Sep 1 2005, 11:47 PM
The following was written to the Billings Gazette, letters to the editor byt the owner of the local KOA. They are listed in the KOA directory as:
" Your hosts: 1998 "KOA Franchisee of the Year" honorees, Marvin & Carol Linde".
Out-of-town freeloaders don't deserve free camping
I'm against allowing RVers to do what is known as boondocking (freeloading) in a parking lot such as Wal-mart. People who boondock go from town to town freeloading on the community in which they spend the night. While they park for free in a big-box store lot, they enjoy the benefit of police and fire protection. They dispose of their trash in someone's Dumpster and find a place to empty their sewage holding tanks while filling up with fresh water. All for free, thanks to the generous taxpayers of Billings.
I know that the City Council, mayor and The Billings Gazette have received e-mails from people who will tell you that if the city continues to enforce the ordinance, RVers will bypass Billings. Why do we owe them a free place to camp overnight? Most of the people who write these e-mails are from out of state. They have nothing better to do than sit in Internet chat rooms and complain to one another about free boondocking sites. They most likely have no plans to come to Billings in the first place, yet they somehow feel we are infringing on some right of theirs to camp free. Instead, all I ask is that they camp in a licensed campground.
Please, let's not let a bunch of out-of-state freeloaders tell us what to do. Instead, let's show some support for our local small businesses by continuing to be the leader in Montana and discourage boondocking.
If you are interested, you can send Carol Linde your thoughts at:email@example.com
Sep 2 2005, 08:01 AM
Below is a copy of my e-mail to Carol Linde, with a copy to the Billings newspaper:
As a person who has stayed in your campground and paid $59.00 for the privilege of parking one night on a gravel space, I want to tell you that, when you start pricing reasonably for people who are just passing through, I may consider you again. Until you do, I will park in the city dump before I will stay at your dump. As to not adding to the economy when people like me stop overnight in a “big box” store, let me tell you that my average purchase when I stop overnight at a Wal-Mart is well over $100, and I most certainly do not dump my holding tank except at an approved dump station. Yes, if I cannot stop for a few hours in a parking lot in a place like Billings, I will most certainly bypass the community and take my money elsewhere. Many kind, understanding, and appreciative campground owners get a bad reputation because of greedy, no-tailed hogs like you.
Sep 2 2005, 08:48 AM
Wrote an email to Carol Linde. Basically, KOA is trying to offer a "resort" experience when a lot of travelers just need a spot to park overnight. They need to think of new ways to attract this customer base with reduced-service, reduced-price offerings instead of trying to force a captive customer to pay for something that is not desired.
For example, this summer I stayed overnight in the KOA at Salina, KS. We arrived about 6 PM, did not use the pool, and left as soon as possible next morning. I did hook up to dump my tanks because I had paid for it but did not really need full hook-ups. KOA needs to figure out new pricing so the traveling RVers can obtain what Wal-Mart is willing to offer. I prefer the added serenity of the campground but not at an outrageous price.
If KOA managers aren't willing to respond to the competition that they are facing, I'm afraid that their economic future will be quite bleak.
Sep 2 2005, 07:51 PM
I've been following this story. It's important to point out that this is a rogue KOA campground owner that is making a fool of herself NOT
KOA corporately. Most KOA's are privately owned by reasonable people. Apparently, she owns W. Yellowstone and Bozeman, MT as well as the Billings KOA - none of which I will frequent in the near future.
It's unfair to view other KOA's in the same manner as this woman.
Sep 2 2005, 08:04 PM
We also spent one night in Billings KOA. First problems was the nice pot holes in road that takes you to campground. That was a lot of fun, is Billing out of money and can not fix the roads? Next problem was the high cost to pull into a nice gravel site full of water. I had to put on boots to hook up power line. Next problem was nice size of sites, I told lady in office what we had and she could see our motorhome. Our tow was out in road all night due to correct size site. Roads inside park are very old and small. Very hard to drive a motorhome in a small place. We did not use anything in park less the AC power and we paid a lot of dollars to sleep one night. I think we need a park that has sites set up for overnight people. I understand Wal-Mart is working on this item now. I think that will drive a lot of KOA's out of business. We were not un-happy over our stay but as Beastdriver said at times the city dump may be a better place to spend the night. We pay a lot of dollars each year to parks and it would be nice if some of the places would clean up the problems before they raise the rates.
Sep 3 2005, 12:49 PM
Can someone post the email address of the city councel and newpaper? I'd like to write all of them, I've never been to billings, and only stayed in a Wal-mart parking lot for about 6 hours late one night (midnight until about 6), and that was in Oklahoma and it was safer to get off the road than try to stay awake and drive to a campground. Most people staying in a campground wouldn't want me pulling my diesel pusher in after midnight either. I think the more people the city of Billings, and carol hear from the better!
