Good Sam Club, going, going. . .

226

By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR
The Good Sam Club was once a quality organization. It was established as a for-profit business but its founding mission was to not only turn a profit but to do so by serving and caring about its members. On occasion, the club lobbied Congress, state legislatures and other organizations about important legislation that affected RVers. It published Highways, a quality magazine. It held wonderful rallies. It encouraged the creation of local chapters and helped the organizers better serve their members.

No more.

The new Good Sam Club, under Marcus Lemonis, has minimized the club to what it is today, a discount club for Camping World, Gander Outdoors and Overton’s stores, and practically nothing else. In an industry interview shortly after acquiring the club Lemonis referred to members as “marketing tools.” If you’re a Good Sam member that’s how much he cares about you. He’s got bigger fish to fry than little ol’ you and me.

The only real benefit left to members is a 10 percent discount at Camping World, Gander Mountain and Overton’s stores, and participating Good Sam RV parks. A park pays a fee to fly the Good Sam flag and is then encouraged to advertise in the fat Good Sam campground directory, which is packed with ads, making it a cash cow for Lemonis.

If you visit the Good Sam Club’s website, you will see almost nothing about the club’s social benefits. There’s no mention of local chapters or national rallies. The reason there’s no mention of national or even regional rallies is because none remain. Marcus cut them out. Local chapters of the club remain but are gradually disappearing as aging members die or become too feeble to participate.

marcus lemonis
Lemonis and Good Sam

The club is about selling you things – RVs, RV parts, and member discounts for roadside assistance, RV insurance, warranties … and anything else that Marcus and his cohorts can concoct to transfer money from your pocket to theirs. Hey, sign up for a Camping World Visa card and Marcus can make a buck off you every time you use it.

Watch the official Good Sam video below. UPDATE: A month after we posted this article and the video below, the video was removed. Coincidence? We don’t think so. The video downplayed RVing, focusing instead on fishing, hunting, cycling, tenting, kayaking and boating. Is that what an RV club is about?

SO THE CLUB THAT WAS FOUNDED BY RVers and once cared about them – and not just their pocketbooks – is on its final legs. It’s morphed into a discount club, that’s it. If you shop enough at Camping World and/or stay at more than a half dozen Good Sam RV parks a year, then a membership is probably worth the $29. If not, save your money.

Why do I even care about all this? Marcus Lemonis, after all, is entitled to every penny he legally earns. I am simply upset that he has destroyed a once-vibrant club and used its members to build an empire that with each passing month has less to do with RVing and more to do with Marcus.

I wish you could watch the video below, but, like I said, Good Sam removed it after we posted this article.

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226 Comments
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Betty
6 months ago

What happened to my earlier post?

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Betty

Do you mean the one you posted about an hour ago and which I see immediately below this one, Betty? 😉 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Betty
6 months ago

Seems like most of you think that all there is to being a Good Sam Member is buying things at CW or using their roadside assistance. Being a Good Sam Member means being a camper willing to do things for others, having fun with other campers, joining a local camping club to share fun times, see new things, and of course, having fellowship while enjoying good food! Many states still have GS clubs and smaller chapter groups in the state. We belong to the Kansas Good Sam Club and then to a chapter that goes camping together every month during camping season. Kansas has 23 of these smaller chapters that make us 4 area groups. We have an area rally in the spring and a state rally in the fall. Both are a lot of fun. While Marcus did cut the national rally, he has not totally forgotten us. We (the state organization) still some financial assistance from national to help fund our state rally. The state director also receives some financial assistance for office supplies, etc. So while we are getting smaller in numbers we are still thriving in many other ways. Maybe those of you who are complaining about your GS membership just need to join the state and local chapters to find out how much fun being a Good Sam member can be!! Just google Kansas Good Sam Club to check us out.
And yes, my husband and I use to have roadside assistance. When we found out that there were not very many tow truck companies that accepted GS roadside assistance because of the companies unwillingness to pay up, we joined a different company.
But we love being Good Sam Members and campers with the Kansas chapter!

Teeth Huggins
7 months ago

Don’t waste your money 10% is a joke, try other clubs like passport America and more!

Teeth Huggins
7 months ago

Don’t waste your money 10% is a joke, try Passport America or others, they are not the only game in town!

Larry Selk
7 months ago

Good Sam used to demonstrate a comradery for RVers. Now, along with Camping World it is a disgrace. Trying to get service is nearly impossible, members continue to be stymied trying to use extended warranty or road service. Groups such as FMCA and Escapees represent RVers much better and offer better services.

