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July 4, 2014

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Watchdog investigates timeshare company

A SHANGHAI-BASED timeshare company that sold 10-year deals to customers who complain that they can never get a vacancy is being investigated.

Customers of Kololi Beach Club China say they are fobbed off with excuses from staff and refused refunds, Shanghai Radio reported yesterday.

Some customers say Kololi is also organizing trips, leading to a probe by trade watchdogs.

Owners bought packages with the Pudong New Area-based subsidiary of Kololi offering accommodation in China or at 2,400 overseas resorts through partners.

One customer, a senior surnamed Yin, told the radio station that he and his wife paid 38,600 yuan (US$6,214) for a 10-year timeshare from Kololi at a tourism fair last year.

“Sales staff followed us around and kept telling us how good the product was,” Yin said.

However, when Yin started picturing a beautiful holiday with his family this summer, he was told there were no vacancies at his choices.

And promises of a designated member of Kololi staff to liaise with never happened, he said.

“We were told the company would arrange for someone to keep close contact with us when we signed the contract, but now they say they have so many owners that they can’t take care of each one,” Yin complained.

Kololi hotline operators said timeshare owners must book accommodation in advance. However, they would not say how far in advance they needed to make a reservation.

Yin was also told he could pay extra fees for tour packages offered by the company.

But Kololi’s business scope is for tourism consultancy and accommodation bookings, and the Shanghai Tourism Quality Supervision Center said the company had no certification for organizing trips, the radio station reported.

The Pudong New Area Market Supervision and Management Bureau is also investigating.

Timeshare is a new concept in China’s mainland and the industry has been hit by scams and lawsuits due to a lack of supervision.

There have been cases of companies closing suddenly, leaving owners in the lurch.

Yang Honghao, an expert with the China Tourism Academy, said the government should introduce policies to regulate the market, including a “cooling off” period when timeshare owners can change their mind after signing a contract.


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