About RVtravel.com and our challenges

50

 

By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR
March 13, 2017
I received a letter recently from a reader named Bob, who wrote: “Maybe it’s just me, but the routine negative tenor of your editorial is a bit tiring. Please consider an occasional upbeat topic. Great newsletter though.”

Yes, I realize I have been negative at times. I’ve done a lot of thinking about that. But I’ve concluded that I feel compelled to report to you, as an avid observer of the RV industry, what I know about what’s going on that affects you and me. There’s plenty of good, of course, but some bad, too. And that “bad” will seldom get mentioned in any other website or periodical aimed at RV consumers — except RVtravel.com. And that’s where the “negative” comes in.

We’re the only voice that I know of that honestly addresses the issues of  RVers week after week. We don’t sugar coat what we write to sell advertising. I believe most readers appreciate that, even though I may come across as “negative” at times.

If you have read this newsletter for long, you know that there is no major organization that represents the interests of RVers in Congress and state legislatures. The Good Sam Club used to, but no more. The only organization that even comes close is the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). But its loyalty is to RV manufacturers, not you and me.

Take lemon laws: The RVIA fights to defeat them whenever they are proposed in state legislatures. Why? Because if those laws should pass they’d cost their members a bundle replacing the defective RVs. In most states today, if you buy an RV that cannot be fixed, “tough luck.” You’re stuck! Who will buy it? Have fun paying off your 20-year loan.

And that makes me really, really mad! That’s “negative,” I suppose.

I get letters from readers who have been stuck with lemons. “How can it be right that I bought a brand new RV that is so riddled with defects it can’t be fixed, and there is no lemon law to have it replaced like there is with cars?”

Will you read about this subject in any other RV website or periodical? No way! They have advertisers to please! Do they care, that with close to a half million new RVers on the road each year, there just might be a crisis in campsite availability? I just researched reserving a campsite next week for five nights at the popular Watchman Campground in Zion National Park. Of course, I was dreaming: there was nothing available for five months! The last time I visited (it was years ago), I showed up and easily found a space. Somehow, with 1,200 new RVs rolling off the assembly lines each and every DAY, the RV and camping industries must find a way to increase camping opportunities!

And just as more campsites are needed, KOA, the largest chain of campgrounds, is removing campsites to put in cabins. Why? It’s more profitable to rent a cabin than a campsite! Net result: fewer campsites for you and me. I don’t blame KOA franchise owners for doing this: It makes business sense. But it’s not helping you and I find campsites any easier.

And to get an idea of campsite availability. Consider that KOA, with 500 locations, has a total of only 70,000 campsites. And now consider that about 550,000 new RVs are projected to be sold in 2017. Where will they (and you and me) stay? In this month’s issue of Woodall’s Campground Management magazine, KOA President and CEO Pat Hittmeier advised, “if your experience is that ‘I’m having trouble getting a reservation,’ the thing to do is reserve sooner.” 

That’s real nice for those of us who very often already need to book months, even a year ahead, to get a reservation in popular campground.

I met last week with the leaders of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). To reverse its declining memberships, it’s likely the club will need to admit owners of towable RVs. In our closed meeting, I lobbied that the organization begin actively representing the concerns of all RVers. For example, fight for lemon laws, not just stand aside and do nothing. FMCA could do some real good, and I think many RVers would join simply to support that voice.

 

Our goal is always the same: be more valuable to you with each passing week. Who else keeps you posted on RV recalls or tells you about how an RV hot skin condition can severely injure or kill you? I know we have saved lives because of Mike Sokol’s articles about this. As you read this weekend’s issue, pay attention to the nationally known experts who offer their advice. Who else brings together so many highly qualified voices in one place, all to make your RVing better … and, very important, safer?

If you have not pledged a one-time or ongoing monthly subscription to this newsletter, please consider doing so. Click here to see the many options. Sure, you can continue to read for free: But if you really believe we are doing a good thing here, we would hugely appreciate your contribution, big or small. 

And please take a few minutes to tell your friends about us and urge them to sign up for the weekly email reminder.

With close to a half million RVs being cranked out this coming year (a record) you can expect more quality issues with those RVs, more problems getting service, and more problems finding campsites. We’ll do our best to try to affect change that saves you money and makes your RVing lives better.