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago

IMHO …Sammy used to be worth it, not anymore. Back in the 90’s when I first started rv’ing they were a great organization to be a part of, but slowly were destroyed by corporate greed. There are so many more options these days, and I like to search and find the smaller mom and pop rv shops out there when needed… they do still exist. Other options are online outlets (rvupgradestore.com, etrailer.com) also, which may not be as feasible to full timers. I guess my point is, the big chains like cramping world and crazy days are NOT the only option !

barry
1 year ago

The video in editorial about camping world is unavailable

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  barry

Thanks for letting us know, Barry. I think Good Sam pulled their video. I’ve contacted Chuck to see if there’s another video that might replace it for his article. Have a great day. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Kenneth Pratt
1 year ago

Can’t seem to find a place to discontinue subscribing to your weekly newsletter….unfortunately we are no longer RVing.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kenneth Pratt

The place to unsubscribe to our newsletters is at the bottom of the email alert which you receive notifying you that a new newsletter is available. Just look at the bottom of the email and you’ll see “SafeUnsubscribe.” Just click on that and follow the simple instructions. No hassle. Sorry to see you go and that you’re no longer RVing. Take care. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Bob and Dee
1 year ago

We were Good Sam members last year. No more. They let us down big time when we needed them the most. Paid for roadside assistance and when we were broken down miles from home on an interstate highway, they conveniently couldn’t find our subscription. Ironically, we received a very nice flyer from Lemonis saying to contact him with any concerns. We did. No response. No surprise. They got our last dime.

Brad
1 year ago

It’s easy to criticize, complain and Monday morning quarterback other people’s business decisions from the comfort of a laptop screen. Whatever the Good Sam Club used to be doesn’t matter now. That was then, this is now. One can lament the “good ole’ days” but to what end? Nothing stays the same. Circumstances change. Markets change. Consumer’s buying habits change. The only constant in this world is change. Simply put, Camping World is a business. If you don’t like it or it’s policies, don’t patronize the brand. No one is forcing anyone to buy from them. Vote with your pocket book. Or better yet, risk your own capital, time and reputation to build a better mouse-trap. If CW and GS are indeed that bad, there’s an opportunity to create an alternative consumers will flock to. The market will reward those who serve the customer better. As for those 20 year loans, it’s not the job of the business owner to educate the consumer. To be sure those businesses who go the extra mile to provide additional value are often rewarded with market share but its not a sure thing. The consumer ultimately bares the responsibility of researching their options so they can make wise choices for their personal situation. Folks these days seem all too quick to blame everyone but the individual making the decision. Personal responsibility and accountability are never out of style in my view.

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad

Well well, thanks for the lecture Dad…uh, I mean Brad. is it ok to voice our own opinions now? I happen to agree with Mr. Woodbury.

bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad

Well said…

Alvin
7 months ago
Reply to  Brad

At the heart of Brad’s comment is that more and more consumers want someone else to hold their hand, to check on them, to make sure they’re not choking on debt of their own making – ETC ETC ETC.

Today if you travel to a strange place 2000 miles from home and fall off a cliff or get bit by a bug only known to that area it is someone else’s fault for not telling you about the cliff or the bug. Those types I’m more than fed up with. When did god stop installing spines?

More to the point of the topic , enough of Marcus & what’s left of GS for us.

When we commence travels in the spring of 2020 the license plate frame will have been replaced and the membership not renewed. We’ve never had a problem, and don’t want one. To many bad reviews they’re gone!

Thank you Chuck for keeping this alive; we’ve been paying attention.

Paul Goldberg
1 year ago

We joined GS in 2001 as we were leaving on our first RV trip. Loved the campground discount, as we didn’t know of any other at the time. Then found a Passport America Membership our dealer had given us for 50% off!!! Wow. GS went through Flying J discount and then moved to Loves – never had a good experience with a gas motorhome at Loves, no separate island etc. Now have Flying J card with GS and enjoy the diesel discount and using the truck lanes. When we first started There were fewer than dozen Camping Worlds and we thought of them as candy stores, never missed stopping and buying something using our President’s club discount. Our Road service was and is with coach-net another “gift” from the dealer who sold us our first coach. They have not disappointed me in 18 years of cross country RVing.
We went to a GS Rally in Syracuse NY and were sorely disappointed in the experience compared to FMCA Conventions and Escapees Escapades. Today I would not take my coac h to CW – or any other dealer – for service, we full time and dealers always have 30 day to 90 day waits for service that needs to be redone, not great for full timers. We use Mobile service for work that can be done that way and service centers for work that requires a bay. We are lifetime GS members and for now the only use we make of it is fueling at Pilot/Flying J.
CW is a retail business. It specializes in the RV market and could work harder to satisfy the many branches of that market.
Here is one idea; set aside one service bay in each store for quick fixes, staff it with top techs and focus it on jobs that book for under 3 hours, do NOT accept reservations, make if first come first serve. Tiffin Motorhomes Service has express bay service with a similar arrangement. Do not give priority to any class of RV.

