There’s a can of worms. If you happen to be hanging out with a group of RVers and someone mentions RV warranty, look out….I hope the fan isn’t turning.
I am not sure why there seems to be so many problems related to RV warranties, but there are many issues that outrages many, including yours truly.
One of the reasons, I suspect, is the RV industry is very volatile. Let’s face it unless you are a full timer, an RV is an option not a necessity like a roof over your head and food in your belly.
An RV is bought with disposable income. Income that is not ear marked for another expense. What a concept……a swelling bank account. Where was I going with this????? Oh yeah!!
Circling the bowl
Previous to 2006 the RV industry was growing in leaps and bounds trying to keep up with demand. New factories were built, people hired…….. Then boom! 2008 hit like a bomb and the elusive disposable income dried up for many of us, or if it didn’t dry up we were afraid we were going to loose it.
All of a sudden it was a buyers market and a glut of RVs. Factories closed, companies went bankrupt and people lost their jobs.
Several years have past, the glut is gone, the economy is recovering and the RV industry can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train.
With growth comes pain, many of the people who did the actual RV construction and repairs 7 years ago have found other jobs. The RV dealers are scrambling to fill this important void, of course many of the positions are filled with newbies. less experienced people or personal with not experience. So there goes the quality.
The Nature of the Beast
Another factor is RVs of today are far more complex than 20 years ago. They have many more and elaborate systems. A technicians with years of experience are needed to conduct the construction and repairs on these complicated systems.
Growth is the reason for the lack of quality for warranty work, but what about some of the other issues like finding a repair facility that will do your warranty work.
If you need warranty work done you will probably have to take it back to the dealer where you bought your rig. The growing trend seems to be, dealers will not or are reluctant to work on an RV they didn’t sell even if it is the same brand.
If they are an authorized repair facility and you did not purchase your RV from them be prepared to pay up front and try to recover the money from the manufacturer. This situation I am told is because the manufacturers on occasion failed to pay the repair facility for warranty work performed.
If you have read my previous articles you may recall my problems with our 1999 36′ class ‘A’ with the Ford V-10 Triton engine spitting out a spark plug. This problem prompted us to trade it in on a 2014 36′ Winnebago One towable (travel trailer).
We decided to check out the RVs in Arizona while we were on our annual snowbird migration from Canada. We learned all about importing our trailer from the dealer La Mesa RV, click here to read my article on importing an RV.
La Mesa was very helpful and took care of everything from delivering our new trailer to California from Phoenix, to avoid paying Arizona sales tax, to filing the necessary paper work, and schooling us on what would happen at the border, all in all an easy process.
At the border we were required to pay the GST and later the sales tax. Also a trip to an inspection facility to pay a $5 per tire eco levy.
That was all, an easy process.
Nothing like Brand New???
We bought our brand new trailer at a huge La Mesa RV show in April and at the time we were assured by the onsite Winnebago rep. that if we had any warranty issues,” Fraser Way RV in Abbotsford BC, Canada would take care of us. “Read our testimonials,” the rep said to us.
Testimonials sounds like some religious order that certifies their comments by some divine authority……… this is supposed to lead you to believe they are telling the truth.
Of course there were issues with our new trailer, as there usually is with anything new that has tires or???
There were several items on the list, water line leaks, the shower leaked and damaged the door trim. Screen door closer that didn’t work, cupboard doors that wouldn’t stay closed, loose trim, broken awning motor and several other items that I don’t care to remember.
We picked up the trailer, paid $750.00 for the repairs, took it home and I proceeded to check out the repairs. Most of them were not done or not done well. The shower still leaked, the screen door still didn’t work properly, the cupboard doors still didn’t stay shut. etc. etc.
I returned my trailer to Fraserway RV again and again without satisfaction. The repairs were never completed. To keep from going bonkers I proceeded to fix everything myself.
