RV Follow-Up

Feb 25, 2021

Yesterday’s “Caveat Emptor” feature kicked off a considerable amount of telephone calling, email traffic and general conversation. While reader response indicates my predicament with a broken RV component and no clear path to repair or resolution isn’t unusual, it seems to have caused manufacturers to at least recognize the fact that service after the sell is a sore spot with their customers.

Readers were quick to share their own horror stories. One told of a friend who had stopped taking his unit to the dealership. Instead, he was going to “truck repair shops where he had no problems getting repairs.”

Another recounted how his friend had a similar experience. On his initial trip, the leveling system didn’t work. He called the dealership and “got horrible service on the phone.” Angry, he returned to the dealership and in his words “convinced them to take the piece of crap back.” He went to another dealer in the area, bought a different kind of unit, and “several years later, has had no problems.”

This reader is in the manufacturing business, and offered another great observation: we are all part of the problem. How’s that? Because, for too many shoppers, “the ONLY thing that matters is a low price.”

He’s right. The fixation on price over service and product knowledge is why there are very few full-service small businesses. They’ve been driven out of everything from photography to sporting goods because of the consumer’s insistence on low prices over service.

He went on to point out that “normally” in those situations “savvy entrepreneurs enter the market and offer a product/service that others in the market don’t provide.” Consumers respond and the service void is filled. He also pointed out that in other areas (cell phones, airlines, rental cars to name a few) instead of one stepping up, they all were forced to the same low level of service because of the consumer insistence on the lowest possible price. Today, he observed, choices in those areas are “more a matter of a coin toss” than an informed choice.

In yesterday’s conversations, I learned that component RV manufacturers are actually moving toward the idea of creating “certified repair locations” independent of dealerships.

There are several reasons, including pent-up demand for service, but one is recognition (finally) that the current dealer situation doesn’t have much accountability. As it was explained to me “we do try to hold them to a standard of service, but we don’t havedirect influence over their scheduling and follow through.” One remedy is creation of a network of service centers authorized to do perform service for customers.

In the meantime, a conversation with Truma/Aquaglo revealed that the company has a repair/installation facility in their Elkhart, Indiana manufacturing facility. On Monday, I’ll be leaving in my “waterless” RV for Elkhart and a Tuesday repair appointment.

This isn’t a “free because you’re a media type” deal. Truma/Aquaglo owners can take advantage of their repair facilities -but you must make an appointment in advance. Appointments are limited, but the desire to keep their customers happy is encouraging.

From there, I’m headed to Dynamax to have a safety issue that wasn’t dealt with before I purchased the vehicle checked out.

It’s a precautionary thing, but since I’m already going to be there, why not, right? They’ve reopened their limited factory tours, so I’m hoping to actually see RVs being built. It should help me better understand how our motorhome operates, and all the various parts and pieces -from a variety of suppliers- come together to form what is a very complicated, albeit very small, house on wheels.

A little knowledge can avoid a lot of problems. I hope to get some useful insights to share with all our readers who are RV owners -turns out there are more of us than I knew.

And as always, we’ll keep you posted.

—Jim Shepherd