Saturday, December 2, 2023


Is the RV industry’s latest tactic ‘Grind RVers down and wear them out’?

Most new RV owners complain to their dealer about their RV’s defects. When they have had enough, they complain to the factory too. And all the while the time limit clock for the owner to actually file a formal claim in court is ticking away. Many RV warranties say you have to file a claim at least 90 days before your warranty expires. In some places, you can’t even get your RV in and out of the dealer’s repair shop that quickly. And that’s what’s wrong with telling owners to go through yet one more step in the process of getting their RV complaints taken care of.

So if a manufacturer wants RV owners to either run out of time or get desperate for a solution, what can they do to you? Why, just give you one more waste-of-time step to go through!

But how do they make it sound legit so people will think they’ll get a fair deal and actually try it? Well, have someone else handle it!

So how can the factory make sure the owner’s complaint ends up like they want it to? Well, to start with, just be the one who pays for it. And maybe help them write the rules of the game too. And then put it all out there and say, “It’s independent.”

The RV Dispute Resolution Program

Is that the way the RVIA came up with their newest way to cut off RV owners’ rights? Maybe, just maybe.

A couple of years ago, the industry came up with the idea of creating a private, confidential, secret process where owners could air their complaints and ask for help. But the idea they came up with appears to help the industry more than the RV owners who just want help. The manufacturers could have improved their quality, but they decided to come up with the RV Dispute Resolution Program. So how’s that working out?

The only report on their statistics that has been publicly released is dated 2022, but it shows some disturbing results for RV owners.

Owner complaints rejected

First, 34% of the owner complaints were rejected—they didn’t even get their complaints heard. Why not?

More than half were thrown out because their RV was no longer under warranty. That’s not surprising since it takes so long to discover some defects and then get it into the dealer’s already-busy repair shop to be worked on. And if that doesn’t work out, you spend time arguing on the phone with either the dealer or the factory. Back and forth, back and forth, take it back for more repair work, cross your fingers, and hold your breath.

And all the while the shortened time limit to actually file a formal claim against the RV company is running out on you, many in as little as 15 months after purchase, some as little as 90 days. With most new cars and appliances, you get a four-year time limit to file a claim, but the RV industry knows what’s coming, so they use a somewhat sneaky way of cutting your time back as short as they can legally get away with. It’s the old “you snooze, you lose” game. But the RV owners are the victims.

RV Dispute Resolution Program claims thrown out

Then there are all the other reasons that claims are thrown out:

  • If the defect isn’t covered by the factory warranty? Goodbye.
  • If the factory didn’t agree to the Dispute Resolution Program? Goodbye.
  • If the factory hasn’t already tried to fix it? Goodbye.
  • If your warranty was voided for some reason? Goodbye. And don’t bother arguing about it.

And guess what happens next to the 64% of those who do get in the Dispute Resolution door—most of them don’t ever get to a real mediation hearing either. Instead, the factory starts talking to them directly, just like they did before the owner ever went into the Dispute Resolution process, trying to get them to take settlement terms the factory offers. Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking, your time is running out. Tick Tock Tick Tock and your legal rights are dead.

What else do you need to know? Two things

The process is secret. When it does happen, it’s all behind closed doors and you can’t tell anyone anything about it.

The RV Dispute Resolution Program is paid for by the RV manufacturers themselves, sort of like the manufacturers are paying the very people who are going to decide what the manufacturer ought to do for you, all the while knowing that the manufacturer can back out of the program if they don’t like the results. Gosh, do you think that might influence them just a little?

It’s all a lot like the fox guarding the hen house, if you ask me.

More by Ron Burdge, RV lemon law attorney.



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Matt (@guest_261371)
17 days ago

The industry knows that buying an RV is an emotional decision and they take full advantage. My DW said “no” to upgrading our TT and it took me a long time to get over being bitter about it. Now I’m glad we didn’t. The industry hasn’t improved quality control, which is easy to verify if you spend five minutes on RV social media. Can’t imagine making payments while my unit sits at the dealer, or worse, rots from the inside out without me knowing.

Brian (@guest_261113)
18 days ago

My next purchase will likely be a used camper. Buying new doesn’t get you anything (extended warranties are useless as well). A new camper starts to fall apart right away and good luck getting the dealer or manufacturer to do anything under warranty.

Mike S (@guest_261084)
18 days ago

I am a residential Home builder remodeler – One thing our industry has learned is that keeping water out of structures is very difficult – so we design drainable systems to protect the structures . The RV industry uses a “barrier ” approach to keeping water out using sealants – Sealants fail over time, especially with the Constant movement of a RV as well as the high winds they are exposed to when travelling in the rain. They need to design RVs with better water management systems – protect vital areas against water damage- My guess is that a lot of these issues are water related & show up after the warranty is expired. There are solutions !

