In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs (we asked you to submit your stories here). We’ll tell you all: the best, the good, the bad and the ugly. At the end of this article, you’ll find a place to submit your own comments. I encourage you to do so.
Keep in mind, we typically only present one side of the story in most of these. Also, any remarks about service centers and mobile techs mentioned are the opinions of our readers and not necessarily RVtravel.com.
Here’s what you had to say:
Great job, service centers!
Ronn L. emailed us about a great job he had done on his RV. “I had Boys Club of Cherokee, NC, repair our mechanical parts. Had the brakes, gas tank, and all the fluids changed to synthetic. They did a great job. Would highly recommend them. I also had Fallins RV Center in Whittier, NC, replace both A/C units. They also did a great job with no problems. Our RV is a 2002 National Dolphin.”
Another reader, Randy D., is also happy with his service center. He shares, “Had great service at Prosser’s Premium RV Outlet in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Had everything done in four days and was very happy with it.”
RV industry is in a “race to the bottom”
Tami A’s husband was an RV tech and she sent us this email: “I was married to an RV technician for 13 years. He was one of the last of a dying breed of actual trained master-certified technicians, but for most of those years, he was woefully underpaid for his skill.
“RV technicians have to be carpenters, plumbers, electricians and refrigeration experts as well as propane experts. Every time there is a downturn in the economy the good ones leave and find a better, more secure job in which to use their skills.
“Then the companies rehire as the economy comes back and they are stuck with the bottom of the barrel or training guys from the beginning. My husband used to come home every night and just shake his head and say that the RV industry was in a race to the bottom.
Buy an older RV
“If you’re looking for an RV, my advice is to buy an older one. I have owned many RVs over the years and honestly, the best one I ever had was a Forest River product that was from the ’90s before they got rid of the one-piece aluminum roof and replaced it with the piece of trash that they call a rubber roof!
“Forest River and all the manufacturers have been bought out and shut down and reopened so many times and they use the cheapest labor they can get. They just don’t pay warranty claims anymore. They fight the dealership for every penny and so then the dealership tells the guys to overlook things just to survive.
“I’m not saying it’s right… obviously it’s wrong, but that’s how things are done. You couldn’t get me to pay $30,000-$50,000 or more for a new RV if it was the only choice I had. The other saying is, ‘It’s not IF your coach will leak—it’s WHEN!’ RV travel and camping are so much fun, but to keep your memories from being ruined by the inevitable problems of ownership, do your homework! Buy basic without all the bells and whistles, do all your maintenance and check your seals religiously. And for God’s sake – KEEP IT UNDER COVER WHEN NOT IN USE!”
Bad, bad investment
Richard R. reports on what most of us already have found out. He explains, “An RV is NOT a truck. It is NOT made of steel and aluminum on an assembly line. It is made from pressed wood, glue and small nails. They are the worst investment you can make. Each one is made by hand, using staples, glue, tape and finishing nails. These materials do not hold up well over the road.”
Going to court
Robert B. is taking his repair center to court. He writes, “The repair center got an advance from me and billed the warranty company and didn’t return my deposit. I’m now going to small claims court.”
Safe broken into at Camping World
Jo C. will not be going back to Camping World. “We had taken our 5th wheel to Camping World for warranty service. We picked it up, got it to the RV park, and got it set up. I went to the closet to get something. When I opened the slider, all the clothes were off the rack and piled on the floor in layers still on the hangers. I yelled for my husband and showed him the clothes. We checked the dresser but nothing was disturbed that I could see.
“My husband immediately looked in the safe under the bed. Sure enough, someone had stolen the money out of the safe. We had $400 in the safe and had forgotten to take it out when we took the trailer in for service. My husband called Camping World right then and spoke to the service guy. Not much they could do, blah blah blah. $400 was taken off our bill. Camping World did lose a customer. Some friends of ours had the same thing happen to them except it was money in a jar saved for laundry that they kept in their closet.”
