A Democratic Party lawmaker claims that a company called ‘Great Time Universal (HK)’, who have claimed to be an authorised agent for Vistacay Vacation Club in South Korea, have been flagged by the Consumer Council for high-pressure sales tactics. The Consumer Council have said that Great Time Universal have used the high-pressure tactics to sell memberships varying from HK$50,000 to HK$160,000. In September, they received 48 complaints, involving HK$2.7 million.
Complaints have been made to the Customs and Excise Department’s headquarters in North Point by Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who represents New Territories West, and 10 others, who were allegedly forced into buying timeshare memberships with the company.
The company director has been arrested on suspicion of misleading sales tactics and breaching the trade description ordinance. A customs spokesman has also said that he would not rule out other arrests.
The pitch would start with repeat cold calls, telling people that they could collect a free five-day holiday package from their office. Those who went, expecting a free holiday, were then told they would only be eligible if they were to sign up to be a member with a South Korean Resort. This membership came with a fee of between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000.
After purchasing the membership, customers stated that they did not receive the 5-day holiday they were promised, and they were told by agents that the resort was fully booked. Customers were then told that they would need to make further payments and upgrade their memberships to enjoy the packages sooner.
Great Time’s staff would take it in turns to pressure potential buyers for between 2 and 5 hours, going late into the night in some cases, in order to get them to sign up and pay the fee. The sales staff would then leave the customers in rooms with loud music while their identity and credit cards were taken for processing. They were also made to switch off their phones. One customer states that during his 4-hour sales pitch he was not allowed to go to the toilet on his own.
Sales staff would tell people that the membership would cover flights and hotels and that holidays to places such as Australia would only cost them a couple of thousand Hong Kong dollars, but when they approached the company, they were told only hotel costs were covered. They were also informed that they would have to pay a ‘management fee’ each month of a few hundred dollars.
If you feel like you have been affected by any high-pressure sales tactics, or have purchased any holiday products based on unfulfilled promises, please contact our specialist team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0121 272 3100 to discuss what we could do to help.