By Chuck Woodbury
First of all, I am a little frustrated about this issue, so please excuse me while I hop up on my soapbox for a few minutes. I have been stretched 20 directions this week. So much is going on. My mind is spinning. I feel an energy I haven’t felt in years. We have added some new freelance writers and a new staff member in recent weeks. They are learning fast, but they are not ready to take on projects that we must get going — our reader forum, a program for our members (our voluntary subscribers) with special features, and a campaign to make more “noise” in the industry to get its leaders to do a far better job of serving you and me and not just the almighty dollar.
THESE BUSY DAYS we’re trying to get over a hump to take what we do here to a new level. It’s incredibly challenging, and I must admit that I love that! But, realistically, RVtravel.com is just an itty-bitty blip in the Internet, and we have limited resources to do what we feel needs to be done, most of it revolving around education. Nobody else in the RV media will write anything critical about the industry because they can’t afford to lose advertisers. So you never hear anything but “Isn’t it great that we’re selling a half million RVs a year!” They never say, “So good luck finding a place to stay with it!” or “Sorry that the RV you bought was made so crappy!”
It makes my blood boil when I see ads from Camping World pushing loans of 15 years on entry level travel trailers built to last five years, or 20-year loans on stapled-together motorhomes that will start falling apart in ten years, leaving their owners way upside down in their loans. Nobody writes about this except us! Someone needs to make a lot of noise to educate new RV buyers that, yes, RVers and the RV lifestyle can be wonderful, but if you can’t afford to finance an RV for 10 years or less, save your money and buy when you can afford to do so.
Just wait until the next downturn in the economy when all those impulsive buyers with long, upside-down loans will need to sell their RVs, and learn that they’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands of dollars, to pay off those loans. It will be just plain ugly, and sad. . .
I don’t have room to say more. In two hours we’ll click the “live button” on this issue and turn it over to you. There is still work to do, and I need to get back to that.
Anyway, these are just some last-minute thoughts. Thanks to all of you have become members lately with your support. You have energized us like we have never been energized before.
And please understand that I am never whining or complaining here when I talk about all the work we have to do, and our challenges. I am just venting a little frustration that we cannot do more and do it faster.
And, now . . . here’s what I wrote earlier — some business stuff! — CW
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Since we announced our upcoming Stray Voltage Patrol, Mike Sokol and I have received about one report a day from readers alerting us to miswired power pedestals at RV parks. If you did not read Mike’s article last week about this, you should. And don’t miss his article this week and its short accompanying video (recorded at standard definition for readers with limited bandwidth), where he demonstrates three inexpensive devices you can use to check your own RV and power pedestal to see if they’re safe. Our goal is to identify 1,000 dangerous power pedestals in 2019 across the USA and Canada. If we do, I fully expect the RV park industry to realize it has a serious problem and take action. You, me, and other readers can make this happen, and take satisfaction knowing that we probably saved some lives in doing so.
So far about three dozen readers have signed up to participate in the Stray Voltage Patrol (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on a special mailing list for updates). No special training is required for basic level participation, just a non-contact voltage tester which you should have anyway to be safe in your own RV. A small financial reward (to be announced) is involved for locating unsafe situations. We’re funding this program ourselves for now, thanks to the generous support of our members, who have voluntarily subscribed to this newsletter.
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And a reminder that Mike will speak about RV electricity at the Hershey (Pennsylvania) RV Show Sept. 12 to 16, from 9:30 to 11 every day. This is a rare opportunity for you to meet the man who most industry insiders consider the leading authority on RV electricity. Other RVtravel.com speakers will include Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, and our friend and filmmaker John Holod who will present highlights from some of his RVing adventure videos. Gail and I will be there as well. See the lineup of speakers here. If you plan to attend the show, be sure to pre-order your show tickets so you don’t get stuck in a long line and miss Mike’s morning presentation. I will be assisting Mike, so please say hi.
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Gail and I are headed back to Seattle for at least a couple of months. There is simply too much going on with this business now and I need to be back in town to meet with our staff and others on a regular basis before heading back out on the road.
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Our project to establish low-cost overnight stops with electrical hookups continues, but it’s a long haul. There is buzz that others are considering the same thing. I frankly do not care who picks up the ball on this, I just want to see it happen. Many people have already approached me about helping with the startup.
Our efforts on other fronts continue: Put pressure on the RV industry to build higher quality RVs (and quit turning out junk), teach beginning RVers to buy intelligently, and do everything we can to alert buyers to avoid financing an RV for 20 years. Camping World, in particular, pushes this financing option, which I believe is just plain wrong and will cause many of those buyers financial heartache later.
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FINALLY, I hope you are having a wonderful summer. Please, don’t text while you drive, don’t tailgate, avoid potholes, be kind to your fellow motorists, don’t play your music too loud in campgrounds, don’t feed cute little chipmunks, and if you’re tempted to drink and drive, make it root beer (nothing stronger).
Your pal on the road,