The regulatory body which overseas timeshares in South Africa say that they are preparing a major overhaul, after receiving thousands of complaints from unhappy consumers. The National Consumer Commission, which regulates consumer and business interaction, launched an inquiry in May 2017 to better understand the consumer impact of the timeshare and vacation ownership industry. Hearings were conducted over the course of six months and a panel of experts approved the recommendations, to correct structural and behavioural issues in the industry.

During the hearings, the panel heard a number of concerns raised by consumers, including the accumulation of points from vacation companies, which were worthless. Consumers complained that they had paid thousands to timeshare resorts to invest, but could rarely book a holiday when they wanted to use their points. Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed said it was distressing to hear of pensioners appealing to the government for help. He spoke to the panel and recalled one particular case of a consumer, who had considered taking her own life to get out of the debt she was facing, because of her timeshare.

The National Consumer Commission agreed with the recommendation to pass legislation to regulate the industry and has asked for a new regulator be created, to ensure the industry complies with the new legislation. The wide ranging recommendations relate to the management of clubs, competition issues, marketing, credit related complaints, contracts and, contracting and legislative reform. It will take some time for these new legislations to be fully implemented, but,in the meantime, the NCC has asked an internal ombudsman to assess the extent to which consumers can exit contracts without penalty and, in particular, the in-perpetuity contracts which are still being used in South Africa.

People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.

It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible timeshare termination.

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