|No Such Thing as 'Lifetime Dues'||How to Cancel a Campground Membership|
|'Bill of Rights for RV Campers'||How to FIGHT the Pay-Till-You-Die Schemes|
|Camping Clubs that Abuse their members||Which Camping Clubs Abuse their members|
|Class Action Lawsuit Against TTN||My Membership Campground Problem|
Some potential campground members are promised, at the time of sale, that they will never have to pay another ‘Initiation Fee’ if they will advance an additional few thousand dollars. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘Lifetime Membership’.
No one is told that, as a member, they will be expected to pay annual fees “until they die” or convince someone else to do the same.
This is not a trivial oversight by the seller.
This is important information that is critical to the decision to purchase the membership and MUST be disclosed before the purchase.
Salesmen and the people who employ them, who engage in this practice could be guilty of fraud.
Efforts of sellers to coerce members to pay money every year “until they die” might be found guilty of fraud and/or extortion. If they engage in interstate commerce or use the telephone or
US mail to carry out their threats may be guilty of a Federal crime and might face jail terms.
We are told that some courts have ruled that such an alleged commitment would be against public policy and not permitted. Victim of this scheme should fight back. We have posted some tips on this web site.
So You Want to Cancel Your ‘Lifetime Campground Membership’
Note that the “initiation Fee”, the initial cost of the membership, is usually refundable for the first few days. Most states require that the purchaser have a prescribed number of days to change their mind about a major purchase. This is normally between 3-5 days. After that time, the initiation fee must be paid in full even if the purchaser changes their mind. This is usually because the seller, by this time, has “hypothecated” the membership (sold it, at a discount, to a third party for collection).
Remember, if it isn’t in writing - it didn’t happen.
Send a letter (KEEP A COPY FOR YOUR RECODS), return receipt required, to the address that sends you bills. This letter should identify you and your membership number, etc., stating that they cancel your membership, the effective date and that you will not use their facilities or pay any future fees to the company.
NO campground membership contracts we have reviewed stated that you must pay annual fees “until you die or sell the membership to someone who will”. All of these contracts, however, state that the campground can deny you access to their facilities or services if the annual fees are not current. This, in our opinion, limits their options to collect unpaid annual fees.
Be Fair to the Campground:
Sometimes dues payments are simply late. Your campground may feel a commitment to maintain the campground for your use for the balance of the first unpaid dues period. Conscientious campground owners may provide a “grace period” to their members. Be fair to these campground owners. Make your intentions clear - in writing.
Keep Careful Notes:
These notes will be useful if they actually try to take you to court. (Rare, if it has ever really happened.)
They aren’t being nice to you, you don't have to be nice to them.
"I am not affiliated with that company and I do not owe them any money. I have instructed them to send me evidence, in writing, that I can provide to my attorney for evaluation and they have not provided it. Do not contact me again."
This is the most common complaint NAM receives
from campground members.
What YOU can do...
Here is what others have done to stop the harassment:
Send a letter to the people demanding money stating that you no do not intend to use their facilities, they should cancel your membership immediately, and you do not intend to pay any future dues.
Do NOT argue with them over the phone.
When they send you a bill anyway - send them one letter, return receipt required, telling them “In accordance with the US Fair Debt Collections Act, do not contact you about the alleged debt. Such communication will be reported as a violation of Federal Law.
File complaints with:
There is a page on our web site that will help you file these
What WE can do...
NAM is engaged in discussions with several state Attorneys General and with the US Federal Trade Commission concerning this “Dues-Till-You-Die Scheme”. Official complaints are being compiled and consolidated in anticipation of actions that will put an end to this kind of scheme.
It is important that you file an “Official Complaint” when this happens to you.
You can file your complaint with NAM, your AG, and with the US FTC from our web site:
www.natlassoc.org [ Forms on our web site ]
Contact us if you do not have access to the internet and we will help you obtain, fill out, and file the complaint.
Don’t be intimidated. Get ANGRY and FIGHT BACK!
Dues-Til-You-Die Scheme Under Fire
June 2006 - NAM sent the following information to several Attorneys General, Governors, the US Federal Trade Commission, and the US Justice Department. We are still receiving replies. The consensus, so far, is that a person may not be “tricked” into a commitment to pay money every year until they die! Such tactics are at least abusive and should be stopped. The respondents suggest that victims of this tactic should file a specific written complaint each time someone tries to extract money from you in this fashion. The written complaint should be brief - but thorough.
Let us know if you need help preparing your complaint or finding appropriate addresses to mail it to. We are not attorneys but we can tell you how others have done it.
Part of the information we provided follows:
“NAM has received complaints from people in several states concerning abusive and possibly illegal practices relating to campground memberships. They use interstate mail and/or
the telephone to conduct their scheme:
The victim is lured to a sales presentation where they are told that they can buy a non-exclusive right to use campground facilities in exchange for an initiation fee of a few thousand dollars. They are also told that, for an additional sum, they will never have to pay another initiation fee again. The salesman calls this a “Lifetime Membership”.
The customer is never told at this sales meeting that the campground expects annual “Maintenance Fee” payments until the customer dies…
Some time later, when the customer has no further use for a campground membership and after the initiation fee is paid in full, they notify the campground to cancel the membership. This is usually accomplished by telephone and/or in writing.
The campground refuses to cancel the membership and continues to demand annual “maintenance” fees – arguing that the customer may not cancel the “Lifetime Membership” and that they must continue to pay every year until they die or to sell the membership to someone who will!
Repeated intimidating telephone threats and written statements (bills) indicate that a campground representative will sue the customer and file adverse credit reports against them unless they comply.
We have complaints from Florida, California, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and others, about companies in Mississippi, Florida, California, etc…”
NAM also provided names of offending companies and victim contact information.
Camping Clubs that