Reader letter: ‘Stick to basics or lose me as reader’

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Dear Chuck,
letters to the editorWhile I find the subject of battling the RV industry interesting and its lack of scruples disheartening, it’s not why I subscribed to your newsletter. I own a 2009 25 ft Nash travel trailer which is well built, and I am quite pleased. I bought it used and plan to keep it for several more years. We put more than 4,000 miles on it a year and are gone 3-5 months.

My interests (and why I enjoy your newsletter) are maintenance tips, new products, interesting places and the various and diverse subjects you include, plus questions and answers, even the jokes. If your newsletter were to lean too heavily in this new direction you would probably lose me as a subscriber. I think of you more like a newspaper with several sections.


But I don’t read editorials nor am interested in politics. I just want to enjoy my RVing and all the different aspects. So feel [free] to add the industry battle news, but remember your subscribers and why they probably joined your newsletter to begin with. — Rob Olson

Dear Rob,
I understand and appreciate your thoughts. But, frankly, there are some serious problems out there. If you could sit at my desk and read my mail you would understand better.

All the topics you want to be included in the newsletter will remain. But I cannot back away from what are serious issues in the industry that affect many RVers and more in the years ahead. You have no problems yourself — a quality RV, and no serious issues with crowding and I know you are not alone. For now.

IN THE LAST YEAR, since I began writing about what is going on, circulation has climbed faster than ever before. More than 2,000 of our readers have now voluntarily subscribed, helping provide necessary funding for us to continue to serve as an advocate for their RVing interests. I take this support as a strong message to pursue my course.

If you should ever purchase an RV that’s a piece of junk (hopefully you never will) — that’s so defective it can’t be used — and then learn there is no lemon law in your state — you will wish someone like me had influenced your state legislators to adopt such a law. Right now, the RV industry associations fight them everywhere they show up and nobody — that’s NOBODY — fights for them!

For RVers who do not wish to deal with the parts of our newsletter where we deal with these issues, there are dozens of other websites and even newsletters that provide plenty of feature material and technical advice (good and bad). But I don’t know of another source besides RVtravel.com where questions are raised about the current state of RVing and where it is headed, and what that means to you and me.

While I would not like to lose you as a reader, I need to live with myself, and right now I cannot do that by burying my head in the sand.

Thank you very much for writing. I hope other readers will weigh in with their thoughts by leaving a comment.

—Chuck Woodbury/editor

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Jef Boutin

I meant to respond to this letter when it came out last week, but I had to think about it for a while. I don’t want Chuck to stop writing about problems that many of us are experiencing in our full time RVing lives. But I do get Rob Olson’s point, in that he isn’t experiencing any of these issues, and that he probably views these issues at whining and complaining. But for him to stop being a reader because of this I think is a little extreme, but that’s just my opinion.
I think his problem could be solved simply by a little organization and redesign of the newsletter. Perhaps if it was organized more like a newspaper with different sections. USA Today for example has News, Business, Life and Sports. You can set aside the section you don’t want. This newsletter has somewhat of a format, but there is no contents. There are headings, but they aren’t as clear as they could be, and there isn’t a link to them. We have a blue margin on the left and the right with TONS of links and ads. Then we have the newsletter in the middle with news and ads. I propose merging the two blue sections into one, with a lot less links, and then having a box, (in green maybe?), on the upper right that says “In this week’s edition” with some highlights, and then links to the section’s headings, News, RV Doctor, Sokol’s Electrical, etc. And Mr. Olson’s suggestions: “maintenance tips, new products, interesting places……plus questions and answers, even the jokes.” Then people could read what they want and skip what they don’t.
Sorry for the late and rambling comment, but I was just trying to see if there’s a way to keep peace, harmony, tranquility……

Jim

Chuck,

I wouldn’t change a thing, what you are doing has worked well for many years.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Thanks for all you do.

