• Report: #887680

Complaint Review: Freedom Boat Club

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  • Submitted: Thu, May 24, 2012
  • Updated: Tue, February 19, 2013

  • Reported By: Boatnguy — Naples Florida United States of America
Freedom Boat Club
Naples, Florida United States of America

Freedom Boat Club Freedom Boat Club Naples, Florida Deceptive, Naples, Florida

*Consumer Comment: Protection for Members

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Membership Options

*Consumer Comment: I did not continue my membership...

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Improvements at FBC

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I joined Freedom Boat Club of Sarasota 11 years ago (2001). I loved it. Pay your 5 year fee, take a boat and pay for the gas, easy. The boats were nice, people were friendly, everything was good.

I moved to Naples, Florida and was able to use my membership there.

I even coughed up over $5,000 exra to become a LIFETIME member. What did that get me? NOTHIN!

As the years passed the quality of the boats deteriorated. Freedom kept promising they were bringing really nice boats from other areas. Not so.

Last year I had enough. I quit them and they didn't even ask why.

Their computerized reservation system allows members to reserve a boat months in advance then not show up. (tying up the boats)

Keep in mind, the more cancellations they have, the more the boats sit without wear and tear. Good for THEM.

If the boat does not go out for the day it is best for Freedom.

I could not get a decent boat even though I tried 2-3 weeks in advance.

Freedom was advertising like crazy for new members and old members could not get a boat.

They only alot 12 boats per location. Most of them are now crappy, beat up boats.

It got to the point where I would have been embarrassed to have guests or business associates join me. The boats were in horrible condition. Dirty, mechanically unsound and beat up. Radios never work, mold, dirt, antennas broken, bimini tops ripped etc.

When I made numerous calls to the home office I got promises and lies.

Do not join this bunch. They are interested in your membership money and to heck with the "boating experience".


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/24/2012 01:53 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Freedom-Boat-Club/Naples-Florida-34108/Freedom-Boat-Club-Freedom-Boat-Club-Naples-Florida-Deceptive-Naples-Florida-887680. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 2Consumer 2Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Protection for Members

AUTHOR: Joe - ()

Dear new owner of Freedom Boat Club LLC,

I commend you for reaching out to members who have terminated or are about to terminate to learn their reasons for quitting the club so as to improve upon the club.

I am one such member, despite having boated with Freedom for several years with much enjoyment. The reason for the impass and my potential wishes to quit the club are not due to any will of my own. I very much enjoy your model of boating and the network of reciprocity you have established. I am also excited to hear about you seeking to grow the network in number and reach, all the way to the west coast in the next few years. I'd very much like to support you and Freedom in that effort.  

However, since joinining Freedom the owner of my franchise has been effectively trying to force me out. The club refuses to follow its own rules and guidelines as it applies to them. They have changed my original agreement such that the freedom to boat has been severely compromised. Last but not least, the owner refuses to honor the payment terms of my original membership agreement. 

The only effective means for myself as a member to fight back is to retain an attorney and possibly enter arbitration. 

First things first, if you want to seriously improve membership experience and keep members from quitting, provide them a means to enter into a dispute resolution through Freedom itself.

As it stands presently, ZERO protections for members exits nor do members have an advocate from the corporate franchiser when a franchisee goes bad, treats its members bad, or what have you. Original terms upon joining are not honored or can seemingly be changed absent any penalty. Members whose plans an owner doesn't like anymore, in lieu of new depositing member at a higher rate, are shown the door. The owner has no disincentive to not do everything in their power to see members with inferior payment terms compared to new members forced out.

So in close, my specific questions to you are as follows.

What incentive does a club have to keep members on past the point of first joining?

Can you confirm that there is indeed a clear problem with your club's profit incentive structure? That a successful club has no real motivation to retain members? insteading wishing to maximize its membership turn over whenever possible, so as to take in as many desposits as possible?

Ideally, if membership space is indeed limimted at each club, your club franchisee owners must find it their most profitable scenario to see a member pay their deposit and then leave soon after, the sooner the better, making room for another new member, new deposit, etc.

In the face of such a business model, how can any member have confidence in the club beyond day 1 or especially any confidence at all in staying on as a member long term?

Clearly members who join 10 or 20 years from now will be entering the club with higher deposit amount and greater monthly fees. What incentive at all does a club have in seeing a member stay on for that long, in lieu of such higher paying newer members? The incentive is there on day 1 to be treated like hell and forced out, and that incentive only grows exponentially over time.

If corporate has real interest in curbing abuse, what mechanism has it put in place so as to become aware of abuses to members by franchisees?

Does corporate have plans to get involved in resolving such disputes? or provide any advocate to help resolve issues that may arise?

