I have been a member of the Caravan Club for a couple of years and used a number of club sites. Following a very negative experience at the Alderstead Heath Club Site I decided to cut up my membership card. My membership is not due to expire until 30 November 2012 but I won’t visit their sites again.
Caravan Club – What happened to me
Having spent the Friday night at Slinfold Caravan Club Site I was looking to spend Saturday night somewhere closer to home. I called Alderstead Heath Caravan Club site and asked if they had any pitches available. They confirmed that they did but only grass pitches and not hard standing. This concerned me as the weather forecast was for rain. I did not want to get stuck on a wet and muddy grass pitch. I expressed my concerns and was assured that drainage on the site was good and so I decided to make a booking. Upon arrival we were asked to select our own pitch. At no time did they give us any advice on which fields offered the best drainage.
As forecast there was heavy rain overnight and we awoke to find deep puddles all around. It was clear to me that drainage was not good at all and the front wheel drive Hymer would not move.
I visited reception to explain we needed assistance and the events that followed left me totally flabbergasted. They took a look at the field and asked if I was a member of the AA or RAC. They said that it was Caravan Club policy not to use site vehicles to assist motorhomes but they would help had I been a caravan! I was shocked to hear this apparent different treatment for motorhome owners. It’s certainly not one I’ve read about before or one explained when you make a booking. I suggested that if the Caravan Club wanted to have such a policy perhaps they should only allow caravans to use grass pitches.
I have since called the Caravan Club to ask whether this really is a club policy. I was kept on hold as they tried to transfer me to the person responsible for this geographical area. Finally I was told they refused to speak to me. Apparently I would have to write in if I had a complaint. I was simply trying to clarify the policy to make sure what I had been told was accurate before writing this blog post. Having given them the opportunity to air their side I feel happy to continue with this article. They are always free to comment on this blog post if they would like to put their side of the story.
Back to the story…….
While I was having this heated discussion with the staff at Alderstead Heath a friendly French lady approached me. She had a 4WD VW Transporter with winter tyres and wanted to help tow me. The staff then actively discouraged her from helping me. They said they did not want her to get stuck on the same field. So the Caravan Club don’t want a 4WD with winter tyres on the grass pitch but they happily allowed a front wheel drive Fiat Ducato to pitch there!
The staff did try and place wood under the tyres. They also let me borrow a trolley jack I could use ‘at my own risk‘. Naturally none of this worked and I was faced with having to abandon my vehicle. Later that afternoon the staff relented a little and said I could ask someone on site to help. By this time the site had virtually emptied and all the 4WD vehicles who could have helped earlier had left.
So I was left with no choice but to call my father who came to collect me. I then switched to my Kia Sedona and returned to the campsite with a very long rope borrowed from a relative. The Sedona has twin tow points at the back and with the long rope I was able to position the Kia on hard standing and pull the Hymer clear. None of this would have been necessary had the Caravan Club staff not actively discouraged others from helping earlier.
Caravan Club – Cancelled Membership
Once I had towed the Hymer clear I left the Kia in the visitor car park. My girlfriend and I headed home in the Hymer. My father then kindly gave me a lift back to the campsite so I could collect the Kia. By the time I finally got home it was time for bed, the complete day had been wasted because of the Caravan Club.
I would suggest that the Caravan Club do the following:
- If you insist on only assisting caravans and not motorhomes then explain this policy. Does this policy actually exist?
- If you want to retain such a policy then do NOT allow motorhomes on grass pitches.
- The motorhome community are very friendly and try to help each other. If the Caravan Club do not want to help then do not actively discourage others on site with great tow vehicles from helping.
I would add that The Camping and Caravanning Club are much better in this regard. At Chertsey they will often refuse to let motorhomes on grass pitches when bad weather is forecast. The treatment I received left me upset and angry. The Caravan Club has lost my business. It was a shame that the Caravan Club did not want to discuss the policy with me on the telephone, they cannot complain that they were not given the opportunity to put their side.