Another Camping World snafu
Kathleen R. has had their RV at Camping World for nine months now. Yikes… “Our RV has been at Camping World in Thornburg, Virginia, for nine months after a minor accident. It needed a new awning, outdoor speaker, and a piece of siding. Took them three months to give our insurance company an estimate, and they’ve had the payment from our insurance company for nearly six months now.
“First, they said the parts were back-ordered, but now they’ve had the parts for two months. They don’t return multiple calls for weeks, always saying the service manager is ‘in a meeting.’ I contacted the corporate office on social media, and at least then the service manager started returning my calls. But he’s told us it’ll be ready ‘next week’ for four weeks in a row.
“We’re at our wit’s end and have no idea what to do about this. We’ve lost nearly an entire year of use of our camper, with no end in sight. And now we’re very concerned it’s been unattended without inspection or attention for nine months. We’re terrified of what condition it’ll be in when we eventually do get it back.”
Almost fell through the roof (literally)
Rodney T. had a terrible time with water damage and the dealer. He writes, “I purchased several different RVs over the years. I do know you must get on top of the RV and check all the joints and trim. If it starts leaking, the damages are way beyond what you can see. A person should keep it under a roof when not in use.
“I had a Forest River where part of the rubber roof came out from under the trim. Not only did I have inside water damage, I also had wet insulation and wood going bad. When I had it ‘fixed’, the dealership placed rubber tape over it and told me it was repaired.
“I got on the roof to see what was done. Where the tape repair was I just about fell through the roof. All the plywood was gone, about the size of a five-gallon bucket. When I called the dealership I was put on hold for an hour. Then a person said the tech would call me back. Well, no call from the tech, and can’t seem to get a thing out of them.
Make sure repairs are done correctly
“If you pay them to do a job, make sure you do not take it home until you make sure the repairs are done correctly. Make sure things work even if it has to stay at the repair location for a couple more days. After all, you just paid them for a very expensive RV and they have had it for months. You’d think after 4-5 months in the shop it would be done correctly and it works.
“RVs are hard to work on and very expensive to fix. I could write a book on RV repairs. I have a toy hauler that is now five years old and the refrigerator, furnace, roof, bunk in the back, window leaking, gas pump on fuel tank, and the control electric board all have had to have work done on them. Every time I get in it something is not working.
“I have thought about starting a business that repairs them correctly and educates people on how to look for and prevent problems with RVs. This is my seventh RV and now do all my own repairs. Includes yearly things such as getting them ready for winter and mouse-proofing. Mice will do a lot of damage and repairs are very costly from mice.”
Bless the mobile techs
There are dozens of emails coming in every week praising mobile techs that get folks out of a jam or do RV maintenance. Here’s one note from Sherrie D.:
“We needed a mobile tech and only one would drive over 100 miles from Billings, MT. We could not take our trailer there because our slide jammed open. He was great. Spent three hours moving the slide inch by inch until it was closed. He showed us a sheared-off jib part that had aluminum rivets. This issue caused the jam. Bless him. We could then drive the more than 900 miles home. My husband is going to fix the problem after we order the parts and have to wait three months for them to arrive.”
Note from RVtravel.com: If hiring a mobile tech, a small or mega service center, make sure that they are experienced in the issue and have insurance in case something goes wrong. Also, check their warranty policy on the work they perform. Check reviews too and read between the lines—if the review sounds way too good to be true it might be. Compare with several reviews and not just the ones on their website.
Questions for you about RV service
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share stories of your RV service experiences. We want to know:
- Have you had good luck with great service or not so much?
- Did you get good service from knowledgeable technicians?
- Are you waiting to get into a service center or have a mobile tech come out?
- What has been the average time to get an appointment?
- Has your RV been in a service center for a while?
- Are you able to get any mobile techs to come out?
- Are the service centers able to get parts?
- When you do get the repairs done, is the price reasonable?
Please fill out the form below and tell us what your experiences have been like. It can be a horror story, an opinion about what’s going on, a positive experience, or anything else related to the topic. We want to know the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Check back next week for more on RV service centers. See you then.
Past RV Service Centers and Repairs Reports:
- ‘RVs are rolling fiberglass dumpsters’
- Still waiting on parts? Call to make sure they were actually ordered…