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Sunday , February 23 2020

Contract problem with holiday time sharing company

I requested by e-mail and also visited personally — within two days — a holiday time sharing company, located in Kuwait to cancel a contract signed by me for KD 2,600. I had paid KD 300 in advance. The company now says that the contract cannot be cancelled and that I will have to pay the full balance amount of KD 2,300 or else the company will have a travel ban imposed on me. I have not used any facility from them so far and I want to cancel the contract.

Can I do that? Or is what I am asking wrong? Or can the company impose a travel ban on me if I don’t pay the balance?

Name withheld

Answer: You have landed yourself in trouble by signing this contract. Once you have signed such a contract you have to abide by it or you could face legal consequences. It doesn’t matter that you have not availed any facility. The only thing that can save you is the contract itself if it contains a clause — like many, but not all contracts these days — which has a “cooling off period” after signing the contract.

This period — when mentioned — is the number of days or weeks given to both the parties to break the contract — after the signing of the contract without any legal obligations.

In your case you have not mentioned if there is any such clause in your contract. You have also to check which country this timeshare company operates from and then review the laws on timeshare in that country. As far as Kuwait is concerned, it is our understanding that there are no laws specific on the timeshare facility. But if you have signed a contract, you have to honor it and can’t back out of it even if you don’t use the service.

Thousands of people worldwide, and hundreds in Kuwait, face this problem every year because they are literally “trapped” into signing contracts — without examining them — by some companies. Ignorance of the complications involved land people in trouble with only some timeshare firms because a lot of the good firms have an “escape” clause for both the buyer and seller of these contracts.

The problem was so huge in Europe that the European Commission (EU) passed a law in 2011 which requires that all time shares or long-time holiday products — with contracts of over a year — have a 14-day cooling off period in which the buyer has the right to cancel the contract without having to pay anything to the seller.

Many countries worldwide have adopted such a law. We don’t know if your contract contains such a clause. If it doesn’t you have no option but to pay up. On the issue of a travel ban being imposed on you, the company itself can’t impose such a ban — it has to request the Ministry of Interior or Ministry of Justice for the same. It is then up to these ministries to accept or deny the request depending on the evidence and severity of the case.

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