Two weeks ago, I shared reasons why I would love to offer an RV manufacturer warranty at my independent repair facility. Last week, I shared the keyboard with my wife, who gave multiple reasons why we still refuse to do it. (Make sure you read parts 1 and 2, linked there, before continuing here.) There are plenty of other reasons, which are now spilling over to this week. These reasons play major roles in why consumers get the “runaround” with the service department at their RV dealership.
Above all else, SELL!
Overall, the dealership’s main focus is to sell the next unit. Selling the next unit trumps everything else. This includes performing RV manufacturer warranty owed on a unit that was already sold. Should there be a sale that is left hanging in the balance, the service department is on notice. They will move Heaven and Earth to ensure that unit makes the sale, and it’s done at everyone else’s expense.
As mentioned in Part 2, labor for RV manufacturer warranty work is often undercut by the manufacturer. At a selling dealership (specifically those big box stores), the service department and parts department each have to make their quotas to meet their corporate standards. Helping someone with an RV manufacturer warranty will just slow them down. They have absolutely no skin in the game to hurry up and get you in for repairs. The only reason they would act with any type of urgency is if your unit had something critically wrong with it (sewer, power, water) and they felt some pressure from the RV manufacturer. Should your issue just be cosmetic, get ready to wait and wait some more.
Outside of the service department either being too busy getting the next unit ready for sale or their lack of urgency, when they do start working on RV manufacturer warranty repairs it takes too long to obtain the parts required. When a unit is in for manufacturer warranty repairs, they can’t just order parts available through their various part distributors, many of which parts can be received by the next business day. They have to use the parts supplied by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer has the part required in stock, the following has to happen:
- The repair has to be authorized by the warranty department.
- The warranty department then submits the part order.
- The manufacturer’s parts department will then pick the part, package it up and ship it out.
The time frame between all three bullet points listed all depends on the manufacturer and how far behind each department is.
If the manufacturer doesn’t have the part in stock, they aren’t going to order “onesies” or “twosies” of parts from the actual part manufacturer. They will order large quantities to have the best price break. However, before the above list can happen, they now have to wait for the part manufacturer to produce this large quantity of parts for the RV manufacturer. The RV manufacturer will then break down that order and then ship the one part. This process can take several months.
Receiving the wrong part
Heaven help you if the manufacturer sends the wrong part, because then the above process starts all over again. One of the reasons why the 13-month-old invoice I mentioned last week continued to drag on is due to the RV manufacturer’s parts team. One of the line items on the invoice was to remove and replace a cabinet door because the original door was warped. I have now received three different cabinet door replacements that are either the wrong color or the wrong size. The last door we received was actually the right color and right size, but it arrived warped far worse than the original door!
We provided the RV manufacturer with the vehicle’s VIN, measurements, and pictures. If it’s this hard to obtain a single cabinet door, can you imagine the difficulty of something more expensive to repair or a repair requiring multiple parts?
1, 2, 3, 4! I declare a finger-pointing war!
RV manufacturer warranty also turns into a finger-pointing war. Last year we worked on a fifth wheel that was still under RV manufacturer warranty and the unit’s leaf springs were flat as a pancake. We quickly became stuck in the middle of the largest finger-pointing war.
The RV manufacturer was pointing their finger at:
- The customer:
- Did the customer overload the unit?
- Did the customer drive through some rough roads that damaged the springs?
- The springs were fine when they left the plant because our inspectors would have caught them. The transport company didn’t report anything. The dealership didn’t report anything.
- The maker of the leaf spring:
- Did the manufacturer use inferior metal?
The maker of the leaf springs was pointing their finger at:
- The customer:
- For the same reasons listed above.
- The RV manufacturer:
- Did the RV manufacturer overbuild the unit?
- Did the RV manufacturer install them correctly?
At the end of the day, our facility and the customer were left in the middle of what should be a simple 3-hour repair. The RV manufacturer declined coverage for both labor and parts. The maker of the springs provided new springs at no cost—and the springs sent were a carbon copy of their originals. We anticipate these would flatten out just like the originals. They also offered to reimburse the customer for labor, but the customer would have to do the following:
- Get his unit weighed to ensure he did not overload the unit and provide documented proof.
- Ship all four springs back for testing.
The cost to ship four leaf springs would have been astronomical and the maker’s “testing” seemed very subjective. With no real promise of reimbursement, the customer ended up footing the bill for us to put on leaf springs that were rated for far more weight and also upgraded their suspension. The 4-5 hours of administrative work we completed between the customer, RV manufacturer and the maker of the leaf springs went unaccounted for. Not to mention the small, light and fragile leaf springs I wouldn’t even put on Barbie’s dream trailer are collecting dust in my shop.
How the RV manufacturer can make things better
With service departments focused on the next sale, their corporate quotas and not wanting to deal with the headache of parts and authorization, it’s no wonder consumers are receiving the runaround. While I don’t have all the answers, I do believe there are things the manufacturer can do to make the process better.
Make sure you subscribe to RVtravel.com so you don’t miss our plea to RV manufacturers in next Saturday’s issue.
More from Dustin
Dustin owns and operates California RV Specialists, an independent RV repair shop located in Lodi, CA. He thrives on sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of RV repair and maintenance with his team, customers, and virtual friends.
Be sure to check out his YouTube channel where he shares what’s going on in the shop and the product offerings in the store. Dustin is also very active on Facebook. Join his group, RV Repairs and Tips – What’s in the shop!
Dustin proudly operates the business alongside his wife, Ashley; but the true pair that run the show are their Boston Terriers, Arvie and Hitch. [Editor: Do you get those names?]