Are we being ripped off?

Submitted: Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 16:55
ThreadID: 109463 Views:3981 Replies:15 FollowUps:26
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Hope this passes censorship..

In January we (3 families), after confirming with the office manager of the Bxxxxx Rxxxxxxxx Holiday Park that we would have our deposit refunded if we cancelled booking before Oct 15, each paid a deposit of $100 for three powered sites in January 2015.
Due to circumstances we have had to cancel, giving more then 4 months notice. Bxxxxx Rxxxxxxxx Holiday Park have refused to refund our deposits stating:
However as per our cancellation policy in regards to Christmas bookings, if a cancellation does occur then you do forfeit your deposit and the rights to the next years booking option.
Well it seems to me that BxxxxxRxxxxside Holiday Park is using their cancellation policy as a cash cow...No deposit refunds for Christmas booking, even though they say due to the popularity and waiting list you must pay in full by Oct 15. If you have paid up in full and at the last minute can't make it you can't offer it to someone else.
I would be interested to know what others think of these conditions...Is it the norm? or are they just greedy?
Also, our only notification of their cancellation policy came as a part of the deposit receipt..A bit late after the event.
Below are extracts of their correspondence to patrons.

Bxxxxx Rxxxxxxxx Holiday Park
Victoria 3741
7 August 2014

Current rate: ALL POWERED SITES $497 PER WEEK GST INCLUSIVE
Maximum of 6 Occupants per site
PLEASE NOTE: THIS PRICING STRUCTURE IS FOR 2 ADULTS ONLY
Each additional person $20 p/n
If we do not hear from you by 15th OCTOBER 2014 we may consider your booking to be canceled.
CANCELLATION POLICY
All Cancellations must be in writing or by telephone.
Peak Periods - Christmas bookings & Easter bookings
If cancellations occur then all deposit monies are forfeited and you forfeit the option of the following years booking.
All refunds are also subject to cleaning fees (if applicable). Each clean will be charged at $50.
When minimum bookings apply, a handling fee of $50.00 for each extra booking taken to fill the minimum period, will apply.
Shoulder Periods / mid - (midyear school holidays, autumn festival, hot rod and long weekends)
No refunds on deposits for accommodation and sites less than 4 weeks.
Off Peak - All other times.
14 days’ notice must be given for cancellations on accommodation / sites, deposits will be refunded less a handling fee of $50.
If cancellation occurs within the 14 day period deposits will be forfeited.
REFUNDS ARE NOT GIVEN ON PREMATURE CHECKOUTS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ANY TIME.
We will not refund any monies as a result of a code red declaration.

Ted
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Reply By: tim_c - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:24

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:24
$497/per week for up to two people + $20/night for each additional person, on a powered site??

I'd say yes, you're being robbed blind!! There's no way I'd be paying that much to set up camp on a patch of grass with a powerpoint!
AnswerID: 538916

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:26

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:26
Xmas is supply and demand, Supply is low, demand is high ! $$$$$$ Michael
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Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:39

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:39
Yes I know, but I wouldn't pay it - obviously there are plenty who will though.
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 22:33

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 22:33
Its a bit like the snow season, there are only so many holidays they can exploit so they charge what the market will pay! I agree its steep! Michael
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:24

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:24
Are they serious? Xmas would be easy to fill, it's September !!! If the place is any good, it shouldn't be a problem for them. Tell them you will be ringing Fair Trading and get them to sort it out! If what you say is 100 % correct, there is no problem in naming them! So who are they? Michael
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 18:21

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 18:21
Took me 2 mins on google to find em via the Victoria postcode thing :)

Near $500 a week for 2 people, yeah, why I love free camping / bush camping mostly.
As nice as Bright is, especially down by the riverside, I certainly wouldn't stay there.
Hired a house in Bright in mid winter once for snow side trips, and it was $500 for the week, quite a while ago though.

Yep, all there in B&W, but it is a very cr@ppy policy, and way to many negatives in there (no doubt they have been let down / burned in the past, but still biz should keep things positive in the main).

No doubt they could / will resell your bookings, in which case they should refund, very poor form otherwise.
Perhaps a 10% cancellation fee to cover their time etc in making the bookings is fair.

No doubt bad press like this will cost them more in the long run.
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Follow Up By: SDG - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:27

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:27
About five ks out of Bright, there is a council run park. From memory is was about $15.00 per powered site. Toilets, laundry, hot showers.
Much better than $500 a week, with basically the same amenities.
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:42

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:42
Ted,

You'll get lots of opinions here about what you should have done during your enquiry phase, eg asked for the refund policy in writing rather than just taking a blokes word for it.

I reckon it's a pretty harsh policy - if the place is that popular then you'd think that with over 4 months notice they'd be able to fill the vacancies you have left. Then again, maybe they are not popular and they struggle to find customers so they lock you in as best they can. Who knows? They don't appear to have a website (it's not difficult to figure out which place you're referring to). Do they advertise?

