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Thursday Jul 13, 2017

Holiday Club members' woes laid bare

Holiday Club members were prepared to write off hundreds of thousands of rand just to get out of contracts.

National Consumer Commission (NCC) panel chairperson Diane Terblanche said this after hearing William Patterson make his submission at the public hearing into consumers' experiences with the vacation ownership industry. Since 2006, Patterson paid about R120 000, an amount which included the R36 000 buy into his QVC membership and the management fees, which increased annually to R8 800 for this year.

Patterson said he had been suckered into buying his membership after the salesperson called him to say he had won a holiday to Mauritius and then proceeded to talk him into a "lifetime contract" that would revert to his children and grandchildren. It was difficult to get bookings in the Cape and Patterson had only been on five holidays in 11 years. He said he had complained and requested a cancellation, but was told he could not cancel.

"The marketing methods to entice people is illegal," said Patterson, who just wants to "cancel" and they can keep the money.

Of the 10 consumers who made submissions in three hours, five complaints were about Flexi Club, four about QVC and one for an Australian-run Business Club, which was a front for The Holiday Club and RCI, and they all spoke of their battle to cancel their contracts.

Abraham Van Vuuren, a pensioner, was on holiday at Club Mykonos in 2003 when he was asked to scratch a card to win a holiday. He scratched and won a holiday and Flexi Club points, which he reluctantly bought into at R14 500 and R6 000 a year in management fees.

Van Vuuren could get out-ofseason holidays either during the week, or a weekend special, but he could never get bookings to the resorts he wanted to go to. And he was still waiting for the free holiday.

"Now that I am retired I just can't afford to pay the fees. I just want out. I learnt a very hard lesson, read what you sign," said Van Vuuren.

Peter Le Kay, also a pensioner told of his 24-year relationship with timeshare at Pine Lake Island in Sedgefield. Le Kay managed to cancel the contract by buying his way out with a settlement amount of R4 384. The Cape Town leg of the public hearings, being held at the Cape Town Lodge Hotel, ends today.

Cape Argus

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