Is Good Sam finished as an active RV club?

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

The Good Sam organization changed on Friday. Earlier, customers of affiliate Camping World received a letter from the company explaining just what actions it was taking to protect the health and well-being of customers and employees alike. But Friday, the letters that went out weren’t for customers – rather, they were addressed to State and Provincial Good Sam Directors.

As might be expected, the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the works of social gatherings. Good Sam, not surprisingly, ordered all state and provincial rallies canceled, as well as smaller, individual chapter meetings. But what surprised and dismayed many was this line: “To keep you and your family safe, as well as continuing to follow the CDC guidelines, the difficult decision has been made to pause the Good Sam State/Provincial Director program, effective immediately.”

It was easy to understand the cancellation or postponement of rallies and other gatherings. But to suddenly sack the directors of the state and provincial organizations was quite another. We turned to an industry insider as to just why this might have taken place. Here are a few gleanings from what we heard.

First, to some, this wasn’t a complete surprise. The handwriting may have been on the wall – or on the company logo – as long as a year ago. Good Sam Enterprises, the holding company that oversees the club, redesigned the company logotype. The old logo featured the Good Sam Club – but in the new iteration, the word “Club” suddenly vanished, and Good Sam is flanked now by Camping World and Gander pointers. It would seem that Good Sam Enterprises was, at that point, far more interested in retail operations and in “subscription-based products, services and publications” than in the social activities on which the original organization was solidly based.

For now-former state and provincial directors, what does this all mean? In terms of finance, not much. A few directors got a stipend; all received repayment of their expenses, and when it came time to buy a new RV, directors could get a discount – provided they marched down and bought one off the lot at Camping World. But many of these directors and, quite often, their spouses, had made the Good Sam Club their heart and soul. Two of those, Martin and Diane Qualey, have invested years in helping Maine chapters of the club push ahead in what they feel is the real Good Sam spirit. Martin was the director of the Maine organization – until Friday.

Martin picked no bones about the sudden change. “I will grant Good Sam leeway in the need to limit liability during the pandemic,” Martin told us by telephone. “For them to completely dissolve was an overstep.” He feels that, contrary to the spirit of the Good Sam Club founders, money has become the principal thing for management. Speaking of the chapters he and his wife helped to oversee, Martin said, “I think that [Marcus] Lemonis and others would like to see [state organizations] go ‘bye-bye.’ We’re an insignificant number – 350 to 500 members in Maine, as opposed to one to two million ‘members’” in the overall scheme of things. In Martin’s thinking, the present-day company is far more interested in their database of members and its potential for money-making than in the social network that Good Sam once was.

The thought was echoed by our insider. To this person, the word “pause” in Friday’s declaration as it relates to these directorships means a complete and final termination. If the company database has two million names, then the small participation rates by chapters, probably somewhere around 1 percent of the total, is a trivial thing to company higher-ups, and not worth the financial investment. In fact, the insider said he was surprised that Marcus Lemonis hadn’t made the move much earlier, and that the COVID-19 crisis simply provided an excuse to shut down the system.

What does the company decision mean to chapter loyalists? It means they have no official standing, and no liability backing if they were to proceed with a rally or other gathering. Does that spell the end of the social activities and gatherings of Good Sammers? Not if you ask Martin and Diane Qualey. Martin has already spoken with local chapter presidents in Maine. Many are determined to press ahead and form a new organization. Martin may no longer be a “director,” but in the new group he’ll be re-titled as the “manager.” The old state treasurer will become the “accountant” and chapter presidents, “fiscal advisers.” An area RV dealer – Lee’s Family Trailer – has already stepped up and said it will help support the new group, even as it already supported the old Good Sam group, despite the company’s having no affiliation with Camping World.

Titles aside, Martin sees a bright future for what used to be Maine Good Sam chapters. He and Diane see their organization, not in terms of dollars and cents, but rather in service. In the past the Good Sams in Maine have been heavily supportive of charitable causes. Good idea or not, at one rally Martin challenged the club members who showed up in 70 RVs to come up with $1,000 for a good cause. He didn’t dream that they’d be able to do it, but just for an incentive, he told the group he’d dye his hair pink if they could make the money. Members put together $1,500 – and Martin had a new hair color. On other occasions, club members have worked tirelessly at Special Olympics events, manning stopwatches to time athletes, and booths handing out T-shirts and trinkets. In the minds of the Qualeys, Good Sams have their roots in the Biblical illustration of the Good Samaritan – serving others.

Will the same be true of other states’ chapters of the Good Sam Club? Time will tell. But like Martin says, “Maine Good Sam is dead. But the Samaritans are still alive.”

##RVT940b

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Rick Smith - Colorado Good Sam State Director
3 months ago

UPDATE: Good Sam is not going away! They are in the process of restructuring many things within the Organization.

See what happens beginning January 2021. And, Yes even the Highways Magazine will have a new and more exciting look to it.

