Technician Training (or lack thereof)?

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Why we need more RV technician training

By Mike Sokol

You all see the type of electrical knowledge I’m bringing to the consumer side of the RV industry. Over the last 10 years I’ve written a book on RV Electrical Safety, published hundreds of educational articles on electricity and answered a few thousand questions on dozens of forums.

I’ve also produced a score of videos detailing topics such as how to use a digital meter, using a Non-Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT) to check for hot-skin/contact-voltage, even how to bond the neutral bus on inverter generators so your Intelligent/EMS surge protectors will operate properly. And just last year I began presenting RV Electricity seminars at a number of large RV shows and rallies around the country.

But the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the lack of training for RV technicians working at dealerships. I’ve been going down that rabbit hole lately, and it’s quite disturbing to me.

I was just contacted by a first-time reader about a serious problem she had with a brand-new RV recently purchased from a major dealer. I’m leaving out all the names and places to protect the customer’s identity, but for now let’s call her Customer X.

Customer X emailed me a few weeks ago saying that one of my other readers had referred her to me because she was feeling a shock from her RV strong enough to make her arm numb. As soon as I saw the email I immediately called her to find out what had happened and warn her to unplug her RV from shore power.

Well, what had happened was her 5-month-old RV had been to the dealership for a few warranty fixes and in the process of remounting a bed bracket the shop technicians had run a bunch of screws into the wall, one of which must have penetrated an electrical wire. She had the unit home in her driveway plugged into house power, so she called the dealership about feeling a shock.

The dealership technicians proceeded to tell her that it must be a screw penetrating a wire in the wall and she should try backing out the new screws one at a time and keep testing with her hand to feel if she was still getting shocked! What?! She kept trying screw after screw and was feeling shock after shock until her arm went numb and she refused to get shocked anymore. Remember, the dealer’s RV tech was on the phone with her the entire time telling her to loosen the screws and touch the RV to see if she was still getting shocked(!).

If you can believe it, the story gets worse. After making contact with the regional manager, he joked with Customer X asking why she was dumb enough to keep touching the RV and feeling a shock over and over again, when it was caused by his own technicians directing her to do so over the phone.

And it gets worse still, since during this shock/troubleshooting session, her 7-year old daughter came out to the RV to find out what mom was doing, and the little girl felt a shock when entering the RV. All of this under the phone direction of the shop tech that the director said was his best RV technician in that region.

Oh, and they assured her that once she found and backed out the offending screw, the wiring insulation inside of the wall would magically “heal itself” and nothing had to be replaced. That’s just crazy talk!

I can’t go into more detail at this point, but I hope you see the problem. When RV dealership technicians and managers don’t seem to be concerned about a customer feeling an electrical shock, and in fact directs them to keep getting shocked as part of their ill-advised troubleshooting procedure over the phone, then something’s gotta change.

So I’m pitching the idea of bringing my 8-hour technician training class to as many RV dealerships as I can find around the country. I’ve already done one of these advanced troubleshooting clinics to a class of 34 RV technicians near Hershey, PA (Thank you, PRVCA for stepping up!), and I’m scheduled to teach two more classes for NERVDA next month in the New England area. But that’s just scraping the surface of the problem.

What I need you all to do is call your own RV dealerships and (respectfully) suggest they set up an RV electrical training class on electrical troubleshooting for their technicians. As far as I can tell, I’m still the best person to create and teach this class since I not only have a 50-year background in AC power design and troubleshooting, I’m also an adjunct professor and seminar instructor with decades of experience teaching highly technical topics at all levels. I want to be there for the RV industry, but unless you all ask for it, the level of RV technician training will never change and you’ll continue to pay a lot of money for electrical repairs that could end up being dangerous to you and your family.

So if any RV dealership associations want to contact me about designing an electrical troubleshooting class for the technicians, please email mike@noshockzone.org to discuss how to proceed. And thanks very much for your concern and continued support. I can’t do this without you.

Let’s play safe out there….

 

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

 

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Phil Smith
Phil Smith

That is absolutely amazing, scary, and nearly criminal! It is at least GOT to be a civil case for Customer X for their endangering her life!!

squeakytiki
squeakytiki

You need to name and shame that dealership, so no one else buys from people that stupid.

Mike Sokol
Mike Sokol

Not to worry, I’m already talking to people at the top. I don’t think this sort of repair mismanagement is confined to a single dealership, so I’m using this as a teachable moment for the entire RV industry. Wish me luck.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Hi Mike. At the dealership mentioned in the article, is there professional licencing/certification involve for the techs? If there is was, has their qualifications been pulled and the dealership charged and/or fined for failure to practice due diligence at the very least? I am surprised that you didn’t mention the name and location of the dealership. I understand the need to protect the customers identity, but at the very least, the name of the dealership as well as their foolish actions should have been mentioned, to prevent problems to future customers.

Mike Sokol
Mike Sokol

I may be involved as an expert witness, so I’ve said all I can for right now. But as soon as I can I’ll release all the details along with an interview of Customer X.