And for the record, and to end on a positive note, I still love RVing just as much as when I began 35 years ago. I am simply fortunate to be in a position of influence where, with the help of my staff, I can help improve the lives of many of my fellow RV enthusiasts. Sometimes, alas, that may make me appear “negative.”

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Jane Ayers
3 years ago

I will add to all the thank you’s. I have made a donation.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
3 years ago
Reply to  Jane Ayers

And we thank you, Jane, very much. And a huge thanks to all of our readers who so generously donate, in whatever amount. We sincerely appreciate it and will continue to improve and expand on what we bring to you — while doing what we thoroughly enjoy! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Jerry
3 years ago

If I had read your letter before I purchased my class A I’m sure I would have made better decisions. You are spot on with your articles especially when our safety is concerned. I always thought used car salesmen were unsavory. They can’t hold a light to some of the unethical practices used by the RV industry, from the manufacturers to some salesmen and service providers. I have been lucky, we have a local truck sales and service center that will service and repair RV’s.
To date I have spent $10,000.00 plus to improve handling and sound proofing.
Keep up the good work.

Debbie A Hansen
3 years ago

I got wind of your wonderful RV newsletter. As a somewhat newbie this year will be my second year owner 😉 I find all your information informative and appreciate it ALL the good the bad and the ugly. In these times of “political correctness” I find it refreshing to hear what some folks are calling “negative” in order to make informed choices one needs to hear both sides of the story not to mention that you are advocating for RV’rs . Thanks for what you do I just made a donation a couple of nights ago! Keep being “negative” or what I consider just being honest.

Dan Bakke
3 years ago

Hey Chuck, I’ve been reading the RVtravel.com newsletter every Satrday for I don’t know how long. There was a problem with getting it starting about a year ago and all of a sudden I wasn’t getting them anymore. I thought that RVtravel ended but the real problem seemed to be when support was lost for Windows XP. We upgraded to windows 10 and I hate it! I checked with our local internet email support and found out that RVtravel was going in the trash every week! Shoot! So finally I’m back on board.
Wondering how many others have had that issue? One thing is that when I get the email from RVtravel every Saturday morning and open it up ….it is really hard to get [myself] off the computer. So much rich information! Thank You Chuck! Great Job!

Lorin Turner
3 years ago

We are new to this lifestyle and are very thankful for this newsletter and all of the valuable information on it. Sometimes the truth hurts but we all need to hear it. Thanks for your approach and willingness to deliver the good, the bad and the ugly.

julie schneider
3 years ago

I wonder if you could charge for sale or wanted ads? I know we had a brand new j couch from our RV that we didnt want and there really isnt anywhere that you can post a RV part or equipment item. Just a thought…probably one you have already had! this is a great newsletter and we will be sending a subscription fee. Thank you!

Austin
3 years ago

Chuck, you’re doing a masterful job. Keep up the good work.

Donna & Bob
3 years ago

I have enjoyed your newsletter for a dozen years now. The articles are always very informative. If it weren’t for you and your honesty, we’d have probably went out a bought a new Motorhome. Family members bought a new 2015 and had nothing but problems that the dealer service dept. could never remedy. We have decided to hang onto our 2006 Winnebago 38 foot Adventurer. We love it.!! We make an automatic monthly contribution to the Newsletter.. Thank you for the great Newsletter.

Tom Bender
3 years ago

Oklahoma is considering closing about six state parks. They cut taxes so much for the most fortunate we have no funds for education, Medicaid, higher education or any program to help the least fortunate.

jerry williams
3 years ago

Afternoon Chuck. Been reading a lot of your pages. I am a newbie, looking to retire next year. Thanks for good work.

Henry Bradford
3 years ago

I live and camp mostly here in Colorado. I also look forward to your Saturday post. I don’t feel you are reporting negative vibes. If people can’t understand the shape and caliber of service we are getting today from the R.V. Industry just Google Camping World or another R.V. Company. You can even Google Co. Springs, CO. Camping Word and read the pure anger people have in this area towards Camping World. Had a very bad black mold issue with a used camper after only a month and they refused to help me. I bought as is. That’s your signature isn’t it? Guess you now have a handyman special. Who wants to hear responses like that when your asking for help. I think peoples attitude would be different if they took out a $11,000 used R.V. loan and later find out half your R,V, is infested with toxic black mold. Can’t buy a new R.V. and now I can’t buy a used R.V.
PS: I tried to set up a monthly credit card donation but couldn’t see which option that would work. Also tried to link to the Amazon Home Page and when I click on my account it stated that the web site didn’t exist.