Why are members not provided a hot line? or any method to alarm corporate about abusive franchisee owners? By reading the many postings on this ripp off reportpage, it would seem there are a fair number of members who would have taken advantage of such a system.

This abuse extrapolates into all area of boating.

How are members protected from being blamed falsely for breaking rules, damage a boat, etc?

How are members original terms protected? especially in cases of future franchise sale or transfer to new ownership? 

What confirmed rights to due process is the member guaranteed in order to combat false allegations?

In close, knowing such clear incentives for abuse exist, what is corporate doing to insure the integrity of member conracts who want to join the club long term?

I am one such member looking for a solution. I joined with the intention of being a life long Freedom member. I want to continue to boat with Freedom. But your franchisee is doing everything in its power to see that I leave.  

Signed

Very Concerned Member

PS: I don't know how to communicate with you in any other fashion, as a phone call or email may jeopardize or threaten any future pursuit I make to rememdy disputes with my local franchise. I look forward to your possible reply to my above questions on this site never the less. Or by some other means if you can thinkg of one.

If your intentions are real and genuine in trying to hear members concerns, which I certainly hope they are, resolving the clear conflict between your business profit structure and your wishes to see Freedom members enjoy membership for the long term must be resolved. Moreover, providing members with a hot line for help in reporting franchissee abuses would go a long way as well.  

 

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#2 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Membership Options

AUTHOR: FreedomBoatClub - (United States of America)

I apologize for your experience.  I would like to discuss this situation in more detail.  Please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss your membership options.  I can be reached at 941-451-8756 X302.
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#3 Consumer Comment

I did not continue my membership...

AUTHOR: Fifi - (United States of America)

I absolutely LOVED FBC.  I was a member for 3 years (bought someone's 5 year membership so FBC made even more money).  It was wonderful to show up and get a boat any time (in the summer...season months were very difficult).  The boats were nice and we had a great time.  But then the boats became old and dingy.  They broke down often but thankfully I knew how to do little things to the engine to get her running again as the boat guys showed me.  The radios and speakers never worked, sometimes there were no anchors or the anchors were way too light and little to keep the boats anchored for the light currents in the bays. 

But I dealt with that.  I never complained...until...I did the reciprocal use in Miami.  WOw, those boats are horrid compared to Naples!  My friend was hurt by the bimini pole flying off and hitting her in the head and the staff never apologized or even asked how she was afterward.  I wanted an apology, nothing more, and MR. DALEY (the Prez of FBC at the time) called me and berated me, called me fat, argued with me, belittled me, insulted me over and over and never once was kind or apologetic to the fact that my friend was hurt!!!!  I quit the club that day as that moron was in charge of so many FBC locations.  

I was elated to hear he IS GONE!!!!  but no one has ever contacted me to get me back :(  I would love to come back if that heathen is gone.  I could have easily sued FBC for what happened, but that was never my intention.  I wanted to know that me, as a member, meant something as did my company that were boating with me.  It was such a horrible experience with him.  I can't even begin to go into what this "man" went on to say to me.  He was bitter, hateful and condescending.  WOw, I'm relieving it as I type this.  

I would really consider coming back as I really liked the crew at the Naples location and it looks like there are new boats at the marina (I drove by the other day).  I hope the new owner cares about his members and their friends and family.  I know of 2 people that left due to Daley and 3 more that did NOT take a membership due to what I went through in Miami and the aftermath of it.  

I do miss FBC.
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#4 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Improvements at FBC

AUTHOR: FreedomBoatClub - (United States of America)

As the new owner of FBC (March 2011) I would like to apoligize if we have not met your membership expectations.  I would also like to apoligize that we did not speak when you decided to cancel your membership.  Last summer, I began personally calling any member that cancelled their membership.  I would invite you to call me at (941) 451-8756 to discuss your membership experience.  

Since March of 2011 I have purchased and taken delivery of 75 new boats, 11 of which are in the Naples location.  Additionally, I have 43 boats ordered that will be delivered between June and September 2012, 5 of which will be located in Naples.  That will bring our fleet size in Naples up to 25 boats.    

In March this year we also unveiled our new online reservation system with several new features that our old system did not have.  One major improvement was a tracking mechanism that notifies the office when a member does not show up for, or cancel their reservation in a timely manner.  Members who do not cancel timely or simply don't show are being charged a penalty fee and we hope this acts as a deterent for those members.  Our program works very well when our members follow the rules and regulations established to ensure all members have equal access.  Nothing would make me happier than to know that every boat we have is being used and every member that wants a boat on a specific day is out enjoying the water.

Our goal has been, and always will be to  provide a hassle free alternative to boat ownership.  While we are not perfect, we will continue to improve and I hope you will give me an opprtunity to prove that to you.  
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