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Is RVer on the hook for storage charges while waiting for repairs?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Update, 11/10/2021: Owasco RV Centre has reached out to RVtravel.com regarding this story. Management tells us that they’ve been in contact with the RVer mentioned in this story, and that “miscommunication” led to misunderstanding of his situation with the company. They also made it clear that the customer has not been charged any storage fees. We’ve reached out to the RVer for further information.

It’s one of those nightmare scenarios. Your brand-new RV turns up with serious problems. You send it back to the dealer for repairs. Months pass, and it still isn’t fixed. To add insult to injury, the dealer lets you know that you’re on the hook for the “RV storage fees” – which began running even before the repairs were made.

We wish we could just say this was somebody’s nightmare that they woke up from. After wiping away that cold sweat, they could sigh in relief and say, “It was only a dream!” But for RVtravel.com reader David R., he can’t wake up from the nightmare – it’s a real-life scenario.

Seeds of a nightmare

David bought a new RV from Owasco RV Centre in Bowmanville, Ontario. When making his delivery walk-through, David noticed a few problems that needed attention – repairs and adjustments. Like everyone says, these are the kinds of things that should have been caught by the factory, but, hey, it happens. Owasco’s service folks told David they’d set the problems right and deliver the rig to him. That was a nice gesture, as David lives two hours from Owasco’s facility.

When the “repaired” rig turned up, it didn’t take long to find a few more problems. Side panels from the bed detached. The refrigerator wouldn’t refrigerate. On opening the oven door, the handle fell off. The skylight cracked. Needless to say, David wasn’t particularly happy. He made the two-hour trip back to Bowmanville and turned the rig over to Owasco for more repair work.

That was four months ago. He still hasn’t got his “new” RV back. And, David tells us, Owasco is charging him $10 a day “RV storage fees” with the clock running from the day he took the rig back. Yes, he’s welcome to come and get the rig and take it home anytime. David appealed to us for help.

Dealer responds

We reached out to Owasco RV Centre – making several telephone calls. The first thing we noticed was that once you get past the receptionist, things get a bit dicey. The sales manager’s phone goes to voice mail. The service department doesn’t answer the phone. Instead, a voice mail warns you that Owasco is in their “busy season,” and it could be a couple of days before they return a call. The general manager’s voice mail is polite, but off-putting. After several days passed without getting a call back, we fired off an e-mail asking for help.

General Manager Amy Verwey sent us an apologetic email, asking for more detail. When we laid out David’s concerns, we got a quick response. “Due to privacy issues,” returned Amy, “we are unable to share any customer details with you.” She did say she saw “no complaint on file,” and that we should simply have David reach out to Owasco.

We pressed on, in generic terms. Did Owasco really charge customers RV storage fees? We could understand a storage fee if a job was completed and the customer dallied in picking up the repaired unit. But fees while the customer waited for the company to do the work? “We do offer storage to our clients as a convenience,” Verwey wrote. “At times there are situations where clients choose to leave their units with us for an extended period of time versus transporting it. Whether it be dropping off early for a service appointment, storing for a few days after a repair completion until its convenient for them to pick up, or storing with us between repairs if there is a long wait for part(s) arrival.”

Is he really on the hook for RV storage fees?

It’s hard to imagine “If there is a long wait for part(s) arrival” that a dealer would deign to hit an RVer with storage fees. In any event, if David’s situation is as bleak as it seems, he’s already up to $1,200 in storage fees – and counting.

Or is he? We ran the situation past Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. Laura Boback, an agency representative, writes: “A repair shop cannot charge for tow and storage services that the consumer did not authorize, including storage fees in advance.” She adds that a customer must be given a written estimate of repair charges. Here’s where things get a bit sticky: Since David’s repair work should have been under warranty, then there’s no way he should have to pay anything for the repairs. He tells us that he never signed any paperwork with the dealership.

Since Owasco RV won’t talk to us about David’s case, we’re stymied. We did give David information on how he can file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario if he feels that Owasco has violated his rights. We hope that Owasco will get the work done soon, and turn the rig back to him with no charges attached. If not, he may end up with a longer ordeal involving government intervention.

Takeaways for all of us

What’s the takeaway? For RVers, it would seem reasonable to expect several things. First, that you’ll get your rig back in a reasonable amount of time. Second, that as long as the rig is waiting for the dealer to do the job, there shouldn’t be “RV storage fees” levied. After all, it’s not the customer’s fault the job isn’t being done.

