Sep 082011
 

It is no secret that we have not been happy with the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) for a long time, and I have written several times about the very elitist attitude of many of the people we have met at FMCA rallies, who seem to judge others by the cost of their motorhomes, rather than who they are as people.

Over the years, we have seen many people join the FMCA for a year or two, and then drop their membership because the cliques at every rally turned them off.

Worse yet is the absolute lack of concern for their commercial members that the FMCA has exhibited over and over again. Vendors can make or break an RV rally, and yet at every FMCA rally where we have had a vendor booth, with one exception, we or other vendors we know have been treated like second class citizens.

At a rally in Madison, Wisconsin years ago, the vendor parked next to us on a paved parking lot ran his generator 24/7, and our motorhome was filled with his exhaust fumes to the point where our CO2 alarm was going off endlessly and our eyes burned just walking inside. The vendors were inside a building all day long, and the weather was pleasant, so there really was no need to run the genset all the time. I asked him to turn it off, and his response was that his company paid for the fuel, and he liked it ice cold inside. I then asked the FMCA staff to ask him to shut it down, and they said they could not do that. So I said I was going to move to another part of the very large parking lot, and was told I could not do that. In fact, one of the gentlemen on the parking crew stood in front of our motorhome with his arms folded, as if to block me in, until Miss Terry let him know that I was going to move, even if I had to run over him to do it.

A couple of years ago, at the FMCA national rally in Bowling Green, Ohio, we opted not to pay extra for an electrical site, because between our solar panels and generator, we did not need it. Unfortunately, we had rain every day, so the solar panels did not do us any good, and our generator decided to quit working, which caused our batteries to quickly go down. We had a house style refrigerator in our bus, and we really needed power. I asked permission to move about 30 feet to another spot, to where we could plug into power, and said I would be happy to pay to do so. The very self-important person in charge of the parking said if we moved one inch, we would have to leave the rally. I sought out two different people in the rally office to explain my problem, and their response was that I should have paid for electric in the first place, but since it was my choice to choose a dry camping site, I was stuck with it. Fortunately, Dave and Jean Damon, vendors for 303 Protectant, whom we had just met at the rally, loaned us a portable generator to get us through until the rally was over.

Why be that rigid? If a longtime member, who is paying for not only a Family membership, but also a Commercial membership, and then paying big bucks to come to a rally has a problem, is it really the end of the world to allow him to move? At the same rally, a member of the FMCA governing board came to our vending booth and wanted to buy $140 worth of our products for $50, and was offended and very rude when we told him he had to pay the same price as everybody else.

After that rally, I wrote to the FMCA officers at the national office in Cincinnati and aired my grievances. I did not receive the courtesy of a reply from even one of them.

Last year, after somebody sent me a link to a blog post where they wrote about being jerked around on two separate days by the staff at the Brooksville FMCA rally. After reading the many comments to that blog from people saying that their own experiences like that were why they dropped their FMCA memberships, I sent a copy of that link to every FMCA regional and national officer, and told them that this is why their membership numbers are dropping. In response, I received ONE letter from an FMCA regional officer in the Midwest, inviting us to their rally and assuring me that they had a completely different attitude. It is unthinkable to me that the folks at the national office really could simply ignore evidence of the way so much of the general public perceives their group, but apparently they really do not care.

In thirteen years as vendors and FMCA members, our one memorably positive experience was at an FMCA rally in Essex Junction, Vermont. The people there went the extra mile to make each and every vendor feel welcome. The rest of the organization could take a lesson from those folks.

Here is yet one more example of the FMCA’s attitude. As I said, we are both Family and Commercial FMCA members, and we decided that enough is enough, and did not renew our membership this year. I got the following e-mail yesterday from Sandy Reese, Commercial Records Coordinator for the FMCA:    

“Your yearly renewal was due in July and you are currently inactive. To renew your commercial membership, you can call the number listed below or send a check. If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to call.

My reply to Ms Reese was:

Based upon our past experience with FMCA and the way we were treated, we will not be renewing our commercial or family membership.

