Consumer Commission releases timeshare inquiry report
IT HAS been more than a year-anda-half since the National Consumer Commission (NCC) first launched its inquiry into the vacation ownership or timeshare industry, after a lengthy struggle to resolve consumer disputes with this industry. The NCC had resorted to the inquiry after exploring other options, as provided by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), but failed.
The NCC Commissioner, Ebrahim Mohamed, said yesterday: “The NCC was faced with the task of finding the best possible way of addressing the plethora of multi-jurisdictional issues raised by consumers over the years. This situation was exacerbated by the very nature of the timeshare product offering, with all its legal and structural complexities.”
Mohamed stressed the report should be viewed as an inquiry “meant to unravel and understand the complexities of the industry, assess the extent of consumer challenges and, after assessing all the facts and balancing them with research, make recommendations to improve consumer protection in the timeshare industry”.
The commission embarked on an extensive public and industry consultation process accompanied by written submissions. Interest groups, including consumers, industry participants and regulators, were invited to make their submissions orally and in writing.
Mohamed said the biggest issues for consumers related to the points system within the timeshare industry, not with conventional timeshare.
The report made recommendations to the Minister of Trade and Industry and called for legislative changes.
The report essentially puts the onus on the NCC to enforce the CPA, engage with other role-players and make recommendations to the minister.
The NCC wants all timeshare contracts to be defined as fixed-term contracts, running for a fixed, shorter period, subject to renewal – by mutual agreement between the club or developer and the member.
It wants the rights afforded by Section 14 of the CPA, which relates to the expiry and renewal of fixed-term agreements, to apply automatically if a consumer wishes to cancel.
The commission called for a revision of the Property Time Sharing Control Act, which includes a simplified disclosure regime.
NCC Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed said the NCC had to address the many multi-jurisdictional issues raised by consumers. | Supplied