Attorney to take legal action against timeshare companies over dodgy contracts
The timeshare and vacation ownership industry continues to face consumer disputes over its cancellation and penalty policies.
In 2018, a national inquiry into the timeshare industry recommended a review of the laws that apply to these contracts.
Without any legal reform at this stage, it still remains difficult for frustrated customers to op-out of timeshare contracts.
Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says the refusal to cancel contracts, misleading representations and unaffordable levies are the biggest complaints about the industry.
The cancellation policy for most timeshare companies comes with penalties, which is usually a year’s levy or roughly about R20 000, Knowler explains.
The most despicable thing about the timeshare or “vacation ownership” industry is its insistence that once someone signs up - having been lured to one of those dazzling, hard-sell presentations by the promise of a free holiday - they can never leave.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
They’re literally locked in for life; historically forced by a threat of legal action to pay ever-increasing annual levies.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Even if they’re too old or disabled to go on holiday, they are forced to forgo essential living needs, such as medical cover, to pay those levies.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
R20,000 is completely beyond the means of most people who are desperate to get rid of these contracts because of the annual levies that they are forced to pay.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Attorney Trudie Broekmann says she'll soon be launching a test case, similar to a class-action lawsuit, in the Pretoria High Court.
Broekmann, a specialist in consumer affairs, has helped dozens of clients get out of unscrupulous timeshare contracts.
She says she's written cancellations letters on behalf of almost 450 clients with timeshare contracts "in perpetuity".
We are lumping everyone else together and giving them the chance to join a test case. We are meeting to finalise our papers in an application in the Pretoria High Court towards the end of March.Trudie Broekmann, Attorney - Trudie Broekmann Attorneys
It could take up to three years, it may be a lengthy process.Trudie Broekmann, Attorney - Trudie Broekmann Attorneys
The cancellation letters have the legal effect of terminating contracts. All of those are terminated.Trudie Broekmann, Attorney - Trudie Broekmann Attorneys
For a few people who were with Dream Vacation Club, we've actually managed to get their money back.Trudie Broekmann, Attorney - Trudie Broekmann Attorneys
Broekmann says these contracts are often in breach of the National Credit Act, the Consumer Protection Act and the Property Time-Sharing Control Act, making them null and void.
The attorney shares some case studies and legal advice for consumers who need help.
Visit the Trudie Broekmann Attorneys website to contact her about joining the legal action.
Listen to the discussion on ConsumerTalk for more:
Every Wednesday, on The Pippa Hudson Show, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.
For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.
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