- 2018, there were more than 550,000 touring caravans
- There were 225,000 motorhomes in the UK in 2018
- The UK has more than 365 caravan holiday homes
- There are 2,500 caravan holiday parks in the UK
Have you ever thought about buying a static caravan on a holiday park in the UK for some quality family time? According to a report in 2018 there are more than 365,000 caravan holiday homes in the UK with people purchasing a static for quality family time. However, even though purchasing a static caravan was once seen as an affordable option for holidays and a great way to relax, one consumer rights activist is warning people to think twice before buying a static caravan.
Carole Keeble, a consumer rights activist fighting for change in the caravan industry has said purchasing a caravan could become a huge nightmare. The founder of PARK HOLIDAYS & OTHER PARKS, Unhappy Caravan Owners/Users ACTION GROUP which has over 7,000 members has said the caravan industry is not properly governed and at the present most holiday parks can to do what they want without any action being taken against them.
It is no secret that caravan holiday parks are receiving more complaints that ever before and more horror stories are being published in the media. Due to the negative press on purchasing a caravan on a holiday park and the high-profile work that Carole Keeble is doing to change the industry, caravan sales people are finding it harder than ever before to make a sale.
We decided to talk to the founder of PARK HOLIDAYS & OTHER PARKS, Unhappy Caravan Owners/Users ACTION GROUP and find out more about the caravan holiday park industry and her work in helping to change the industry for the better.
Carole Keeble, You run a popular Facebook page called Park Holidays and Other Parks, Unhappy Caravan Owners/Users Action Group, can you tell me what the Facebook group is about?
The group is about discussing and bringing to light, the information, issues, rulings, that are NOT given to people on purchasing a static caravan on a Holiday Park, but that are quite important.
Why did you decide to set up the Facebook Group?
We purchased a caravan on the Essex coast, only to find things were not all they seemed. When I challenged things on the Parks own pages, my posts were removed. I decided to set up my own page, so that could not happen.
Can you explain about the experience you had when you owned a static caravan?
We purchased a caravan on a Park close to home. It was a bolt hole, an escape from working from home. It wasn’t long before we realised that there were many, many people living on that Park, and when we questioned this, it seemed that it was the norm. Why would we want to purchase a caravan on a park with residents, when we lived in a residential area? I then began to dig deeper and on speaking with people, uncovered the fact, that many of these people had been miss-sold their caravans to live in – some even being told how to get themselves a local postal address.
There are more than 2,500 holiday parks in the UK, so why do you think this industry is widely ignored by the government?
The caravan industry has been self-governing for far too long, and those who do that job are very out of touch with what happens down at Park level. Complaints are shelved by Parks and the real stories, not allowed to leak out, until now.
Some Caravan Holiday Park owners have been described as a law to themselves, which means they are not governed and there are no strict rules that they must abide by, do you think this will ever change?
This industry very much needs to change. A Consumer industry, with multi-million-pound turnovers, but with no Customer Service Departments, in a world where people’s rights are supposed to matter?
One of the biggest complaints people have when they purchase a caravan are the lies they are told, can you explain some of the lies that you have come across?
One of the biggest blatant lies is the ‘Yes you can live on the Park, but just go away on holiday for the shut down period’, closely followed by the ‘You can keep your caravan on Park for as long as you wish, as long as bills are paid and it is kept tidy’.
Do you think some static caravan sales people take it upon themselves to tell these lies to make a sale or do you think this is part of their training and these instructions come from their management team or head office?
At first I believed this was just what happened on the Park I was on, Sales teams pushing for sales, to get a bigger commission. Once I had started my group and began to openly ask these questions, people would privately message me, to tell me this happened on many, many parks.
A lot of sales people claim their holiday parks have no age rules but when the person who has fell in love with their caravan sign the agreement they find this isn’t true, what do you think should be done about this?
Right now on many, many parks, there is a lack of clarity and transparency with what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what it isn’t… These fundamental, initial rules need to be made 100% clear BEFORE purchase, and unfortunately for the Consumer, that doesn’t happen.
Some caravans that offer a ten year pitch agreement with the claim they can stay longer if the caravan is kept in good condition are being sold for more than £26,000, do you think this is a wise investment for just ten years?
A static caravan on a Holiday Park is never a monetary investment. It is however a lifestyle investment. It is supposedly a place to go to relax, make lasting memories and enjoy getting away. But sadly for many it becomes a nightmare.
There are independent organisations covering the static caravan industry, but most caravan owners have no faith in them. Basically, people believe they make money from membership fees from caravan parks and are one sided with no real power, what are your thoughts on this?
The independent organisations were unaware of just how out of control this industry had become, until I sat at my PC and began to shout about the unfairness. That speaks volumes in itself. The Parks pay their membership fees to these organisations. It’s hard to envisage how the Self-Governing bodies can serve the Chiefs and the Indians, when the Chiefs pay them?
Would you like to see the government introduce an organisation that governs the static caravan industry?
There is currently an organisation in place that could so easily make a big difference with government backing. The NCC has been part of this industry for so very long, and were/are appalled at what has been happening, and what is being uncovered. BUT, they cannot do what is needed. If a Park miss-behaves, they leave the umbrella of the NCC, and there lies the problem… as was shown very recently, when one of the big Parks did just that, after being confronted with damning evidence.
On your Facebook page you mention a lot about the miss selling of caravans, can you explain what you mean by this and what people can do if they feel they have been miss sold a holiday home?
Miss selling can come under many different guises. A different year/age on paperwork to what the manufacturer is telling you. Telling you, you CAN live on Park, and then finding out you can’t. Telling you it’s a Holiday park, only to find people living there. Managing to get Finance for a caravan costing £70,000 when you are only getting a pension.
On the page, I have gathered information which enables the Caravan Owner to pursue various options if they feel they have been mis-sold. There are various ways to check things, and in some cases, which are of a very serious nature, there is legal input too.
I am able to point most people in the direction they need to take and the steps needed to get them there.
Carole Keeble, has said that she wants people to purchase a caravan with confidence and is determined to change the industry forever. She has said she will not stop until new laws are brought in and the caravan industry is cleaned up.
For people wishing to join Carole Keeble fight, and to join her consumer action group can visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1488700298019076/