Last edited 3 months ago by Rick Smith - Colorado Good Sam State Director
travilenman
5 months ago

I received a — HIGHWAYS MAGAZINE — the other day, thinking GS had started reissuing the HIGHWAYS MAG., When I opened it up— NOTHING BUT ADS for CW—- I do not know about anyone else this, REALLY SUCKS….. GOOD BYE GS & LEMONIS….

Bob_B
5 months ago
Reply to  travilenman

I got mine yesterday. If you generously count the “article” — really a promotion of a few GS-affiliated campgrounds — as an article rather than an ad, there are 2 3/4 pages of articles in a 28-page flyer. 10% articles, 90% ads. The banner on the cover describes it as “HIGHWAYS – Your Road to Adventure & Savings.” The story touted on the cover as “GREAT RECIPES FOR GRILLING OUT – RV Friendly Favorites for Any Camper” consists of one recipe taking up a half-page.” No, thanks.

Cere
5 months ago

No loss here. As an owner of a small campground, the state “officers” of Good Sam always use their Passport America card at our park.

Mark
4 months ago
Reply to  Cere

And . . . ?

Life Long Camper
5 months ago

Been a Life Member since it’s inception. Went to two rallies as a Member at Large and was “SNUBBED” at both even was offered to join a Chapter “IF WE MET THEIR CRITERIA”.. What a joke.
As is always stated, “what goes around, comes around”…

Bob_B
5 months ago

As Groucho Marx famously replied after being invited to join a previously “restricted” club, “I don’t choose to be a member of a club that would have someone like me as a member.”

Ian
5 months ago

I usually stay at KOA’s on long trips. One time I wanted to stop over in a location with no KOA nearby. I found a Good Sam park on their web site. When I found it, it looked so bad, I kept on driving.

Patricia Mauldin
6 months ago

I will not ever use them for anything again. We had towing on our truck and our daughter was driving it when it broke down. They would not pay because she was the driver. I thought we bought insurance to cover the truck for towing not the driver.

SANDIE BOCK
6 months ago

Camping World seems to have been forced to change name because Camping World has such a BAD reputation of selling and maintaining Rigs and crap from their stores. My personal experience they signed me up for a VISA card I never agreed to and charged that said card for my $200 of merchandise. I FLIPPED OUT and made then wind those purchases back off that card, cancel that card and get it off my Credit Rating (NOT EASY) and they did not want to back out the purchases. THEM I only charge a few of the items that I really needed and returned the rest of that junk they sell. ME for one, are glad they are belly up which is what is occurring, bAd management, bad service=bankrupcy.

Jesse Crouse
6 months ago

Last time I used Roadside Assistance they sent an ill prepared provider and in the end I did half the work to continue our trip. My policy is up 7/31/20 and I will not renew. Does anyone have first hand experience with another org. or company offering the same type of service that they would recommend?
Thanks

Tom Kuhn
6 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Check on the Alstate RV road side assistance we have used them with no problems

Harold Stoddard
6 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

I am a member of some RV group discussions and BY FAR two roadside names always come out as safe, help full and priced right. Coach Net and SafeRide. Check them out and do your own reviews.

Ronald Howard Taylor
6 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

I have progressive insurance and their roadside assistance is very good. Give them a look.

Diane Mc
6 months ago

Worked for 2 high tech companies. Both were start ups with our own culture, grew to much larger, successful companies. Both were acquired by much larger companies. Impossible to keep things the way they are. New companies have their own cultures, processes, procedures. After a short while, I left both, one to a new company, one I retired from. We do have a lifetime membership, so nothing to cancel. We occasionally use Camping World depending on what we need. Last trip found a great jacket at Gander (same price as Amazon, but I got the 10% disc) when we were looking for replacement lights. We have the MH insurance which we used for a major $10K oops. It was great, no hassles, totally covered. We do not use the social aspect of the “club”. We did long ago to go to NASCAR races. After a couple of years, we decided to go to Daytona on our own before they stopped doing events. Saved a ton of money and still have acquaintances from those times and see them at the race every year. Grateful that we learned the ropes and made friends. For those wishing that CW goes bankrupt, I think of all the employees working for Camping World/Gander who will lose their jobs. Also think Marcus needs to work on the RV/Trailer/Service part. Too many stories of unhappy customers with poor service/quality in that area. Although we know the industry in total has a problem with quality/service.

Steven W Cassel
6 months ago

Glad they are done. Camping World and Good Sam sold the worst addons as far as insurance and Gap insurance. I hope Camping World crumbles along with there beyond shady sales tactics.

TIM
6 months ago

The Good Sam Club is a CLUB and is under the same ownership but operates as a club and sells nothing.

GeorgeB
6 months ago

Seems Marcus is the most hated person outside of Trump on this site. I can’t figure it out. Camping World has been a asset for me and I assume, many others over the years. Like Trump, it seems the hatred is directed at the person and is often unsubstantiated. IMO if you hate the CEO, shop elsewhere and stop trying to impose your standards on those who judge the business as a business. Its a big country, plenty of room for everyone.

