ARA, Inc. signed us up on a contract which gave us the right to rent condos at a discount ($55.00 night for 7-nights). We paid the contract off in full, ahead of time. A few days after we paid them off, I called to rent a condo at one of the companies they said they did business with (Condolink).
That company no longer did business with ARA. I called ARA, and they advised they had other condos, but the price had gone from $55 per night to $73.00 per night! No contract protection, but a rip-off to the max. We had paid $4700 for a membership which was now worthless to us. We had counted on the discount to justify the membership. I can get a pretty decent Motel room for $75 per night; and I found out thru Condolink that I could work a deal close to $75 per night on their condos. It's probably the same anywhere.
ARA, of course, claims the condos are worth $200 to $300 per night. I didn't believe that when the salesman gave us the pitch, but figured $80-$100 per night was a reasonable figure.
Then, about one week later, we got a notice that their inflation protected maintenance fees of $240 per year had been increased to $318. Apparantly, inflation for the year 2000 was 32.7%!
The contract specifically said they could raise dues "annually by an amount not to exceed the % increase in The National Consumer Price Index for the YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRIOR THERETO"!
ARA simply said they hadn't raised dues for 10 years, and the increase was 10-years worth of inlfation. When I pointed out that wasn't what the contract said, their response was "that's the way we're interpreting it".
Small bright spot: I put my last contract payment ($1658)on my VISA, so I went thru the dispute resolution process. VISA gave me my money back! On their form justifying the return, they put "not as described". This all took place in May/June of 2000.
ARA is still trying to collect the money I managed to retrieve. They refuse to refund the balance I paid ($3,037). They have now turned the account over to a collection agency. The battle goes on.
In short, if Advance Resorts of America, Inc. calls you and offers you something, check first with the Oregon Attorney General's Office. They have quite a thick file of victims, both old and new. I'm one of them. Unfortunately, the AG doesn't seem inclined to get too involved, although the last I heard, ARA was no longer selling "memberships" in Oregon. They are, however, still running their business in Washington State, and running their campground and condos in Rockaway Beach and Nehalem Bay, Oregon.