Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Campground Crowding: Parks take advantage of canceled reservations and get paid twice

RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before! In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can find some helpful tips and ways to work around the problem.

Here are a few observations from our readers.

Go ahead! Get the sheriff!

Several of our readers responded to a comment in last week’s column about the couple that had paid and set up camp but an online reservation got them kicked out.

Don said, “Don’t know if the folks thrown out after paying in person is a real story, but it should never have happened. Once you’re paid, you have a contractual right to that space, and the campground will just have to deal with the other person. No one should move in that situation. The answer should be: ‘Go ahead, call the sheriff!'”

Gail P. wrote “I agree! Call the sheriff! I paid. I’m here and I’m not moving!”

Another reader, Stinger45, feels the same way. “To the folks that secured a site and paid cash for it on the Oregon Coast, I would tell the camp host to go ahead and get the sheriff. I would file charges on the camp host for trying to commit fraud. They paid cash face to face and that is the contract. The host was wrong and needs to reevaluate their priorities. STAND YOUR GROUND! Don’t be intimidated.”

Paid for five days in advance, told to move

Al B stood his ground in a similar situation. He says, “I had a campground try to move us after we paid for five days in advance. We were already set up at the site when a guy pulls in and asks when we were leaving. I told him in five days. He said he had that site reserved and told me I had to move. I told him I would leave in five days so go talk to the manager.

“A few minutes later the manager/owner showed up and told me to move. I told him I have a paid receipt for five days for the site and I am not moving. It was his mistake and he would have to work it out with the other guy. It did not go well. The other guy said he was leaving and never coming back.

“I was sorry this happened and that the owner/manager could not keep his business straight. He should have offered the other guy a free or discounted site, but he did not. This was the summertime and I did have a great site with shade trees… in Texas!”

The people in the office…

Dennis C. has a bit of advice when dealing with corporate-owned campgrounds. He writes, “When staying in ‘corporate’ campgrounds, you need to understand who you are dealing with to keep your sanity. The actual owner of the place is a faceless ‘absentee’ landlord. Big corporate only cares about the occupancy rate and the overall profitability of the campground. Those people in the office, though oftentimes very friendly and personable, are not the owners but merely employees. They do not make the policies or even set the rates. Their decision-making powers are oftentimes limited by what the computer will allow them to do. Look at them as cashiers at a large retailer that is there to collect your money and you will have much more peace of mind.”

“Double dipping”

Kathy V. had to cancel reservations so she called the campground to let them know. She said, “We had a campground near Acadia that refused to give us any money back in fall during leaf season when our truck broke down. I asked if they were going to book it for someone and keep our money. They said yes. I said that is double-dipping. They didn’t care.

“I have to say I don’t like helping the campgrounds double dip. I did the right thing by calling, I got no money back and they got twice the pay for the site. If I had not spent the time and effort to make the call, there would not have been assisting in the double-dipping. I had paid 100 percent six months before. I understand when people don’t call.”

From our forum:

The topic of snowbirds, particularly in Florida, has certainly struck a nerve!

Steve R posts: “It’s sad that hard-working Floridians who want to take their family on even just one overnight tent camping trip in one of Florida’s State Parks can’t because of all the stinking snowbirds! If the snowbirds don’t like the cold weather why in hell do they live where they do? Do Florida a favor and stay home! You add nothing to our state, you only take from it!”

John H replied with a good point… “You have the same opportunities to make reservations as snowbirds do.”

Suggestions for snowbirds

Timothy S. had some more suggestions aimed at snowbirds. “I believe snowbirding is a problem for the residents of Florida and everyone else who is attempting to visit the state during the winter season. Here are some suggestions:

1) Snowbird Tax – 25% added for anyone staying over the normal two-week max. (Monthly fee plus additional 25%)($1000+$250=$1250)

2) 30-day stay or more. Must register with the state as a resident and pay taxes for the time spent.

3) No shows. The campground will call whoever rented the site to see if they are going to show up. If not, and refuse to cancel, Florida resident has free camping for whatever time is on the clock. The no-show is banned from ever reserving another site to allow someone else the chance to camp in Florida. (We have done this where I am.)”

Bert W. points out that snowbirds or seasonal campers are not just a Florida or Arizona issue. “Getting mad and implementing this type of idea may backfire if other states pick up on this. Then the ability of campers to move freely around this country would be restricted. Florida campgrounds fill up in the winter, Michigan campgrounds fill up in the summer. This type of restrictive rules/laws is not the answer to the need for more campgrounds. A full campground during a season of the year is the only way some campgrounds are able to stay open.



Now, some questions for you:

• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or is finding a place to stay not a problem?

• If campgrounds continue to be crowded and RVing continues to become more popular, will it affect how or when you RV?

• Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share about finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded?

