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R100k timeshare investment but no holiday, consumer body hears

Jul 04 2017 15:31
Kyle Venktess, Fin24

Pretoria - Consumers have told the National Consumer Commission how they forked out many thousands to invest in timeshare holiday accommodation, only to find themselves unable to get a booking when they needed it. There were also complaints about next of kin allegedly being billed for deceased family members' lifelong contracts.

Erika Meyer, an occupational therapist, invested R100 000 collectively into the Holiday Club and Quality Vacation Club and continued to pay increasing management fees over 12 and 15 years, respectively. 

“In the beginning it was fine, we were able to get the accommodation we wanted but as these companies expanded, they could no longer keep up with the demand of being able to give consumers holidays when they wanted it,” Meyer told Fin24. 

Meyer said when she made the initial payments of R50 000 for both the Holiday Club and the Quality Vacation Club, management fees were around R200. However, she cancelled the contract when fees reached R800 in 2015 for each club (R1 600 per month for both) and she could not get a booking when she needed one. 

READ: Consumers hit out at points, broken promises at timeshare hearings

“After a while it ended up being a situation where you are paying for a service you don't even use. You cannot even cancel it because it is a lifelong contract - if you die, your children end up having the burden of needing to pay the fees,” she told Fin24. 

Other consumers complained of having to pay up to R3 000 per month for memberships and a further R5 000 per annum for administrative fees. 

Siyabonga Phewa, who owns the Quality Vacation Club, said he has worked in the industry for 17 years and that consumers were misinformed about the products they own. 

“The issue is that people have a lack of understanding of the products they have. Much of the information becomes misinterpreted but it is also supposed to be explained on the day of the presentation,” Phewa said. 

The National Consumer Commission began public hearings at the Sierra Burgers Park Hotel as part of its public inquiry into the industry on Monday and Tuesday.

The inquiry saw a panel of three legal experts hear submissions from the public into concerns around the industry, as well as pending complaints. 

Chairperson Diane Terblanche, former chair of the National Consumer Tribunal, attorney Zandile Mpungose and property lawyer Aubrey Ngcobo facilitated queries.

Further public hearings

Further public hearings are expected to take place in:

  • Western Cape: July 10-15
  • KwaZulu-Natal: July 24 to 27
  • Mafikeng: August 14 to 15
  • Polokwane: August 21 to 22
  • Eastern Cape: August 28 to 30
  • Gauteng: September 4 to 7
  • Mpumalanga, Free State and Northern Cape: September 11-27

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