Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Cautionary Tale...

   Acadian Oasis RV Park has been in existence for only a year. Inside the office is a counter on which sits a credit card scanner... and that's about it. A nicely paved road runs down the center of a 200' wide by 300 yard deep swath of well maintained real estate looping around a small 15' x 60' frog pond at the far end. The radius of the loop, easily negotiated by a travel trailer or 5th wheel, is a bit tight for a 43' coach (the articulating nature of a vehicle pulling a trailer makes it more maneuverable than a '43 foot bus with a 279" wheelbase - plus a tag axle). I had to shuffle back and forth a couple times to make the turn...not a big deal. There are 16 concrete pads angling off either side of the center aisle for a total of 32 sites. AORVP is a little off the beaten path and I'm not sure they get a lot of big rig visitors. At the moment there is one other 'class A' motorhome in the park and it's significantly shorter than we are.


    When we arrived Saturday afternoon we were greeted by a lovely woman who unfortunately, due to a misbehaving credit card reader, was unable to process my payment. I told her I'd settle up the next day when, presumably the credit card reader would be working properly. I also asked if I could wash the coach. We had driven 325 miles in heavy rain and it needed cleaning pretty badly. She told me they do allow RV washing but she thought there was an additional fee and that she'd have to check with her husband - who was out with their son bass fishing. Okay.

   The next morning I walked down to the office to settle up but there was nobody there. In fact, there was nobody there all day. I called the number on the website and got a recording so I left a message asking that someone please call me when they were onsite - and could I wash my coach. The next day I left another message. Finally, last night at around 7:00pm, I decided to go ahead and begin washing the coach. I washed the passenger side and the front, leaving the driver's side and rear for the next day, today.
     Being a bit fussy about the condition of the exterior of my RV, I'm always interested in whether or not a park allows washing and often ask during the registration process. If washing is not allowed it usually says so in the brochure/park map that most parks include in the registration packet. When a park does allow washing there is sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) a small fee... maybe $5 or $10 - I guess to compensate management for the additional water usage (?). I'm not sure. I'm pretty miserly with my water usage and don't feel like I use much more washing the coach than I do taking a shower.
    At any rate, I have never washed my coach in an RV park that charges a fee. But I made an exception this time. AORVP participates in the Passport America program and I'm paying only $22.50 nightly. I figured another $5 or $10 wouldn't break the bank.
    Last night, after finishing the portion of the coach I had intended to wash I stretched out on the couch and began watching a show on Netflix ("Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes"... creepy). Suzanne was out for a walk with Winnie when someone came-a-knocking at the door. I lifted my head from my pillow and looked out the window and saw a Louisiana State Trooper standing outside. Wondering what the hell was going on, I went to the door and stepped outside.

  "Hi, I'm John, the owner of the campground!"
  "Oh! Hi, Steve Killian!"

   We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. The concrete around the coach was wet and my bucket, brushes etc. were sitting out to dry. I said, "I hope you don't mind, I went ahead and started washing the coach." He said it wasn't problem but that he usually charges a fee and we could take care of that tomorrow when I settled up. He'd be onsite around 4:00pm doing some yard work.

    Today was Suzanne's birthday. I went to the gym this morning and when I got home, and Suzanne had finished her work for the day, around 11:30am, we hopped in the car and drove to Avery Island, about 20 miles from here and the home of the Tabasco Factory - where we had lunch and took the self guided tour of the factory. It was a fun day.
    About 30 minutes after our return to the RV park I spotted John on his riding lawn mower and rode my bike to where he was working. He turned the mowing over to his teenage son and the two of us walked down to the office. We had a pleasant conversation and he told me (in his heavy Cajun accent) the additional fee for washing the coach was $15. I was a little surprised at the $15 figure. I've been to literally hundreds of RV parks and have rarely seen a fee above $10. Motorcoach Country Club, the most expensive RV park we've ever stayed at, allows washing with no fee. RV parks either allow washing or don't and those that do, rarely charge a fee. Resigned to paying the additional fee and happy in the knowledge that we would be continuing our journey in a shiny coach, I handed him my credit card and, this time, the payment process went off without a hitch. After ten or fifteen more minutes of chatting I hopped back on my bike and returned to the coach.
    Not having paid much attention when he had quoted me the amount due, after sitting down on the couch, I dug out my wallet and looked at the receipt. It was about $35 more than I thought it should be. John was now edging the site directly across from mine so I took the receipt and walked over. He shut down the weed whacker.

   "John, I think you might have overcharged me. Sunday night at the full $45... four nights at the Passport America 50% discounted price... the $5 credit card fee and $15 for washing the coach..."

  "No, Fifty dollars... not fifteen."
  "Yeah, that's what they get."
  "That's what who gets?"
  "That's what other places like this get around here"

I just shook my head, turned around and walked back to the coach in disbelief.

Fifty bucks to wash my own coach! In South Padre Island I only paid $80 to have two guys wash my coach while I sat inside drinking a beer! And for an extra $65 they hand waxed it! I'm paying $50 and I have to do the work?! If I'm paying someone fifty bucks for the privilege of washing my own coach somebody had better be standing by with new age music playing on Pandora and essential oils ready to give me a sensual massage!

My bad for deciding to wash before knowing the fee. It never occurred to me it would be anything in the neighborhood of $50!

    I wish this guy all the luck in making a go of his business - but he's got some homework to do. He might begin by sharing with his wife the RV washing policy or by stating it clearly in the park brochure.
   Oh well, I only paid $22.50/night for four of the five nights spent here. I'll have to boondock in a Walmart parking lot or two to recoup my losses.

Live & learn.

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