Walter Kreppein

Hi Chuck. Thanks for the coverage of the RV Industry. We have a 2004 Coachman Freelander Motorhome,. A plaque above the entrance door says “ANOTHER QUALITY PRODUCT MADE BY COACHMAN”. What a joke! If I wasn’t handy, much of the coach would fall apart. FMCA rarely or never talks about quality issues regarding motorhomes that they review.

Patc

Dear Chuck,

Please keep writing about the industry. We are at the mercy of poor workmanship and there are dealers out there only interested in pushing product and not at all interested when problems arise. We’ve had good and one really bad purchase that cost a chunk of our retirement savings.

Gail Behrle

Chuck, we really appreciate your newsletter. It always interesting info. We have owned an RV since 2003. Started in a 26 ft Sunline travel trailer. We had that for 10 years and never had a thing wrong. It was built so well. We moved up to a 2013 Cougar High Country fiver with slides. Again we had done our research. Walked through many models and found this to be built well. Never had any issues with it. We visit the RV shows every year looking at the newer models since then and have seen a steady decline in workmanship. Such that we were not looking to change. Last year all that changed when a semi truck drifted off the highway into our RV and truck that was on the side of the road awaiting a tire repair. We were shopping again for a new RV. We were very disappointed to see the decline in workmanship and the huge upsizing to RVs. It took awhile to find something we liked but we did. Our 2017 Durango 2500 has been great. No major issues. Workmanship has been good. We love it. There are good things out there you just have to do the research and look at everything. We had gone to an RV show last year, walked into one, and two of the cabinet doors had damaged hinges. When I asked why they hadn’t bothered to fix it, I was told ” Oh that’s just because so many people have come through and opened and closed the doors” well if I buy the camper and plan to use it, I will be opening and closing those doors A LOT. They shouldn’t do that. He just shrugged and blew me off. Needless to say we would never buy from him or that model. If you can’t pay attention to detail at a show with something simple like that what am I going to get if I buy from you?

Casey Piton

Dear Chuck,
Keep doing what you are doing! You are the only one who has noted the problems in the RV industry thus far and it needs to be done. We purchased our home on wheels in May 2016 and have had nothing but problems. There needs to be something done about the poor quality of RVs, and I suspect it will just get worse. The saying “You get what you pay for” does not compute in the RV world. Our RV cost over $100,000 and it had problems from day one. Keep it up Chuck – We support you!!!

Gary Causey

It irk’s me when I read a headline in RV Business industrial magazine that “celebrates” Joe Blow, RV lobbyist, paid by RIVA for yet another successful shut down of the lemon law vote in congress. RIVA is NOT helping to insure “we” the consumers receive a quality product. Many more Chuck Woodbury’s are needed. RV Travel.com newsletter and many RV related Internet sights are terrific tools that help educate the consumer. We’re not talking about buying $19.95 Ronco products!

Mike Bacque

We’ve owned 11 units since 2001 and only ever bought one brand new off a dealer lot, a Keystone product, all others were used. We’ve never encountered the quality issues that have been reported in this newsletter but have seen lots of suspect issues while at RV shows and on dealer lots. This newsletter is invaluable in educating anyone wanting to purchase an RV that you need to know what to look for and what to avoid when shopping. There are still several quality manufacturers out there, they’re not all bad. I enjoy this newsletter very much and support it financially through voluntary donations. If there’s something that I don’t find of interest, I don’t need to read it, it doesn’t change the fact that 99 % of the newsletter is relevant to me. Keep up the great work Chuck.

