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Friday Nov 17, 2017

Class-action lawsuit against timeshare industry

Commercial attorney Trudie Broekmann announced plans this week to launch a class-action lawsuit against the timeshare industry early in 2018.

Broekmann is demanding the full return of clients' investments because the contracts are illegal and don't comply with the Consumer Protection Act or the PTCA, she says.

The Cape Town attorney has already terminated the contracts of 48 of her clients with the timeshare companies, Quality Vacation Club, African Club Innovations (ACI), Multi-Destinations Club, Dream Vacations, Lifestyle Vacation Club and Flexi Club.

In July, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) finally took steps against the industry, when it initiated public hearings into timeshare. But while the hearings, which were initially scheduled to be concluded next month, have seen endless delays, action is only expected well into next year. Broekman says she's studied the contracts, and in each case, they were non-compliant with the law and therefore void. She's demanding full reimbursement for each of her clients since initiation.

She says more than half of her clients have never been able to book a holiday. One of her clients paid R500 000 to ACI over five years, without ever being able to secure a booking.

"The systems are structured in such a way that apparently deliberately prevents you from achieving a booking," Broekmann said. "The contracts are also complicated so that few consumers can comprehend it.

"Many people assume that they are permanently committed to (in perpetuity) contracts. That is not true, as the contracts are unilaterally broken by the supplier, or are illegal in the first place," she said.

"A second round of public hearings in Pretoria were recently announced, as part of the NCC's industry enquiry.

"As a next step the panel is expected to issue a report, which I hope will contain useful and practical recommendations to alleviate the consumers' many problems with the industry.

"What will most likely be the case though, is that they will recommend that Parliament draft new laws to regulate the industry better. This would be a slow and uncertain process and would provide cold comfort to the consumers who are forking out to the industry every month for services they never receive."

Consumers wanting to join the class-action suit have been invited to contact Trudie Broekmann.

Georgina Crouth
Business Report


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