She replied:

“I am very sorry you have had a bad experience with FMCA.”

That was it. Not to ask why we were unhappy or what our problem was, just a quick dismissal. I replied to her short e-mail with this:  

One bad experience I could overlook, but not one after another, and never even an acknowledgment when I complained.

There is a reason FMCA’s membership is shrinking, and your response is the perfect example. We have been members since 1999 or 2000, and then commercial members as well, But when I say I won’t be renewing, and state why I won’t be, there is not even an attempt on FMCA’s part to ask why we are unhappy, or to try to resolve whatever issues we may have, to retain our membership.

I guess you figure that there are more where we came from to replace us.                                                                                                                           

To her credit, after my last e-mail to her, Ms Reese replied:

“I am sorry I did not ask for the details.  We would love to try and work out any problems you have had.  Please let me know what we can do.”

Well, Ms Reese, there you have it. I could list a dozen other instances off the top of my head, in which we or other vendors at FMCA rallies were treated shabbily. What can you do to make it right? For years now, there has been a complete lack of support from FMCA toward so many of us. How to you undo that? I don’t know. But the causal response you exhibited in your e-mail above is the place to start.

Talk to your commercial members, and don’t just dismiss their responses when they are not what you want to hear. Contact former members and ask them why they decided not to renew. Remember that “Family” is the first word in the name of your organization. We commercial members pay more in dues than regular members, we spend a lot of money traveling to your rallies, and pay a large fee for our vendor booths. Then we give away our products as door prizes to help make your rallies a success. In return, when we have a complaint and voice it to the officers, respond to us, don’t just ignore us. You will learn a lot more from your unhappy customers than you will from the happy ones.

In one of the small town newspapers I owned, a dentist who advertized with us always said “Ignore your teeth, and they will go away.” Vendors and members are the same way.

Thought For The Day – I don’t have an attitude problem, you have a perception problem.

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  39 Responses to “Why We Are Leaving FMCA”

  1. Good decision Nick.
    For many reason as a former campground owner I could make a lot of arguments here to agree with you.
    But I will let it stand as you say.

  2. The elitism of FMCA is the exact opposite of the spirit of RVing. And, as a perspective member, one look at their magazines will make it clear that they are the most materialistic group in RVing. Lets all let their horribly declining membership continue until this unfriendly group finally dissolves.

  3. Nick, I am afraid you are confusing the National Rallys as the heart of FMCA. The heart of FMCA are the chapters that have common interests and rally together. Many of us have not gone to a regional or national rally. In our small chapter (16 coaches) probably 1 in 4 has gone to a national rally this year. It is in the chapters that you make lasting friendships and generally enjoy the RV (not full timiing) life style. In our local chapter, you don’t find judging “others by the cost of their motorhomes” …if you do, find another chapter. I know this from experience since we have a 14 year old gas orphan motorhome … not exactly a high end unit 🙂

    I would encourage anyone with a motorhome that is new to RV’s to join FMCA and a local and/or special interest chapter. Your chapters are your “Greg Whites” that can help with problems, provide recommendations, etc. We have a “go to guy” for electrical problems, (while I am not a geek) I have removed virus, others recommend travel routes, etc.

    Commerical membership … not something that I can speak to.

    Just another opinion …

  4. Your opinion on the FMCA group is exactly what we have found too. We will not join them for their snobbish attitudes. And why do they have attitudes? It’s not because of their fancy motorhomes as many are not fancy. I think it’s because they are small people trying to play big shot. There are too many other groups that treat people well like the Escapees for example.

  5. Hey, I thought that “Bad Nick” had his own playpen to vent in. How did he get over to your blog? Have met snobbish people at lot of rallies I have attended, not just FMCA. But, the commercial vendors are always very nice and try their hardest to please us geezers.

  6. Nick, I’m just surprised that you stayed with them as long as you did!

  7. Illinois Snowbird has hit the nail on the head.We too have sensed the elitist attitude at national rallys, particularly among some on the Governing Board (of which I am a former member) and especially some of the national officers, for whom the office seems to be a pure ego trip. On the other hand,as with any organization, there is a lot of variability, and I also have met many local and national officers who are humble and are are totally dedicated to the best interests of the membership.