Nels
3 years ago

As long as your negativity keeps the industry on its’ toes, keep up the good work. Actually, I find it refreshing to read the truth about these things. I also have the Amazon Canada link bookmarked. Please keep up the great reporting and stories.

Jim & Zona
3 years ago

Please continue your excellent reporting, it is very welcomed & appreciated. The ‘truth’ is something we all need & want to read & hear so, Thanks
Jim & Zona

Marilyn Sanborn
3 years ago

Well Chuck, I never thought of your articles as negative but rather informative. I am the type that likes the honest news and not something that is sugar coated. Keep up the great work Chuck, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, just some of the people some of the time.

Mary Jordan
3 years ago

Chuck, Bob was right . If you go back and read a year or two of your editorials and than go pull out any printed copy of your RV newspaper we used to subscribe to, you have gotten quite grumpy in your old age. Once in a while something up beat?? Poor Bob you jumped on him with your problems. Is there any joy in your life? Can’t get a reservation, can’t get a pull thru roads are too narrow . Steak overdone? Life ‘s a bitch than you die but I can read that on Fox News. An occasional glimmer of hope, please. Overcome. Conquer. Thrive.

..

greg
3 years ago

Thank you Chuck for being our voice reporting the good and the bad news in the RV industry. I will disagree with you on one opinion you had on the Host truck camper. I am in the process of downsizing from a 36 foot fifth wheel to a triple slide truck camper. I am a full timer and I find the truck camper definitely better to suit my needs then a Class C or B. I was considering a 38 foot Class A but I decided I would be happier to try something smaller that would give me different camping experiences I could not do with a Class A. I am keeping my fifth wheel for a while and maybe make it a home base with in case miss the extra space from time to time. Only time will tell.

elaine ashton
3 years ago

Just sent a contribution to RV Travels … and sure hope Chuck will be able to continue this publication. Sad to hear what’s going on in the RV industry and even more sad about the parks. Maybe most of all — THANK YOU FOR YOUR HONESTY … and I don’t think you are negative one bit … the truth is the truth … even if we don’t like to hear it.

Bob Reddington
3 years ago

I’m a big fan of you and your newsletter and have read it for years so I mean this kindly. Watching you asking for donations every week makes me uncomfortable and is somewhat demeaning to you. Your newsletter has value, all the more so since you’ve stepped up your editorials on RV quality, and people should pay for it. I’ve “donated” a couple of times but I don’t remember when another donation might be due and besides, as I’ve said, it doesn’t feel right. Apparently 97% of your readers have a reason for not contributing. If $25 a year from 3% of your readers helps, $5 or $10 as a subscription from everyone would surely make a difference. I’m sure there are reasons you haven’t taken this obvious step but I hope you’ll reconsider. Your newsletter is informative and entertaining and is worth more to me than several other things I subscribe or belong to.

Bob Reddington
3 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Thanks for responding Chuck. But my main question was why not put a price on a product people value rather than leave it voluntary?

Joe Schmidt
3 years ago

Chuck,
Sue and I hear ya’! Money is almost always the most common, common denominator. We have a voluntary subscription because we do enjoy your newsletter. It’s time to send in another… but I have something to offer which you are already familiar with, that is actually of much greater value than a subscription; At no cost or strings attached but one …. free publishing rights for one year to “Joe Schmidt’s favorite Winding Roads Cartoon Strips” that I send to you.

I retired from teaching high school Art/Animation in 2005 and two years ago from almost 30 years of freelance cartoon publishing. The cartoons now just sit on my hard drive. It would be fun to see them out where RVers could again enjoy them… and be another reason for new subcriptions to RV travel.

“If” you find this to be an agreeable situation, I will pick out an initial number of my favorite cartoons. Hopefully you and your readers will enjoy seeing them. We will all know this verified by publishing them regularly. I will would then send more with the same agreement for free.

The ball is in your court…
Joe

T

Ian Anderson
3 years ago

Chuck, just a BIG THANK YOU from a Canadian!!!!!!!!!!!!!