Mr Dominello said in many cases consumers receive an unsolicited telephone call offering them membership or access to discount hotel accommodation provided they pay upfront.
“Consumers are promised vouchers or other entitlements that will allegedly outweigh the membership cost. However, this is usually not the case.”
One consumer who recently purchased vouchers was assured availability would not be an issue provided she booked prior to the expiry date. However, when she tried to make a booking the vouchers could not be redeemed due to lack of availability. The trader claimed their terms stated bookings must be made ‘well in advance’.
Unfortunately, for the consumer a definition of ‘well in advance’ was unavailable.
In other cases, consumers have bought vouchers for use at major hotel chains only to realise they are only redeemable at specific hotels often located overseas.
The Minister said under the Australian Consumer Law consumers who enter into an unsolicited agreement have a cooling off period of 10 business days, during which agreements can be cancelled without penalty.
“With the school holidays just around the corner, consumers should be on high alert for this kind of membership scheme,” Mr Dominello said.
“When dealing over the phone, always take some time to consider the offer being made and do not be pushed into making a quick decision by claims of exclusive offers or limited availability.”
For more information about consumer rights go to www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.