Good Sam Club, going, going. . .

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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.

Good Sam Club, going, going. . .

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Sink Jaxon

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

The video in editorial about camping world is unavailable

Kenneth Pratt

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

Bob and Dee

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

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.

Paul Goldberg

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.

Loneoutdoorsman

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

Charles Wehland

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

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.

John Mccarthy

Pledge of Allegiance to Marcus Lemonis

Mike

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.

Sheila

Sad that it has come to this.

Captn John

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

Sherri Eley

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

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

Candace

Totally agree with your editorial about the club and it’s CEO. The RV industry as a whole is changing, social media is becoming a key component of many RVers’ lives and – thank goodness – there are new options for discount RV parking. With more and more Digital Nomads venturing out, either full-time, part-time or as often as they can, fresh thoughts and great leaders are emerging. IMHO, that is a good thing. We will all roll on just fine without Mr. Lemonis’ directions, thank you. Now, let’s GO RVing!

Evelyn

RV owners bickering about benefits of a $-30 year GS membership? The purpose of this forum is to share comments and experiences that are helpful to other RV’ers; many of the comments here are not helpful to us at all, just a venue to complain. Some politically motivated against their management? No room for political discourse here. If you don’t like the GS Club, spend your money elsewhere, cheap arses! I don’t particularly care for Camping World prices on some things, just like any other merchant, comparison price shop. BTW I am an unbiased GS Club and AAA RV Club member, have used both memberships and been completely satisfied with the service. I’m an active RV’er, owner of Class A beautiful RV that I did not purchase from Camping World.

thomas breeden

We { TranQuil Gardens RV Park} are no longer a Good Sam park–But we will honer the discount,for you folks in Texas the T.A.C.O. book is better.Texas Association of Campground Owners is the best way to travel and see Texas.
The cost to be a GS park is no longer affordable for small parks.

John 3

Marcus, you seem to be spending a lot of your time lately on your television show I am fixing small businesses. When are you going to put some more effort into fixing the problems with Camping World? The main problem I speak of is the loss of over 60% of the Value for stockholders. I would think this is a problem he would want to be addressing. Look forward to your answer to this.

Betty Brisbin

We didn’t renew our roadside membership after Harvey. We broke down in Orange, Texas and called them for help. They sent a jakeleg mechanic out who didn’t know sick’um from come here….absolutely no help. Then when we tried to get a wrecker for tow thru them, they said couldn’t help us at same location. ..if we could go couple miles down road, they could assist. We were broke down…no movie.