I’ve read your weekend editions for a while now and I’m getting ready to unsubscribe. The main reason is that it has become just another echo chamber for lambasting the RV industry.
I get it. The RV industry has some major issues, but to be honest, we all signed up for those issues when we bought our RV.¹ If the intent of sharing horror stories is to provide constructive feedback to owners looking for good service locations, I submit there’s a better way. If the intent is to get more readers based on juicy drama then by all means carry on, you’ve nailed it.
I further submit you’d serve your clientele better by offering tips for getting along with your RV. Providing good technical advice might be another avenue to pursue as well. It doesn’t even have to be leading-edge stuff. Basics on holding tanks, how inverters work, how much solar capacity do you need, what’s the difference between 30A and 50A service are all topics I think would serve your readers well.²
Another area would be how to engage customer support for the best outcome (not how to start a fight and end up with litigation) would be good. A course on basic spelling, grammar, and punctuation for making Facebook posts would be good too.
I don’t know the size of your audience but I think you could make a huge positive difference in the industry if you changed your focus a bit more to the positive and helpful rather than the negative.³
We started in an Autumn Ridge bumper pull, upgraded to a Milestone 5th wheel, then a Grand Design Momentum TH, and are now in a Thor Tuscany 45MX.
Let me know if you want help.
Dear Mr. Thomas,
First, thank you for writing with your concerns and suggestions. I know there are others with similar thoughts. But the quick answer: No, we are absolutely not obsessed with lambasting the industry. I’ll try to simplify my answer. And before I go on, please join me this morning on my Chatting with Chuck live video meeting and talk to me about this. I’d love to explain further. The address where to watch is in today’s newsletter or just join us on YouTube. It begins at 10 a.m., Pacific Time.
Whew! OK, please allow me to try to explain:
First, in reference to #1 in the second paragraph, I would ask you to tell me even one other website or blog of any significance that is preoccupied with “lambasting” the RV industry. I don’t know of any (RVtravel.com included). You suggest that RVers (that would be you, me and others) knew what they were getting into when they bought their RVs. I don’t believe that is universally true. For example, I do not believe many RVers knew when they bought their RV that there was a strong possibility that they might need to wait as long as 4 to 5 months for a necessary repair on it at some time in the future, maybe many times. Of course, that does not happen to everyone. But it does to many.
NINETY-NINE PERCENT of other websites publish pretty generic, non-critical type of material, increasingly written by non-RVers with the main purpose of filling space between ads. Increasingly, articles are even written using artificial intelligence. It’s surprisingly good, but often incorrect, and almost always very generic — mumbo jumbo, really.
#2, in your third paragraph: We have posted right around 18,000 articles on this website. The topics you suggest that we write about have all been covered dozens, if not hundreds of times through our 21 years of publishing. Our RV Daily Tips Newsletter, which appears nearly every weekday of the year, is focused on using, maintaining and repairing RVs — positive advice, almost never negative.
And, in response to your statement #3, we have a large audience, with millions of page views a month. We already have an influence in the industry. Few others do. They are almost all focused, above all, on making money (nothing wrong with that in and of itself, of course). Yes, there are many websites and blogs that are published with the goal of providing quality information or as self-expression for their creators, but most have small audiences. We’ve been at this now for more than 21 years and have had a lot of time to build our circulation.
With hundreds of newsletters a year and millions and millions of page views, we cannot hope to deliver a balance of positive and negative articles (and remember, what is negative to one reader may be positive to another) to all readers, most of whom only read a fraction of what we publish. We do, really, try hard to be fair. And we take pride in being journalists, not content creators (who, before the internet, would have been called “hacks”). Our circulation has maintained steady growth through the years, and that suggests to us that we are doing at least a decent job of serving our readers. That said, we know we can do better and, I’m telling you, we try hard every single day!
We are a small company, with a small staff, with a small budget, so we can’t do everything we want all at once. That’s frustrating, but it’s our reality. And those of us who own and travel with RVs (that’s nearly all of us) love our rolling homes!
Happy travels. Be safe!
Publisher and founder
What do you think about J. Thomas’ letter? Do you agree? Disagree? Please leave a comment below.
I’m on my fifth RV, we started with a small travel trailer, then three fifth wheels, each larger than the previous, and now a motorhome. We have bought used knowing that there could be repairs needed. I have saved thousands buying used. We bought our last fifth wheel for half of the original purchase price when it was only 3 years new.
