Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The perpetuity of timeshare contracts that cannot be cancelled, was the dominant complaint at public hearings held on Tuesday in Cape Town.

The hearings were conducted by the National Consumer Commission (NCC) inquiry into the timeshare or holiday club industry. People complained that their timeshare contracts could potentially last forever and they could not get rid of them long after they stopped enjoying the benefits of timeshare.

Hearings have been held in Gauteng and will take place in all the other provinces as well over the next few months.

Despite the desperation of complainants to get rid of their contracts whatever the cost, it appears that no immediate solution is in the offing.

Diane Terblanche, chairwoman of the panel conducting the inquiry and former chairwoman of the National Consumer Tribunal, said that the public hearings would end only in about September.

Submissions would also be heard from industry representatives and relevant regulators. One of the key issues to be pondered would be how people could withdraw from contracts in a fair way without creating too much upheaval for operators.

After the public hearings, a month or six weeks would be required to draw up a report and recommendations, which would be submitted to NCC commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed. In his introductory remarks at the Tuesday hearing, Mohamed said that what was envisaged was a “more just dispensation”.

Mohamed could recommend legislative amendments or a new act to the Department of Trade and Industry which has oversight over the NCC.

If these recommendations are adopted the department would require time for drafting, public consultation and submission to the Cabinet and Parliament and then parliamentary hearings would have to be held. All this could take another year or more.

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