The water damaged trim had been ordered, not sure from where, I gave up. I faxed the invoice to Winnebago and after a few months, a few emails and phone calls we received a check. Life was good, except …
The Awning Motor
I get frustrated just writing this.
The awning motor was back ordered…. after several months and many calls with no return calls. I decided I would not be forwarded to the voice mail of the person who obviously didn’t know she had voice mail.
She finally came on the the phone and said our awning motor was in and we can bring our trailer in and have it installed, go figure.
I dropped the trailer off, the motor was replaced (it’s still working today) paid the bill and faxed the invoice to Winnebago. Soon after receipt of the invoice Winnebago responded with “the awning motor is not covered in our warranty you need to contact Dometic the awning manufacturer”. It does say in the warranty that, “parts or accessories installed after the trailer leaves the factory or alteration made by a Winnebago dealer are not covered by the warranty”.
What an obscure statement. How was I to know the awning was not on the trailer when it left the factory? How was I supposed to know what was on or in the trailer when it left the factory??
We contacted Dometic they said, “no problem send us a copy of the invoice and it will be looked after it”…..not.
Pass the Buck
Dometic comes back with “you paid Fraserway RV full retail for the repairs but we will reimburse only the wholesale cost (50%)”. They also informed us that Fraserway RV is well aware of our policy, we do not pay retail for repairs and they should have sent the invoice directly to Dometic.
I informed Fraserway RV of this, they were not agreeable, over the next several months I contacted, Dometic, Winnebago, the BBB, everyone I could think of with back and forth correspondence but in the end I got screwed by Fraserway RV and or Dometic and Winnebago for $350.00.
Good Sam even contacted Fraserway RV on my behalf and made a surprising threat to publish my complaints. It was all a waste of time Fraserway RV did nothing.
We have also experienced extended warranty, again not the experience we were hoping. When we bought our used motor home, we accepted the extended warranty option at the cost of $2000. We had 2 claims and couldn’t collect on either.
The convection microwave quit working and a replacement that would fit couldn’t be found. We got tired of waiting and purchased a generic non convection unit and installed it ourselves.
The other item was a broken return spring on the hydraulic levers, apparently it is not covered.
The Bottom Line
There are hundreds if not thousands of complaints about RV warranties, repair facilities, misrepresentations, you name it. The only way for things to improve in the RV industry is for consumers to be diligent and aware. The industry seems to be self serving just a step above timeshare sales,……… oh there’s another can-o-worms.
Don’t make the mistakes many or us have done. Read the fine print and research the company you may deal with check internet reviews, ask lots of questions and get the answers in writing.
Read and understand the warranty and/or extended warranties before you buy, most extended warranties have limitations, and steer clear of Fraserway RV and their affiliates. Find out where the authorized repair facilities are situated in case you have problems when you’re on the road. Do they supply towing?
If you do have a claim, especially if its a small one, analyse what you need and what will be done, ask for a quote, parts and labor. Sometimes if it’s a small claim it will be cheaper than the deductible. Be proactive, don’t leave anything to chance.
Over my many years of RVing. I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with many RV dealers and repair facilities,. The only companies that I can recommend, that have tried to do the right thing.
The top of the list would be Good Sam, they offer many services, road side assistance, trip planning, discount camping, RV forums and an ombudsman service where they try to help sort out an issue you have with a RV dealer or repair facility. Good Sam also offers extended warranty coverage. Their reviews are mostly favorable.
I have had occasion to use their road side assistance and ombudsman service, I was very satisfied.
I have searched for complaints about Good Sam and reviewed the few that I found, they seem to have been beyond their control, the third party did not perform as expected. click here to check out Good Sam.
Two RV dealers I can recommend, O’Connor RV in Chilliwack BC, Canada and La Mesa RV in Phoenix, Arizona.
If you as an RV traveler could recommend an RV related service that you have been satisfied with please leave their names and cities in the comments so I can post them.
You never know when or where a break down will happen.
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