Sunday, June 13, 2021
Sunday, June 13, 2021

Utah RV dealership customers say they’ve been cheated

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
After a Utah television station reported on “discrepancies” in an RV dealership customer’s loan papers, more alleged chicanery has popped up. Lisa Pueblo thought she’d bought a motorhome on a 20-year finance contract. Imagine her surprise when she found, instead, her contract was for just 10 years – and then a whopping $63,000 balloon payment needed to complete it. Could you be the victim of such perverted paperwork?

Loan papers different

Lisa Pueblo, a Farmington, Utah, resident, visited her local General RV dealership in 2015. Like a lot of folks, she just fell in love with a motorhome, but knew it had to be out of her price range. The obliging salesman gave her the “Hey! No problem!” response and proceeded to punch numbers that would have her paying a total of $156,000 for the $100,000 Thor motorcoach with just 240 easy payments. The ecstatic woman from Farmington drove home in a new motorhome.

But five years later, Pueblo discovered, much to her consternation, the bank looked at those loan papers differently. In their view, Lisa was paying, not 240 easy payments, but 119 easy payments, with the big $63,000 whacker as payment number 120. A look at the loan paper carbon copy she got from General RV was revealing. In what a TV station describes as a “smudged copy,” on one line the number of monthly payments shows a faint “240” but a much darker “119” appears over the top. When Pueblo checked out the loan papers at the financing credit union, there’s no smudge, no “240” but clearly a “119” plus the single balloon payment.

Coming out of the woodwork

When the Salt Lake City, Utah, FOX affiliate ran the story in April, they probably had no idea of what would come of the potentially perverted paperwork. Within a short while, three more “unhappy campers” contacted the station. All three had bought RVs from General RV, and all three came forward with similarly “smudged” paperwork. All of them found what they had understood were 20-year contracts had mysteriously been transformed into 10-year loans, each with a huge balloon payment at the end. One of the customers, Roger Barnes from Midvale, Utah, pointed out another similarity on his paperwork to that of Lisa Pueblo’s: His loan paperwork, handled by General RV, didn’t show any signature from the RV dealership.

All four parties found the same potentially perverted paperwork game. The balloon payments were different. Pueblo’s is $63,000; Barnes’ is bigger, $83,000 due in 2025. On either side, a customer from Tooele, Utah, faces a $73,000 payment; while a customer from Colorado takes the cake: He’ll be trying to come up with a blowout balloon payment of $105,000 come 2023.

Here’s the FOX news story in video format

What does the dealership have to say? When Pueblo came forward in April, General RV refused comment. When these other customers with “smudged” paperwork came out of the woodwork, General RV relented – a little. Alicia Gewinner, General’s marketing director, told the TV station, in part, “No one at General RV did anything wrong. We confirmed that General RV followed all legal requirements … all General RV forms, including details of the payment terms, are completed prior to acquiring a customer’s signature and do not undergo any alteration afterwards….” Gewinner patently denied what she called the “false claims” of the complaining customers.

Was the paperwork changed?

Interestingly, FOX ran the loan papers past a third-party attorney who had no relationship with either Lisa Pueblo or the dealership. His review of Pueblo’s paperwork revealed that all through the paperwork, the term of 240 monthly payments was clearly shown. “It looks to me like it was changed after the fact,” Stephen Whiting, the attorney, told FOX. “The question is, why was it changed after the fact?”

Why indeed? It’s not clear what inducement General RV would have to tell a customer their payment terms would run 240 months, then produce perverted paperwork giving them a shorter term and a balloon payment. One possible explanation could be that the salesman or finance managers recognized the sale of a rig would simply fall through unless the longer term – with smaller payments – were in place. But, of course, that’s only speculation.

There is a box required by law at the top of loan contracts

Smudged paperwork aside, at the top of the loan contracts there is a box – required under federal law. The numbers in the box disclose the number of payments, the amount of each, the finance charges, and the total amount that will be paid. In the questionable contracts, the numbers in the boxes add up to what would be a 240-month contract. A dead giveaway that something is wrong.

It appears that ticked-off customers aren’t the only ones interested in these goings-on. According to FOX, Utah’s DMV enforcement folks are quite interested, as well. Allan Shinney, director of the investigation division, told the news outlet he’d never seen anything like it before. “Everyone’s got paper jams,” Shinney told the TV outlet. “But not identical across the board at different transactions.” Apparently speaking of customers holding potentially perverted paperwork, “They very well could have been deceived. It’s sure looking that way.”

Industry and government “clam up”

We at RVtravel.com wanted to know more about this whole case, and how it might impact the RVing community. We reached out to Utah DMV Shinney’s office for further comments, and information as to the status of a potential investigation. Neither telephone nor email requests were ever answered. We also asked the trade group representing RV dealers, the RV Dealer’s Association (RVDA). Writing by email, RVDA’s president, Phil Ingrassia, noted, “RVDA wouldn’t comment on something like this unless it was an enforcement action that covered a wide number of dealerships.”

