They say the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys it and the day he sells it. I’m pretty sure that holds true for RV owners, too. Having just gone through the sales experience, I thought I would share some thoughts about it. Please keep in mind that this is the way I see things from my perspective. Yours may be entirely different.
After almost 18 years of fulltiming, when we decided to hang up the keys we needed to find a new home for our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage diesel pusher. It was a very nice coach and we had done quite a few upgrades to it, including installing two custom oak desk/workstations, an oak bookshelf, a custom oak table, a residential refrigerator, a new power awning, new window awnings and slide covers, upgraded steering, upgraded exhaust brake, electric holding tank dump valves, power satellite TV antenna, and a lot more.
The NADA book value was $56,000 before all of the upgrades, but I knew that is only a number. Something is only worth what a buyer is willing to give you for it, regardless of what the book says. We wanted a quick sale, so we priced the Winnebago at $45,000, thinking it would go quickly. We were wrong.
Trying to sell an RV yourself is a very frustrating experience. We got at least a dozen calls and emails from scammers who were always out of the country, but were going to send us a cashier’s check and have a friend pick it up for them. They were also always going to include another $5,000 or so over the purchase price to pay their friend for his trouble. We were supposed to give that to the person in cash when he arrived. No, I don’t think so. We were also contacted by four or five people who supposedly sell RVs online and had dozens of buyers just waiting to purchase our rig. All we had to do was pay them anywhere from $24.95 up to $500 and they would make sure it got listed right away. Nope, not going to fall for that scam either.
I can’t tell you the number of people who contacted us, asked a lot of questions, made an appointment for a certain day and time to come and look at the RV, then never bothered to show up or called to cancel. I guess they figured since we were no longer traveling, we had nothing left to do with our time but sit and wait for them.
And then there was the interested buyer from Ohio who wanted us to drive it from Florida to his place so he could take a look at it. I thought he was pretty unrealistic until I heard from somebody in Tennessee expecting the same thing. I guess we could have made a loop of it and stopped at both places.
Even though we specified that it was a cash deal and we would not carry the note for anybody, or take payments, several people wasted a lot of our time asking questions, requesting pictures, asking for service and maintenance records, and then when it was all said and done, asked if we would take $1,000 down and the rest in monthly payments. No, thank you. If your bank doesn’t trust you enough to give you the money, why should I?
Did I mention the people who wanted to trade us everything from gemstones to cars to a litter of show dog puppies as partial payment?
Of those who actually did come and look at the RV, two different people said that they wanted it and would be in contact in a day or two to complete the purchase once they had shifted some money around. We never heard from either one of them. Another potential buyer made a commitment to purchase the rig, then backed out at the last minute because God told them it wasn’t the right time to take that step in their lives.
Eventually we decided to put the RV on consignment someplace and let a dealership take care of selling it and relieve us of dealing with lookey-loos and wannabes. I talked to a couple dealerships here in Florida, but since several friends we knew had either purchased from or sold RVs through PPL Motorhomes in Houston, Texas, we decided to deal with them. I cannot say it was a satisfying experience. I know a lot of people who have purchased from PPL who are very happy, and I know some folks who have sold RVs through them and were happy. I can only speak for our experience.
After appraising our unit, the rep at PPL said he believed it was worth the $56,000 NADA book price, but he added that the chances of actually getting that much were slim, because obtaining financing on an RV that old is about impossible. So it would have to be a cash deal. They offered to purchase it outright for $22,000. I’m a realist and told him I needed it gone, but I wasn’t that desperate. I said to sell it for $45,000 and be done with it. But they started out with the higher price in the hopes they could get it (and make more commission). When it did eventually sell, over six months later, it went for $40,000. I wish they would have priced it lower to start with, because in the meantime I was making payments and paying for insurance.
Two things really irritated me about dealing with PPL. The first is that they seem to try to nickel and dime you to death. The rig was detailed when we took it in, that was part of the agreement, but a couple of times they contacted me telling me I should have it detailed (I believe they quoted me $125 for that) because it looked so bad. Our friends Greg and Jan White are in the Houston area and I asked them to go by and look at the coach. They did and said it looked fine to them. I also got calls from PPL about sprucing up other things around it, all for a fee. Last fall somebody from there called wanting me to pay for winterizing it. Based on the fact that the weather in Houston isn’t normally all that bad and the holding tanks were dry, I asked if that was really necessary. He said not really, he had lived there for 30 years and never winterized his own RV.
At one point the sales manager called and told me the RV needed new starting batteries because they were completely dead. I told the him batteries were less than a year old and still had a three year warranty on them, and all he had to do was go to Auto Zone and pick up new replacements. Instead, he insisted that they needed to be replaced by PPL and I needed to pay for them. I told him no, it wasn’t going to happen, and that was the last I heard about it. I also suggested they turn on the battery disconnect switch. I suspect that was the real problem all along.
Add to that the number of emails we are still getting on a weekly basis wanting us to purchase RV accessories and things like that from PPL, and it became really frustrating. I understand a business wanting to maximize their profit, but give me a break.
Another big problem with them is communication. On more than one occasion a salesman called to tell me someone was looking at the RV and had a question. I would answer the question and ask him to get back to me to let me know what was happening. They never did. I can’t tell you how many times I called the sales manager or the office to find out the status of a deal when they had pending offers that never went anywhere, and I never got a call back. How hard is it to return a simple phone call?
When the unit finally did sell, they dinged me for $238 for repairs I never authorized. It also took almost a month to get paid after the customers took delivery. Their excuse was because they were waiting to get the title back from the credit union after doing the payoff. I don’t believe it took take that long, but in the meantime they had the funds in their bank account and were drawing interest on my money.
So, when it was all said and done, it took longer to sell the Winnebago than we had expected and we got less for it than we had hoped for. But it’s gone, and we are glad to have the whole thing behind us. And yes, looking back, I agree with that whole thing about the two happiest days in an RV owner’s life that I mentioned above.
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Thought For The Day – I would rather have a fast nickel than a slow dime.