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16-418MR Timeshare operator to revise disclosure and sales practices following ASIC surveillance
ASIC has finalised a surveillance of ULTIQA Lifestyle Points Limited and ULTIQA Lifestyle Promotions Limited (ULTIQA Group), one of Australia's largest timeshare operators.
ASIC's scrutiny followed complaints received from consumers and other regulatory agencies alleging misleading and deceptive statements and unconscionable conduct by the ULTIQA Group. ASIC reviewed ULTIQA Group's disclosure and sales practices in relation to the sale of interests in ULTIQA Lifestyle, a points-based timeshare scheme with 11,792 members as at 30 June 2016.
ASIC made extensive enquiries of the ULTIQA Group regarding its disclosure and sales practices. In response to ASIC's enquiries, ULTIQA Group has:
- amended its PDSs to give additional prominence to cooling-off rights, bonus weeks and split weeks;
- amended point-of-sale documents to ensure applicants are aware of their cooling-off rights;
- modified its monitoring and supervision of sales agents' compliance with and adherence to ULTIQA Group's sales processes and procedures;
- removed and clarified potentially misleading statements from the members' kit given at point of sale, and agreed to monitor sales practices to ensure that certain features of Club membership benefits are not misrepresented; and
- revised sales processes and practices by providing new members with temporary access to the 'members only' section of the Club's website during the cooling-off period to enable them to assess the benefit of the interests.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said, 'We expect AFS licensees to ensure their arrangements promote trust and confidence in our financial markets. We will take action to address concerns where we find deficient arrangements.'
ASIC acknowledges the co-operation of ULTIQA Group in addressing ASIC's concerns.
ASIC has also released Consultation Paper 272 Remaking ASIC class orders on time-sharing schemes on 17 November 2016. It identified a number of areas as potential opportunities for reform in relation to timeshare.