How can RVers protect themselves from perverted paperwork? We felt that, surely, the bankers would be the ones to know. So we reached out to the trade association that represents credit unions – a major source of RV loans. We sent a copy of the FOX story out to Lauren Williams. She’s the spokesperson for CUNA, the Credit Union National Association. We immediately got a response, in which she said, “This is unfortunate to hear, we would welcome the opportunity to provide insight.” Unfortunately, that was the end of the matter. We had initially asked for someone inside the industry to help us explain how buyers could protect themselves. The “we want to help you” comment was the last we heard from CUNA. They have not responded to further requests for help.

We find it disquieting that both the finance and selling industries connected with these problems are clammed up. And the fact that the regulatory agency that oversees RV dealerships in Utah has also gone mum is disturbing. We’ll continue to reach out for more help, and let you know if and when we hear something back.

Protect yourself

Meanwhile, what can you, as either an “already” customer with an RV loan or a person who’s considering a potential “sign on the dotted line,” to do? Liberal applications of horse-sense. Personally, my wife and I have driven vehicle sales folks to distraction by deliberately taking the time to read each and every word on sales paperwork before we sign off. Don’t take the old “This is just customary paperwork; sign here” line of baloney from the salesman or the finance manager. READ the paperwork. If it smells fishy, DON’T sign it, demand a copy, and tell the dealer you’ll be back – after you talk to somebody else about what you’ve been asked to sign off on.

If you do allow a dealership to process a loan application for you, after you’ve read it, and thoroughly understand it, consider signing it. But don’t stop there. Go back to the institution that floats the loan and ask to see THEIR copy of the paperwork. Compare it directly to yours. If there’s a discrepancy, start politely shouting. Be sure to include your state’s regulatory oversight agency. It’s typically the DMV, but it may not be. Keep asking until you find the right arena. Of course, this all requires that you KEEP copies of all the paperwork generated in a sales transaction.

We’re hopeful that this matter is simply a “one dealer” issue

We’d like to think that the vast majority of RV dealers are free of allegedly perverted paperwork. But even if there’s only a FEW rotters, imagine being the victim. Don’t take the chance. Check your paperwork – preferably before you sign it. But even if you have a loan now, you may do well to go back and check it out.

Do you feel you’ve been on the dirty end of a deal with an RV dealer? Let us know. Drop a line to russ@rvtravel.com.

Do you appreciate reporting like this? If so, please consider helping support our efforts in investigative journalism by become a voluntary subscriber. Learn more here, or make a contribution. You will not read stories like this on other RV websites.

Paperwork image: fox13now.com

Related

What does financing an RV for 20 years really mean?
Arkansas Attorney General urges caution when buying an RV
RVers lament being upside down with their loans

##RVT1000b

Related Articles

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

21 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard Hughes
27 days ago

Why would anyone be crazy enough to do a 20 year loan on an RV? If you have to string it out over a longer period of time to afford it, can you really afford it? My advice would be, refinance your house. You can get lower interest, the RV is paid off and you can sell it, if necessary.

Louie
26 days ago
Reply to  Richard Hughes

Do we have to go over it again? You don’t get to choose how someone finances anything. What someone can afford or not afford is up to them. It’s none of your business!

Trek N See
28 days ago

4 coincidences? There is no coincidence. In my opinion:

1. This is more then likely a crime. Bank fraud at the least and forgery on top of it.

2. Their are no responses because their attorney’s told them to shut up.

3. All 4 should file a complaint with FBI.

4. All 4 should get an attorney who would probably sign on pro Bono for a piece of the award and file suit

5. The dealer is responsible for any action s of the business. Saying we didn’t know doesn’t cut it.

6. The TV Station should keep on it talking about the dealer a lot.

7. Be interesting if all of a sudden there were offers to settle.

Jeremiah Puckett
28 days ago

The odd thing is the monthly payment wasn’t changed. The interest rate wasn’t changed. If the buyer simply financed the balloon payment for ten years then the total 20 years of payments wouldn’t change. And, if the financing of the balloon payment was done at original interest rate then the total paid would be the same. Only real issue is financing the balloon payment would likely be for a higher interest rate, which would result in slightly higher payments for the last 10 years. So, where do these apparent changes actually benefit General RV?

WEB
27 days ago

Did you even watch the video? It stated many times how the “math did not add up to a 10 yr loan” or there was “faulty math in all the loans looked at”
How long have you been working at General RV for?

Zephod
28 days ago

In my opinion this does not sound like a dealer issue more of a collusion between the dealer finance and the institution funding the loan. Loans are reviewed at many levels within the funding department, These loans should not have passed through the different approvals especially their loan QC department.

isaac
28 days ago

I guarantee they’re expecting the customer to default on that final payment. Then they repossess the rv, sue the customer go pay in full, and they got a used rv to sell. Think buy here pay here level of sleeziness.