But it’s far from a perfect world. If you have to take your rig in for service, be it in or out of warranty, ASK questions. Find out if the dealer is planning on levying charges for storage. How much? How are the charges calculated – that is, when do they start? You may find it less expensive in the long run to go to a higher-priced shop that doesn’t burden the RVer with storage charges.

And, by all means, don’t be pressured to sign something that you haven’t read completely (and understand), or, worse still, to sign a repair order that’s blank.

Got a problem with an RV dealer or support service? Let us know. Fill out the form below, and add “Consumer Problem” in the subject line. We’ll do what we can to help.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

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Carson Axtell
2 months ago

According to my very brief Google search, there are at least three associations to represent each of the parties in the RV field: The RV Industry Association (RVIA) for manufacturers, the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) for RV dealers, and the National RV Owners Association (NRVOA) for RV owners. Of these, only the RVIA seems to be funded well enough to guard the interests of its members through legal, lobbying, and legislative efforts. The RVDA and the NRVOA both seem to be much less effective at promoting and guarding the interests of their members by comparison, probably due to a lack of funding and a general reluctance on the part of supposed members in supporting these associations. Bottomline: A small, well organized and supported group will always prevail over larger, less well organized groups of opponents, just the way a cohesive pack of wolves can be certain to successfully prey on larger herds of animals that operate on the principle of “everyone for himself”.

Joe Balaz
2 months ago

I live 5 minutes from Owasco and I don’t buy from them. They recently moved to a rural location with ‘tons’ of room. I have experienced this phone tag business there. I would hope that Dave just didn’t decide to drop it off to get fixed without ensuring any parts were there or appointment. Just the fact that rvtravel couldn’t get a straight answer is sad. Privacy my *ss. You should have set up a conference call with Dave and OWASCO and RVTravel. Don’t they know local Canadians read newsletters like this one? Obviously, on more than one level, they don’t care. Dave, if you are reading this, call Pat Foran from CTV news Toronto. He does consumer advocacy followups.

Pierre Woody
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe Balaz

Thumbs up Joe!

american cupcake
2 months ago

isnt the rv industry infested with fleas?

Retired Firefighter Tom
2 months ago

My former RV dealer [recently sold to a large network] charges $10/day after repairs are completed and after day 7 of being notified that the RV is ready for pickup. Reasonable, I think. But to charge the customer when they haven’t done a thing is a new low for dealers.

Vanessa Simmons
2 months ago

If I had a new RV with issues to be repaired under warranty, I would take it in and have them check it out and order the parts and if there is nothing keeping me from using the RV I’d pick it up and continue to camp. Make sure you get paperwork showing the parts are on order. When the dealer/shop calls and says they have the parts I’d then take it in and give a NLT date for the work to be completed. Don’t be a rug that they walk all over.

John_Brown
2 months ago

 Burdge says there are nine words that should be handwritten,
 by the dealer, into any sales contract you sign.
 “We give buyer a 24-hour warranty against defects.” Why that phrase?

 Under federal law, in most states, such a statement forces the seller into an implied warranty of merchantability.

 In those states, the dealer is on the hook for taking care of the seller, not just for 24 hours,
 but for four YEARS. But, again, the dealer must write this into the contract.

 https://www.rvtravel.com/rvers-responsible-poor-quality-rvs-1021b/

Steve Murray
2 months ago

Before you even set foot on the Dealership’s lot you should place some Dummy Phone Calls to see how they treat you when you buy.
No Answer? No Call Back’? Fuggedabout it. Don’t buy from these people!..
Always have a Lawyer Review your Doc’s. The Dealership does.
These things cost $20,000 -$2,000,000! Shame on people for not walking away from Bad Deals and Crap Dealerships.

