Vistacay Vacation Club in South Korea has come to the attention of the Consumer Council, 48 complaints were received during the month of September, involving HK$2.7 million. The complaints follow allegations of high-pressure sales tactics. A Democratic Party lawmaker claims that a business named ‘Great Time Universal (HK)’, who in turn are claiming to be an authorised agent for Vistacay. The Consumer Council have said that Great Time Universal have used the high-pressure tactics to sell affiliations ranging from HK$50,000 to HK$160,000.
Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who represents New Territories West, and 10 others have presented the complaints to the Department of Customs and Excise, at their headquarters in North Point. Consumers are claiming they were forced into buying timeshare memberships with the company.
The main arrest has been that of the company director, on suspicion of misleading sales tactics and breaching the trade description ordinance, however, that does not rule out further arrests within the company will not be made.
The start of the chase would be with repeat cold calls, informing the consumers they were entitled to a free 5-day holiday, all they had to do was come along to the office to collect their ‘prize’. For those who went expecting this free holiday, were then informed that to enjoy the ‘free’ holiday they would qualify if they were to sign up for a membership at a South Korean Resort. This membership came at a cost with fees between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000.
Upon purchasing the membership, consumers stated that they never did receive the 5-day holiday they were promised. When trying to book the holiday they were promised they were told by the agents that the resort was fully booked. Therefore, in order to enjoy the package offered, they were advised to upgrade their membership which would allow them to use enjoy the holiday sooner.
One customer states that during his 4-hour sales pitch he was not allowed to go to the toilet on his own and he was also made to switch off his phone. Great Time’s sales representatives would take it in turns to pressure possible buyers, most pitches could last up to 5 hours, some going late into the night not letting the consumer leave until the papers had been signed and the monies paid. The consumers would be left in rooms with loud music blaring out whilst they took their credit cards and identification for ‘processing’.
Consumers were told by the sales representatives that their membership would cover hotels and flights to places such as Australia and that this would only cost them a couple of thousand Hong Kong dollars, however, when they approached the company to make such bookings, consumers were told only hotel costs were covered. At this point, the consumers were also informed of the monthly ‘management fees’ totalling each month hundreds of dollars.
These types of selling tactics are sadly becoming more and more common, however, and thankfully more and more consumers seem to be fighting back to companies such as Vistacay.
Posted on: December 6, 2017
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk