Monday, September 25, 2023


My RV salesman lied to me! Why should I be shocked?

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out!” That was a popular saying in my early days as a newspaper reporter.

It may seem kind of cruel, but what it means is, “Don’t believe anything until you have confirmed it with a second source.” Or even a third source!

That was a hard-won lesson in journalism. And it’s now a hard-won lesson in purchasing an RV.

I know RV salesmen are not always the most trustworthy people in the world, but still, I recently threw caution to the wind.

I thought I had done my due diligence by Googling complaints about a specific dealership and talking at length to the model’s representatives at the Tampa RV Show. I’m not going to name the manufacturer, but it is a small company with a good reputation.

Lulled into a false sense of security, I believed the RV salesman. I still knew enough to ask important questions. “Why did the owner sell her rig after only having it one year?” And “Why was it at the factory when it was posted for sale?”

It’s essential to try to figure out why a used RV is being sold. What you want to hear is something like, “The owner died.” That’s callous, but it’s reassuring. It means he went to his grave still in love with that wonderful, expensive vehicle.

The RV salesman’s answer was, “She traded up to the same model, three feet longer, because she wanted the dinette.” And the second answer was, “She poked a hole in it.”

Fast forward a few months. I found the owner while searching some old threads on my RV manufacturer’s owner’s Facebook site. And I found half a dozen of her posts detailing the many problems that had to be fixed.

She didn’t buy from the same manufacturer. She didn’t even buy an RV any longer than the one she had.

We talked. It was at the factory because it had water damage from serious water leaks. She walked away with a heart-wrenching $70,000 trade-in loss. She couldn’t take it anymore. It was in the shop more than on the road and that was not the lifestyle she had signed up for.

Two lies from one salesman. It’s my word against his. Tough luck.

Have I had problems? My slide has been fixed four times. My refrigerator died—for good (more on that here). Other than that, it’s been OK, but it’s taking me a while to shake the feeling my RV is haunted by its storied past.

I also violated one of my cardinal rules—don’t buy an RV built during Covid. There were too many staff changes and parts shortages and even more ways to screw up the build we all deserve. And I did it: I fell in love and didn’t follow my own often-spoken advice.

I sure wish I had had my reporter’s hat on before I bought my “new” rig. I should have asked more questions of more people. And now I think I should have gotten the salesman’s claims in writing.

What would it take to force the RV industry to allow the buyer to interview the former owner of a used rig for sale? That certainly wouldn’t suit the dealers—but it sure would be an honest way of doing business.

What do you think? Any advice on where I went wrong?


Jan Steele
Jan Steele
Former newspaper editor Jan Steele started her career in third grade as a school correspondent for her local newspaper and has been writing for publication ever since, including a 30-year-stint at the Herald-News in Joliet, IL. She decided in fourth grade she wanted to hit the road as soon as she could—and retired eight years ago to RV full-time.


  1. We traded for a new RV and tried to leave our records with the dealer, but he declined. We, too, wish we could find the new owner and talk about our former rig. What we did to it and why. Our Florida-based dealer wholesaled it to a Kentucky-based dealer. Apparently it sold fairly quickly, available on its website for less than a month.

  2. Write down what you have been told about the used RV on the sales order and have the salesman and sales manager sign that it is true and that your purchase is contingent on these true facts. I am not a lawyer so my free advice comes with a full money back guarantee.

  3. I don’t think the sales profession attracts liars anymore than any other role, they’re just more apt to get caught. (Let that one sink in)

    So why are sales people so often caught lying? Because they interact almost exclusively with a larger group of liars – consumers.

    I find most RV salespeople lack product or trade in knowledge and “ad lib” to compensate. Likewise, it’s just as common to observe consumers engaging in equally ad hoc statements delivered as “fact”.

    Gotta love the human race!

  4. As a commissioned salesman for over 30 years, it’s hard to listen to these disparaging remarks about my profession. But after attending numerous RV shows and listening to some of the outrageous claims by the salespeople, I am more understanding of these beliefs. And it’s so unnecessary. I found that 1.) know your inventory. 2.) LISTEN to what your customer wants. 3.) Match them to the product that checks the boxes they have given you. I may not have grown rich, but was always on top for sales with a solid repeat business. There is no reason to lie and cheat unless you are selling an inferior product. And if that’s the case, you should move on…..

  5. Like Bob P said, “if an RV salesperson’s lips are moving, he is lying”. Also look to see if they are wearing a knock-off Rolex watch, Nike socks and Nike sneaks.

  6. One can’t be naive when it comes to
    salesman, politicians or any promoting their
    Do your own research or deal with the consequences

  7. Last year, when I bought my previously owned Class B at an RV dealership east of Portland, OR, they would not disclose the name of the previous owner. However, they did provide me with a copy of the CarFax. I was able to get quite a bit of information on the service and repair from that CarFax report. I realize that this doesn’t help the used TT buyer but may help a motorhome buyer. Demand the CarFax from your dealer!

  8. I bought a 5 th wheel travel trailer in Council Bluffs Iowa at camping world and was
    “ Tag Teamed “by 3 sets of sales associates as they are called, until I gave in and bought , Never again at Camping World

  9. We pretty much paid top dollar for our 2005 GT jamboree when we bought it in 2006. It had been on the lot for a while but we went over it with a fine tooth comb and loved everything about it and still do. It had that new RV smell. My parents long term RV’ers, insisted we over paid but we have never felt that way. We still have the same RV which has close to 150,000 miles and just last spring did cost us $10,000 beyond the usual upkeep. Shortly after we brought her home I found the original owners name and contacted them. If I had been able to do this before we bought the RV it would have eliminated the arguments about over paying. They did indeed find the unit to be to small for them after just one trip out west. We received complete records as well as tons of information. Realtors try to keep homeowners from being involved in the sale of a house and RV salesman do the same thing. Of course anybody can and will lie but I feel when you are spending so much money the buyer should have the right to try and determine that for themselves.

  10. I found the paperwork provided to the original owner inside a cabinet of my current MH. I was able to call him and found out much about the RV I was contemplating buying. While he did give me much information he was somewhat vague on what had or had not been done.
    I did purchase an extended warranty and it was a saving grace. The warranty has covered more than 3 times what I paid for it.

  11. The main thing to remember about salesmen are they are serving an apprenticeship for becoming a politician. If their lips are moving they are lying.

  12. I found the name of the PO of our class A on a piece of paperwork that was in the bag of owner’s manuals. I contacted him and was able to confirm everything we were told by our salesman. No problems with the rig and the PO had a couple of issues that were corrected under warranty. So far, we are very happy.


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