    As Snowbird observes, this “wholesome” attitude is especially prevalent at the local chapter level. When I joined FMCA I was stretched thin due to the expense of educating two children, and couldn’t really afford an RV. As a consequence I joined with a 15 year old, third hand coach for which I paid the grand sum of five thousand dollars. The folks in the local chapters accepted me with open arms, and couldn’t have been more gracious. (The one exception was a guy who didn’t think a class C motorhome should qualify as a motorcoach under the FMCA definition. There’s that attitude you describe.) Despite the fact that we have left the area, we still stay in touch with these wonderfou folks, who represent the core strength of FMCA.

    At the end of the day, I guess you could say that I have chosen to see the FMCA glass half full.

  8. We also dropped our membership in the organization. We had nothing but snobbish folks to deal with. I will say we did go to one rally up in ND and it was nice, then we went to another in Pasadena and we hated it. We payed for electric and it was iffy since folks ran the ac. We were parked like sardines. The seminars there were not to educate folks on the RV life styles but it was a buy buy buy and the products were overpriced. No thank you.We have friends who swear by the club and cannot see why we think like we do about them. Each to their own I say.

  9. We joined FMCA in ’08 when we bought our coach. Our experiences were limited to reading the magazine and gampground discounts. Last month we attended the Madison rally as well as the Full Timers prerally.

    At no time did we encounter snobbish or aloof behaviour. In fact, our experience was quite positive. We were treated better than at a Good Sam event last year.

    Can’t speak for C membership we don’t do that “W” thing anymore…

  10. We dropped our membership in FMCA for the very same reason you mentioned. Way too “snooty”! I like to be around “normal” people and Gypsy Journal people are just that.

  11. We left FMCA years ago. Yes, we had experienced bad attitudes and cliques. And the magazine (at least at that time) was all about buy buy buy, great big expensive rigs. Another thing in the magazine — it seems that the most important thing (next to buy buy buy) was their officers and how important they were. Every issue! Prefer Motorhome Magazine and, of course, Escapees!

  12. The primary focus of any rally is PROFIT . The FMCA (and others) have a history of taking care of the large vendors and manufacturers , while the small vendors struggle to make expenses and survive . FMCA has recently allowed towables to attend in an effort to help increase numbers and membership . All rally groups have a clique that receive special privileges and rates for their donations of product and labor to “help” the rally . I agree that there does seem to be an ego problem with some groups , but that can be anywhere you go .

    As the costs of operating RV’s increase dramatically , I think rally groups will concentrate on regional attendance rather that larger national gatherings .

  13. Have never had that problem or impression at any FMCA rallies either national or regional. FMCA as a rule doesn’t have the same seminars over and over again as some other organizations do, Tends to get boring and not worth the fees and travel expense to attend.

  14. The silence from FMCA headquarters in Cincinnati is deafening. I would have expected some response. But I gues what you say is true, they obviously don’t care what the lowely rank and file members have to say, Just pay your dues, shut up and don’t make waves.

  15. Just to follow up, as a former campground owner I always had a good working relationship with all clubs.
    I worked with both local and national clubs, these included Good Sam, Escapees, LOWS, and many other fine organizations. It was only the snooty, snobbish FMCA bimbos that I had a problem with. Like it was said above even there magazine spiels out there better than you attitude. I will not join and or support the club, if they would go belly up I for one would not really care.

  16. We cancelled our commercial FMCA membership with great glee recently. We look forward to letting our family membership expire in Jan. We traveled to Regional and National FMCA rallies for nearly a decade and always wondered what indignities would the Grand Phobahs of FMCA dream up for us at our next stop.The GLASS Rally stands as the only exception.

  17. VERY well written post, Nick!

    We joined FMCA 8 years ago, as soon as we bought our first (and so far, only) RV. We dropped our membership after one year. I couldn’t STAND the magazine! It seemed to be at least 50% full page glossy ads with the message “Time To Upgrade”. And the people IN the ads were wearing tuxedos and gowns! And we were paying to have it forwarded to us??

