By Chuck Woodbury
We asked RVtravel.com readers last week who had bought their RVs at Camping World what they thought of the experience. It was no surprise to me that nearly half of those who responded (48 percent to be exact), said they regretted buying there.
Any successful businessman will tell you they’d go broke if that’s the way their customers felt. But somehow Camping World can pull off such a pathetic level of customer satisfaction.
My main beef with Camping World is how it strong-arms its RV buyers into financing their new RVs for 15 to 20 years. What this does is put these buyers in a terrible pickle a few years down the road when they want to sell their RV: To do so, they’ll need to bring their checkbook to pay the difference of the significantly depreciated RV from how much they can sell it for. They may need to write a check for $10,000, $20,000, $30,00 or far more.
Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis knows this, but as far as I can tell, doesn’t care. He cares about pleasing his shareholders and padding his own pocketbook, not those RVers who get suckered into the long-term loans, most of them on cheap RVs which aren’t meant to last very long to begin with. Many are basically assembled with staples, glue and the cheapest components the manufacturers can buy – usually from China. In the industry, these RVs are referred to as “stick and tin” models.
Marcus Lemons appeared on CNBC two weeks ago to talk about the RV industry and Camping World. He was asked if increased tariffs might put a damper on sales. He explains in this 45-second excerpt (recorded at a low bandwidth for viewers with data limits). Pay attention to his very casual reference to 180- and 240-month loans.