Please use the form below to answer one or more of these questions, or tell us what you’ve experienced with campground crowding in general.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: They paid in person, but a later online reservation got them kicked out

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Diane Kirvan
3 months ago

All RVers should know the cancellation policies of the campground they are booking BEFORE they book. I have actually not booked a campground when the entire fee has to be paid upfront and is not refundable. These types of reservations are rare. Sometimes if one cancels very close to check-in time, not giving the campground enough time to possibly book the site, they lose money. That is bad for their business, so I don’t blame them for wanting to keep the RVer’s prepaid fees.

We have been fortunate to camp at campgrounds that have reasonable cancellation fees or no cancellation fees. Georgia State Parks will let you change your booking dates without losing a dime. IF someone does book a campground that keeps your fee – and then rents the site to someone else – thus double-dipping then so be it! Did you ever think of this from the aspect that now another RVer lucks out and gets a site in a campground that was booked solid? The previous RVer’s loss is the next RVer’s win.

Sharon Boehmer
3 months ago

The issue of snowbirds in FL is not a new one. 1975, I was learning how to drive in a town on the Atlantic side if FL. My driving instructor told me to watch out for any car that had NY plates, they were snowbirds with too much money and no driving skills and he would be glad when they went back home.

Queenie51
3 months ago

Maine is taxation land and AND vacation land. Every business does what they can to earn money but double dipping is wrong on many fronts 😡

Bob p
3 months ago

To all the Fl residents down on snowbirds, if it wasn’t for snowbirds FL’s economy would tank. Without the millions of $$$ from snowbirds you would have to have a state income tax to support many things you enjoy here. Where other states have industry FL has tourism, without that tourism FL would go broke in a few years, then tax has to start to pay the bills. Without tourism you wouldn’t have World of Disney that employs many FL residents. As a former truck driver for 8 years I brought many truckloads of freight into FL, but very few truckloads out. When I did get a load out it was aluminum cans going to a recycler outside of FL, or a load of scrap paper going to a recycler outside of FL. FL doesn’t have any industry to export anything to the rest of the country, it’s only claim to fame is tourism, wake up and smell the coffee.

Diane Kirvan
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

My husband and I are 50 year Florida residents hailing from Massachusetts. I agree with you, Bob. Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida. I still think that Floridians should have first crack at booking Florida state parks. I think the Florida State Park booking window should open first for residents for one month, then open bookings to all. This would give Floridians one month to at least be able to camp in their home state. There are still plenty of resort and private parks and a few Corp of Engineer parks as well that snowbirds can book.

Linda Fitzpatrick
3 months ago
Reply to  Diane Kirvan

Floridians can book ahead like snowbirds but they don’t make plans that far in advance like we have to. I still find it funny when I see about half the people in the parks I go to are Floridians, so they aren’t having that hard a problem.

Jake
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Snowbirds created the booming Florida economy. Without tourism, Florida would be like another poor southern state.

Tina W
3 months ago
Reply to  Jake

That doesn’t mean they should get campgrounds. We have plenty of hotels.

Randy Moss
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Hey Bob, Just so you know, Fla provides most of the fruits and vegetables consumed east of the Mississippi from November to June and has more beef cows than any state but Texas. Do you eat? Snowbirds bring money yes, but they also need a lot of roads and services that we wouldn’t need otherwise.

Mike Albert
3 months ago

So, we are Florida (condo) residents with a house in Bucks County PA as well. We have a motor home and travel cross country in the summer/fall seasons. We do camp in the winter/spring months in Florida, but they have always required planning in advance. Even with that known, we do occasionally check Florida’s state park reservation system to see if there are any openings. Sometimes we are lucky and sometimes not. With all this being said, please continue visiting all parts of Florida. We enjoy your visits and your spending. A recent study in Clearwater showed that 30% of their income was during 2nd week of February and April 30th. That’s not even the Land of Mickey. Are the lines at the stores longer and traffic heavy? Yes, but I’ll survive it and continue to love and live it as long as I can enjoy it. BTW, if you are at Turtle Beach State Park 8/1, look me up and say hi.

Thomas D
3 months ago

In the comments I read nothing about involving your credit card company. Charge the fees to ccc and enlist their help in retrieving your deposit. I’m sure they get this problem a lot

Spike
3 months ago

Remember when we all went camping whenever and pretty much wherever we wanted with little preplanning and just enjoyed the good times? No talk of contract laws, double dipping, calling the cops, anger and disappointment?

Sorry…it’s Sunday morning and I just needed a relaxing thought. 🙂

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago

“30-day stay or more. Must register with the state as a resident and pay taxes for the time spent”.

That’s ridiculous! Does that mean if I leave my state for several months I don’t have to pay any of my state’s taxes?

Elisabeth Mestlin
3 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I live in California,and we have a lot of snowbirds .I think it’s a good idea to charge them some Taxes .we pay taxes for our State Parks ,the don’t .we pay taxes for all the Roads ,the don’t .the come with heavy motorhomes .I could go on .

travelingjw
3 months ago

Oregon recently added a fee for all “out of state campers” who camp in Oregon State Parks. I support this fee. The Oregon residents pay taxes to support these parks and if use them, we should help contribute. The parks could not exist without tax support from State residents.

