyk, the Credit Ombud, provides the following tips to keep you on the alert when you consider making a timeshare or holiday club purchase:
Do not let the salesperson rush you, or make you feel stupid or ignorant if you ask questions. It is your right as a consumer to question anything.
Make sure you can afford the purchase and that there are no hidden costs.
Do not assume anything – ask about and make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract.
Never sign a blank or partially blank document: your signature binds you to whatever appears on the document.
Always ask yourself: “If I change my mind later, how do I cancel this contract?”
Be aware of time limits. If the contract states that you can cancel it in writing within five working days of signing it, you must do it within that period.
Always cancel contracts in writing. Make a copy of your letter before sending it, and ensure you receive written acknowledgment or a cancellation letter from the company.
If a salesperson tells you something and it is not in the contract, it is the contract that will be believed should you encounter problems later, and not a partially remembered conversation with a salesperson who may no longer work for the company.
A salesperson may require you to fill in the timeshare contract “to qualify for a special rate” and assure you that you can withhold your credit card details until you make a final decision to buy. You may also be told that if you want to cancel the contract, all you have to do is make a phone call and the salesperson will tear it up.
But Van Schalkwyk says: “We find that this does not happen and that the contracts are processed.
“If you have signed a contract and it is processed, the contract is enforceable and you are liable for the outstanding money, regardless of any verbal promises that may have been made to you.”