But all that's beside the point - the policy is the policy.

The dispute now is what you were told verbally in the enquiry stage versus what was presented with your deposit receipt AFTER you had paid, giving you no chance to comply with their policy.

When asked about a refund a reputable and honest and ethical proprietor who wants repeat business would give you the whole story, especially considering the peak period booking you had in mind.

When you were told verbally, was it just you there, or the two other van owners as well? If you were told what you think is a porkie and you have witnesses, you might have a case if you wanted to pursue it. Especially considering the written advice came with the deposit receipt and applied immediately, giving you no chance to comply with it.

On the other side of the coin is "caveat emptor" - buyer beware. A purchaser has a responsibility to make reasonable enquiries before entering into a transaction. Did you do enough to inform yourself before entering into the transaction? I don't know. Maybe ask the Ombudsman or Fair Trading or whatever you have in Victoria.

But for $100 it might just be easier to suck it up, write it off to experience and vote with your feet.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:49

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:49
If the park is who I think it is, I've just found their website. They publish their cancellation policy on it, so buyer beware would be the argument to counter your claim.

I think you've done your dough, tough though that may be.

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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:36

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:36
I got to their website too - quite easy if you've a mind to - but cannot find anything other than a "Cancallation Policy" which I am at a loss to translate into English.

If I were them, I'd be chucking (pun intended) their website designers and hiring a spell checker!

Regardless of whether they have spelled out their policy on the site, there is always the option to ask Fair Trading to have a look at it. That alone might prompt the CP to look at a refund (perhaps less a nominal amount for "handling fees" - but they'd be hard pressed to get much back given the ease with which they'd re-sell the site the OP had booked) .

Good luck with it!
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Reply By: get outmore - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 18:31

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 18:31
Not sure who youve spoken to
there policy is probablly on the website and yes probabally binding
best option you have is phoning - talking to the manager explaining your situation - emphasize the 4 months notice
you definitly need to be nice but have your case for leniancy laid out and present it properly
AnswerID: 538922

Reply By: briann532 - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 19:14

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 19:14
As a last resort, you could try ringing and booking the night before your booking is scheduled.

Then when they tell you that they are full, you can say, good, then because my site was resold, can I have my money back?

As I said, last resort, but it may work....

AnswerID: 538924

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 07:08

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 07:08
LOL

or don't cancel and just don't turn up. That way they can't resell it.

When they ring and ask where you are on the day tell then that they should have read YOUR cancellation policy.

Cancellation policy for Ted

"Get stuffed Caravan park"

At least you get some value for your $100
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Follow Up By: fisho64 - Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 21:02

Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 21:02
I dont think you read it Booboo, you pay a deposit and if they dont have the rest by Oct 15 they can consider the booking cancelled anyhow.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Sep 13, 2014 at 06:48

Saturday, Sep 13, 2014 at 06:48
yeah but that ruins the joke.
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Reply By: Member - KBAD - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:06

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:06
Ted don't muck about take them to fair trading doesn't matter what they say in their cancellation policy if it doesn't reflect what the law says they haven't a leg to stand on.
AnswerID: 538934

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:23

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:23
Costs $40.00 to lodge a claim, not worth it.
He would most likely lose anyway!

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Reply By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:50

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:50
From The Australian Common Law website regarding tourism operator rights.

"Generally, a fair deposit should not be more than 10 per cent of the total cost of the accommodation or service booked, unless your potential loss or inconvenience justifies a higher amount. Otherwise, such a higher amount may be seen as a pre-payment. Pre-payments are refundable, minus any actual or reasonable costs you may have incurred before the booking was cancelled."
AnswerID: 538935

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:52

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:52
You might want to look at this website.

http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/businesses/fair-trading/contracts/tourism-businesses
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Reply By: coonick - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 23:09

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 23:09
Ripped off ??
ABSOLUTELY !!!!!
I'm still trying to grasp why anyone would pay $500 a week for a powered site.
That van park should be prosecuted and shamed for that.......as a matter of fact ALL caravan parks should be prosecuted and shamed for that sort of criminal offence. No where is worth paying that.....I'm sorry but that is pathetic.
AnswerID: 538939

Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 05:44

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 05:44
What price would you charge if it was your van park?

Just a thought...
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 07:03

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 07:03
Agreed, while I would never pay that much, if the place is always full then arguably they are not charging enough.






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Follow Up By: coonick - Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:01

Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:01
What would I charge ?????
What the hell has that to do with overpriced tent sites ???
If its full they aren't charging enough ???
Another pointless comment.
Really a tent site is a tent site.....certainly NOT worth $500 a WEEK regardless of where it is.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:33

Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:33
Apparently a lot of people do not agree with your viewpoint if it is full.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 22:33

Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 22:33
Hi Coonick

I suspect the reason you can’t put a price on it that you would charge is simply that you actually don’t know what it costs to run the caravan park.