Bob M
3 months ago

It’s a shame that a small minority of Floridians are against snowbirds. Florida is a vacation destination and winter getaway. Which get billions of dollars from vacationers and snowbirds. I don’t blame snowbirds for enjoying other states in the summers and taking up residence in Florida in the winter. It helps preserve peoples health being able to get out in the winter and get exercise.

Caren L
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Well said!

KellyR
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Those Floridians complaining the most are most likely not native Floridians, but those, like me, that have moved here from other states. Bring your tax dollars and enjoy our sunshine.
During the summer, I enjoy Ill, SD, IA, MS, Al, MN, MA, ……. and take up one of your camping spaces, but I then leave a space for you down here. Get a grip, people.

Tina W
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

The reason is bc Florida residents who can’t travel out of the state basically can’t camp during the winter, when it’s nice. Yet we pay taxes that support not only state parks but state infrastructure. We also should be able to enjoy recreational opportunities that iyt state offers without needing to make reservations a year in advance.

Bess
3 months ago
Reply to  Tina W

Sorry you should do your research, FL state parks are paid for by donations, and fees only, not a single dime of tax monies go to support the state park system

bull
3 months ago

The poster crying about “Double Dipping” forgot to mention IF the FREE RESERVATION CANCELATION they felt they deserved was within the time frame outlined in their reservation contract.

We will never know and you can bet Dollar’s to Donut’s the poster will never admit if their cancellation was not within written/posted cancellation policy.

REMEMBER it’s all about ME!

“Double Dipping”?

GOOD for the campground owner.

If the campground owner can sell that time/space twice do to the original customer not completing their part of the reservation contract GOOD FOR THEM!

This is exactly the type of policy needed at all campgrounds to stop the wholesale reserving of campground space and not showing up as agreed!

Bruce Kuchinka
3 months ago
Reply to  bull

I 100% agree,

Bill
3 months ago
Reply to  bull

I’m not a lawyer, but I believe there is a legal principal called “unjust enrichment” which should prevent the campground owner from profiting from selling a reservation someone else has already paid for. Otherwise, both parties have to live by the contract.

travelingjw
3 months ago
Reply to  bull

Well said, it is our RV community that is causing this problem.

Leslie P
3 months ago

In the summer, the northern states book up. Arizona & Florida don’t have the snowbirds, we in Washington, Oregon, Montana, etc get full. It goes both ways.

Tina W
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie P

Every state should have some way of both taxing out of state residents and leaving some open spots or priority status for residents.

Florida Pioneer
3 months ago

The Snowbirds keep Florida green. Remember there is a reason we have NO state income tax.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago

Its a fact that Florida tourism dollars are a large part of the states revenue stream, and business income to it’s residence, when engaged in tourism type establishments.

To the reply about taxes owed while in a state. The assumption here is that you are engaged in earning “income” in that respective state, in that instance, you owe any income tax to that state. Florida, in this discussion, has no income tax, so no liability is due. All other taxes, fuel, sales, etc., are paid at time of purchase.

I was unable to find a Holiday Inn express last, but it has rubbed off from previous stays 🙂

Tina W
3 months ago

We pay property taxes.

Tina W
3 months ago
Reply to  Tina W

… Which are significant and a huge source of revenue for the state.

mimi
3 months ago

Snowbirds spent a TON of money in whatever area they decide to winter. Complaining that local Florida residents cannot decide to go camping overnight “because of snowbirds” is ludicrous. Campgrounds are not just for locals, whether state or private. They are for campers—with no distinction. In fact, Floridians have a one-month window where they can book—ahead of all others—their time in a local state park. Yes, it does mean that they must actually plan ahead. Yes, it cuts into one’s spontaneity. So be it. That is the way it is everywhere….one needs to plan ahead or take one’s chances on getting a spot. Adapt.

Roger V
3 months ago
Reply to  mimi

Agree with your sentiments and recommendations, but the State Park/Floridian comment is false. Please provide a link to the provision saying that Floridians can book state parks one month ahead of all others. It is certainly not on floridastateparks.org. Everyone has the exact same opportunity to book Florida State Parks: 11 months to the day in advance at 8:00am Eastern time. There are some city and county parks that have a reservation privileges for Florida residents, but that most certainly does not apply to State Parks.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Roger V

Well stated Roger. Hope mimi steps up and enlightens us.

H J Bear
3 months ago
Reply to  Roger V

Lbphoto23

G13
3 months ago

Re: Dennis C, don’t see the relevance in his comment if referring to the double booking. Actually, I don’t see the point with overcrowding. It’s the CG’s error and the customer who PAID in full shouldn’t have to suffer. CG should have disclosed the online as a priority which then is their disclaimer. Stupid to have both types of system if they can’t handle it properly, their doing, not the RV’er. Totally agree with all, call 5-O.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  G13

Now we assume that a peace officer is versed in contract law. I doubt it.

Tom H
3 months ago

While I’m not a fan of the crowded campgrounds and RV parks during our winter months I am a fan of FL’s “no state income tax” which is a direct result of tourism. So keep on keeping on “snowbirds”!

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