KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s attorney general is ordering a campground operator to cease and desist what she calls unlawful business practices.
AG Dana Nessel said her office has received nearly 30 complaints against Outdoor Adventures alleging aggressive and deceptive sales tactics. According to Nessel, the company is violating Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act.
“Outdoor Adventures appears to have taken egregious advantage of dozens of Michigan residents, taking their money under false pretenses and then refusing refunds and cancellations. We cannot and will not allow any company to mislead people into spending thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money,” Nessel stated in a press release.
Outdoor Adventures owns campgrounds across the state including sites near Kalamazoo and Grand Haven.
Pamela Chappell and her husband paid for a five-year campground membership and say a salesperson told them there were no additional fees.
“We started getting billed every month for $41 and over a year’s time that’s almost $500 a year after we’ve already paid almost $5,000 for five years,” Chappell said.
The South Haven couple says they only used the membership for two weekends but have now paid nearly $6,000 with two years remaining in the contract.
“We should have been more careful and I hope other people don’t get caught in this,” Chappell said.
Troy Baker of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan said many customers say they are told one thing by a salesperson but eventually discover something different tucked away in the contract.
“You’re locked into a contract for years, in some cases generations. Some of their contracts are three generations long,” Baker said.
The BBB recommends becoming an informed consumer by conducting research before considering any membership. Baker said you should take your time in the process, review all the fine print and not fall for high-pressure sales tactics.
Deanna Campbell with Outdoor Adventures sent News 8 the following statement:
“We are aware of the Attorney General’s notice that we received on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. We look forward to collaborating with our members and the Attorney General’s office to work through any confusion concerning our memberships. Outdoor Adventures’ mission is to provide the best experience for families to enjoy the great outdoors and create lasting memories together. We will continue to fulfill this mission with our approximately 19,000 satisfied members throughout Michigan. We will have a conversation with the Attorney General’s office into their allegations and look forward to defending our business practices.”
The company’s response to the South Haven couple’s BBB complaint says the monthly payments are listed in the contract.
The Chappells are asking for at least half of their money returned and all future payments canceled. Their contract does not expire for two more years.
The Attorney General’s Office could file a lawsuit if the concerns are not addressed.