The practice of selling timeshare as an investment must stop.
It’s been two years since the National Consumer Commission (NCC) issued a report on its investigation into the controversial and often dodgy timeshare industry – but nothing has happened and people are still getting scammed and browbeaten with high-pressure selling techniques.
And the report itself is now missing because, according to the NCC, it was “lost” when the commission’s website was hacked.
None of the short-, medium or long-term recommendations in the report – which will be “replaced soon”, according to NCC spokesperson Pheto Ndaba – have been implemented, although during the course of the investigations and hearings in 2017-2018, 997 out of 1,200 complaints dealt with were resolved in favour of consumers, who had their timeshare contracts cancelled.
However, in the absence of legislation to control the sector being written and placed before parliament, many of the old abuses are still happening, including:
Among recommendations in the report were amendments to the Property Time-Sharing Control Act, new regulations for the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the setting up of a new regulator to enforce compliance with existing and future legislation.
There should be a clear and concise statement of the value of points and how it was calculated, reflecting the exact number of points required for a booking, that clubs provide an annual valuation certificate for their points, consumers get notified when points expire, reduced levies for no bookings and carryover of points when no accommodation is available.
A platform must be created for cashing in, exchanging and reselling of points.
As far as combating the “cowboy” behaviour of timeshare organisations, the report said the practice of luring consumers with freebies such as holiday vouchers, cars and free flights must stop.
Customers must not be lured to marketing events with scratch cards or stories that they have won holidays or other prizes, and they must not be required to bring their credit cards to marketing presentations.
Consumers must not be pressured to sign contracts and there must be compulsory training for timeshare personnel.
The industry must, as an interim measure, develop a code of conduct for the industry regulating the conduct of sales people and the clubs they represent.
All timeshare contracts must be changed to fixed-term contracts, subject to renewal, and that consumers automatically get the rights afforded to them by section 14 of the CPA. Consumers must first have time to consider, digest and assimilate information before signing.
Consumers must get a copy of the contract on the day of signing and the cooling-off period must only start when the last person signs and it is delivered to the consumer.
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