Monday, September 27, 2021

MENU

Is expecting good customer service in the RV industry too much to ask?

I remember my dad’s parting words as he dropped me off for my very first paying job. I was hired to babysit my cousins for the summer. Even though I was just 12 years old, I still remember Dad’s words as clearly as if he was speaking now: “Do your best.” Those three simple words have helped form my work ethic ever since.

If my dad could talk to the RV industry today, I’d love to hear what he’d say to the designers, manufacturer line workers, salespeople, service mechanics, and everyone else who has a hand in cranking out and repairing RV after RV.

Do your best

If every person did their best, what would our RVs be like? We wouldn’t have to worry about parts falling off or wearing out before we’ve finished our first trip. We could count on correctly connected electrical and plumbing lines and appliances mounted with safety and functionality in mind. And we’d know that every detail of our rig was checked and rechecked until everything was done right.

What RVers want

A while back we asked our readers, “What would you tell RV manufacturers if you could talk to them?” Many, many people addressed the quality, pride, and attention to detail that seems to be lacking within the RV industry. In the mad rush to make as many rigs as possible, quality suffers. Yes, the demand for RVs is overwhelming. But these rigs are traveling on our highways and through our towns. More and more people are living full-time in RVs. Companies must take responsibility for the safety and durability of their products.

Customer service

Along with quality issues, several readers lamented poor customer service. “It’s all good,” said RJ. “Until you need something fixed. Then the dealership seems to forget that I was the one who paid big bucks for the rig they sold me.”

Remember “The customer is always right?” Or “Service after the sale?” These words seem to have lost their meaning. We just had our RV checked. After a bit of negotiation, it was determined that the warranty would indeed pay for the needed part. However, labor costs were not covered. Our labor bill? More than $700! This after the dealership had our rig for seven weeks in the height of the travel season! I understand that the demand for repairs is high and I believe that mechanics should be paid a fair wage, but I doubt that my primary care physician earns $190 per hour. I could be wrong, but gosh! The hourly rate seems very high! I’m happy the landing jack is fixed, but did I mention that they still don’t know why the dryer (that they installed) keeps tripping the breaker?!

Who’s responsible?

Where does the buck stop? I asked our dealership. The harried gal at the service desk seemed intent on processing my payment and moving on to her next customer. I talked to the salesman who sold us the RV. He couldn’t talk right then. He had a client coming in. The guys in the service bays haven’t had time off in weeks, and get daily pressure from bosses to “move it along!” Everyone seemed stressed. I’m sorry they’re stressed, but I’m stressed too! When you pay so much and get little in return, it’s disheartening.

Are we asking too much?

Work ethic. Pride in workmanship. Customer service. All these phrases mean little if they are not backed up by competent, devoted folks who honestly care about their industry. All that RVers want is a fair deal for a quality rig that, with affordable maintenance, will last.

Is that too much to ask?

Related:

RV service centers and stores are out of parts. Now what?

##RVT1010

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

26 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mary
2 months ago

General RV has great customer service. Make an appointment and that is the day they will look at it fix it or do the service, or they will tell you when they can if it is more extensive. Love General RV Grand Rapids MI they have other General stores in the midwest.

KevinS
2 months ago

You r not asking to much. I’ve tried paying more to get a better product. It doesn’t work. We’re told it’s because the units are trailers down the road. I have a boat that I trailer long distances. If it was made a an rv it would have sank long ago.

Scott Ellis
2 months ago

“Your best” takes time. How much more are you willing to pay for your RV?

I can’t imagine being happy with any RV that you’re not ready to fix and capable of fixing yourself.

Mike
2 months ago

I think you have spoken for the majority of RVers. We have lost so many important qualities in this country. When did we forget how to include quality and pride into what we do? Call me old, but I was raised to try for a much higher standard than what we see today. Sad.

Roger McCall
2 months ago

As everyone knows, the root of all the problems begins at the Factory. The poor quality work there has a ripple effect throughout the industry. I’m sure the employees of the dealership INTEND to give you good service, why wouldn’t they? The issue is that they are just completely overwhelmed. They are human and can only do so much. So until the quality of construction improves, nothing else is gonna get any better.

wanderer
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger McCall

I think it begins not at the factory but at headquarters, where they design far too many new models and variations every year, and set production goals way too high. We love innovation, but the companies need to slow down and make fewer designs, and let the factories take time to build them right. Some of the quality advantage of Airstream or Tiffin or Northwood comes from just sticking with their designs longer.

I’ve heard that argument about us insisting on cheap product and they’ll go broke if they crafted things better. Baloney. We’re not talking rocket science here. We know how to build a cabinet and run pipes and wires properly, and I doubt careful work would add $1000 to the cost of a rig. Never mind it would take away countless headaches and costs the dealers have—how much money and time is wasted by us hassling with service writers over lists of problems. The dealers should start insisting on better quality for their own sanity, never mind ours.

Bill
2 months ago

$190 an hour? Yes, your doctor probably does bill that much or more. But that is gross income, before taking out rent, support personnel, equipment, insurance, licensing, benefits, taxes, and all the other costs of doing business. And your doctor probably doesn’t know exactly what caused the pain in your backside either – after all, he’s still just practicing.

