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westernrvparkowner
As I perused the the low ratings (I'll always rubberneck a train wreck) in recent reviews I noticed several were given because of the refund policy of the park in regards to early departures. As a park owner, this is a very difficult policy to set fairly. If I give no refunds for any reason, I look pretty darn greedy and mean. If I take it case by case I become a judge to what is reasonable and what is not. If I just give refunds to anyone who asks, I run the risk of having people reserve more days than actually plan to stay (just in case they want to stay a little longer) or they depart because it's raining, or too hot or too cold or the kids are fighting and they leave me scrambling to fill sites. Since I am 100% full during the peak season, I would be turning away advanced reservations for sites that will be empty on very short notice. In my area it is very hard to fill one night reservations, since most visitors to my park need several days to tour the National Park I serve and people really don't want to have to change sites once they have checked in. Secondly, many people know that the area is full and will not travel to the area if they do not have reservations. They do not want to be stuck 50 miles from the next nearest park with no place to stay. Therefore, someone leaving a day early usually means I can't fill the site on such short notice. My policy is I charge a one night's cancel fee provided I am notified before checkout time for that day. If I am notified after checkout, I charge for that day (since the guest was in the site for that day) and a one night's cancel fee. I do not make any exceptions, so people don't have to tell any lies. I also will remove any discounts given for a weekly stay if the early departure means the guest has not met the 7 night stay requirement for the discount. I would think my policy would change (be more punitive) if I did monthly or seasonal stays, since those would be even harder to replace on short notice. One of the posts recommended paying day by day. I would not allow this, for the reasons above, I can not easily fill a site at the last minute. I would only guarantee the availabilty of a site for the length of time it is paid for. I would greatly appreciate everyone's thoughts on what is fair for both sides.
Ovalejeff
OK...I'll go first on this one...I agree with you. Here is my analogy...when you purchase golf lessons and then cannot make it to your scheduled time with the coach, you still get billed as though you had been there for the lesson. You purchased the block of time from the coach that he would have been able to fill if you had not made that appointment. Certain businesses have to protect for that and I clearly see your point. With some other types of business, it isn't an issue and a more forgiving approach can be the norm...no big deal...ovalejeff
jobob
Your policy seems reasonable. If I commit to a certain number of days at a park and leave early I don't expect a refund. As long as the policy is applied to all campers it is fair.
DXSMac
It seems fair. I have noticed parks don't enforce it during "off" season as much. Or, some parks enforce during "off" season and don't enforce during "on" season because they can fill it quickly. I haven't run across an RV park that does "day by day" posting like hotels do. This would be the solution, but it may not be practical for RV parks.

Well, if someone really screams about your policy, you could offer them a "credit" for a future stay, but 99% of the time they won't be back for the future stay....

JJ
John Blue
We have no problems with information and your policy. If we can not stay we tell park owner he can have the site back and move on. We made the plans and life changes all the time. This happen couple years ago, we had to leave before our time was up, so we left. Park owner had his money and problem was on the Blue's not park owner. You need to cut the line some place. Everyone in business need to make money and this is only fair.

I see people down rating parks all the time due to this subject. No fair in my book.
Lindsay Richards
When my wife and I ran our Bed and Breakfast for 10 plus years, this was the biggest source of complaints. People donít understand that a reservation is a commitment on both parties. They agree to pay for a service and your agree to hold that service for them against all others. What would they think if you cancelled their reservation at the last minute and gave it to somebody else who was willing to pay a little more. They consider themselves a the poor little individual and the lodging owner as the big businessman loaded with money. This usually isnít the case. After a lot of hassles we came up with the following policy that seemed to work a little better. We would refund their money for a last minute cancellation or an early departure if we were able to rerent the room. This still made some people mad, but when dealing with the general public, you can not be all things to all people and if you try you will end up making people mad. I found that credit card companies accepted your policies in a dispute on this subject if you always followed the same policy without exceptions. We had instances where we caught the people deliberately lying about some portion of their stay and people even admitting they had planned on staying only part of the time to get around our minimum stay requirements. They donít call it the me generation for nothing. My advise is to state your policy, stick with it and just accept that there are going to be some vindictive people who go thru life trying to cut corners and not caring who else they hurt. It is just the cost of dealing with the public. Some people will actually threaten the lodging proprietors with a bad review to allow themselves to lie out of a situation they caused. I think that many review providers will allow a review of the review and this has gotten more common due to the problem of some owners writing bad reviews of their competition.
RLM
A rhetorical question: Getting a low rating due to a refund conflict or losing money due to early departures Ė which is the worst scenario?

