ASIC’s timeshare concern
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.