Small Rig Big Travel
6 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

I agree with this so much. Every aspect of clubs in this nation have changed with the digital age from small and regional to digital and national.

Good Sam doing so might not benefit everybody, but it certainly doesn’t kill it off.

TIM
6 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

If you were active in the club over the years as I have been you would have witnessed the upheaval and decline of the club at the hands of Marcus Lemonis.

TIM
6 months ago

For years as a chapter officer and participant in state activities and meetings, I’ve wondered if the corporation would one day make a grab for the state organization assets. My state organization has vehicles, miscellaneous assets and substantial cash.

Terry Pace
6 months ago

I for one was surprised when the “Good Sam” of the old logo was redesigned a few years back to reflect a “Marcus Lemonis” style image. At that point I felt a major change was coming and it was.

judy williams
6 months ago

I was wondering if this would have anything to do with my Good Sam Rewards Visa card that I use all the time? Should I find another Visa card?

Cheryl Bacon
6 months ago
Reply to  judy williams

If it follows like the other Visa cards with rewards from stores, it will not change your ability to use your Visa card, but the points or rewards you get from that company probably will. I imagine you will get a letter in the mail if that happens.

Jack barton
7 months ago

Aarp went the same way quite a while back. I was getting stuff from them in my p.o. box since i turned about 50. When they went ‘all in’ with obama’s health care takeover in order to market some company’s medigap insurance, i bundled up ~ 5# of their offers and sent it back to them. I’ve never heard from them again.
I hope our Good Sam Club remains ‘Good,’ and steers clear of the big money trap they’re facing (in other words ‘they stay humble’), but i have my doubts.

Larry Big Hoss Lynner
7 months ago

Cannot thank you enough for your excellent work!!!!!! We will get through this crisis- Keep it up, Pilgrims!!!

Ken Wagner
7 months ago

My wife and I have been members of GS since 1986 here in Maine i have been a Chapter President more then 10 years and we where the GS Campers of the Year 2014. But the
Writing was on the wall Marcus Lemonis has been out to destroy this Institution since he started about 7 years ago, It has been nothing but a commercial for Camping World and a place to bombard members with thousands of pounds of paper every month. Good Sam was always a organization that would donate to charity and bring fun and entertainment to those who Liked camping. It saddens me to see this Great Icon of the camping world go down the Drain.

LAURIE Bickford
6 months ago
Reply to  Ken Wagner

We are life members of Good Sam and were Asst. Maine State Directors for 8 yrs before becoming State Directors, Sec and Treasurer for 6 more. The Good Sam Club was a great organization that introduced us to some of the most fantastic people we could ever want to meet. People who believed in volunteerism, giving back to the communities, and helping others and not about the penney in their pockets. We used to have rallies where it was not unusual to see anywhere from 600-1000 rigs and over the course of a year distribute $10,000 to different charities in the state. Young people don’t volunteer and give like the older generation did. It didn’t take long for this great organization of fun loving generous people went down the tubes when Marcus took over.

MrDisaster
7 months ago

Well…now might be a time to call Marcus. Because I’m not happy…when I’m not happy, then he shouldn’t be happy. Look at the goodwill the local chapters generate and he has now squandered in search of a few dollars..

Marcus
7 months ago

Irresponsible journalism at its finest. In this moment you show the ugliness of things when they are nothing of the sort.

Admin
Chuck Woodbury (@chuck)
7 months ago
Reply to  Marcus

Marcus, we didn’t stay that Good Sam was going away, just that the social aspect was — but that, of course, has been a long process. You have your reasons, of course (and certainly right now to cancel all gatherings, rallies, etc., is necessary). But to drop all the directors of the local chapters at the same time seems like very poor timing. This might be a great time for you to step in and do something really wonderful and unselfish for all the RVers who helped you build your business.

Dan Bowles
6 months ago
Reply to  Marcus

Marcus, if that’s the case, this is a golden forum for you to explain what’s happening to the organization rather than just claiming “fake news”!

Merrily
6 months ago
Reply to  Marcus

I have belonged to Good Sam since “Back in the Day” when GS was something to be proud to be a member with some benefits! Now it is fewer and fewer benefits and more junk mail, ALL of which looks only to benefit the CEO!
Marcus, PLEASE set us straight on how this is fake news!

Merrily
6 months ago
Reply to  Merrily

BTW, I am a lifetime member since the “Days of Good”

Steve
6 months ago
Reply to  Marcus

So Marcus, are you saying fake news? Here’s your chance to explain!!

Alvin
7 months ago

R harper, I voted for you on this and you went from 4 to 3, so take heed I do not know what’s going on with RV travels voting system nor this latest scary pandemic, with the world in its grip. Let me just say this – I think you’re on to something. It’s not the pandemic scaring me, it’s those sacred of it and how they’re dealing with it that’s scary.

Cheryl Bacon
6 months ago
Reply to  Alvin

Voting works and easy to understand. If 14 people hit the plus sign it shows a positive 14. If 14 people vote the plus sign and two vote the negative, then you have 12 positive.