Consumer groups in Australia has made a broad move and are accusing the timeshare industry of trapping people in long term timeshare contracts using predatory sales tactics.
Choice is a consumer group based in Australia and they are urging the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to act and prosecute timeshare operators who break the law. They also want an investigation into the entire timeshare industry after receiving a staggering number of complaints from customers who have been trapped in contracts that last up to 99 years. They said in a statement: “Respondent’s report feeling fear, shame, embarrassment, a sense of defeat and guilt with their timeshare products. At every stage of the timeshare journey, consumers have reported unfair or oppressive practices that choice believes is either in breach of the law or falls well below community standards and expectations.”
Choice says this is the fifth complaint they have made to regulators about the timeshare industry dating back to 2016. They say they are disappointed with the lack of action so far whilst consumers are still struggling financially due to mis-sold timeshares. They have asked for a parliamentary inquiry into the practices of timeshare companies and for legislative changes to be made to protect consumers from ‘harmful timeshare schemes.
Research by Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Choice concluded that contracts for 99 years were unfair for customers who, as they got older, cannot utilise their timeshares as much. Choice said 70% of people surveyed were worried their timeshares would be passed down to loved ones after they passed away.
Choice published some of the responses to the survey on their website and one owner, named as Colin said: “Frankly I would give this away to have it out of my life.” Another named as Megan said: “Signing up to this has become one of the biggest regrets and has contributed to financial and emotional distress. On sign-up it was apparent to them that we could not afford it at the time. We needed a special exemption to get the deposit together. It is expensive and such a waste of money, but we have not been able to find our way out. They said if we didn’t want it anymore, we could sell it, which is technically true, but unrealistic. No one buys memberships at our level, and even higher-level memberships are sold for peanuts.”
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 types of crimes often goes 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 Money Back Claim.