Yesterday we started to scratch the surface of dissent and anger inside the Viper Club. Now, we've received emails from people who claim to be past and present Viper Club members, and they all echo the sentiments that we've heard. This is the Viper Club in their words.
Here's a selection of the emails we received after yesterday's post. As you'll see, they range in tone from big disappointment to incredible anger. We can vouch for none of what's said in these emails. We also received no emails in defense of the Viper Club, but invite anyone who feels differently to email us or leave a comment.
[I'm] a former member and sick of how things are now, after serving the club for many years and building those relationship with Dodge / SRT to advance the VCA and Dodge brand just to see them destroyed by the greed of a few. - Name withheld by request
Thanks for posting the story on the ridiculousness that is the Viper Club of America. My name is Andrew Wheeler and prior to owning my first Viper I was the Maryland State Event Coordinator on the Corvette Forum, and contributing photographer for both Vette, and Corvette Enthusiast Magazine for a few articles in 2009.
I purchased my first Viper in 2009 and joined the Viper Club of America and subsequently was also a wheel vendor for Forged Distributing on the Viper Club’s website. After an incident occurred where a rival sales person all but stole my identity on the site, I did what I could, to try and get new policies put into place so that a situation like this might not occur in the future. I received the single most aggressive phone call I have ever received in my life. Lee Stubberfield called me screaming for roughly 15 minutes straight, while my wife and I sat back listening to this National President rant on and on.
A month or so later after a Houston area member inquired in the Houston sub forum why some of us were not planning on attending a Holiday event, I remarked that it was because I wasn’t pleased with Lee’s response to the earlier run in I had with him. This comment is what initiated my lifetime ban from the VCA. We previously had been discussing the lack of financial information being released about the club. At this point many of the long-time members realized something was going on and Lee and the National Board were continually stalling on the release of the financials.
It was understanding that shortly after Lee took office that a document was sent forth, by National, to the Houston VCA that the club either chose not to sign or reluctantly signed at a later date, that was necessary to receive funds from the National level for the local chapter. Many of the local clubs long time contributing members are no longer a paying members of the VCA.
But at the end of the day we’re all asshole Viper owners anyways so maybe this is in some strange way part of the deal with the devil ;)
Hello, I was a VCA member from inception through 2009. The last 2 years of membership included multiple attempts to ascertain the internal club financials, understand the money trail and rid the club of the deceitful leadership. At the same time the national club was becoming overly secretive and alienating to all who did not accept their dealings at face value. As I was also a Chrysler employee I decided to terminate my membership rather than place my integrity at risk. The beginnings of VPoA was the final straw. Many, many unethical aspects to uncover if you dig deep enough. Suffice to say that the VCA has apparently been the sole source of 6 figure income for the Marshall family for several years. All under the guise of being volunteers for a not for profit club.
I am sure that a comprehensive assessment will lead you in the correct direction, and will also lead you to the internal dealings, which I am certain go beyond merely skirting IRS regulations.
P.S. to put a bit of humorous spin on it I posted the following on one of the Viper web sites in 2012 when the dirt on Chris Marshall, Lee Stubberfield, Bob Carroll, Marv Spatz. It should give good leads on the transgressions.
"Well let's see. If your intent was to find a way to siphon as much money out of a not for profit company you might:
1) Find a way to get members to increase the annual dues voluntarily (Venom membership)
2) Create a "for profit" sub company in your own name and create incorporation language that prevents transparency
3) Appoint yourself, family members and friends as the board of the for profit company
4) Work out a way to gain parts from the OEM at below market price, without an open or sealed bid process by slick talking and more
5) Work out a deal so your firend's warehouse could be used for part storage. thereby keeping inventory and all close by and out of sight
6) Fire the PR company and create your own for profit company (Coast to Coast) to replace them, with a family member as the owner/president. Use this firm to hire family members and be able to state the the VCA is not paying (directly) for any employees. Even lie about it and call everyone a volunteer.
7) Revise the function of the PR firm so that all advertising revenue goes to the PR firm direct with no oversight
Increase the pricetag of the magazine to increase the revenue stream to the personally owned PR company
9) Eliminate the major competition and prevent them from an equal opportunity in using the VCA webspace for advertising
10) Use the leverage of the club to cut exclusive deals with parts manufacturers to eliminate competition
11) Manage to maintain prototype parts for personal use/evaluation at no cost
12) Use the moderating power of the VCA site to eliminate any discussion that undermines any of the above
Not saying any of the above is true. But wouldn't that make for a perfect opportunity to fleece the Viper owners. Oops, I forgot one
13) Appoint yourself and your spouse as Hall of Fame inductees with your only claim to fame being the fleecing of the VCA."
Former member of the VCA, owned a '10 ACR from 2010 to 2012, and am currently in the market for another ACR or a '13. I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses to your article, because there have been many, many people for years working to try to expose how "creative" the VCA has been run and how tyrannical they've been with regards to paying members and outside vendors. I wasn't around when the dissent started, but certainly have seen the effects of it. The website ViperAlley.com was started in direct response to the way the official forums.ViperClub.com website was being ran, which to this day will delete any and all posts regarding any questions about how the club is run, or anything regarding the SRT letter that you have a copy of.
For many years, your first year's membership in the VCA was paid for by Dodge when you bought a Viper. That's no longer the case. Nor is the VCA linked or endorsed on SRT's web site, which is was up until recently. VCA was the flagship car club for the halo car of Dodge, yet it's now in the doghouse?!? That doesn't just happen overnight.
Car is absolutely fantastic. Dodge and SRT are really, really good in dealing with owners, whether they're in a club or not. Local chapters (I was in the Kentucky/Indiana chapter) are run transparently, and receive any money from National based on membership. As far as I know, regional clubs mainly got money for get togethers (open lunches), monthly meetings, track days, prizes for raffles or giveaways, etc There was a lot of money unaccounted for though, filtered through annual national raffles for rare or new Vipers. As I understood it, the raffles earned upwards of $200,000-250,000 and covered the cost of a roughly $100,000 car, leaving over half of the proceeds to go to the national club. Where that money went after that, no one knows. It's been hinted at very strongly for years that the raffles were illegal and needed to be further investigated, but nothing ever could be done. The money, it's been hinted at, paid for Mr. Marshall's salary.
Unfortunately, I'm just a low-level former owner and most of my news is from sites like Jalop. I was asked to be a regional officer in early '12, but I knew mine was on the sale block. Good luck with the investigation, though. I know a lot remains to be uncovered. The VCA used to (as I understood it) be THE club, the one you wanted to own a Viper to get membership to. It still is, but it needs to have its house cleaned up a little.
[Name Withheld by request]
Everything I've seen and heard leads me to believe that the national club is no longer about the cars or the people but rather about getting a select few rich. It's complete bullshit and I know that there are quite a few local clubs that have even talked about splitting off from the VCA and starting their own national club.
I'm a member of the national club but only because it gets me a substantial discount at Viper Parts of America which is about the only good place other than a dealer to get parts for my car.
It makes me incredibly happy to hear that Chrysler is just as fed up with them as I am and everyone else that I've talked to. I really hope either a new Chrysler-backed club forms or some major changes take place at VCA but I'm not too hopeful. :(
[Name withheld by request]
Do you have any experience with the VCA? Are you a current member? Vendor? Supplier? Email me at travis @ jalopnik. com with your story or leave a comment below.