    It became obvious to us that we didn’t need to be members of FMCA, Escapees, and Good Sam. FMCA was the first to be dropped, simply because the lifestyle exemplified by their magazine was so at odds with our own. We’ve never missed ’em.

    Safe travels!

  18. Nick, maybe it’s time you started a series on “RVing Nightmares”. Gordon Ramsey has done well with this idea in his Kitchen Nightmares series where he visits failing US restaurants, figures out what is wrong with them and usually fixes them to become profitable.

    I mention this because in almost all cases of these businesses being at the end of their financial ropes is the Owner(s) and/or the Head Chef’s stubborn convictions that what they think is more important that what their clientele thinks.

    In most cases, failure to care enough to even ask “Why?” is a clear sign of exactly where the problem is without further discussion.

  19. Nick, they, FMCA leadership, don’t get it. They are done. Stick a fork in em’…they can’t lower their standards quick enough to keep up with the RED ink.

    Its fun to watch them circle the drain. Such FUN!!!

    jiM Clint

  20. Sorry for the late post, BUT!!!!!! Our 1st Rally with FMCA was in Brooksville, and as newbe’s, the attitude and conduct displayed by the volunteers was not what we were expecting. There was 2 other rigs with us, needless to say that every e-mail address that I could get my hands on was used to send a very simple letter in a manner that was very understandable. Within the week, I received a telephone call from both the Executive Director and National President in addition to a number of e-mails. The very next rally was Perry, and there I again ran into a attitude from a officer of a chapter that we had joined in Brooksville. His thing was that only those parked with the chapter needed to know where the chapter was or when happy hour was. Needless to saw That chapter got blasted at the meet the FMCA Officers (A new event as a result of the e-mails from Brooksville). Also, if anyone has noticed, the FMCA golf carts will now pick you up take you to where u going, not just the handicap carts( another result of the e-mails).
    FMCA has a long way to go in regards to treating it’s members and vendors right. I was surprised at the last rally when the suggestion was made to form another FMCA club for Tow-ables, and after a day of talking how bad the money was, that the idea of the tow-ables was shot down, CAUSE WE ARE FAMILY MOTORHOME ASSOC. So, yes I fully understand the reasons for walking away, or as I did, and get involved cause at some point these old snow birds have got to fade away.
    marty

  21. Gee after reading these comments I am concerned as a long time FMCA member I can say you have a case of response from Cinn hdqtrs as I have, however the national rally’s I’ve attended left me with a bad taste as well and communications with executive director who has never returned one phone call
    However on the positive side the local state chapters are totally opposite as for example the Northern Lights of Michigan is very friendly, helpful, and people people.
    With having said all that I feel the benefits of FMCA membership is still a good thing. Find a chapter that fits your lifestyle and participate

  22. Silly me I was overseas with the military for several years and had sold my motorhome. It took a few years in a 1/5th wheel to convince me to return to a motor home. I have call FMCA 5 times to attempt to renew my membership and only get “leave your number and we will contact you” Well today is the third day of waiting so I will not be renewing or even thinking about renewing now.

    In the business world there is one thing and one thing only for success GOOD SERVICE. FMCA I would give you on a scale for 1~10 a -5 for good service and as a token of my appreciation I have a big plastic shredder that will soon have a oval shaped thing fed to it. Ciao and Bye Bye

  23. Has anyone tried using their medical insurance? We need HELP and are not getting it!

  24. Wow! For a post written in 2011, this one really has legs! Amazing to read through the comments over the years since then. Apparently not much has changed. Just purchased our new motorhome and was considering FMCA. Not so much any more, Thanks Nick!

  25. Interesting read to be sure! Thanks google;)

    Jeff Walukonis FMCA Under 60 Task Force

  26. Just made our first trip to Red Bay AL for service on our 06′ Phaeton and saw a number of coaches w the FMCA plate on them. Decided to Google “benefits of joining FMCA” and came across this thread. Based on the thoughtful post and subsequent responses I’ve decided the FMCA is not for us. Thanks for sharing and keep your friendly and positive attitudes going!

