Sunday, August 26, 2018

Confrontation With Thousand Trails Membership

If you've been RV'ing for awhile, campground memberships are the way to go.  Yes, some people dry camp and are able to stay off the grid for years.  I'm not one of them.  I have a household refrigerator that requires lots of juice and no solar equipment to make it.

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.
Then I purchased the Elite package for $5,000.  Now they go for around $7,000 and up.  At year three, they decided I should pay an assessment fee of $65 for campground repair.  I declined.  They said I had no choice, it was in my contract, only they couldn't seem to find it.

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.








19 comments:

  1. Seems to be a way of life for memberships. We belonged to Western Horizons,they sold off all parks and disappeared.

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    1. I've never in my life heard so many bad things about a membership group as I have Thousand Trails. Too bad because when I bought in they were excellent.

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  2. I love this topic thousand trails 🖕

    Thousand trails membership only has a 1.0 and the highest of 2.0 rating
    Do any search of thousand trails membership takes you to the complaint section first
    I think more people complained that there are in membership .
    Like you said it ain't in the contract,,, ain't going to pay it
    But on the same token if you could put up with the BS at the campground it is a good deal just a regular 480$ two zone set up give you 28 days free just for signing up,, that's about the price of the average of 30 days stay campground
    But my question is why the piss and shouting match.
    You should have gotten her office email address and conduct your business that way. Also it is a timeline stamped conversation. Especially when you're dealing with money matters, your attorney will thank you

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    1. Good idea ... if they will give me their email address. They are not known for being helpful.

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  3. One more thing if you quit thousand trails make sure you get your notification that your policy is terminated and the date
    And for added measure change the credit card number
    They over charged me $44 because I canceled before the 30 days

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    1. Luckily they do not have my credit card number. I have always paid by check.

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  4. When we bought our Class A from the perfidious McMann's dealership in CA, they put us in a Thousand Trails park for several days while they fixed the things that should have been working before they listed the coach for sale. At the time, we wondered why anybody would spend money to be in that RV park. It was just awful. Sounds like things are not improving.

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    1. Allison it has been getting worse by the day. They have taken every dime and not repaired parks, although there are a couple here and there that are well managed.

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  5. We got out of Thousand Trails several years ago because the parks are not being maintained and like KOA they wanted to charge for 50 amp service and even though our dues were to frozen they kept trying to raise them each year. So, if I want to camp in a TT campground I go in under Passport America.

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    1. I think that's what I'm going to do Tom. They can't charge me for 50 amp service, but they are trying to raise my dues every year also.

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  6. When we were having similar problems with C2C we had an attorney write a letter on our behalf. He charged us $50. But all the calls and demands stopped.

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    1. I'm thinking that's on the horizon for me. It's still cheaper than anything else, but not worth the hassle.

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  7. Passport is the only thing we belong to now...got rid of Camping World because Lemonis brought politics into it. Dropped KOA after one year because it just was not worth it. Looked into 1000 Trails, Coast-to-Coast....just did not see value in it. Give me a City/County/NF/NP/SP/COE any day...

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    1. I would be right with you Dave, except my rig won't fit in many of the places you can stay. Still, it's better than fighting with these guys.

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    2. And you need power all the time too...

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  8. Wen have our Coast to coast and Resorts of Destinction memberships only and have saved well over 60 K in our 12 years full timing never did passport America or Thousand trails and we do boondocks as you well know works for us. memberships do change and not to our liking.
    Wishing you good luck !

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    1. If I had solar, I'd be boon docking all the time. It's just hard to give up the Northwest Coast. Yes there are other parks there, but you are either 3 feet apart or paying $350 a week.

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  9. I'm sure all membership parks are the same. We found last winter we made more use of our ROD, AOR and Coast to Coast parks so we can get some of the entrance $ back. A lot of things don't make sense but for the time being we are benefiting. We have the residential fridge too AND solar panels but are leaning towards the all-inclusive parks anyway over boon-docking for various reasons. At $9 or $10/night + some electric costs, we are happy.

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    1. You are doing well at that cost Patsy. The Thousand Trails parks are just getting SO run down. They were built many moons ago and have not been kept up well at all. If they didn't change the rules every couple of weeks, it would help!!

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