Jeremiah Puckett
28 days ago
Reply to  isaac

And why would a customer default? If they have ten years of good payment history, it would be simple to refinance the balloon payment.

WEB
27 days ago

IF they knew the final payment was due in ten years, then yes, they have time to work it out. But I am understanding that none knew of this final payment. What if you retire not knowing this big payment is coming, then in ten years a bank looks at your incoming income (now retired) and says NO! to your refinancing request, then what? Not all have a big stash of cash 10 years after retirement.

Charles Davis
28 days ago

Hello Chuck and fellow readers,
This is the first time I have heard of a balloon payment added on the end of an RV contract though it is a common practice in the finance of a house and is pushed in front of customers in the Real Estate market.
We always mail our original documents to the customer and ask they review and sign them after reading the completed paperwork and agree with the terms, it’s simply good business for the both of us.
Using us to finance your RV is simply good business, you have time to study the paperwork and understand it as completely as possible and ask any questions, our loan document processors are always available to talk and answer any questions before you proceed.
We have been financing RV’s online since 1998 so far it has worked well for us, we have caught a couple of scams from the cons that are and have been out there and turned them in to the legal authorities, including the FBI.
Charles Davis, http://www.RVFinancing.com 888 929 4424

Thomas Paris
28 days ago

We bought a 2009 Fleetwood from general rv in Florida. After just 2 days of driving, we lost 500.00 worth of food because the fridge wouldn’t keep cool. Then after just 2 flushes the mascerator broke and left us with a toilet full of sewar water. We had someone come and try to fix it before we knew what was happening. He worked on it for 5 hours,no good. Then we stopped at a dealership in New Mexico and they worked on it for 3 hours and got it to drain. So we’re coming through Arizona, coming up a hill on the 10,when the fan belt just shredded to pieces. So now we’re stuck with no power, about 3 feet from cars and trucks going by at 70 miles an hour. Our rv has been sitting at the repair shop for almost two months. When we try to contact general rv, we are always told that the person that we need to talk to is busy with another person and he will call us back. 48 to 72 hours someone will call back and basically you bought it as is. Much more to say.Thomas Paris

DENNIS KOGLER
28 days ago

when i priced my 2016 384GKR from them, i caught them altering the msrp document, on a new rig, they bumped it up 10k to make it look like i was getting a 10k discount on my paperwork, that is when i called the manufacturer, they sent me to bish’s rv in idaho falls, got the best deal ever, i used to deliver new rv’s for several years, i know what the dealer cost is, grand design took care of me, and general got into trouble, i would say stay away from general rv, run away fast………..

Alan Sills
28 days ago

good find! reinforces the need to READ the contract! KNOW what you’re signing. And yeah, a 20 year RV loan?! Note in the article, a 100k camper will cost you 156k (at least) when you pay it off this way – this is not the way i buy campers!

ANTHONY NOVELLO
28 days ago

possibly a crooked RV dealer? are you kidding?

DENNIS KOGLER
28 days ago

lol

Ron Stevenson
28 days ago

I always have my loan approved for the amount ahead of time before I purchase. This way the loan is ready for the amount and payment schedule so the dealer can’t change anything. My last dealer tried to tell me they could save me more on a loan thru them but I didn’t changed just so there would be any problems. Turns out their loan had a balloon payment at the end as well. I would recommend to just get prequalified at your own trusteed loan institution before purchase.

Steve
28 days ago

1st – we never sign anything without fully reading and having copies. 2nd, as Chuck has lamented, a 20 year load on an RV is a little crazy. But let’s be REAL honest. If you like RV’ing, within 10 years you are upgrading anyway. (We are). My guess (suspicion) is this is the motive behind the “smuggled” payment numbers. Notice the payment was not changed, just the term and a pay-off at the end date. Buyer beware!

Jeremiah Puckett
28 days ago
Reply to  Steve

You’re one of the few that has noticed that. Even on YouTube I try to explain to people that in a way this benefits the customer. Refinance the balloon payment for 10 years and same payment amount. Even if interest rate is a tad higher, the total paid is about the same. The dealer isn’t making extra profit off this if it’s a scam and the customer isn’t losing money. In a way customer is better off, as they’ll have a credit report with two loans paid off instead of one at the end of it all.

BILL
27 days ago

So is your point that in this case the fraud is acceptable because they could possibly refinance the ballon at the same rate and make the same payment?

I’m not sure you understand what Fraud means.

WEB
27 days ago

Now without seeing the actual paperwork, are the “low-balled” monthly payments calculated over the 20-yr life of the loan including interest for that time period and then the ‘final’ 120th payment, does that include the 20 years worth of interest payments?

RallyAce
28 days ago

I, too, read the contract when applying for a loan. A good, honest, dealer will allow you to take a copy home to read. More than once, when asked for a copy to read before signing, the seller refused. That, to me, is a giant red light and time to walk. What is in it that they don’t want you to see?

Follow us!

31,714FansLike
26,101FollowersFollow
66,000SubscribersSubscribe