Jeff
2 months ago

If you ever in Wisconsin and spending a few weeks camping near Bonduel, Wisconsin Miller and son’s rv repair has taken care of fixing my camper.

Dr. Michael
2 months ago

“Do your best.” Those three simple words have helped form my work ethic ever since.

When I attended St. Marks School (about 50 years ago), I always earned good grades. On one report paper, Sister Lucy put in the comments section “Does required work, nothing more.” Since I saw that, I have given 150% all the time. Those were the words that took me through the decades to practice medicine.

On customer service- If it is not ingrained in the people at the company and comes down from the ownership, then forget it. Every leader, every employee must have that feeling of ownership (and authority) to take care of every customer. If you want an RV example of this, go to NIRVC (any location) and try to get poor service. You can try, but it is not going to happen.

Stephen L Steele
2 months ago

People won’t pay for good service. They will price shop to save a dollar. Then complain because they got terrible service, or a terrible product. You get what you pay for. If you want better, pay for better.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
2 months ago

That’s true, Stephen. My saying is, “You get what you pay for. You don’t get what you don’t pay for.” Have a good afternoon. 🙂 –Diane

Michael Galvin
2 months ago

When we’re trying to get good warranty service from the place we bought the rig, we’re not price shopping.

Wayne
2 months ago

It’s a real shame, fair play, fair pay and fair business practices have been replaced by the throw away mentality and take advantage of all you can. Business leaders are not truly leaders, otherwise such shoddy workmanship and poor performance by subordinates would not be tolerated. Hire qualified people, not just a warm body. real people wanting to deliver good service, for which they are financially compensated . Professional Managers should be more than a good friend or salesman. Don’t permit your first line supervisors and their supervisors to abuse your market Don’t permit your employees to support poor practice and marginal performance. Take a hard line on honesty, fairness and delivery of GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. Don’t allow that to be just a marketing line

Thomas D
2 months ago

The whole blame goes on the “bean counters”. Profit before quality or service. Buy the cheapest, use untrained labor, set production goals that are hard to meet and at the sales end outright lie about just about everything. My current rv had molding that was falling off. The fix, slightly longer staples. Workmanship was good, just needed staples that were 3/16″ longer. Manufacturers cost? Maybe 20 cents. Cost to everyone involved, hundreds. Part of the cost was 400 mile round trip to have it repaired. Around $120 just for fuel. This problem didn’t show up during PdI, it took shaking down the highway to reveal itself. It was something I could have fixed myself, but why? Let them bite the bullet.

Wally
2 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I have no love affair with “bean counters” but their direction comes from upper management. They are also employees and do not act independently.

Wayne
2 months ago

“do your best”
i wish they had on our 09 Cedar Creek! I have repaired, reinforced, a great many sloppy factory issues that would have cost them very little in dollars and time during the build stage.

Lil John
2 months ago
Reply to  Wayne

Same here Wayne! I have never owned an RV I didn’t have to spend time fixing. The frustrating part is that 90% of the problems are traceable back to the designers/engineers.
Then you add in the sloppy workmanship when the thing is put together and you end up with a box full of mistakes and problems. Imagine if you did not know a thing about repairing it and had to spend money for labor? For some of us that would be prohibitive.

DONALD BIANCONE
2 months ago

Shout out to Johnson RV in Sandy OR. I have had excellent results from their service department several times over the past 7 years. .

david preece
2 months ago

that’s great to hear. probably because t is family owned and not part of the Great Corporate System ie, Camping World, Gander RV, Holiday World, etc.

Richard Carlson
2 months ago

It would be great if an RV service center decided to improve their service. They could double the number of employees, stock hundreds of repair parts on site, have a concierge who only answered phone calls and tracked all repairs. Maybe a nice campground area where you could park your rig while you wait. And a free coffee shop, with cookies.

Wonder what that would cost to do?

Drew
2 months ago

After figuring in the cost of having to redo repairs on the same rigs-maybe not unreasonably high.

Dr. Michael
2 months ago

Let’s break this down
They could double the number of employees: Not likely. It is a challenge just to find people to keep the doors open let alone additional staff. If you are thinking about techs, they are at a premium due to the explosive growth of the RVs over the past year.

stock hundreds of repair parts on site: Some of the basic items and items that can be used in several different models (or brands), yes. An example would be lights. Many coaches take the same bulb, but the fixture will be different.

have a concierge who only answered phone calls and tracked all repairs: Word on the street (IRV2) has it that NIRVC will be doing exactly this. In addition, you will be able to track the progress on an app for the phone.

Maybe a nice campground area where you could park your rig while you wait.: When I go to NIRVC (Atlanta), there are spaces to park and hook up power while you are there. It is not a nice campground but will suffice for a day or two.

Mary
2 months ago

General RV

tom
2 months ago

This is becoming more and more common in all service industry. Some items are so inexpensive that a throw away attitude is there.
RV’s are a big collection of different systems and RV techs need a good understanding about their interaction.

Michael Gardner
2 months ago

We need more independent RV techs and RV owners need to educate themselves and handle more of the basic maintenance and repair themselves.

Drew
2 months ago

True. Not only rv’s but almost everything you own. Learn as much as you can and apply yourself in repairing them to whatever extent you can.

Follow us!

31,714FansLike
26,464FollowersFollow
66,000SubscribersSubscribe