Bruce
2 months ago

I’ve been thinking about trading up to maybe a 5th wheel from my 19’ Epro but when reading all the horror stories folks go through with what seems every brand of campers out there, I’ll stick with what I have for now. At least the bugs have been fixed for the most part. It’s nothing new and blaming Covid and workers is not a good answer. It may be worse today than in the past, but the industry as a whole has always left much to be desired. If the auto and truck industry was this bad we wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere with all the vehicles littered on the roads broken down. Dealers need to push back but they’re scared they’ll just get cut off on deliveries of units for sale so they roll over

Ray
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

Agreed. I had planned to trade-in/sell my 5th wheel in the 7th year of ownership. Now, one year out, I’m inclined to keep it. Even after about 50,000 miles of towing it’s reliable and I’m confortable with it. The risk/reward invovlved in buying a new one today at double the price and 3 times the anguish is not worth the effort. Thanks for making this decision easier industry.

Jesse Crouse
2 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Agreed. My 2006 Tiffin Phaeton DP is looking better every time I read about these problems. I just spent a weekend washing, waxing and getting ready for winterizing the old gal. She runs better and looks better than 75% of what’s the same age or newer. Take care of it and it will take care of you.

Tim
2 months ago

Buyers need to turn the tables on the dealers and fight them on their terms.
Buying a new rv (or even used), make the dealer sign that if your rv breaks down they will fix it within a certain time frame or else they start paying you penalty fees. It gets me that dealers say they don’t have the parts and are waiting and that’s why your rv isn’t fixed. Yet there you go and look on eBay or Amazon or some other online sales source and surprise! companies have the parts you need for your rv for sale. Make the dealer buy those warranty parts to get your rv back on the road and let THEM fight the manufacturer to get reimbursed for them.

Kaeleen Buckingham
2 months ago

Crapping World tried to do this to us. I told them in no uncertain terms were we paying it. They had our MH for 3 months and then wanted to charge storage fees when it would be 3 DAYS before we could pick it up!

Rebecca
2 months ago

Crapping World, 😂😂😂. What an accurate description. Love it!

Mark Gilley
2 months ago

The best way I have found to fix things is to contact your state attorney general’s office when you have exhausted all means of common sense. I had to do this on several things that went wrong, and they were fixed promptly. We all have the right to fair treatment under the law of the land.

Bob
2 months ago

Sending emails is a better way to contact the dealer after the phone calls were not returned. He would have a record of “SENT” emails. Of course a lot of dealers only have customer contact through the website and then there is no record of a sent message, or they could say they never received them.
Contacting consumer protection is a last resort, but that can take weeks or even months to get a response. Then you have to hope the dealership responds to consumer protection.
Depending on the manufacturer, they may or may not be of help. The dealer can deny knowing of the problem or turn it around and blame the customer.
I had this problem with a Forest River TT. The dealer told me to contact FR and FR told me to contact the dealer.

Leonard Rempel
2 months ago

WOW, what a sleezy dealership! To think I looked at buying my RV from them, but they did not have the exact unit I wanted. Not that the dealer I eventually bought my RV from is perfect, but holy cow!
The big takeaway for anyone buying an RV is a thorough walkthrough before accepting delivery. Do not be rushed by the delivery team. We had a couple of issues when we did our walkthrough and would not accept delivery until everything was completed.
Since then, only a few minor problems came up under warranty that we were able to fix ourselves, so no return to the dealership.
Moral of the story: Inspect what is important and whatever is important, inspect!

friz
2 months ago

No mention of Dave doing a “walk through” when he accepted the RV. Mistake. Also apparently closing their borders for a year did not protect them against the spread of Sleaziness. No “paperwork”. Typical answer from a bureaucrat. What about the “warranty”? Is it not a legal document (paperwork)? I would think the dealer wrote a service order when he took in the RV. Attach the warranty to it. Is that enough paperwork for you?

Stephen Malochleb
2 months ago

I would agree that he should file a counter suit for not being able to use his rig. I would add a stress clause as well as unfair business practice . I would go 1 step further if he did not pay in full and financed it, I would seek payment and interest charges. I know it may not fly but at least it would let the dealer know he’s not going to be bullied. I also bet they don’t fix it right either. And social media about the affair will certainly affect their business.

Seann Fox
2 months ago

I’d send the dealer bill for $500 a day lack of use charge

Richard G.
2 months ago

Never, ever, pay for the rig without having it professionally inspected first. Once they have your money, you have lost all leverage and you are relying on their eagerness to please a customer they may never see again. You did not mention the manufacturer, but sometime they may help if the customer is squeaky enough and the issues are egregious.

JOSEPH GO
2 months ago

the brave new world good ole honesty out the window sorry to say, even in Canada wow……