Is $500 too much, who knows? But you could only assess that by knowing what the costs of running the park is.

But here is the mistake you are making. It isn’t just a powered tent site.

It is a powered tent site located in a caravan park that pays rates on the land, that is charged by the local council at commercial rates to dispose of black waste and domestic refuge, it pays wages to the people that take bookings and maintain the park. Then there are water charges for the showers, the electricity bills, and maybe even a return on the capital it has invested.

The average capital cost of putting in one caravan park site in a caravan park is around $25,000/$30,000. That is a lot of overnight stays to pay for that investment.

And like many tourism enterprises there is seasonality to the pricing structure, high demand and peak periods will usually attract a premium price, which evens out the quieter times.

There is nothing unusual about that.

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Reply By: OBJ - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 08:00

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 08:00
FWIW, business owners do not decide on their refund Policy. Dept of Fair Trading will determine that if there is a dispute. I had a situation with an organisation quite close to this site once where they deemed "we don't do refunds", but on investigation was advised by Fair Trading that they (Fair Trading) would decide, not the business owner. There are laws.
OBJ
AnswerID: 538945

Reply By: Aussi Traveller - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 09:19

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 09:19
No you are not being ripped off.

This is a cut and paste straight off thier online booking form.

CANCELLATION POLICY

Peak periods-Christmas bookings
If cancellations occur after the 1st Sept.[for all advance bookings] then all deposit monies are forfeited.
If cancellations happen before Sept.1st then a handling fee of $50 applies to all transactions.
For all cancellations taken on bookings for Christmas after Sept.1st then a cancellation fee of $50 applies and all other monies are refunded only after the accommodation has been rebooked and paid for.
All refunds are also subject to cleaning fees {if applicable}. Each clean will be charged at $40.
When minimum bookings apply, a handling fee of $50.00 for each extra booking taken to fill the minimum period, will apply. Peak periods - Easter bookings
All cancellations will incur a handling fee of $50.
All refund monies will be given back after the cancelled accommodation/site has been rebooked.
All refunds are also subject to cleaning fees [if applicable]. Each clean will be charged at $40.
When minimum bookings apply, a handling fee of $50.00 for each extra booking taken to fill the minimum period, will apply.

Shoulder periods - {mid year school hols, autumn festival, hot rod and long weekends}.
No refunds on deposits for accommodation and sites less than 4 weeks prior, unless the booking can be refilled, and are subject to the handling fees {$30} and cleaning fees {$40 each clean}.

Off peak- {all other times}
14 days notice must be given for cancellations on accommodation/sites, deposits will be refunded less a handling fee of {$30}.
If cancellation occurs within the 14 day period deposits will be forfeited only if the accommodation/site can't be rebooked ,and are subject to cleaning fee of $40 [each clean if applicable] and a handling fee of $30
REFUNDS ARE NOT GIVEN ON PREMATURE CHECKOUTS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ANY TIME.
No refunds will be given if a code red warning from the cfa is issued.

It might be harsh but it is what it is.

Phil
AnswerID: 538946

Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 09:34

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 09:34
I forgot to mention that if you paid be credit card you could claim it on travel insurance associated with the card.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:07

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:07
That's interesting. Here is their cut and pasted cancellation policy that they list under "Tariffs". It's different - so which one applies?

______________________________________________________

All Cancellations must be in writing or by telephone.

Peak Periods - Christmas bookings & Easter bookings

If cancellations occur then all deposit monies are forfeited and you forfeit the option of the following years booking.

All refunds are also subject to cleaning fees (if applicable). Each clean will be charged at $50.

When minimum bookings apply, a handling fee of $50.00 for each extra booking taken to fill the minimum period, will apply.

Shoulder Periods / mid - (midyear school holidays, autumn festival, hot rod and long weekends)

No refunds on deposits for accommodation and sites less than 4 weeks.

Off Peak - All other times.

14 days’ notice must be given for cancellations on accommodation / sites, deposits will be refunded less a handling fee of $50.

If cancellation occurs within the 14 day period deposits will be forfeited.

REFUNDS ARE NOT GIVEN ON PREMATURE CHECKOUTS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ANY TIME.
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Follow Up By: Member - KBAD - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:15

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:15
Check the Consumer Rights website from the federal Government,
http://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees
just because someone decides to put a clause in their terms and conditions if it violates any laws of the land or doesn't meet what is deemed as "reasonable" by a magistrate it won't float. Ask the ANZ bank with their fees and charges for late payments, they soon dropped them to more reasonable levels.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 15:52

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 15:52
Hi Phil

Whilst the credit card may provide cover, it is best to read the policy conditions as it is usually very specific (and restrictive) about what they actually cover . You are unlikely to find any that cover because you have changed your mind, for example.

