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Time-Sharing Packages: A Con Game?
By Zulkiple Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 (Bernama) - Fancy spending your vacation at a local
five-star hotel for a few days throughout the year? Or imagine you and
your family frolicking on sparkling beaches at foreign resorts of
international repute.

But you can't fix a specific date for your vacation.

No problem as you can always purchase a time-sharing vacation package.

But there is a catch to this time-sharing packages as found out by a
private firm executive Mansur Ismail.

NOT DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Mansur had purchased a time-sharing vacation package, that "guarantees"
stays at local four-or five-star resorts throughout the year.

"However the package is not applicable during the school holidays or
festive seasons. Very clever on their part as this is the only time that
parents can bring their school-going children for vacations".

Mansur said weekends too are not available.

"I tried to book stays during the off-peak season, that is when school is
in full session. That too drew a negative response as the time-share
operator claims that the rooms in certain hotels are fully booked".

Mansur said after being unable to get rooms at the resorts for a number of
times, he tried asking for a refund but to no avail.

"The company refused to give any refund, even part of it," he said.


CHEATING GAME

Actually it is a cheating game, said nurse Zaridah Osman.

No doubt there are companies which are really involved in the time-sharing
concept and clients would get a fair deal after buying holiday packages
from these firms, she said.

Zaridah said these companies really have links with the resorts that they
advertise in their brochures.

"As for the other firms, they are actually the fly by night operators
trying to cash in on the genuine operations of others," she said.

BEGAN IN THE EARLY 80s

Mansur recalls that the time-sharing concept began in the early 80s.

"It started as a multi-level marketing plan. The concept was so successful".

At first there was one company operating at Jalan Ampang. This company
even had its own building.

Later several of its executives who were not happy with the running of
operations, left the company to set up a rival entity based on the same
concept.

The time-share concept was a successful venture until some "black sheep"
started to get involved and tarnished the trade, said an officer with the
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.


DIAMOND RINGS

The early 80s, there was one Taiwan-based company that operated from the
IGB Plaza located at Jalan Ipoh here.

"The company sold diamond rings at RM400 each. Those who bought the rings
automatically become members and were paid commissions for getting more
members. Actually the ring was not worth that much," said the officer.

The firm, which was actually a multi-level direct selling entity, is now
defunct. The company was forced to close after it breached the Direct
Selling Act.

"That is how direct-selling firms work. Member gets member and those in
the upper echelons reap the benefits while those in the lower tier get the
crumbs," he said.


UNDERGRADS HARD HIT

Recently a local daily highlighted the plight faced by some undergraduates.

In their haste to earn more money, these undergraduates have resorted to
invest their higher education loans (PTPTN) in some "get-rich-quick"
schemes.

These schemes are actually a direct-selling concept based on the "member
recruits member" scheme.

"It may work if the undergraduates put some effort to it. But this job is
time consuming and affects their studies. In the end they lost their money
and performed badly in their studies," he added.

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