Membership camping: Be an informed consumer
Jack and Mildred Kidwell, a Reynoldsburg, Ohio, couple told Columbus NBC-4i.com they’ve paid more than $20,000 over the past 25 years for a campground membership. When they stopped paying their yearly membership dues two years ago, creditors started calling.
In 1985, Jack and Mildred Kidwell were in their late 40s when they bought a Thousand Trails camping membership. Since then, they have paid thousands of dollars in finance charges and membership dues.
Kidwell indicated that the couple tried to sell or cancel the membership, but the company refused.
In 2001, Kidwell said, his annual dues rose from $272 to $500 and in the last two years, he and Mildred decided to stop paying and the creditors are calling.
“It is just a thing, there is no end to it,” said Kidwell. “I just want them off my back and to quit trying to bill me for more money.”
“In this particular contract there is no right of rescission, that’s an important element to look for in any contract,” said Joan Coughlin, Spokesperson for the Central Ohio Better Business Bureau.
Right of Rescission is language that allows the buyer with notice, to terminate a contract.
“This particular company has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau, so it’s got a bad track record already,” said Coughlin.
The next step for the Kidwells is to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to file a complaint.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides consumers with the following suggestions:
Research the track record of the company before you buy
Ensure that everything the salesperson promises is written into the contract
Don’t act on impulse or under pressure
Study the paperwork outside of the presentation environment
Ask about your ability to cancel the contract, referred to as a “right of rescission”
If, for some reason, you decide to cancel the purchase, cancel it in writing
There is considerable information, misinformation, and confusion about membership camping and discount camping clubs. In order to assist the consumer in making an informed decision I have recently posted a series of nine articles on my website.
Disclaimer: I am a member of Thousand Trails, Western Horizon Resorts, and Passport America camping club but do not represent them or sell memberships.
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.
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