In January 2017 Trudie Broekmann, a lawyer based in Cape Town South Africa, specialising in commercial, corporate and consumer law, published a column in Personal Finance on the IOL website.
She began with the news that the National Consumer Commission had released details of a public inquiry about to be launched into the vacation-ownership industry, commonly known as timeshare. It was to be conducted by a panel of experts and chaired by a retired judge, it was expected to last around six months.
She began with one simple question, Why all the fuss?
She explained there may be happy owners of timeshare, but if they knew the “exploitative nature of what they bought into”, she believes they would have changed their minds. To us in Europe and in the United States this is a very familiar scenario. As an attorney who specialises in consumer law, she explained how she had been approached by clients who wished to terminate their timeshare contracts.
The problems she outlines with the timeshare industry are very familiar to us, they are as follows:
- What consumers buy seems to be worthless
- Misleading marketing
- Non delivery of services
- One-sided contracts
- Unfair tactics
- Contracts in perpetuity
- Non-Compliance with the law
She then went on to say that the contracts she examined turned out to be “void in terms of the law”. She explained, “This meant I did not have to cancel them, although there were sufficient grounds to do so. In such cases, a consumer does not have to pay a cancellation fee, or pay the management fee upfront, before he or she is permitted to cancel the contract or rely on the voidability of the contract”.
Under the Consumer Protection Act which came into effect on 31 March 2011, the law provides clients to have all the money paid for the timeshare returned. This would involve court action, very similar to what has been happening in Spain under their Timeshare law 42/98.
She also stated that she was considering a joint or class action on behalf of her clients.
On 20 November 2017, Pretoria News reporter Georgina Crouth, published the article Time almost up for timeshare industry. In this article it is explained that Trudie Broekmann is not waiting for the outcome of the commissions hearings, but has announced that she plans to launch a class action lawsuit early next year.
She will be demanding the full return of clients money, as the contracts are illegal, not complying with the Consumer Protection Act or the Property Timesharing Control Act.
For the full articles follow the links below:
21 January 2017
20 November 2017
These reports certainly show that timeshare problems have no borders, consumers the world over are now starting to question what these companies have sold them. Lawyers are now taking on these cases, especially as the laws come into place which protect the consumer.
In Spain, these laws have been in existence since January 1999, but it has taken many years of hard work to get the courts to rule in favour of the consumer. One reason is the financial power of the industry, but that is now on the wane.