immediate release -- Friday, August 1, 1997.
Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against
Adventures operates membership campgrounds near Marshalltown, Knoxville,
Osceola, and Lake Rathbun.
Campground Company Resolved
Attorney General Tom Miller said Friday that his office has resolved a consumer
fraud lawsuit brought against Thousand Adventures, Inc., a Nebraska-based
company that operates four membership campgrounds in Iowa near Marshalltown,
Knoxville, Osceola, and Lake Rathbun.
had alleged that Thousand Adventures made false and deceptive statements
about the value of memberships -- which typically cost consumers from
$3,000 to $6,000 -- and about consumers' ability to obtain refunds or
sell their memberships.
will remain open, and that's good," Miller said. "The company will change
numerous practices that violated Iowa's consumer fraud act, and it will
pay the State over $50,000 in penalties and costs of investigation, and
for consumer education."
Miller said a formal
consent judgment was filed Friday morning in Polk County District Court
in Des Moines. Under the agreement, Thousand Adventures is under court
order to resolve numerous complaints and alleged violations of the consumer
The consent judgment
also includes an enforcement "hammer," Miller said. The Court retains jurisdiction,
and, if the company violates the terms of the agreement, it can be ordered
to stop all business in Iowa, pay $200,000 to the State, and release customers
from their contracts.
Thousand Adventures must immediately cancel memberships and release
persons from further liability if they requested cancellation. The company
had denied such requests and continued to bill members. The company
also is obligated to make timely payments to customers who had re-sale
agreements, and to catch up on any past- due payments to customers.
- Changing terms
in contracts. Thousand Adventures is prohibited from unilaterally changing
any material terms in membership contracts. Iowans had complained that
the company had imposed unexpected, additional charges to members.
- Debt collection
practices. Thousand Adventures must avoid illegal debt collection practices
and correct unfavorable credit reports the company had generated with
credit reporting agencies.
- Consumer complaints.
Existing and future consumer complaints must be resolved within 30 days.
- Campground maintenance.
All facilities must be maintained in good and safe working order.
The company is prohibited from misrepresentations. Miller's suit had
alleged that the company touted new campground facilities that did not
exist, and misrepresented the quality or odds of receiving particular
gifts or prizes that were used as inducements for people to visit the
campgrounds and listen to sales pitches.
The consent judgment
does not resolve a private class action that is being pursued on behalf
of campground members by Douglas Napier, an attorney in Ft. Madison.
Miller said his office
believes that financial problems had led to numerous questionable practices
by the company that culminated in his office filing the consumer fraud
lawsuit last year. He said Thousand Adventures, which once operated about
fifty membership campgrounds around the nation, is expected to merge with
two other nationwide campground companies and operate as Travel America.
The terms of the consent judgment filed today will be binding on successor
companies, he said.
Inc., has over 5,000 members at its four Iowa facilities: R & R Ranch
near Osceola, Crabtree Resort southwest of Marshalltown, Hickory Ridge
Resort near Knoxville, and Rathbun Resort near Moravia and Rathbun Lake.
"I think we have
a solid judgment that protects everyone as best as possible," Miller said
"Most people will be able to continue to use the campgrounds. People who
want out can get out. And potential new customers will be protected from