Consumer commission probes timeshare companies

The National Consumer Commission is investigating leisure companies offering timeshare after receiving hundreds of complaints over the past two years.

Prudence Moilwa, the commission’s head of enforcement and investigations, said there had been so many complaints about holiday contracts in the timeshare industry that it had been decided to launch a large-scale investigation, The Times newspaper reported today.

In 2011, it had received 781 complaints and, last year, the commission handled 596 complaints, which included travel and budget-holiday clubs.

Moilwa declined to name which timeshare companies were under investigation.

Complaints included customers not being able to cancel their contracts, which they could no longer afford, and unavailability of accommodation, often owing to overbooking.

“This is a very complex industry, which requires a lot of time and energy to understand. The investigation might, therefore, drag on way beyond the expected timeframe,” said Moilwa.

The investigation was due to be completed by July 17.

South Africa has more than 740 000 timeshare owners, according to a study by Grant Thornton in 2011.

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