A company will sell you a lifetime RV park membership, sometimes for a lot, sometimes for monthly dues only. In the contract, there are no specific fees, but there are vague references to transfer, administrative fees, etc. The contract makes the new member responsible for transfer(RELOADING) of the membership. This means the member must will, sell or transfer the membership. The company does nothing except charge an undisclosed "transfer fee". Often, as many as four transfers are required. Wording such as "membership ends on the death of the fourth member" is sometimes used.
The company also restricts any legal activities; usually to the immediate area where the company is based. So, you have to go there to resolve any dispute. If you become disabled, this can really be out of the question.
If referred to Better Business Bureau, the company will argue all the way to arbitration. While they argue, they send you a letter requesting several hundred dollars to relist your membership for sale.
Sometimes a "sister company" with a different name is used to sell the membership. During arbitration, the company gets the pay off.
Companies claim that this is the "industry standard" and it is a legal contract. I am no attorney, so I can't address legality, but it sure puts the member at a disadvantage.
The enforcement tool used by companies is to report to credit agencies and to ruin credit. There is no escape if you become ill or unable to use the membership. And transfer to a friend does not seem like the thing to do. Compassion is not in the dictionary for these scam artists.
Let's get the word out to RVers so others will not be in this situation. Please help by telling your friends.
It is not a scam, the terms are spelled out in the contract, and it is how the "membership" market has worked for a very long time. Certainly people who think they want to by a RV park membership, or a vacation club membership, should read the contract and decide whether that is the way they want to do business.
That you do not like the way a business works does not make that business a scam.
I've listened to Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard long enough to know I would NEVER purchase any kind of membership in any resort, time share etc. There have been just too many horror stories from callers that were trapped in "properties" with very little recourse........because they did not read the fine print. I feel as do the others in that it is not necessarily a scam, but it can sure make one seem as though they have been scammed.
2011 Keystone Bullet 246RBS
2000 Chevrolet Silverado
If the RV park offers to sell a site, and requires the buyer to pay dues to keep up the interior roads, help pay for grounds maintenance, and pool upkeep among other things, then it is the RV park's responsibility to keep the place looking good, and that will cost money.
As the buyer of that site, you are required to make payments on a yearly or other basis, so that the park can be maintained. The park relies on membership payments, and they can not simply stop maintaining a certain number of sites because a few members can no longer make it out to the campground and have decided to stop paying for maintenance.
Sure selling can be a pain. And the prospective buyer might actually read the contract, see that they will be the third or fourth and final owner, and know hat they will not be able to sell the membership ever or for a profit, and will adjust the price they are willing to pay accordingly. They might even reduce the amount they are willing to pay for such a membership by the amount that is required to be paid to transfer it into their names.
What the membership sells for is what a willing seller is willing to accept from a willing buyer. So if the only buyers willing to buy in are offering $1,000, that might be the amount that some sellers are willing to accept. Once there is a bunch of buyers willing to pay $8,000 for the same membership, and one is not for sale, then the price might go higher still, until those people willing to pay more are able to buy into the park.
Personally I would not want to buy into one, due to the high yearly fees, and my in-ability to use the campground membership that I bought many years ago. At least that membership I was able to buy into "Lifetime dues" for about $3,000, and no longer need to pay yearly dues. However that park was sold to Western Horizon, who has the park up for sale again, and Western Horizon is requiring me to pay a yearly $40 fee to use the 800 number for reservations, despite me not being able to use any of the other parks, or even having time to use the park that is 15 miles away in Ramona - my home park.
I guess there should be a law requiring the park to stop collecting dues from you wanted to turn in the membership back to the park. That would allow the park to re-sell the membership again, and hopefully to a camper willing to pay the dues, and actually get more use out of the park.
I do understand, some with the distaste of member parks. Our purchase was an investment, an like any investment it works best if you use it.. We are full timers so it has worked for us. Our park is definitely a 5 star status park. Last year we did a 7200 mile road trip, so we were able to really see some of the other parks available, an it was sad what is out there as far as maintained parks, some were just pavement in the commercial district, not very appealing. I think what is often over looked are the extra benefits of having a private membership, friends, activities and always having a place to park. I have penciled it out an our investment of upwards of 15K has paid for its self. I guess for us the biggest selling point was there was recourse for rowdy campers, have seen enough of that, in public campgrounds, with membership I know all fellow campers also have an investment to protect an respect. I like the peacefulness. And I figure even with contracts they cant get a dime or collections wont hurt me if well, I'm no longer here..
"2012 Forest River 360 DS"
"2013 Toyota Corolla on Tow Dolly"
The answer is really quite simple:
Just don't buy into ANY "Membership" or "Time-Share" agreement, unless you are 100% sure YOU can get some benefit from it!
I nearly bought a "Time Share" many years ago, but after listening to the spiel it became readily apparent it was of little use for me or my family, so I walked away.
The same goes for campground "memberships"; they are of little or no use to me, because I very rarely stay in an RV park that is affiliated with such a membership. When I do stay in a commercial RV park, I usually get a senior citizen discount or a Retired Military discount, IF I remember to ask if such a discount is offered. Such memberships are, of course, totally useless at Forest Service Campgrounds!
Since I rarely travel out of state with the RV, a "nationwide" membership would be even more useless.
Are such memberships "scams"? Perhaps, perhaps not. They are undoubtedly useful to some, or they couldn't stay in business.
CM1, USN (RET)
2002 Fleetwood Southwind 32V, Ford V10
Toad: 2006 Jeep Rubicon LJ
Other toad: '06 PT Cruiser, Kar Kaddy dolly
Toy: 1977 Dodge W100 CC SWB, 3/4 ton axles & springs
"When seconds count, help is only minutes away!"
I used to get offers for time shares and memberships. I don't seem to get them anymore. I loved going to the high stress sales pitch and knowing full well that I was not going to buy, but still enjoy a free weekend.
Ever read a contract for your cell phone? Basically they reserve the right to provide you NO service at will , I agree with the others here, it is not a scam, just a bad deal for the uninformed and excellent for those who plan it through.