A new report has recently been released by Bottom of Form
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) with regards to the South Africa’s timeshare industry. The industry is estimated to contribute as much as R3.5 billion to South Africa’s GDP.
An inquiry was launched back in 2017 by the NCC after numerous complaints from owners were received, mostly of owners complaining of unresolved disputes with regards to their ownership.
According to Ebrahim Mohamed, its commissioner, the NCC decided to investigate after exploring various other options provided by the Consumer Protection Act, which involved filing matters for resolution with the National Consumer Tribunal.
“The vacation ownership industry in its current state has been a source of frustration and anger to many consumers,” he said.
“As the NCC we witnessed this when consumers made oral submissions during public hearings that were held in the nine provinces of our country. It was most disturbing and sad to see elderly, vulnerable, pensioners sob and plea with government for help and relief at the public hearings.”
“The greatest discomfort I experienced though, was when a Free State-based consumer related a blow-by-blow account during her oral submission, of how she had planned to take her own life to escape her debt-stricken circumstances, which were occasioned by a mistake she made when she signed up for a lifelong timeshare trap.”
According to Magauta Mphahlele the CGSO, (consumer Goods and Services Ombud’s) received over 400 complaints relating to the industry of which 68% were on cancellations.
Among other things the report talks of its findings and a number of recommendations to resolve them.
All owners should be invited to attend the annual general meetings (AGM’s) and any other business that involves their ownership, allowing them to be involved and to be aware of any impending changes.
The minister of trade and industry must establish a supervisory body to apply the Property Time Sharing Control Act in terms of the proposed regulations.
In addition, the NCC will consult with the appropriate regulator/s to safeguard that club members can influence decisions affecting their rights.
Sales and Marketing:
Is has been suggested that the lure of luxury free gifts such as cars, free holidays, flights etc. should be stopped, in addition to this the infamous scratch cards should be stopped and made illegal, it’s false advertising at the end of the day and as we are more and more aware these days, every card is a winner. For those who fall foul to the enticement of going to such presentations, are told they can only attend if they take along with them, their credit cards. This practice should be outlawed immediately, the reason behind this is that they are pressured into purchasing there and then and more common been told that ‘todays deal’ is only valid if they sign there and then, this form of selling also needs to be made illegal.
There are so man contradictory horror stories of ‘he said’ ‘she said scenarios’, whereas if the Archived Act was made obligatory all presentations made with potential clients should be recorded visual or audio and copies archived, this would resolve any misunderstandings from the off and resolve so many claims and cases heading to the courts.
It has been recommended that any consumers who believe they have already fallen for these pressurised selling tactics should be released immediately from their contracts.
Contracts & Points:
Once the sale has been agreed the buyer should receive there and then a clear cut copy of their contract, there should be no small print or hidden – ‘oops did we not mention that bit’ during the sale, everything should be crystal clear, on which resort they own, the amount of points they own, the value of the points and the duration of the contract. Every year the consumer should receive an annual valuation certificate which is relative to the accommodation they can access each year. If you’re selling legally, there is no problem is issuing such open information.
Should for whatever reason the owner not be able to secure accommodation due to their required dates been unobtainable, they should receive in way of compensation a reduced management fee.
Regular audits should be carried out to ensure the sale of weeks can accommodate all owners involved, otherwise what is the point in purchasing points when they are of no use, due to greedy resort over selling. In addition, these checks should also include the quality of the accommodation ensuring it matches what is been sold.
Hopefully with these proposed changes been put into practice, South Africa’s timeshare industry should move away from the dark cloud which it’s currently under.
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Posted on: December 5, 2018
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