Time-sharing of resorts is quite popular in several countries. Europe, for example, has an estimated 1,500 such holiday resorts. But Europe also has a regulation to protect consumers from unfair and unethical practices adopted by time share companies.
Europe’s Time Share Directive of 2009 , for example, makes full disclosure mandatory for all time share companies. It also regulates the contract between the consumer and the time share company.
In India, in the absence of any such specific consumer protection measure, consumers are often victims of deficient services and unfair trade practices. Take the case of Mr C.M.Bhutani, who was promised 7,000 sq.ft along with his membership of a time-share resort in December 2007. What he got was an allotment letter for only 3000 sq ft and even here, he says the company is neither giving possession of the land nor refunding his money.
Till 2003, consumers in India could not even approach the consumer courts for relief in cases such as these. It was only in May 2003 that the National Commission held that when a consumer, who purchases the right to stay in a holiday resort for a particular period is denied that right, or the services rendered are not as agreed upon or as per standards, it is a clear case of deficiency in service on the part of the owner of the holiday resort. And the consumer, in such cases, is entitled to compensation. (T.V.Sunderason Vs Sterling Holiday Resorts ,FA NO 163 of 1995, and five other petitions)
Question by Ms Manju Bhalla: In August 2008, a resort company started calling up, saying that we have got a prize. We were told that if we paid 15 per cent of the total amount, which was Rs 33, 725, we would get free gifts. Since none of these promises were honoured, we have been asking the company to return our money. How do we get it?
Answer: I would suggest you try the All India Resort Development Association. (website: http://www.airda.org) . AIRDA in fact has a code of ethics for time-share companies, which includes ethical marketing practices and a cooling off period of 10 days for cancellation of the contract and a full refund. If AIRDA is unable to help, then you have the consumer court to fall back on. I have quoted a case law for your reference. You can access it on www.consumercom.nic.in
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