A timeshare travel company based in Cape Town, could face prosecution for multiple charges, including tricking customers into signing up for a membership.

Vacation Hub International, a membership based travel and lifestyle company, is being investigated by South Africa’s National Consumer Commission. The NCC is the primary regulator of consumer business in South Africa, and helps regulate business practices. After investigating the company, NCC referred the case to its prosecutors. They allege that the vacation company misrepresented themselves in order to trick people into signing up to their services. They used unfair tactics to prevent customers from cancelling their memberships within the statutory cooling-off period and took advantage of people desperate to end their timeshare contracts.

Vacation Hub International member service manager, Hannelie Jacobs, said they wanted evidence from the commission so they could investigate the matter themselves. “Like most companies, we do have disputes at the NCC. In fact, we advise our members of their rights to refer disputes to the NCC. We have never refused to cancel any member who wanted to cancel. All our members receive a copy of the agreement the day that they join and have very clear instructions how to cancel. It is not possible for us to stop a person from giving notice in the cooling-off period

According to their website, Vacation Hub International has been voted ‘Leading Travel Club in the World by the World Travel Awards’. “The concept and inspiration for VHI came from the development team that conceptualised the 3 largest Membership based travel clubs in the Southern Hemisphere. To date over 40 000 Members are making use of the program since 2008. Families across South Africa cannot resist the financial logic of being part of a membership program”.

Despite this glowing report, of themselves, complaintsboard.com has over 30 published reviews from some very unhappy customers. Which is probably why this company has attracted the attention of the NCC.

Here are just some of the reviews:

“I requested a refund shortly after purchasing a vacation package, within my 30 day cancellation period. I was instructed this would go ahead. This has not & they are now ignoring emails/contact.”

“VHI is a scam – vacation hub international – deposit, reliance fee & lifetime scam. Scam is to get you past “cool-off” period before realising you’ve been taken for a ride.”

“They cannot be contacted… I want to cancel my contract with them, cannot find them where I went they only open on Saturdays, I know there is a five days period in which I can claim a full refund, sadly I only found out today on the fifth day how many complaints there are against them”.

“I attended a presentation by the VHI sales team. From what was told to me in the presentation I paid a deposit to join, however on reading the fine print in their contract I found out that I have been conned, and that the contract bared little resemblance to that what was being offered verbally by the sales representatives.That same evening, ~2 hours after signing up I tried to cancel the contract but was told I could not.”

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.