Larry Selk
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Goldberg

They could also schedule service and repairs so when you do bring your unit in, repairs can be scheduled together. I need service on my unit and they gave me an appointment. Then they told they would need at least 2 weeks after the initial appointment to effect the repair. I am full time and it is more expensive to get service at CW than to pull my 5th wheel across the country to the factory who effect the repair in 2-3 days, not 2 weeks.

Loneoutdoorsman
1 year ago

Hi Marcus. Ey recently extended my membership and Camper World sent me $50.00 worth of cash coupons that were the real deal. Thanks to you and to all the knowledgeable and friendly and helpful people at CW. Don’t worry about all the whiners and snivelers—that’s all they know how to do. (And Chuck, nobody tells you how to run your business, why do you think you should tell anyone how to run theirs).
Loneoutdoorsman

Alvin
7 months ago

I applaud all opinions even those proving that many folks loyalty can be bought with ” $50.00 worth of cash coupons” only redeemable at the vendors retail store!

Chalk one up for the smart guy at the till.

Charles
1 year ago

A point of view about Roadside Assistance programs. I have mine with the American Motorcycle Association. It covers cars, motorcycles, boats and RV’s. I once had a blown tire in a small town on a Sunday afternoon. I’m bad–I hadn’t checked my spare (used car and wrong tire) and it was not the size of my other tires so I couldn’t change it myself. I contacted AMA Roadside Assistance and they worked like the Devil to get someone to tow me to a tire shop and/or bring me a tire that was correct. They apologized profusely, but every shop was closed within a hundred miles. I had to take a motel room until the next morning when several shops opened and AMA took care of me at that time. Now, I could write here that I will never do any business with the AMA Roadside Assistance program again, but it would not be fair. If someone is out in the Boondocks on a Sunday afternoon and has a problem, then they shouldn’t expect their Roadside Assistance program to immediately come to their rescue. Life is not always fair and neither is blaming Camping World’s Assistance program or any other company’s Roadside Assistance program when it is an impossible situation. About a year later, I had one of my wheel hubs break as I was pulling into my driveway. I could not even limp to a repair shop. I called AMA and in about an hour they had a tow truck deliver my car to a repair shop. So, you see that blaming a Roadside Assistance program may not be their fault if it is an impossible situation so let’s not, in this forum, just point out bad instances with Camping World when bad instances can happen with any Roadside Assistance program.

Also, P.S.–Let’s not get petty with poor grammar, typos, etc. If such errors obviously don’t change the gist of the conversation, why make a big deal out of it? It could be that Einstein and Marcus didn’t major in English.

Captn John
1 year ago

CW cannot “force” any dealer to do anything they do not want to. My 20 year loan was at a rate no one else would touch at 5 years. My loan is NOT with CW but US Bank. Yes, CW got a rebate just as they would have from almost any other lender with any timeframe. CW did not put a gun to my head to take out any loan. Chuck blames Marcus while I believe anyone that NEEDS any loan to buy an RV or boat or any toy is a damn fool to purchase one. In 3 years it will be paid off and investments remain intact.
Every CW location is different. I use the Myrtle Beach location and it is great, both sales and service. I have GS Roadside but have never used it. I would much rather go to CW than any Walmart store, have not been in one in decades. Amazon has y’all hooked. I can always find items for less even when shipping is required.
During the great Obama Recession techs had to look for work and did not come back as it will happen again. Every dealer, every location is finding good techs a hard commodity to find.
I save more on CGs than the membership costs. I save many times the membership on fuel.

Chuck Woodbury
1 year ago
Reply to  Captn John

Captn John, Okay, the 20 year loan works for you, as it does for many others. But let’s just assume for one minute, that like with many people, five, ten, 12 years into your loan, which you were paying off each month on time, you got really sick and could not work. Or maybe you lost your income for some other reason — got laid off, whatever. In that case, there could go your ability to pay your loan. And if you tried to sell your RV the banker would say, well, you’ll have to write us a check for $15,000, which maybe you don’t have. . . So, this all works for you, but Captn John, you are NOT EVERYBODY. So just because the 20 year loan worked for you, don’t assume everybody has their lives go just the way they plan for the next 20 years. These are the people who get in trouble with these loans. And, frankly, anyone who needs a 20 year loan to get their payments down to where they can afford them on a depreciating asset, this case an RV, should not be buying that RV.

