As time went on, it became rather expensive to stay in RV parks, so I joined Escapees and Passport America for discounts. When Thousand Trails came out with their Zone Pass in the Northwest area at a price I couldn't refuse ... get two for the price of one, which was $450 ... I jumped on it.
As time went on, I discovered the Elite package. Up to 21 days at any one park at ZERO charge for the same price as the Zone Pass and I can go from park to park. That means I can live at a Thousand Trails park for 365 days a year for my $450 fees. I cancelled the zone pass ... I even have a paper from Thousand Trails saying the contract is null and void.
I've fought with them ever since. It's a thorn in my side. Not a lot of money, just a tricky way to get more money out of me since I have such a sweet contract. This year my bill jumped up to $533, so I called to find out why.
It seems I got the same membership lady I previously spoke to. I think she's the only one in the entire office. I explained I was not required to pay the fees. She put me on hold for 20 minutes to "find my account".
When she came back, she said they took $65 out of the $450 membership fees I paid, making me short ... and late ... on my dues. Add in a late fee and interest and it came to $589. I tried to make the numbers add up, but they didn't. Wait ... the website says I owe $530.
She tried to explain that $35.86 was for assessment fees ... but wait again. They were $65! Absolutely nothing she told me matched up with the website. This is crazy, and besides, my contract does NOT say I have to pay assessments.
She put me on hold again to find exactly where in my contract it said I had to pay those fees. FORTY MINUTES LATER, she came back on. I'm sure she thought I would hang up, but I fooled her. I just put her on speaker phone and watched the baseball game.
She actually admitted upon her return that she couldn't find it anywhere, but she was SURE I had to pay. I asked to speak to her Supervisor or someone at Corporate Headquarters. Her answer in a loud nasty tone was ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Really ... you don't have a supervisor? She finally relented and I was transferred to an answering machine ... who never called me back.
Two days later, I received a call that I would normally never answer. This time I did, and amazingly, it was someone from Thousand Trails ... or so she said. I was late on my payment and I needed to pay it NOW! I explained the whole thing again, asking if she was from Corporate or from the accounting agency that handles their billing.
She got very angry, saying she worked for Equity Lifestyle Properties and I needed to PAY UP!! I declined. My dues are not DUE until October 1. Send me a copy of my contract highlighting the part that says I have to pay assessments. In fact, send me TEN copies so I can pass them out to my lawyers and let them have a look see.
Well of course that didn't go over very well. After another screaming match, I finally hung up on her. You see, I paid my dues four days prior, a fact she wasn't aware of because it apparently takes two weeks for it to hit my account.
I blocked her phone number so I don't have to listen to her scream at me any more. I'm sure in the end I'll have to pay the rotten lousy $65 ... only $25 this year. It's just the principle of the thing. It's not in my contract, so why should I pay it? Yes, the membership is still worth every penny because I stayed there so much the first three years, it paid for itself. I'm on their dime now.
I can camp there for 13 days a year at an average of $35 a night (that's my $450 dues), then spend the other 352 days for free. Which is exactly what is happening with all their annual sites. People can live there for the price of their dues plus maybe another $2,500, making their living costs about $8 a day.
That's why us members can hardly find a place to park any more. Between the druggies and the locals, they take up much of the park that was originally meant for members only. Not only that, but Passport America members can now stay there at a discount, not to mention the public who can call up and reserve spaces. They say for only one time, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
I know, it's all about the mighty dollar. If they used their proceeds to repair the parks, I might not care. Shoddy management has allowed most of the parks to go downhill to the extent that many of the electrical hookups aren't even working. Several have even had to shut off their water. Don't even get me started on the "no enforcement of the rules" problem. It seems corporate only cares about the money coming in, not how the parks are run.
Still, the parks are on my beloved Northwest Coast where I can fly my kites. I think one more year and I will give away my membership for free, they pay the $700 cost to transfer it over. Ridiculous, I know. Geez it only cost $150 to transfer my Giants Baseball contract. I just don't want any more confrontations from angry Thousand Trails employees.