  27. I will have to say many of these comments were posted in 2011 when the Motorhome industry as well as FMCA were undergoing significant down turns.
    FMCA went from well over 120,000 members to less than 70,000. Dropping below 100,000 is traumatic if you are trying to publish a magazine.

    This is not meant as an excuse as FMCA does have structural issues that breed an organization that tends to be elitist in form. I believe this stems, in part, from parking layouts that gives certain people certain privilege in parking at Rallys.
    It is also represented at Rallys and in the magazine to some degree.

    FMCA’s membership demographics have drastically changed as Families migrated towards 5th wheels. The large class A demographics have moved to a 2 person unit that is mostly enjoyed by older retired couples…not Families.
    As we move forward with our choices on where to spend our money and our time I will say the benefits in the FMCA tire programs and the medical assist alone are worth the annual dues….even if you do not attend any Rallys or chapter functions.

    Last January I was asked to Chair what was called the Under 60 Task Force for FMCA. That “task force” is made up of 600 plus FMCA members who are tasked with shaping what we want our FMCA to look like.
    We have developed a core group of people who work issues. The name was changed to the FMCA ENERGIZED Task Force and at the recent West Springfield rally we unveiled FMCA ENERGIZED Events that all, regardless of age, are invited to attend. Having fun has no age limit.
    We have the ear and support of the current leadership as we try to help steer the ship towards calm waters.
    Does FMCA have problems?….sure….have they responded to our proposed help??? Absolutely.

    I would encourage any new motorhomers to join for a year….get the benefits of FMCA MEDICAL Assist and come to the Indisnapolis Rally in July 2017.

    Regardless of age check the box that says you are interested in U60 or Energized events. Come play with us and discuss what you like and don’t like.
    We can have fun helping navigate the ship…it’s our boat after all. We can get off and watch it sink or we can help save it and enjoy the future FMCA.

    Time will tell where the evolution and leadership of FMCA leads the organization.

    Jeff Walukonis
    Chairman FMCA ENERGIZED

  28. Linda and I have been members for about 8 years( #362595) been Perry rallies and California I go for seminars and entertainment both have been worth the money Linda enjoys the new motorhomes and girl things there have noticed less vendors last rally , no Cummins or freightliner, but still had plenty to get info for our travels full-time. Articles in magazine and tech advice is to me worth the dues no complaining

  29. I have been a member for seven years. I am an inventor and several years ago began working on a simple technology to solve my problem of backing up my Jeep when connected. I thought this might be something useful to others, a new product, but to generalize the design, I needed simple ground clearance information from a wide range of towables. I developed a means of measuring this distance in a few seconds, and explained to FMCA that I would like to ask permission to take the readings from as many towable owners as possible at the national rally in Madison. A day, and I would have the data I needed. The reply was absolutely not. It would seem like I was selling something. I assured them otherwise, but no shot. Not even with an FMCA member present. Without the data, the design risks being too constrained. There are other types of rallies such as Good Sam, but they have far fewer motorhomes; the data is too thin and scattered; not worth the time. I can back up my Jeep with my 43′ MH, back it around an intersection, back it down an s-curve. the device is simple, takes up about as much basement space as two storage bins. I’ve got mine. A bit of help with this might benefit members, but I’m not going to invest in tooling to cover 20% of the towables out there. Perhaps I need to go to Cincinnati and show them. But from what I’ve read here, I don’t know… There is no other practical way to collect the data. I was so sure they would support this.

  30. Well as a former member, I was “considering” rejoining; but, now think my money might be better spent buying the next 1/2 tank of diesel fuel, I think I understand why many local and regional folks receive positive accolades and the National guys do not. The one word answer is pretty simple, it is called “MONEY”. Do National officers pay their personal travel expenses to rallies, national hoop-las, etc. or is this a cost of FMCA doing business? Do their tax folks help them with write-offs for ownership that is job related. What other perks/benefits do they enjoy as part of their “compensation” package? Why is it that detailed P and L statements and balance sheets are not made readily available. When there is an election of officers why are their political credentials emphasized over their current and/or former technical/professional skills? In an election campaign why is there great emphasis on the spouse’s role—we are not electing a First Lady here are we?