Jim Langley

The issue seems to be that the average consumer doesn’t know how to tap into great resources like your newsletter, Chuck, until AFTER they buy that poorly built RV. If you could somehow reach those people before they make that mistake, you’d really have something, I think. Because then, maybe enough consumers would actually inspect the RVs before buying. And, if you’ve looked at new RVs in dealerships, I’m sure you’ve seen all the poor quality we saw in rig after rig – brand new and every type and price point. If consumers knew what to look for and the dealerships lost enough sales over the shoddy quality, I think the RV industry would have to clean up their act. I have to finish by saying the our RV has given us zero issues over our first year owning it. It’s a Lazy Daze built in Montclaire, CA. We had to wait 9 months for them to build it, but we think it was worth the wait. Just wanted to give Lazy Daze some credit. They care about their customers and have since the 1960s. Keep up the great writing,
Jim

Pat

Keep up the great reporting!!! All I have to say is that the more I hear and read about the poor quality of new RV’s, the happier I am that we bought an older travel trailer. Our 94 Mallard is one wonderful camper. It was in great shape when we bought it and we plan to keep it for many years. We do walk thru’s in new campers at dealerships just for the fun of it. We like to look for decorating ideas. But we have not yet found one that we would trade our old girl for.
We were looking at a display at the New York state fair and asked the salesman if they had any accessories for sale. He said no, but that their store (Camping world) had everything. We told him that we had a beautiful 94 Mallard. The guy told us “your trailer has a floor that was made with several pieces and it will shift and twist.” I nearly laughed in his face. I leaned in close and said “honey, it’s a 94!!!!!, if it was going to do that, it would have done it by now. Our floor is perfect.”
Wow, guess he didn’t realize he was speaking to someone with a working brain.

Martin Nadelman

For years I have been on the crusade to get FMCA to use its collective influence to work towards enacting nationwide lemon laws for RVs, specifically motorhomes. My voice has been stifled. Why? Because FMCA feels it needs ad revenue from motorhome manufacturers to survive.

We had a new 2004 Country Coach Intrigue which was surely a lemon if there ever was one. It was in the shop for warranty work 54 weeks out of the first three years. On many occasions I asked Country Coach to just give us a new coach and take ours back. They reimbursed repair facilities more than $75,000 for the work down, and that does not included the eight weeks it went back to the factory.

I was in contact with an attorney from Oregon whose sole practice was suing Country Coach! He had gotten owners new coaches on at least three occasions, and said he could likely be able to do the same for me, but it might take a year or money and expenses would approach $60,000 none of which I could be assured would have to be paid by Country Coach..
I have owned 8 coaches from 4 different manufacturers. For each of the four new models I have had to fight mightily with the manufacturers to get simple problems corrected on a timely basis. If a lemon law could be passed, you can be rest assured better quality would follow, and timely repairs would be made when called for.

FMCA says it represents motorhome owners. They are kidding themselves. We,as members should hold them accountable to us members.

Chuck, you are not alone in your call for better quality. Never stop fighting for RVers. We support you and defend your written words.

Charlotte

I ditto what others have said: if you don’t like it, skip over it. There is lots of other interesting things to read about that makes this worth it.

Eric Eltinge

The advice was correct. It does take 2 years to work the bugs out of a new motorhome. Even a new 2015 Winnebago ERA built on a Mercedes 3500 Sprinter chassis. Every trip yields one new problem. Towed twice. It really tries my wife’s patience. Hmmmm……

Ellen

Chuck — Add another voice to the chorus singing, “Keep it up! We need you!”

RV manufacturers are abiding by the law in what they manufacture and naturally oppose any lemon laws that would force them (economically) to correct issues that later surface. The legislature (especially these days) has so much on the plate that RV lemon laws aren’t even on the list.

But here’s the thing: NO BODY wants to hear about lives lost, people maimed, lives changed because of the awful quality of any product. If someone delivered to Congress a long list of people whose lives were lost or dramatically altered because RV manufacturers are putting them in faulty vehicles — that might cause some people to sit up and pay attention.

Could this be a story “60 Minutes” might be interested in? Consumer Reports?

Jann Forrest

I think everything that Chuck has written is supported by the ongoing lists of recalls. There are recalls from almost every mfg. and type of rig known to man and for things you would think a 10 year old would notice before the finished product goes out the door. Reason is the Mfg. does not really care to know. The rig will be finished being built by the buyer. This is the sad part because some things ignored are life threatening and if anyone things this should not be talked about, they are on kibbles & bits.