Charles Jeffery (@guest_261959)
12 days ago
Reply to  Mike S

I would agree many of the problems are water related. The first thing I did when I bought my motorhome 20 years ago was to build a carport to put it under. I am convinced had it not been under a carport it would have literally fell apart by now.

Dealers/manufacturers grinding it out is not a new tactic. Also not interested in solutions, that would cost them money.

Warranties are written with loopholes, stacked deck. The only way you can get a dealer to fix anything is to do a very good inspection before you take delivery and have it fixed before you pick it up. Good luck on anything that shows up after delivery.

If you can’t do your own repairs, you will need a large cash reserve.

Neal Davis (@guest_260832)
19 days ago

Thank you, Ron! It is a good thing that informed, experienced, and capable such as you are around and available to save a few chickens from the wolf. Thankfully, our experiences with RV #1 (7/16 – 7/22) and RV #2 (7/22 – present) have been well short of needing arbitration.

Ray (@guest_260825)
19 days ago

As if the game wasn’t rigged enough already. Man, I feel sorry for the newbies who are clueless about all the pitfalls.

Bill Byerly (@guest_260801)
19 days ago

RVIA….sounds like a lose / lose proposition for all RV owners.

Lonewolf (@guest_260729)
19 days ago

The RVIA is a farce in its own right. And, new RV buyers have to pay to have that worthless sticker on their rig. I do believe as RV’ing becomes more popular (even with today’s downturn after record sales through Covid) more and more of the public looking for recreation and relaxation will become aware of the secrets of the RV industry.

Detroit fat cats thought nobody could ever touch U.S. autos, and look where they are today, struggling to compete with Japan and Korea especially. A day a reckoning will hit Elkhart Indiana too, even if it’s after my RV’ing days.

Jorg (@guest_261048)
19 days ago
Reply to  Lonewolf

I agree companies should be held accountable, but with raising labor costs, no wonder we aren’t competitive anymore.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_260726)
19 days ago

Like my lawyer told me. Doesn.t matter how long the contract is, how much it says it will cover. The only thing that matters is the “integrity of the person/company who signed it”. Right is right and wrong is wrong. You need a third eye when dealing with people. Trust your gut and if there is something off about a deal- Don’t sign it. All that said all of us have had bad and good experiences in the RV world. Do your “due diligence” to find those people and companies who have “integrity”.

Mikal H (@guest_260807)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Well stated!

As part of my career in a large multinational I negotiated and wrote contracts with many business both large and small. Many times I would have my counterpart at a supplier say “Why do we have to write that in the contract? I said we’d do it!” My reply was always “I know you said it and mean it, but when you or I change jobs, how will our replacements know it?”

As long as two parties treat each other well, the contract never comes out of the file cabinet. It was only needed when one party or the other failed to act reasonably.

To this day I still read EVERY word of everything I’m signing. If the guy on the other side of the RV desk doesn’t like it…tough!

Mikal H (@guest_260713)
19 days ago

Twenty…even ten years ago… there were many more family owned dealers and privately owned manufacturers and they generally worked hard for their customers to ensure satisfaction. Their names were on the business and quality and service defined their legacy.

The trend I have noticed is that as heavy consolidation has occurred in the industry, both in manufacturing and dealers, the level of quality, service, and caring has continued to decline.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that this new “secret” process is in place propagated by the RVIA. Just another way for a greedy consolidated industry to make more profit at the expense of unsuspecting customers.

J B (@guest_260728)
19 days ago
Reply to  Mikal H

I couldn’t have said it better.Incessant greed has taken over everything.

Barb M (@guest_260666)
20 days ago

I’m one of those wide eyes. Dealer sold with open recall. Trouble with digital mirror and tow hitch, class b. Dealer said call dodge. When contacted dodge to put in warranty claim found out about recall. Can’t get any dodge dealer, yes business link, to fix. Called multiple dealers in two states, we are snowbirds. Called & emailed dodge/stellantis, no help. Wondering how lemon laws work with motorhomes.

Patriot (@guest_260643)
20 days ago

So, when you need a politician to actually do something about this injustice, they are AWOL! And they wonder why, we the people, don’t trust the government anymore.

-Well, i am off to by one of those great electric cars we can all afford and need out here in fly over country. (Ok, not really.)

Roger V. (@guest_260641)
20 days ago

RV warranties are just a sales tool – a cruel joke supporting a corrupt industry that preys on unsuspecting, clueless buyers. The “Big Lie”: “Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered for the warranty period!” The RVIA could care less about making people happy long term as there is apparently an unending supply of wide-eyed innocents out there ready to pay big bucks to “live the dream”. This article proves the industry is only interested in shutting down warranty claims.

J B (@guest_260730)
19 days ago
Reply to  Roger V.

It also applies to new vehicles.Corporate greed is the problem…profits for investors is the norm.

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