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 07:21

Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 07:21
as posted by Aussie Traveller, the online booking form terms are far more in your favour . . .
"Peak periods-Christmas bookings
If cancellations occur after the 1st Sept.[for all advance bookings] then all deposit monies are forfeited.
If cancellations happen before Sept.1st then a handling fee of $50 applies to all transactions.
For all cancellations taken on bookings for Christmas after Sept.1st then a cancellation fee of $50 applies and all other monies are refunded only after the accommodation has been rebooked and paid for."

Equals you get half your money back (only $50), getting to a pint though where it's almost not worth the trouble, but the principle applies.
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FollowupID: 823579

Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 07:51

Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 07:51
Of course IF you cancelled after Sept 1st, back to square 1.
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Reply By: Krooznalong - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 13:22

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 13:22
Ted
Banks, Telcos etc have been found to have been charging exhorbitant late payment fees - it has been determined that the fee must reflect the real cost to the entity.
Surely applying that ruling in this case would result in the charging of $100 each being a blatant rip off and not being reflective of the cost to them (virtually zero since they can easily fill the sites).
I suggest that if they are not reasonable in refunding the vast majority og those deposits you mention going to Current Affair/Today Tonight, Fair Trading etc.
AnswerID: 538956

Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 14:28

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 14:28
Krooznalong

Your essentially right except splitting hairs, under the Law realting to Contracts you cannot impose penalties for lack of performance. You are entitled to though, subject to the conditions of contract, claim for damages.

Damages can be not only just the actual cost of the breach, but could also include such things as missed opportunity etc. Hypothethically if there was a new booking made to replace the cancelled one was at a lower amount (for whatever reason) the difference could be determined to be part of damages.

In the case of banks essentially the only cost to them is the direct cost of managing the late payment or overdrawn chq.

Alan
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Reply By: Alan S (WA) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 14:34

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 14:34
Ted

You say that the booking was for 3 families and then that due to circumstances you all had to cancel. You havent detailed what the circumstances where. If it was just a decision to go somewhere else, then it is bit like buying something in a shop and taking it back just because you changed your mind.
The fact that all 3 cancelled may have also influence the operator in how he handled the situation

Alan
AnswerID: 538958

Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 16:38

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 16:38
It will be interesting to see the answer to this, & the subsequent opinions of the EO legal team!

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FollowupID: 823547

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 21:47

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 21:47
Gday,
Just a different approach.........
What if you hold on to your site.....wait till it gets a bit closer, and advertise your site on the internet at a huge mark up to some unfortunate camper with heaps of cash who didn't plan their holidays in advance.

Just a thought LOL
AnswerID: 538984

Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 22:25

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 22:25
I've been travelling Australia-wide and world-wide for decades and standard accommodation policies for refunds are fairly consistent.

You cancel more than 30 days before booking date - nearly always full refund. In a small number of cases, full refund less a small percentage for rebooking/handling costs (not more than 1 to 5%).
You cancel less than 30 days before booking date - no refund.

Charging cleaning fees when accommodation has not been used due to cancellation is a rort, pure and simple.
They could call it a handling fee and might get away with it.

There's no reason to keep all monies, even for Christmas, if you're cancelling 90 days ahead.
Admittedly, Christmas accommodation would be difficult to resell at short notice, because 99% of people have Christmas sorted, at least a month ahead.
Not many people would be looking for immediate accommodation at Christmas.

However, IMO, this crowd are excessively hungry, plain and simple. I'd be taking them to the cleaners.
AnswerID: 538986

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 13:28

Friday, Sep 12, 2014 at 13:28
In a nutshell Ron.
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FollowupID: 823589

Reply By: The Bantam - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:28

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:28
There are a significant number of people and organisations that try to apply terms and conitions or even laws to situations that simply will not stand up in court, because they are in direct contravention of legeslation.

These people get away with it because people do not chalenge them.

Then of course..it is often more costly or inconvienient to mount a chalenge.

This is bullying plain and simple.

so what do you do?

For my part...I would not be coughing up that sort of dough for a caravan site or coughing that sort of deposit that far in advance.

But then again...I simply wont holiday in peak periods.


Remember there are plenty of businesses that make a significant part of their income from surendered deposits or people failing to complete a contract.......this is far from an unusual practice.

Remember too there are plenty of people out there who cancel bookings or fail to complete financial contracts...with no consideration for the business.

So...business are left with the decision of how to deal with this loss of faith and income......some get heavy handed and decide to make plenty when people fail to complete contracts.

This is most definitely a two way street...and both sides of the deal can be unreasonable.

cheers
AnswerID: 538991

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