    Back on a hillside in Hinckley Maine the initial concept of forming FMCA was above reproach. However, as with so many other things in life, bigness does not always translate into greatness.

    Ken Roberts………….

  31. I live in Cincinnati and have always wondered what FMCA was all about. Now that I have a Class A I was thinking about joining the organization. After reading this blog, not so much! I have to admit, many of the FMCA plates I see in campgrounds are on high end motor homes so that reinforces many of the comments above. I may still join for a year to give them the benefit of the doubt and see for myself.

  32. We tried 2 Florida local chapters and 3 separate outings. The last one to the Keys
    was unbelievable. The first night we were to meet on the beach, hardly anyone showed up including the host and hostess, the internal click decided to meet in the club house instead.No one would talk to us, the motor homes were scattered all over the camp ground. The pot luck dinner had the inner circle all lumped together and they just starred at us like we had leprosy. I felt like I walked into a wedding reception where I didn’t know anybody. These local chapters all come from small towns and probably are on the same bowling league. Don’t waste your time with these elitist clicky clubs.

  33. I was looking into joining, but after reading these messages, I don’t think it sounds very fun.

  34. I received an offer of a free 1 year membership from FLEETWOOD. I just purchased a 2018 35 ft Gas Class A which to us was a big investment! I have Good Sam and National General Insurance and I really don’t see the use of even sending in the card after reading these posts. I have joined a FACEBOOK group called “LIVING THE RV DREAM” and they seem to be very helpful and courteous! I have no intention of going to Anyone’s Rallies so the membership looks like a waste of time! IMHO

  35. I read a post on the iRV2 forum today about the FMCA and it’s recent member vote to allow any self contained RV join the organization.
    The vote was 2:1 in favour.
    That article prompted me to search out the FMCA web site.
    Must admit, I have found FMCA a very enlightening read today.
    We had considered joining the FMCA, but as many others have already stated, I don’t think this is the organization I want to be part of.
    Too many complaints, lack of management response, comments about elitist attitudes and a significant decline in membership.
    I already belong to another National organization and see many parallel issues.
    Declining membership seems to be addressed by opening to doors to anyone, simply to maintain the membership numbers and revenues.
    By doing so, it dilutes the focus on those who originally joined the organization.
    Very happy that I read this today, and have just saved $60.00 / year.

  36. I have to disagree with what Illinois Snowbird said. We attended a chapter outing with some friends who were members of that chapter and did not feel very welcomed. In fact they were rather rude during their meeting by repeatedly saying we were not eligible to vote.

  37. this thread was started back in 2011. Things have changed for the better at FMCA with new a new executive director and a new director of events. He is planning new things for the Perry GA rally in March.
    In addition many of the benefits ($69 towing, $49 unlimited Verizon, tire program, FMCA medical assist etc.) are worth the $60.

  38. Joined FMCA 6/24 – Couldn’t log into website with username and password to supply information FMCA said they had to receive. Here is my email to FMCA.
    I’ve just wasted over 30 minutes of my time trying to enter the information you requested.
    Your website locks up when I try to add my email address. Tried to call in and no one was
    available to speak with me. Tried chat function and was told your system is slow.
    This simply isn’t worth my time.
    Not sure I want to continue to waste my time with your company. After repeated emails back and forth I requested my membership be cancelled. FMCA policy is no refund except for a full 12 month period. So FMCA has my money and I get nothing in return. Poor customer service and certainly indicates what FMCA thinks of members.

  39. We joined spring of 2023 and only stayed at a few events. My wife and I are used to having a little privacy and room to do our own thing. Like hiking and traveling the area. We are not used to and will never again stay at a fairgrounds where your are packed in like sardines. We are going on 70 but full of life and piss and vinegar. We did not expect the FMCA to be a geriatric club! The folks were nice but we are not ready for sitting around all day passing the time.

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