#ConsumerWatch: Timeshare investigation still waiting to be shared
News / 25 September 2018, 08:30am / Georgina Crouth
It’s been more than a year since the National Consumer Commission’s announcement that it would hold public consultations across the country about the timeshare industry - and consumers are still no better off.
Stuck with contracts that they can’t utilise nor offload, many are questioning what, if anything, has come of this widely publicised NCC action against the industry.
The waiting game might be over soon, but don’t hold your breath.
Trevor Hattingh, the NCC’s spokesman, told me their report is complete and at the printers - but more talks need to be entered into before they can release it.
He says they’ve developed an execution plan or roadmap which includes engagements with organisations and people who will be affected by the recommendations.
“We had decided, before we release any information, that we need to speak to the industry to inform them about our findings and recommendations.
“Only once that process has been concluded and the commissioner has presented the report to the affected and implicated industries and ministries, will it be released.
“We’ve engaged with the industry, including the Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa and its representatives - but they still need to respond,” he says.
The NCC will be meeting with the industry on October 4, after which the commissioner can brief Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.
Hattingh says they’re upbeat about the process and are hopeful their engagements will be positive going forward.
“We kindly request for patience until we are ready to go public. I don’t foresee that it will take that much longer, but we cannot at this stage commit to a date.”
But where does that leave consumers, while the talks continue?
Hattingh says most of the timeshare companies belong to the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) scheme, so advises that consumers direct their complaints to that office.
In its latest annual report, the CGSO revealed it had received 5593 complaints for the 2017/18 year.
The top three complaints were about service (27%), cellphones (19%) and electrical appliances (10%) - but timeshare has also attracted significant attention, comprising 4% or 250 complaints.
Bonita Hughes, a complaints manager at the ombud, says for this year to date they’ve closed 4641 complaints.
Among them were 189 timeshare complaints - of those, only 60 were upheld fully (meaning cancelled), 36 dismissed due to no co-operation from the supplier, 29% were upheld partially and 20 were dismissed due to non-co-operation from complainants, which suggests there might be a lack of co-operation or lethargy from some CSGO members.
Sixty-two timeshare complaints were still open - mostly relating to cancellations, facilities not being of expected quality and not being as per contract terms.
“Most timeshare companies do co-operate but if they don’t respond, we have to close the cases and send them back to the NCC,” she explains.
Contact the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman at [email protected] or call 0860000 272 (CPA).