This complaint contains the facts surrounding the alleged debt to Timber Lodge RV Resort, Inc and the subsequent filing of a credit report by Monterey Collections, 4095 Avenida De La Plata, Oceanside, CA. 92056.
During the spring of 2002, I became a member of the Timber Lodge RV Resort. The prepaid membership fee of $445.50 was paid in full at the time I joined. All yearly dues were paid until March 15, 2006, when I sent written notification that I wanted to cancel my membership with Timber Lodge. The cancellation notification was sent before dues for the new year were due (03/31/06). At that time I had a zero balance in my account, and did not use the campground membership again.
In response to the cancellation notification that I sent, I received a letter from Timber Lodge dated April 5, 2006 stating that I could not terminate my membership and that I was responsible for dues to Timber Lodge RV Resort for the rest of my life and inferred that this obligation would pass to my children for the next four generations before terminating. The only other way out of the agreement was to send in $996.00, which would give me full membership privileges for my lifetime without any further money due.
On April 14, 2006, I sent a letter to Timber Lodge in response to the above mentioned April 5th letter. In that letter I stated that I had no intention of paying any more dues or sending them any more money. I signed a listing agreement allowing Timber Lodge to do anything they wanted to do with what I believed was my terminated membership and I returned all membership cards.
On July 21, 2006, I received a letter from Monterey Collection Services demanding payment of $239.00 ($199+$40 late fee. I do not know where the $199 came from). (As of today , the amount has grown to $403.96 ($239.00+$164.96 interest))
On August 1, 2006, I sent a letter to Monterey Collection Services stating the following;
"As far as I know, I do not owe Timber Lodge RV Resort, Inc. anything. My prepaid membership fee of $445.50 was paid in full at the time I joined. All yearly dues were paid until March 15, 2006, when I canceled my membership with Timber Lodge. This cancellation took place before dues for the new year were due (03-30-06). At that time I had a zero balance in my account. I also returned all membership cards. Please show me proof that I have any liability to Timber Lodge."
After I sent the August 1, 2006 letter, I did not receive any proof of debt or liability from either Timber Lodge or Monterey Collection Services. I did not find out until July 23, 2012, that Monterey Collection Service had filed a bad credit report with TransUnion for $239.00
I immediately filed a debt dispute with ID PROTECT which in turn filed a dispute with TransUnion on my behalf.
The disputed item comes down to one simple question. Did I have the right to terminate my membership on March 15, 2006. If I did, then there is no debt or liability to Timber Lodge and the credit report should be cleared. The following is a pronouncement from The State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General regarding Campground Memberships. (This pronouncement can be found on their web site www.oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/campground-memberships) This pronouncement is right on point with my situation and should be controlling.
State of California Department of Justice
OFFICE of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
KAMALA D. HARRIS
Some campground membership contracts are for a limited amount of time, such as 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years, while some are for life. If your membership contract is for a specified number of years, you may not be able to terminate it until you have paid the full amount owed for the contract and the dues owed for the specified number of years.
Many campground membership contracts do not state for how long you must continue to keep the contract in effect by paying annual dues. If your contract does not state how many years it lasts, and if you have already paid the full price of the membership, you may be able to terminate the contract by giving the business notice that you no longer wish to keep the contract in effect.
You may still have to pay any amounts you owe for past due annual fees or dues you owed before you notified the business that you do not wish to keep the membership contract in effect. It is best to give written notice, sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to show the date you sent the notice and that the business received it.
If your contract does not specify the number of years or months you must continue the contract, and if the business continues to attempt to collect annual dues after you notify it that you want to terminate the membership, you may wish to file a complaint with this office. Remember, whether or not you can cancel or terminate your contract will depend on what your contract with the campground membership company says.
I saw nothing in the agreement stating that this contract was for my life and for the next four generations of my children. I was later told that the clause was contained in (paragraph 3e) and was a "Charter Lifetime Contract". At no time during the sales presentation given to me before signing the agreement was the Lifetime membership discussed or that the contract I was signing was a "Charter Lifetime Contract" (Whatever that means) After rereading the agreement, I still saw nothing that indicated to me that the agreement was for life. In my August 1, 2006 letter to Monterey Collections, I asked for proof of any liability to Timber Lodge and nothing was ever provided. Even now Monterey Collection will not send me a copy of the contract that I allegedly signed or anything that would establish my liability. The following is a quote from their letter regarding this dispute.
This letter is in response to the dispute received and pursuant to the debt validation requirements set forth in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Please note that per the FDCPA, you had 30 days from the date you were notified by Monterey that your account had been placed with Monterey Collections, to send a written request to dispute this debt. You were notified by Monterey Collections and were sent the required notifications at that time. You failed to send a written dispute or request for verification within the necessary time frame. Had you done so, the information would have been provided at that time. This defaulted account for Timberlodge RV Resort, Inc. will continue to report accordingly, as a disputed collection account. Call our office today to set up the necessary arrangements to satisfy your obligation to the contract.
Contrary to what is said in this letter, I did ask for proof of debt within the 30 day period . (See my letter dated August l, 2006 )