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:
Treat it like a classic automobile or older house
Dennis C. does a lot of his own work on his RV and says you must take care of it. “Yes, RVs should be built to a better standard. I have owned three class A DPs. Fortunately, I have good mechanical skills and perform a lot of my own repairs and maintenance. I fix the small stuff ASAP and always do inspections before, after, and between trips. You must take extra care of an RV like you would a classic automobile or an older house. RVs are both, in a way. Imagine a mobile home going through a 7.5-magnitude earthquake every time you travel. Everything will eventually wear out or break, so diligent preventive maintenance and inspection are of utmost importance to a good RV experience.”
Mobile tech came to the rescue
Robert E. couldn’t get into a shop but a mobile tech solved his problem. Whew! He writes, “I recently had my gas furnace go out while I was on vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and had to call a mobile repair shop to get it fixed. It was on a Saturday and I called Ricky’s RV Repair. They close at 12 on Saturdays and said they could not come out till Monday, but they gave me some names and numbers of other RV shops in the area, none of which would come out till Monday. I called Ricky’s back and got an appointment set up for Monday. The tech that came out was very knowledgeable and diagnosed the problem, had the parts with him and had it fixed in one hour. I was very satisfied with the work and the price I paid, and I am thankful that I had a good experience. This was the first time in eight years of RVing that I could not fix the problem myself.”
What is REALLY wrong with the RV industry
Donna C. worked in manufacturing and repair and has an idea of what is wrong. She says, “I have 30 years of experience in restaurant equipment repair and manufacturing. I managed a family repair company for 18 years and then worked for manufacturers. The answers to what is wrong with the RV industry (I think) boils down to:
- No true parts distributorship set up with discounts for services;
- No set list prices;
- No true warranty;
- Servicers bound by contract;
- Nonpayment of warranty claims even when ‘authorized’;
- Service Department with ‘zero’ power to run at the engineers to correct inherent defects in design; and
- Little to no quality control.
“From my experience, when I found warranty claims that were repeating in occurrence, I had the power to go directly to the head of engineering to talk about it and push for revision. I have set up Warranty Service Networks and handled parts setups and it is not that difficult. Dealers are not always the way to go!”
A satisfied customer
Jesse C. found a great dealer. They say, “We have bought all four of our RV’s, two travel trailers and two motorhomes, from our local RV dealer—Stoltzfus RV of West Chester, PA. When issues arose on the two used units, they stood behind what they sold. When repairs arose after the warranty, their repairs have stood the test of time. We could go elsewhere for a cheaper price but want quality workmanship. Completely satisfied with our dealer of 20 years.”
Fridge after fridge after fridge…
Bill W. had a terrible time with Camping World but found great service with another repair service in Elkhart, Indiana. “As an experienced fifth-wheel RV owner, I have dealt with many issues and many repair shops. The worst in my opinion is Camping World. Our refrigerator had an ‘E’ code and they said the unit was ‘toast’ and would need to be replaced. I gave them the okay, and they ordered and replaced my unit. I got home and set up and got the same code. Took it back to CW and they said the new unit was defective so another unit was ordered and installed. Took it home and set up and, you guessed it— same code. (And they tried to charge me for two units, after I agreed to pay for only one.)
“Took it to a local dealer and he immediately diagnosed a faulty inverter and, bingo, everything worked perfectly.
“Later, when on an extended trip, we had two blowouts that damaged the exterior and wiring, which caused a fire that I was luckily quickly able to extinguish. Also on that trip, a scrap truck backed up with a pipe extended and punched a hole in the side of the unit, and tore off the awning.
“Since I was coming back through northern Indiana, I contacted a local dealer to see about repair and they referred me to Duncan RV Repair in Elkhart. Hands down this is by far the best facility to have repair work done. They were timely, kept me posted, and did a great job. Later found out they are the #1 rated repair facility in the country.”
This service center works in a timely manner and with great care
Gary M. plans ahead for RV service and gets great work done. He says, “We have used a local, independent shop for all work since we bought our barely used RV two years ago. I have to plan ahead for appointments, but they do the work in a timely manner and with great care. They are honest and have even done a couple of things they normally do not do to help me. Sometimes they provide the parts and sometimes I provide the parts, especially if they are difficult to find.”
Not all RV techs fix the problem
Rita W. shares her experience with a mobile tech: “Horrible experience at Danny’s RV Mobile Service in Williams, Arizona, in October 2022! My three automatic stairs kept coming in and out when driving on the highway! Very dangerous. I got a referral from the lady at the RV park and Danny came out the next day to fix my stairs.
“He never checked the wires with a wire tester and did nothing but charge me $360 for coming out to check my stairs retracting in and out! Charges $200 an hour and $120 service call to come out to the RV park. Took advantage of a woman from out of state! Took it to another city and a different RV mobile tech. He fixed the stair problem in 20 minutes. A broken wire to the stairs, which he replaced right away for a reasonable charge this time!
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 months, 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.
10-year policy stops RVer from getting RV serviced where he bought it
We purchased our new Montana 5th wheel from Simi RV, in Simi Valley CA. Sales went perfectly! I have had minor service done on the unit and the service techs went above and beyond. One incident they said I could wait for the unit, (about 1 hour). We are very fortunate to have a top notch hometown dealer 10 minutes from us! It takes longer to hitch up than it does to drive to the shop. After all the horror stories I’ve heard, stick to your hometown dealer and build a relationship with them. Local business, local money!
We purchased a new camper in the fall of 2022, we requested Campers World to mount a TV in the camper and we were willing to pay for it. Will keep this short, bottom line was the service manager said they could not do it. Simple reason was they said we had purchased the wrong mount. So, on our first trip with the camper, I called a mobile tech who we have had do work for us in the past. We were able to mount the TV in less than 10 minutes using the mount we purchased with no issues. Needless to say, I called Campers World and spoke to a manger there and let them know what happened. And let them know we will never bring the camper back to them for any work, we will stick with our mobile tech. Thumbs up for mobile techs.
I am a DIY guy…and take careful care of our RV. We’ve owned 3 brand new RVs since 2012- two Forest Rivers and one Winnebago. There has always been an ongoing list of little things to fix…mostly loose screws and so forth. But so far- NO big things have ever failed. I’ve had one tire blow out on a transcontinental trip…luckily with no damage to the rig. If a person is not handy and beholden to the RV dealer for repairs…that must be a huge pain. As I get older, that may happen to me cuz I’m done climbing up on that roof anymore!
I think Donna C. has the best explanation from a professional perspective of exactly what is wrong with the industry. A question is why is this so, especially after record-setting sales and profits over the past few years. The question begs to be asked “Does the RV industry even care?”
It becomes more evident, as you read thru these comments, that the best service is often local family-owned dealerships and capable mobile techs. I think your question is better when not asking if the RV industry cares, but rather, do the board rooms of the conglomerate RV dealerships care? That answer to that question should be clear.
Did the person check the hourly rate and service call charges?
Outrageous. $200 an hour when wages paid are in the 20’s-35.
I don’t like service calls that take me even 20 miles from office because driving time is totally unproductive. Of course I do them but I’m paid an hourly rate and the boss wants to make money too so it might add a $100 to your bill. But, we don’t have a service call charge but a fully stocked truck so a return trip is hardly necessary. BTW, I’m not an rv repair guy but an electrician. Same story applies to any service.
It would be interesting to know if the comments made on this subject are from owners that are full timers, part timers, or weekend warriors. That would help determine the urgency of the repairs needed and maybe the mindset of the owners.