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Roadside assistance companies stretched thin by huge growth in RVers and lack of available service centers

EDITOR’S NOTE: RVtravel.com is regularly invited to participate in nationwide conference calls with large RV dealers and others involved in the sales and servicing of RVs. We won’t be directly naming those on the call, nor the dealerships involved. While the situation is unusual, we feel the value of the candid comments and information that we can share with you outweighs the lack of the usual attribution. This time, you’ll just have to trust us that the quotes come from trusted, vetted sources.

Companies providing roadside assistance services to RVers are facing a perfect storm of challenges that makes taking care of customers difficult, if not impossible.

During a recent nationwide conference call with RV dealers and others in the industry who provide services to RVers, one road service company executive said they are being stretched very thin.

“First, we’ve seen the camping and traveling season for RV customers become extended,” she said. “They are starting earlier in the spring and going later in the fall.”

The huge influx of new RVers in the past two years has also swelled the customer base for roadside assistance services, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“With so many more RVers out there in new rigs, we are seeing more requests for warranty work and work on the chassis,” she said. “There is such a backlog at the service centers, some are turning away RVs in need of service. That means that we are seeing that we often have to tow RVs more than 100 miles to get them into a service center. Even then, owners are being told that they aren’t going to be seeing any repairs for five weeks.”

Many RV dealers on the conference call sympathized with the challenges facing road service companies, and some blamed the lack of quality of new RVs as a major part of the problem.

The large number of inexperienced new RVers also brings trouble to road help services. “It’s very frustrating to everyone when so many new RVers are having problems on their very first trip,” she said. “We are also seeing many more calls for technical assistance since many new RVers just don’t understand how their rigs work.” That problem is compounded by customers renting RVs from peer-to-peer rental companies. “They have zero experience with the RV and they are calling our help centers and adding to the very high call volumes.”

Towing charges are going up with the demand for their services, and RVers experiencing breakdowns on their trips can likely expect more delays and more difficulty finding qualified service personnel to get their rigs back on the road.

##RVT1018b

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Ralph Jamieson
1 month ago

My favorite social media TV question that I see over and over: “What is this switch for” with a photo of the main battery on/off switch. Or: “How do I run my microwave oven when not plugged in to shore power.” The level of education/training given to new owners is virtually nil, an apart from frustrated owners, not knowing how to run the RV systems can be downright hazardous too. Service companies who are taking the hot from this should take the lead in consumer education programs. Great resources exist, they need only be systematically shared.

Vincee
1 month ago

Just this summer I needed a tow out of my driveway, luckily, and called Good Sam. They texted me back that a tow truck would be out to my house within 3 hours to tow our 36′ DP at 22K lbs. After 4 1/2 hours I called Sam’s to complain “where’s the tow?” only to be told the original provider they called couldn’t make it! I called my local shop that I’m fortunate is only 4 miles from my house to tell them the rig would be delayed. They called the tow company and they told the shop “that they told GS that they didn’t have a wrecker available big enough to tow my rig and declined the job!”. I called GS back, p’o’ed and shortly after a supervisor out of Phoenix called to tell me they would take care of everything.

The next day rig was picked up. Was I happy with GS, no. However, the tow would have cost me $700. I’ll keep Good Sam and put up with their BS.

Randy
1 month ago

We just began RVing (class C) a year ago. We tow a vehicle behind the RV, so we are almost certain to have a driveable vehicle if a roadside emergency arises. Still trying to figure out the best strategy for road side issues. We do not have a service plan currently. From what I have read on forums, it seems most issues are tire/wheel related, and the probability of having a tire issue increases significantly when tires reach 6 yrs. old. So my current thinking is to not have roadside service until the RV tires reach 6 yrs. old. Then have a roadside assistance plan for tire age years 6 and 7. Then replace the tires with new and drop the service plan until tires again reach 6 years of age. Would be interested to hear what more experienced RVers think of that strategy.

Ralph Jamieson
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

A better strategy would be to get rid of your old and used tires after five or six years. They become nothing but a liability, and tread wear means nothing here. You can get very inexpensive roadside coverage from the insurance company that covers your RV.

Michael LaBelle
23 days ago
Reply to  Randy

I agree with what Ralph said below with one addition. I purchased my 2017 Keystone TT in late 2020. The tires had less than 2000 miles on them and for all intents and purposes were “new.” I immediately had them replaced, upgrading from the “D” rated “china bombs” to “F” rated tires, the heaviest tire my rims could handle. Those things are HEAVY. The tire pressure went from 65psi to 95psi, the ride improved and I have great confidence I won’t have a blowout. When you consider what kind of damage a blown tire can cause, well it makes sense to upgrade.

Mike
1 month ago

Good Sam left us stranded at an interstate highway rest area in NY last winter next to a major city less than 10 miles away. Said they could find me. Really? Gave them the exact mile marker we were located at. We have been members for over 10 years and only made one previous call for a tire change.

Egwilly
1 month ago

Ya, this and that pretty much suks.

Hopefully you have a previous boy scout with you that comes prepared! ; )

Oliver Quibble
1 month ago

Over the years by reading and balancing the pros and cons numerous comments on different forums, we decided last year to discontinue the tow service coverage for the motorhome. We cut out the middleman and decided if we needed help, we would use our cell phones and a google search for a tow vehicle. We could better describe our problem and decide if the price quoted was and go from there.
When you break down and you are away from familiarity, we thought you are probably better equipped than a call center.
We thankfully, after 5 or so years fulltiiming have not needed to call for help.
It always comes down to a balancing act and personal comfort.
Good luck to you all.

