Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: I'm actually in favor of high cancelation fees....
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Open Roads Forum  >  RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions

 > I'm actually in favor of high cancelation fees....

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Posted: 09/27/21 01:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Maybe that's not the answer, but maybe it will help at least a little... Sorry for this upcoming rant, but I have a state park rant I must make to get off my chest ;-)

I've been tent and RV camping in state parks my whole life. Most here in PA but also surrounding states. Now that I have a 5 person family, state parks are the perfect balance of what I want (boondocking) and what the kids want (hookups and things to do), but getting a site with at least electric has become near impossible at most of our favorite parks without months and even a year in advance planning. My wife and I both work and we have 3 kids in sports and activities. Trying to plan long weekends a year in advance is not possible. Our full week vacations we rarely plan that far out let alone the weekend trips.

Anyway, my gripe is the games people play with booking. Here in PA, you can book 11 months to the day in advance and book up to 14 consecutive nights. What that causes people to do is book 11 extra days with their last day on a Sunday when they only intend to stay for the weekend / long weekend. Because the cancelation fee is only $10 they just wait the 30 day waiting period (or longer) and cancel the days they don't want. They also book multiple long weekends without knowing if they can make it and cancel when it gets closer, again it's only $10. So people like me that are looking too book 30-60 days out have to sit on the computer multiple times per day just hoping to get lucky. I would love it if they did what our PA state forrest does with Boondock permits and have a 30-90 day window (depending on the area), but I know people need more time to plan. So, I would be in full support of a 1/2 or even more loss for cancelation. Of course as always that means people with money can still play the game and others can't (like many things in life), but maybe it would discourage the "games". Another idea would be to make a new rule where EVERY day you plan to book must be at least 11 months out. So you now can't book until 11 months from the last day of your trip rather than your first.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. It has been getting harder every year but the past 2 years has been terrible. There are a few parks that we used to camp at least once every year that we have not visited in 3-4 years now simply because we can't get a site.

Anyway, back to your regularly schedule programs....


Barnesville GA

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Posted: 09/27/21 01:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We're seeing similar issues of sites showing reserved in the reservation system but then being empty all weekend. An additional theory I've heard is folks that rent RVs through Outdoorsy or similar will reserve lots of weekends in case they get renters. If they don't get renters, they cancel for minimal fee.

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Southern California

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Posted: 09/27/21 02:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How about pay the cancel fee first but no refund unless the site is re-rented.

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Posted: 09/27/21 03:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I stayed someplace this weekend that had a policy limit of two cancellations per year, meaning you could cancel twice, but then you had to eat it the third time and anytime after that.

At $72/night for dry camping, nobody would want to eat any of those nights.

(And yes, that's highway robbery, but anything close to the California coast is overpriced.)

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Posted: 09/27/21 04:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think with automated reservation systems, there should be a sliding scale for cancellations.

1. Reservations cancelled at least 3 months out should not incur a fee or at most a minimal one for processing.

2. Reservations must be cancelled in full and then the account must wait 24-48 hours to re-reserve at the same campground during the original reservation period. So if you book August 1-15, you would have to cancel the entire reservation and wait 24-48 hours to reschedule for August 11-15.

The sliding scale for reservations less than 3 months out, could be something like:

First cancellation within a 12 month period incurs a 10 percent cancellation fee.

Second cancellation incurs a 50 percent cancellation fee.

Third cancellation incurs a 75 percent cancellation fee.

Fourth cancellation incurs a 100 percent cancellation fee and a 1-year ban from reserving again.

This could be established by campground ownership rather than individual campground. So making a season's worth of reservations at multiple state parks and cancelling four would ban you from reserving at all the state parks for the next 12 months. You could stay using FCFS sites, but wouldn't be able to make reservations.

And if the vehicle/RV license plate(s) were required at the time of reservation, it would help prevent folks from making multiple accounts. Having a camp host or ranger just verify the plates after arrival and create a flag on the account if different than listed could further deter cheaters.

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Posted: 09/27/21 05:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The whole system is out of whack from my RV forum readings.


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Posted: 09/27/21 05:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Booking a two week stay only to shorten it later on to the actual days wanted incurs a change fee with most state/national park reservations rather than a cancellation fee. With reservation windows ranging from 6 to 13 months out, I expect some legitimate changes to plans are inevitable. The problem comes in trying sort out those abusing the system from those with legitimate reasons for the changes.

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McKinney, Texas

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Posted: 09/27/21 06:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have often stayed at a COE park we like. Typically when I make reservations a month or more in advance there are only a very few sites available. When we actually arrive there are very few sites occupied. Something is definitely wrong with the system.


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Posted: 09/27/21 07:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I agree the loop holes could be tightened up. But the root of the problem is the demand is greater than the supply.

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Posted: 09/27/21 10:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I booked a stay at an Oregon State park; friends and I got the last two sites. We arrived on a Wednesday to an empty, fully booked, park. It started filling up on Friday afternoon. So, people are reserving large blocks of time and then cancelling whatever they don't want at the last minute because of low cancellation fees. This may work for some, but accounts for a lot of unattended sites for a family that wants to go camping. It also accounts for lost revenue for the park system.

When I make a reservation, I intend to use it for the full time requested. I feel others should do the same. My proposal: $200 reservation fee which will be refunded if you show up the first day of your reservation. If not, you will forfeit it. The high fee will also dissuade people from making dozens of reservations they don't intend to keep to allow their itineraries be flexible. Impact to pocketbooks will be the only way to fix the problem.

I expect negative feedback as I expect many on this forum have the time and impetus to game the reservation systems. You know who you are.

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