An RV rental horror story: “I was ripped off by an RV rental scam!”

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This comment was left on our Daily Tips Newsletter by Brian Burry. Here’s Brian’s story:

Before my wife would consider us purchasing an RV, she demanded I rent one (we rented a 31-foot Class C years ago) so I did. I went online and found an RV Share and rented a 40-foot Class A DP for 4 days at a cost of $800 with a $500 deposit up-front. The photos were beautiful and the owner owned three more brand-new RVs. This was his little business. “Great!”

He said he would deliver to my house in central California so I could drive my wife to Pismo Beach, where I rented us a nice RV park space. Then the RV owner asked if I could go ahead and pay him the $800 ahead of time, as his wife needed a minor surgery. “Sure,” I said. He responded, “Can we be PayPal Friends and Relatives so that I don’t lose so much money in fees on the Business payment account?” Again, I said sure.

Then a couple of weeks later the RV owner asked me, “Since we have a business relationship, could you loan me between $500 and $1000?” I replied, “We do not have such a relationship. Since you own three Class A RVs I will do a Title Loan where the money is likened against the RV.” It was crickets after that. I heard nothing from him.

It got worse when I checked on the business address he used on the contract. It turned out to be a pizza parlor in Northern California who had never heard of this rascal. When I asked him about it, he said, “I used that because it was the actual location where I wrote up the contract.” He then explained that he won’t use his personal address because of a Home Invasion Robbery where he was beaten up. His phone turned out to be a text-only cell phone and I lost all communications with him.

Whew, thank goodness I used my Wells Fargo credit card to pay the crook who took my $1,300! The bank said yes, you are protected from fraud, opened a case, and within a few weeks gave my account the $1,300 back.

Just seven days prior to my RV trip to celebrate our 44th Anniversary, I had to find a real RV to rent! I found another site, called the owner, researched his address and sure enough even saw the RV he owned parked in his driveway on online maps photo. I went to his home, he was only about 17 miles from Pismo, and I took possession of the RV for our trip!

I was told by RV rental companies in the Pismo area that I was the 4th or 5th victim of such a scam. I was so upset with myself that I was not able to determine it was a scam until too late.

I want to tell everyone considering renting online to be careful. I found there was no record of the suspect’s phony name and could not find him ANYWHERE.

Happily, I purchased a used Class A Newmar Ventana of our own last August, and will never have to rent another RV again! I love it and can’t wait for this darn coronavirus to get behind us to go enjoy it more!

————————————-

In response to Brian’s comment, reader TravelingMan wrote: “‘Trust but Verify.’ EVERYONE is guilty until proven innocent these days. If you hire a contractor for ANYTHING, NO PAY until the job is completed to YOUR satisfaction. If you don’t pay for what was specifically contracted for, they have a right to place a lien on your property. That is their protection. WAY TOO MANY SCAMMERS THESE DAYS! If they need half up front, they don’t know how to run their business! Clue one!”

##RVT947

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Micheal Whelan
2 months ago

We were almost a victim ourselves. Same story of rent before we buy. We rented a 26 foot Class C for a 10 day vacation. The week before we were scheduled to pick it up I called and was informed the transmission went bad and would have to delay. When I told them that was not possible and refund my money they agreed but did not do it. Fortunately we used PayPal on an eBay deal. Both PayPal and eBay made sure we were refunded the full amount. We proceeded to rent from a private individual after we checked him out closer. Had a great vacation and now run a Tiffin Class A so no more rentals.

J&M RV Rentals
2 months ago

That’s why there are rental companies like Outdoorsy, or RVShare that will check out owners and renters to make sure you don’t get ripped off. You can look at mine here: https://www.outdoorsy.com/invite/c0wp2r

Gene Bjerke
2 months ago

When we wanted to rent a Roadtrek to try it out, we found that a few dealers will rent some of their vehicles. Otherwise, there are RV rental companies, just as there are for autos. You are not likely to run into problems going that route.

mdstudey
2 months ago

Sorry that your kindness was taken advantage of. People wonder why there is so little these days, it is because of guys like that. You always have to think if you are being scammed.

Thom
2 months ago

I had a buddy that made mattresses for boats. He was not a crook, just not good at running his business. He always needed a new order so he could finish the previous order. A little too loose with his money… I learned by watching.

Richard Davidson
2 months ago

ALWAYS! ALWAYS! pay only 1/3 up front. 1/3 when half done and the final 1/3 when finished to your approval and not until then. If they won’t agree to that, find someone else who will.

Bill Cantell
2 months ago

Good article. Thanks for sharing.