I donít often see refund policies published on websites or at a campground. Would it not be easier to defend a policy if it were obvious and up front in the transaction? Who, but the most obnoxious, can argue with Lindseyís comments about a reservation commitment on both parties? Personally, if I were running the campground, Iíd reword it to fit, including a statement that we donít give refunds, and have everyone initial at sign in. It puts the responsibility for the accuracy of a reservation where it belongs..on the customer. If you re-rent the site, then you have the luxury of ďbeing fairĒ by making an exception to policy.

Most frequently traveling and experienced RVers rarely make reservations in order to avoid getting into a cancellation situation.

From the RVerís side of the issue, Iíd certainly like a more standard policy among campgrounds. Iíll play the game if they will.
Lindsay Richards
QUOTE
Who, but the most obnoxious, can argue with Lindseyís comments about a reservation commitment on both parties?


You would be surprised, just about anybody.

My grandmother died (again)
But my dog is sick.
My baby sitterís mother is sick.
My husband has to go to a seminar.
My wife's started her period.

I have heard them all and I always asked why would your (fill in the blank) cost me $165. I will do my best to rerent you room and then ask if they would agree to me discounting the rate to increase chances of rerenting and just charge you the difference. When they said yes, they had agreed to paying for the vacancy. Our standard was if their last minute cancellation or early departure caused the room to be empty, then they paid. If we were not full and had little chance of being full, then I refunded the money. This is the number one reason for hard feeling in the lodging business.
abbygolden
QUOTE(Ovalejeff @ Apr 19 2009, 10:44 PM) *

OK...I'll go first on this one...I agree with you. Here is my analogy...when you purchase golf lessons and then cannot make it to your scheduled time with the coach, you still get billed as though you had been there for the lesson. You purchased the block of time from the coach that he would have been able to fill if you had not made that appointment. Certain businesses have to protect for that and I clearly see your point. With some other types of business, it isn't an issue and a more forgiving approach can be the norm...no big deal...ovalejeff


Glad I don't have your pro! I've taken lessons for over 50 years and have had to cancel many times, some on short notice. Never have I been charged for missing the lesson.

On the subject of the thread, however, I think the OPs rationalization is fair.
pianotuna
Hi JJ,

I like your idea of a time limited "credit" note for last minute cancellations. I know that KOA policy is to charge for one night if there is a cancellation for *any* reason.

I, in general, never reserve. (But I have not stayed in lots of campgrounds).

The exception for me, for reserving, would be places such as National Parks where I know every site will be taken. Jasper comes to mind--I drove through there last summer. They have 600 campsites and there was not a single campsite available.

campNout
When I first opened our park I gave refunds and then after time and hearing all the stories of who died and who was sick I started giving credits. As more time went by and I learned a little more I stopped the credits. NO refunds for any reason other than a Mandatory Hurricane Evacuation.
I had guests reserving several weeks JUST IN Case the fishing was good, the wind was right for wind sailing or they just wanted to stay. When we first opened I even allow the guests to pay at check out. They would reserve X number days just to insure they could have a site if they wanted to stay, wind would blow the wrong way and they would check out only paying for the days they stayed leaving us with a vacant site. NOW Guests pay at check in for days reserved, if they don't pay for all days they forfeit any discounts given and we don't hold the site for them. If I Know that some one has had a death or has become Ill I will refund. Last year one of our guests had a stroke and had to be taken to the hospital, I felt it only fair to refund their money. When we opened we had basically no rules and now we have a long list and each one came from experience.
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