Stuart Sachs
1 month ago

I’m just old enough to have had AAA for 20 years, Good Sam for 10 yrs. …and even a service for being on a military base (3 years). Guess What. They’re business service corporations that coordinate privately owned vehicular service businesses: Truck, RV, car repair, towing, etc.
Whats the common thread?
Human nature.
All want the most profit for the least amount of work. They all face… Lack of skilled workers + Lack of care + (probably based on the) Lack of Living wages (coupled with no overtime pay, lack of medical benefits, etc.).

What does this mean for RV owners and what advice could help?
1) Find a trustworthy mechanic near where you “live”, and pray your problems can wait until getting home;
2) While on the road? Try your list of membership-call numbers (pray again); and,
3) Realize sometimes “ya pays your money and ya take your chances.” The automotive vehicular service companies…well, their workers are busy. Sometimes over worked, but 90% are always helpful.

David
1 month ago

The problem is that road side assistance for an RV is hit and miss. Most tow service for large trucks have limited resources. They know RV road side service will pay only a minimum for their service. They can make more Servicing truckers. So RVers have low priority! I’ve been left stranded for hours waiting a for a tow. I even had to hobble 70 on a single rear, as road service could send a truck capable of towing my Class A with trailer. Road service contract included road side tire replacement service. But they wouldn’t even honor that! Don’t believe what they put in writing. Road side service is a scam to make money for the underwriter, as the service provider won’t honor half the contracts features. Most people won’t complain because of the cost to sue for breach of contract…

Last edited 1 month ago by David
Thom R
1 month ago

All good reasons to be as self-sufficient as possible. I just bought a 22.5” spare to carry with us. I carry a big bottle jack too. Considering buying tire irons so I could dismount the flat on the side of the road!

MLogan
1 month ago

July 12, 2021 on a Sunday, I had a blow out on rear single tire on my RV in Northeast TN and called road service. Put on hold for 45 minuets before explaining problem of needing a load range E tire. Told that they were running behind because of large number of new RV’s on the road. Waited 4 1/2 hours on side of interstate before road service showed up with the right size tire. Thank goodness I ran the generator for A/C as it was 94 degrees outside. Road service changed tire and I drove to the tire store and stayed overnight to have the other 3 tires changed out as they were 6 years old.

Joan
1 month ago

This year in a 4 month span Good Sam left us stranded 3 times. 2 needed tire repair, we were never even contacted that someone was called out. We call Les Schwab and they came right out, GS did reimburse us for those. 1 needed a tow to shop because our jack wouldn’t stay up, they had supposedly found someone to tow us, but after 2 hours I called the tow company and they said they couldn’t tow a rig our size and with the jack down. I called Good Sam back, the operation was going to find someone else, and never got a call back. This happened to us about 6 years ago leaving us stranded on the side of the highway. Thank goodness for a good Samaritan who stopped and changed the tire. We are now trying to find a good roadside service.

Bob Phillips
1 month ago

In July we had a truck breakdown about 25 miles from that days destination. We called our Safeco insurance plan’s road service but after 5 hours out in the desert we were no closer to getting help. Their nearest provider was aver 50 miles away and would have sent 2 trucks, one for our truck, one for the trailer, but they clearly didn’t even understand that one needed a hitch for a fifth wheel RV, and they had no-one available for hours longer. Finally I called our agent who said since they couldn’t get someone out to us we could call anyone not in their plan and they would reimburse. We quickly got a truck out that could tow our rig in one unit. Our cost was fully reimbursed.

Geoff Baker
1 month ago

Ultimate Truck Service from Wytheville, VA promptly turned out to tow us in after a hydraulic system failure and leak. They took 2 days to look at it, diagnosed the problem, a leaking hydraulic priority valve. Delivery from Spartan – 3 months!!! AZRV salvage had the part, shipped, installed in an hour after arrival and we were on the road home. 2001 Newmar Mountain Aire DP Spartan chassis.

Ken Boyer
1 month ago

About 4 years ago my car(also covered) broke down in a suburb of Oklahoma City. Good Sam never showed up. A kind person helped me.
The next day I called Good Sam to cancel the call. Changed back to AAA.

wanderer
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Boyer

Good luck with that. AAA left me hanging three times. Coach-net towed me a long way in an expensive direction I didn’t want to go, to a dealer which 24 hours later hadn’t even looked at the vehicle. Forest River’s ‘help line’ doesn’t answer the phone or call back. Whoever you use for roadside, they all use automated systems and scripts, and it is sheer luck whether you get timely help or zero help. Statistically I think I’m better off searching for a local tow company and asking for a price up front, or hoping a kind passerby will help.

Gordy B
1 month ago
Reply to  wanderer

I had Allstate. I broke down in Elkhart In. I spent over an hour and a half on the phone with 8 different people. Each asked for the same information, we were near the end on the last person when the call was cut off. I tried to get back to the person with no luck. I did not know if help was coming or not. After two more hours, I decided to try local. Within 10 mins a truck arrived and took my truck to a local dealer where it was repaired. Two months later I received a bill in the mail for two hundred and fifty dollars from a towing company in central Ill. for not being there when their tow truck arrived. I disputed the bill and never heard anything more. I was reimbursed for the five mile tow by Allstate, but I will never again use there 800 number for a tow, instead I will call on my own and submit for reimbursement. By the way I am no longer with Allstate.

Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordy B

You broke down in the RV Capital of the World and couldn’t get help quickly! That’s ironic. I recently called AAA for a simple car breakdown, and was told 5+ hours. Called local tow and they were there within the hour. The local shop told me AAA is dying because nobody wants to work.