Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FINANCE -

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.”

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