RV Travel was a major influence for me to again buy used when we bought our motorhome five months ago. We bought a 2007 Damon Challenger 378 (workhorse chassis). I knew going into it that some minor repairs could be needed. Last summer, we did a 6500 cross country trip with two issues, both were easy fixes.
If I were buying new, like when buying a new car, you expect to pay more, and have the vehicle be perfect. If not, you get the dealer to fix it in short order. Here’s the issue, most new buyers have no idea of the poor quality control or delayed warranty time for repairs. RV Travel is truthfully stating the facts of the industry, good and bad.
I disagree that most people know they will be getting a basket of problems when they spend 200K+ apiece on two new motorhomes (like I have). In the past 2 years my newest one has been in the shop about 17 months, rendering my investment useless while it sits there depreciating. And it is the manufacturers that are totally to blame, not the unsavvy consumer that had the audacity to even think that when you purchased something this expensive there would have been at least a cursory attempt at quality assurance and workmanship from the top down at the factory.
I have learned a lot from your articles! I am so appreciative of learning do’s and don’t’s with my rv and on the road. What you’re writing about is the truth and I appreciate learning about the different companies and their standards/morals. I do not want to get my next rv from a company that does not care what they put out (poorly built) because their bottom line is the almighty dollar! I lived near Elkhart since ‘71 before I started full time rving (‘19). The stories I could tell you from several friends that worked in several factories! Mister, they are doing you a favor telling you these truths! When I started, I had never owned an rv and never pulled anything in my life. I was a single 65 year old female and drove from IN to TX. Terrifying, but I did it and I love it!!! To me, this newsletter is the best out there! I just learned something yesterday I did not know before and very grateful for the info. Thank you!
Thank you for your very kind words, Jane. We’re very happy to have you along for the ride, and wish you many happy and healthy years of RVing. Take care. 😀 –Diane
The RV industry has the reputation it has earned!
I have found your news letter really helpful. I love my trailer, but I really had no clue what to expect. I have learned things from you that have helped me to ask the right questions when I go in for service, and that’s a big deal for a neophyte like myself. I’m learning as I go and have been really encouraged by the stories and information. Thank you!
Both are right; a nice compromise might be to offset the horror, with the meaningful, helpful, etc. I’m not talking “skin diving” on any issue, but “water-ski” us through important topics. Which – (again) I feel you do fairly well. And I personally love the horror stories; some of them make me feel better (about our horror stories) – others sometimes promote any myriad of feelings; thankful for the information, something I may not have thought of (I’m the original Plan “b”, and worse person). I’d suggest that if Mr. Thomas has some insight into solving problems, a better approach, something he finds very successful, perhaps he should submit something to you, for all of us to analyze.
I’m not going to rule from the sidelines if I can COACH others in some fashion.
I agree with Mr. Thomas. Even though unpleasant truths need to be told there needs to be more positivity. I have not subscribed because of the negative tones to this publication.
Good god, He could have got at least one point right to be taken seriously. Wow.
I don’t agree with him. To be honest being in what used to be called the body and fender Business for many years and taking pride in what you do. I can truly say stick built campers are junk. I’ve had several trailers. I have had a motorhome over the years and refused to buy another stick built camper until they stop putting out junk. They build junk and then we buy junk until we stop buying the junk they will not stop putting out junk. I have had to resort to downsizing to what they call a egg ( fiberglass) camper because that is the best there is right now. A person told me one time that they wanted a camper to get up off the ground. I never slept on the ground when I had a tent. I want a camper to keep water off my head. Build me a good trailer and tell me what I need to pull it with and I will buy it.
I have been camping for 60 years and RVing for 44 years. Chuck’s newsletter is OUTSTANDING and TRUTHFUL! I think that Chuck and his staff provide a well balanced newsletters. Chuck is right on with his response. I have owned popups(3), travel trailers(6), fifth wheel(1) and we full timed for about 5 years. I have seen way more than the few problems that Chuck presents due to the declining quality of the RV industry!!! Keep up the GREAT work Chuck!!!!
We recently had some issues with the purchase of new camper from Campers World and with the lack of cooperation by the service department. There is a way to contact the President of Campers World by email. I did this and it took a few days, but I did get a response and talked to someone there that was helpful. Here is the page you can go to if you wish, https://rv.campingworld.com/marcusvip.
