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Mon, Jul 15 2024, 2:10:14Login ] [ Contact Forum Admin ] [ Main index ] [ Post a new message ] [ Search | Check update time | Archives: 12345678[9]10 ]
Subject: The New Paper, 10 April 2005 - Timeshare resale companies face Double Trouble


Author:
ccn666
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Date Posted: Fri, Jun 03 2005, 7:02:34

The Electric New Paper
Timeshare resale companies face Double Trouble
Customers upset over 'poor' resale market
Complaints to Case almost double from last year
http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/printfriendly/0,4139,86343,00.html

FIRST, the grouses started about timeshare companies using high-pressure tactics to get people to buy their holiday accommodation packages.
10 April 2005
By Fawziah Selamat
fawziahs@sph.com.sg

FIRST, the grouses started about timeshare companies using high-pressure tactics to get people to buy their holiday accommodation packages.

Now, complaints are being lodged against companies which claim they can resell those packages for a fee but end up not making any sale.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said it has received a total of 234 complaints against timeshare resale companies since February 2003.

Last year, the number was 123. This is almost double the 71 complaints received in 2003 when the unhappiness first surfaced.

Case has already received 40 complaints for January and February this year.

Consumers complain that timeshare resale companies first approach and assure them that their timeshare investments can be resold at attractive prices.

The companies then collect fees ranging between $300 and $800.

NO SALE

However, in many cases, months would go by without any sale being made and, worse, consumers are not given refunds of their fees.

These companies then offer severely deflated prices for these timeshare ownership - about 10 per cent of their initial prices.

Such complaints have led Case executive director Seah Seng Choon to conclude that timeshare resale companies may be operating in a poor or even non-existent resale market.

'From the cases we have come across, there is either a poor resale market or no market at all for timeshare membership in Singapore,' said Mr Seah.

'So far, none of the timeshare resale companies has been able to prove that that it can resell consumers' timeshare membership at the consumers' expected price.'

Added Mr Seah: 'If ever the resale companies are able to sell, the timeshare membership will have to be sold at a significant discount - a fact which many complainants informed us was not told to them at the point when they engaged their services.'

Complaints were made against six timeshare resale companies: Vanasia, Global Europ, Pro-Biz Network Consultant, Jeff & Kenny Consultation Services, Maestro Business Consultants and International Timeshare Resale Consultant.

International Timeshare was investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department for cheating in 2003. The company's former director, Tan Miah Soong, 43, was accused of cheating 38 people out of more than $150,000 by tricking them into believing he could help them sell their timeshare investments.

Tan, now unemployed, is accused of committing the offences between April 2000 and September last year. He is alleged to have first collected registration fees of between $388 and $776 from the victims.

He purportedly collected larger sums of money from them later, ranging from $1,125 to $13,750, as fees to effect the sale.

He also faces a charge of using the abbreviated form of 'limited' in the name of his business without incorporating it under the Companies Act.

Tan's case is ongoing. If found guilty, he faces a jail term of up to seven years for each charge of cheating.

Recently, The New Paper on Sunday highlighted the experiences of two people who had paid timeshare resale company, Vanasia, upfront fees of between $550 and $750 to sell off their timeshares.

However, the company refused to give customers a refund when it was unsuccessful in selling the timeshares at the agreed price. A reason it gave was that the agreed period for a successful sale had not expired.

But for some customers, it proposed much reduced prices for their timeshares.

BE CAREFUL

So far, Case said it has received 10 complaints against Vanasia.

Case said there's a need for consumers to 'exercise caution and be more discerning when engaging the services of such companies'.

Asked if timeshare resale companies should only receive fees after a successful sale rather than demand upfront fees, Mr Seah said: 'Consumers should insist that payment is to be made only if there is a sale. However, we like to leave this to the consumers to decide.'

In the meantime, consumers should take note that the marketing tactics used by timeshare resale companies come under the purview of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).

This means that if the companies mislead consumers in any way, they are in breach of that Act, Mr Seah pointed out.

'For transactions carried out after 1 Mar last year, Case may take out a voluntary compliance agreement (VCA) with the timeshare resale company if it refuses to settle the claims,' added Mr Seah.

'If the companies refuse to sign the VCA, then Case will be forced to take out an injunction against the companies.'

Once companies sign the VCA, they are bound under the CPFTA to cease any unfair practices such as misrepresention of services.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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