Alvin
7 months ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Agree Chuck, completely, and choose carefully the language used when dealing with anyone using the word “investment” in association with RV’s or 99% of anything else with wheels – the 1958 Corvette being the exception.

John Mccarthy
1 year ago

Pledge of Allegiance to Marcus Lemonis

John Mccarthy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Mccarthy

Soon after taking ownership of Good Sams International Mr. Lemonis issued his set of rules that basically superseded any existing charters from the prior regime. Each Good Sam Club was to submit a new set of By-Laws to align with the Lemonis rules. One of the more onerous rules obligated each club’s leadership to pledge allegiance to Mr. Lemonis as a component of their submission. As a Past President of our club (which was chartrered in 1989 by the Good Sams International organization) I was asked to prepare and submit our club’s new (and approved) rules/By-Laws. Intentionally excluded from our submission was the Pledge as our sole Pledge of Allegiance “… is to our flag and the Republic for which it stands…”. Needless to say, the local District authority did not forward our submission, having returned it to us requiring several modifications that would better align with Mr. Lemonis’ rules. We opted not to comply and refused to make any changes.

Since then our club has pretty much distintegrated as have many, many others. The recession and the related crash of the RV industry, the lack of new memberships from the ranks of the impoverished Millenials, and the impact of an aging membership have reduced our numbers to a modest group of “happy campers” whose remaining allegiance is to the modest member discount that is still available. Every “campout” in recent memory is enervated by the “horror stories” experienced by the poor performance of Mr. Lemonis’ product line(s). I believe that Mr. Lemonis’ corporate performance of late is indicative of a spiral into bankruptcy, a result for which I have little sympathy.

Mike
1 year ago

I guess I am more fortunate than many: I am retired Military and get camping discounts at lots of places. As for CW, we bought are first RV there (CW of Richmond IN), felt we got taken on the financing end, but WE should have taken more time checking on the numbers. When financing thru CW, they offered $5K off the RV, we went outside CW so they didn’t offer is the discount. Had some minor warranty work performed on it, turned out OK. Traded it to a non-CW dealership for a 5th wheeler. Happy now. We are GS members, mainly for the Roadside Assistance – we’re satisfied with it so far, but haven’t had to use it. Our new RV is awesome. Like others have said, the 10% off is no big deal as internet buying and CAMCO / Walmart / other RV dealerships sell similar items. CW in Kissimmee FL are great people! Did some warranty work on my 5er while I was on vacation there. I, too, hesitated to buy from CW due to the political remarks said, even though almost all of them (CW) fly the US Flag. We all have our opinions on which party is right on which issues. I like to see what’s being offered in their stores, then go try to find it online – I’m a touchy-feely guy! LOL My stance – if you don’t like ’em, don’t buy from ’em. Stop bashing because of your own personal views, we all have them.

Alvin
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike could you explain how you’re happy with a service like Good Sam’s Roadside assistance “you haven’t had to use…”? If my wife hasn’t used the can opener I gave her for Christmas could she be said to be satisfied with it?
Hmm is there something I’m missing in your telling?
Above all – thank you for your past military service helping keep Americans and my fellow Canadians safe

Sheila
1 year ago

Sad that it has come to this.

Captn John
1 year ago

Have to ‘log in’ ~ make it easier to find!

Chuck Woodbury
1 year ago
Reply to  Captn John

You no longer need to log in

Sherri Eley
1 year ago

We avoid Camping World if at all possible because of their overpriced products. Sometimes that is the only place you can buy an item, that you need for your RV , so we bite the bullet and go in the store.
The RV repair service is not top notch either, and we have been disappointed in that. So if possible we avoid Camping World all together. RE: The Good Sam club. WE have the Roadside Assistance and have been disappointed in that as well. When stranded on a major interstate a few years ago we waited for hours for help. Meanwhile the traffic whizzed by and we observed two accidents right outside our motor home. Of course the biggest problem was the motorhome and as far as we are concerned we will never own another one. We went back to a Fifth Wheel and a diesel truck. No more of those trips that kept us in suspense about whether we would make it there and home without a problem. More often than not there was a problem.

Gary Stone
1 year ago

I’m scraping the Good Sam sticker off my RV!