Common respect, honesty and justice is all that everyone strives for as human beings on this planet. When an egregious wrong is done to a person, one would assume the respectable thing to do is offer a sincere apology and to make amends to the person wronged.
On the morning of Thursday December 8th, 2016, an egregious act of disrespect, dishonesty, and injustice was committed to a mother and her three young children and to date not only has she not received a single apology, but the powers to be are attempting to cover up any wrong doing with deceit.
On Thursday December 8th, Moon Afrykayn Aku pulled into Orange Blossom KOA in Orlando, Florida with her young children to utilize their shower facilities. Having previously called and utilized other KOA facilities and charged $6, she didn’t expect to be met with hostility from a place that promotes family fun!
By her own account these are the events that took place today:
My family and I have been traveling for some time. I was recently introduced to the KOA communities. I called ahead to see how much do they charge for showers. The KOAs in KY and just outside of Jacksonville charged $6 to use the showers.
We get to this KOA and they hadn’t opened yet and the box for registration didn’t have any forms to fill out. So I parked at the office which opened in 45 minutes and started to get our things together. I took my son the bathroom and I got my other children ready to use the bathroom as well.
I hear the door open and a woman started yelling at my daughter. I told her we wanted to use the showers and the laundromat.
She tells me I owe her $29 for using the shower. I said but we’ve been paying $6.
She informs me she is calling the police. This woman and another guy blocked my car in while they called the police stating we stole services.
After the police showed up she said she wanted the $6 for me using the shower we hadn’t used yet. Then drove off telling the police she wanted us off the her property.
This is a family friendly center? I have 3 children 1, 5 and 9 years old. How was calling the police friendly to us?
If I was trying to steal a shower why would I park at the office 45 minutes before they opened?
Moon reached out to KOA’s corporate office and was met with hostility and disdain as they told her “that line was for members only” and told not to call back and hung up. I took it upon myself to do some investigation into this matter and was shocked at the undignified behavior of the staff at KOA Orange Blossom in Orlando, Florida.
When calling the KOA in the days immediately following the incident, the phone either went directly to voicemail, or employees picked up and then hung up the phone. Not able to reach anyone on the local level I decided to try the corporate offices hoping to get some insight into the matter. I was highly disappointed by the response I received.
I identified myself and explained the reason for my call and the line went dead. I took it to be a dropped call and called back, the line now going to voicemail. I had no choice but to assume that they didn’t want to comment on the matter.
I spoke with Ms. Aku and asked her what she wanted the outcome to be from this situation and she stated that she “just wanted an apology and a refund of her money for the services she never received, but was forced to pay for”. That’s not an unfair request since as you can see from the video everyone was clothed and it was more than obvious that no showers were taken.
So I began my quest for justice once again, this time more fervently. After not having my calls answered, I began calling the Orange Blossom KOA using an App that issues you a random telephone number.
After several attempts success, I got an answer and I spoke with an employee by the name of “Holly”. I explained the reason for my call and states that I would like to speak with the manager.
She told me that couldn’t comment on the matter and that it was policy to only give out the email address for complaints. She said that she could take a message but that was it. I asked her for her manager and the owner’s name since this is a franchise park, and was told that it was policy to not give out that information either and hung up the phone.
Since I was unable to leave a message, I immediately called back and none of my return calls were answered. I decided to check with another area KOA to see if they were in the business of rude impolite customer service as well.
I called Southwest KOA also in the Orlando, Fl. Area and spoke with an employee whom I shall leave nameless. She pleasantly answered the phone and once hearing the reason for my call became apologetic that Ms. Aku and her children had undergone such treatment. She stated that she was unaware of the situation, and even though it was not there facility she could take my name and pass it on to her manager Matt Koromhas. I declined but asked her what the policy was for shower facilities for the KOAs.
She stated that “Franchise parks are allowed to set their own park rules but they had a set of standard policies and rules that they must follow to be a KOA of America Franchise and use the name”.
I was interested in knowing if their standard was the repetitive rudeness I and many other customers encountered at their parks. If you do a Google or Yelp search of KOA you see mixed reviews on their site. Many speak of outlandish behavior of the staff, but the general tone is the level of rude dismissive treatment to customers. For a business that promotes “Family Fun” why is disrespect and rudeness a common occurrence.
I reached out to the KOA corporate offices again this time emailing Mike Gast their VP of Communications. I received no reply so I called him several times. On my last attempt, I was able to speak with Mr. Gast who told me he was aware of the situation and that he had seen the video.
He stated that “he could see that the woman in the video was upset because she had been asked to leave because she was on the property “illegally”. When asked about Ms. Aku’s options to do an after-hour check in, and her inability to do so due to a lack of forms being available, he stated that “This facility doesn’t have after-hour check in”.
So I pressed, asking if they didn’t have after hour check in, why would they have a box posted for after-hour forms?
He stated that “this was really an issue of a woman trespassing and then becoming upset when asked to leave”. I asked why she was charged for services that weren’t provided? Mr. Gast stated that “The Police officers interpretation was that the showers/water had been turned on”.
So I asked if they were then charging her for usage of the facilities, why were her and the children then not allowed to complete their showers? He again reiterated that “it was the officers interpretation that the showers/water had been turned on” . And since he wasn’t physically there to see how far they had gotten in their grooming he had to rely on the discretion of the officer. He also states that KOAs policy is that their facilities are for campground guests and their visitors. I guess my question for KOA is, don’t guests have the right to use faculties that they have paid for?
I am wondering how Mr. Gast is relying on an officer’s information when, in speaking to Ms. Aku, we called the police department to get a copy of the police report and none exists. A police report was never even written up about the incident, nor filed.
To be clear on the matter, Ms. Aku always intended to register as a After-hour guest and pay the $6 daily usage fee.
This is simply a case of doing the right thing and issuing a simple I am sorry which they refuse to do. In the case of Kampgrounds of America they apparently believe the right thing to do in a family friendly environment is to call the police on a mother and her children and use them to extract funds for services not rendered.
Shame on you KOA of America we are all now watching you! If you would like to contact Mike Gast and let him know you would like to see an apology issued to Ms. Aku and a refund issued his email address is M.firstname.lastname@example.org
You can watch the ill treatment of a mother and her young children here
Editor’s Addendum: Ms. Aku is a documentary film maker on a cross country trek. The film project is “The History of My Chocolate Milk”. For more information about her, please visit her site