One last remark is that the more money you pay, does not mean you will have a great, finished product.

Chuck is only one person and there needs to be more people to add their voices instead of complaining about what Chuck does or does not say.

Sherry Dawson

I look forward every Saturday to your newsletter, when I make my coffee and sip contentedly while I read the whole thing in one sitting. My Saturdays wouldn’t be complete without RVTravel.

Your information has been educating me for two years now to prepare for full-time RVing, buy the right rig for my needs and interests, learn to boondock wisely, do proper maintenance, diagnose repair problems, take safety precautions, prepare for emergencies, see the beauty and diversity of this country, and much more!

Also, you’ve helped keep my excitement and determination stoked through some health and physical setbacks that have delayed my departure.

My advice to people who don’t wish to read some of the things you or others write is: skip over them! The titles are clear and it’s easy to skim down the articles and choose only those of interest. I don’t read the “shrink,” or the horoscope, for instance, but skip to the next article of interest to me. I’d never give up reading this informative and interesting newsletter because I don’t enjoy every article.

Thanks, Chuck, to you and your staff!

Lynn Hudgens

What the industry needs to keep it healthy is more voices like yours. The manufacturers are hurting themselves as well as owners of RVs.

You don’t talk a lot about how poor quality manufacturing affects consumers, the lending industry and buyers of Pre-owned RVs. Poor quality in terms of vendor reputation adds significantly to big depreciation and the so-called “upside down on payments.”

Buyers take out loans on a vehicle that has no chance of lasting as long as the payment terms or length of the loan. What does it add up to? Someone is going to get burned…and often it is more than one person or family over the life of the vehicle.

You have said it well—bling does not add up to a quality purchase with lasting value. “Let the buyer beware” does not work when “beware” offers no real quality alternatives. There may be a few manufacturers who try (such as one factory in Alabama), but the true condition of the industry is reflected in the drop in RV value after the first few years.

Denton

Chuck
You’re campaigning, quite rightly, against poor RV quality and lack of decent RV parks. I’m only going to address the first one – maybe next week, I’ll get to my thoughts on the lack of decent parks.
While the tackling of the quality issue is admirable and worth pursuing, complaining about an issue is not going to get changes made. How do you get the ear of management of the manufacturers and get them to realize that they could make many more $$ (and it’s all about $$) if only they would improve quality when they are already getting big returns on their investment by producing poor quality units. Quite honestly, writing an article about it is only going to make buyers aware of the issue and the manufacturers (if they even read your editorials) just slough it off.

To get results, you need ACTIONS. Are you suggesting a boycott of RV purchases (won’t work because we’ve come to accept poor quality and are willing to live with it), call your elected representative in government (don’t think RV quality is his/her top concern), forming a national RV owners group to lobby for better quality, getting RV owners to hold a protest march in Elkhart, Indiana? So far, all I’ve heard are the issues, not any suggestions from you as to solutions. You’re a smart guy, Chuck, with lots of ideas, experience and passion. Let’s hear some ideas on how to effect change in the industry – we all understand the problem. We need a Messiah to lead us.

R M Roberts

Chuck keep doing what you are doing. Building a DIY rig is not a viable answer for everyone. Certainly not me. Buying a Used rig has it’s challenges too. I looked very carefully and decided to stay away from large corp. entities that are turning out thousands of RV’s per year. It cost me a bit more up front, but I’ve had very few repairs. I hadn’t run into a problem with finding nice parks until this year after the hurricanes. It seems that many of the folks who would normally go to the gulf south are coming out west and many of the parks I had no problem getting into by simply calling ahead by one day are filled to capacity. So I’m forced to boondock rather then take a spot in a dump. Maybe that is what you see in our future if some sort of relief doesn’t happen. Thank you for your efforts, it certainly won’t happen on it’s own. That would be too much like right…..

Ken Kirkwood

Keep doing what you are doing, Chuck because no one else is. If a reader only want RV tips and tricks, there are lots of websites that cater to those topics. You are unique and we RVers need you in our corner.