I thank Mr. Thomas for giving us something to think about on how to make improvements to an already worthy site. I appreciate his articulate letter and the civil manner in which he presented it. Finally, I respect him for taking the time to ask a question that many think but few voice. As can be seen by the large number of comments, this letter vibrated a nerve, bravo Mr. Thomas.
Good morning Chuck and team. We bought our first RV in 1997. Found your site in your early days..we have been reading daily at least 20 years. It is the first email we open for the day. We have only owned 3 rigs in all that time. We credit that the RVtravel. We still own our 30ft TT bought new. Now it is parked permanently with a nice awning shelter on property we own. Still love this trailer. We just got older and after trips from our Washington state home all over this beautiful country and deep into Mexico we downed sized to a class C 19ft leprechaun motorhome that is perfect for us. We thank Chuck and team for the education we were given over the years to know how to buy a rig that would be perfect for us without the salesman’s pressure. Read to learn if the article doesn’t fit you move to the next one .. Chuck keep doing what you and your team do and thank you for the “education” you have given us along the way. You have saved us thousands with the education. Thanks
I disagree with Thomas’s viewpoint. I’ve never bought any RV expecting to have problems or long wait times for repairs and I like getting the informationfromyouthatI do. I believe Chuck’s rebuttal to be spot on.
We have just begun our journey into RV ownership and are in the shopping period now. RVTravel has been an invaluable resource in guiding us. Numerous articles covering a myriad of topics that the poster says he did not see. Articles on the state of the industry are very welcomed by us. Mr. Thomas’ lament leads me to believe he must be an industry representative or someone with a vested interest. Chuck and staff, keep doing the great job that you are doing. My only complaint is that I can’t read all of the great articles that you produce!!
Mr. Thomas must have been lucky enough to not buy RVs that don’t need a lot of fixing. I just watched a video from a full-time RV couple who bought a Vilano fifth wheel because of their great reputation. Since January, it’s been one issue after another. It’s a good thing the husband is handy as he’s fixing the things he can. So according to Mr. Thomas, these things are not to be discussed? I discovered this newsletter in 2016 and I enjoy it very much. If he is only reading the weekend issues, he’s missing a lot! I think your response to him was a lot more measured than I would have been.
Keep up the approach Chuck. The truth is most important. Demand excellence in everything. It’s the American way. Close enough isn’t good enough.
As a “newbie’, I appreciate ALL the articles I read from you folks. Sure some replies are a bit testy but understanding comes from a myriad of perspectives.
When I DO finally get to travel in my rig, I’ll have a much better concept of what to expect. AND, I’ll have a network of folks I can tap into if I need help.
At 72, & just starting my journey,
I appreciate all I’m learning, pro & con.
Thanks for being here for all of us.
I actually believe you have been too nice to the bulk of the industry. With the exception of long-time RV enthusiasts who have waded through the countless websites, blogs and YouTube channels filled with RV puff pieces that are underwritten by industry advertising, only to eventually find your digital publication, we actually welcome the thousands of newbie owners who have been bamboozled into thinking they purchased a high quality product from a reputable dealer to finally get some truth. Here they will find honest opinions along with practical suggestions on how to navigate some of the more common problems with their new investment.
J. Thomas has not been a reader very long, or he hasn’t read many of the issues while he has subscribed to have his stated opinions about RV Travel. I have enjoyed learning about RVing by subscribing to RV Travel and reading material it has referenced over the last 10, or so, years. Thank you Chuck, Emily, et al., for the great efforts you make to write informed and balanced articles!
I agree with you Chuck. #1 today’s RV buyers are overwhelmingly 1st time buyers, so there are tons of things they know little about, like their RV’s and about the industry. #2 the industry is about making money. There are many, many shareholders tied to the success of this industry, and success for them is NOT necessarily good for the RV owner. Look at the long waits and delivery times for parts and service. #3 A long held view that I have is that manufactures want to “pump out” units as fast as possible and let the dealers and sales lots deal with warranty claims and issues. #4 The Sales/Repair side of the industry has NOT kept pace with sufficient numbers of trained technicians and facilities. So the industry is now known as “parts changers” vs. “trouble shooters” to fix the problem correctly the 1st time. 5# Whenever you have 2 more RV owners together, sooner or later they have repair or breakdown war stories to share. That happens to be a fact about RVing.