Sep 3 2005, 02:22 PM
The address of the Billings Gazette, the newspaper, is firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to the city council should be sent via the mayor, Charles Tooley, and his address is email@example.com
Sep 6 2005, 08:33 PM
I sent e-mail to Mayor and Billings Gazette over this post. I hope more people will write about how we are all road trash per Carol Linde at Billings KOA. Billings is off my map for the future years of travel.
I know that some people will stop at Wal-Mart and spend the night and I have no problem with that. We all travel as we wish. KOA people do not set my travel plans. We all spend a lot of money in RV life and Billings needs to think about that.
Sep 6 2005, 09:46 PM
I sent the following email to the newspaper, the mayor and copied Caol Linde. Hopefully they will listen to what is being said by all of us who have written. Thanks Kirk for the original post.
I have no doubt that a great deal of emails have been received regarding the letter that Ms. Carol Linde wrote and had published in your newspaper - sorry, but here is one more. My husband and I will actually be traveling through Montana at the end of this week on our way to Washington. If this is any representation of the type of business owner that Billings embodies, maybe we should consider bypassing your town. We are members of the KOA Value Card Club but will never stay at any of the parks she owns. An RV'ers website that I frequent has listed the parks that she does own and we will all be boycotting them. I do not understand where this woman gets the term freeloader, when rv'ers pass thru your town, they buy gas, groceries, visit restaurants and yes, most rv'ers do stock up at WalMart. Do you have any idea how much we pay to fill the gas tank of a motorhome? Right now, it would cost us around $300 to fill that tank - does that sound like freeloading? Obviously this is sour grapes, as her park has gotten lousy reviews on the sites that I have visited and most people would rather stay at a WalMart than at her establishment. Maybe she should spend more time and energy bringing her park up to higher standards that would attract travellers and less time trying to cost your city the large amount of money that comes in from those so-called "free-loaders".
Sep 7 2005, 01:57 AM
Although this is one KOA owner, it is in KOA Hdqtrs backyard and a statement from them would go a long way to separate themselves from Ms. Linde. There has been deafening silence..........Last year when the Montana state legislature was approached with this issue, one of the state reps who authored the legis. was tied back to KOA execs. by a local political observer. Reality IMHO......KOA supports the position of Ms Linde even if they don't publicly state it or rebuke her for the stain to the KOA reputation her letter certainly spread.
Sep 7 2005, 12:09 PM
Sorry, dup post....
Sep 7 2005, 12:09 PM
I'm curious.... I've seen this thread on several forums and it is great to bring our concerns to the attention of Billings officials. My question is.... has anyone heard anything or any response back from the officials etc.?
Sep 7 2005, 02:11 PM
2Roam - I just sent my email to them last night so probably would not have been viewed until today but I have not heard anything. I really don't expect that I will. Did think I might get a nasty response from Carol Linde but so far, not a peep out of her. I read in the minutes from the city council meeting that Ms. Linde and others want to keep the current restrictions in place. Does anyone know if this means that Billings has a law against "boondocking" and of so, is it citywide or statewide?
Sep 7 2005, 02:13 PM
Denbroncs - I was just wondering - this is not the first time you have defended KOA's...do you happen to be a park owner, and if so, where is it located?
Sep 8 2005, 08:05 PM
We're campers!! We actually prefer the Yogi Bear parks since we've got 4 small kids - but have stayed at a number of KOA's as well. As long as the place is nice, we're pretty indifferent. We've gotten to know one of the Yogi park owners in Tennessee pretty well - so I guess we're sort of sensitive to the "park bashing" that can often occur since we've seen the 100 hour work weeks the owners put in. I didn't believe I was defending, just clarifying.
Sep 9 2005, 09:37 AM
We just returned from a great 4-week trip, much of it in Montana. Not wanting to unhook our car for just an overnight stay in Billings, we stopped at Walmart and were told they could not allow us to stay because of a new city ordinance. We, too, would rather be in a secure campground, but paying $30 plus for a few hours and not using the hookups is unreasonable. We had to stay at the Yellowstone River RV Park and paid $30 after Good Sam's discount and the site didn't have sewer and sites were very close. We didn't need any hookups and I agree with the previous message that stated that campground owners need to have spaces for people passing through that only need a place to stay without unhooking and reasonable priced. Others that we met at the Walmart in Billings said that were going on, because they do not patronize a city that has such an ordinance. We always spend more money when we boondock than when we are stuck out in the country at a remote campground.
Sep 9 2005, 11:35 AM
I agree you can't paint everyone with the same brush, but regardless of how many hours someone puts into the business it behooves you to not publicly castigate your customer base as Ms. Linde and Barnes did. And it wouldn't hurt for some KOA owners to find some way to separate themselves from her statements.....although that isn't always possible on forums on which they are not supposed to promote themselves. At least on rv.net they can state their position as long as they don't identify or promote their campground.....to date I haven't seen one campground owner comment on this woman's professional stupidity or separate themselves from her position.
There are a couple of KOA's that I will stay in, but just a couple, the rest are overpriced and not up to standard.
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