ASIC’s time­share con­cern

Travel Daily - - News -

MANY cus­tomers buy­ing time­share ac­com­mo­da­tion feel they are not get­ting the ex­pected value from their mem­ber­ships, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port re­leased by the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion (ASIC) today.

The Time­share: Con­sumers’ ex­pe­ri­ences study also flags con­cerns over sales tac­tics used to in­duce buy­ers into pur­chases, and cites high num­bers of clients who had ex­pe­ri­enced fi­nan­cial stress be­cause of un­ex­pected changes to mem­ber­ship fees.

ASIC said it had re­ceived a num­ber of re­ports of mis­con­duct in the time­share in­dus­try since 2009, with com­mon com­plaints re­lated to the ac­com­mo­da­tion, mem­ber­ship rules or ben­e­fits, and claims that mem­bers were al­legedly mis­in­formed about the sale of the mem­ber­ship.

“ASIC is con­cerned about the sales tac­tics used by time­share op­er­a­tors that har­ness a range of well-known be­havioural tech­niques to pro­pel con­sumers to­ward a pur­chase de­ci­sion such as the use of time-bound ‘ex­clu­sive’ of­fers,” ASIC said.

“We saw con­sumers spend large sums of money on a pur­chase they did not ex­pect to make and then en­ter into on­go­ing fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments un­der time pres­sure.”

While the re­port noted that some par­tic­i­pants were “sat­is­fied” with their time­share ex­pe­ri­ence, “many ex­pressed a va­ri­ety of feel­ings about their ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing anger, frus­tra­tion, dis­gust, de­spair and numb­ness.

“For some, the de­ci­sion to pur­chase a mem­ber­ship, and the un­in­tended con­se­quences the pur­chase had in­vited, was a cause for em­bar­rass­ment and sel­f­re­proach when later ex­pe­ri­ences with their mem­ber­ship fell short of ex­pec­ta­tions,” ASIC said.

“The sense that par­tic­i­pants them­selves had con­trib­uted to this sit­u­a­tion seemed to con­trib­ute to a lack of mo­ti­va­tion to tena­ciously pur­sue re­dress, which sug­gests com­plaint statis­tics may un­der­state the ex­tent of con­sumer is­sues with time­share mem­ber­ships.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Time­share Hol­i­day Own­er­ship Coun­cil, there are about 180,000 time­share mem­bers in Aus­tralia, 48% of whom took out a loan to buy into the scheme, with the av­er­age in­ter­est rate on the loans a whop­ping 13.5%.

The full re­port is avail­able on­line at www.asic.gov.au.

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