I got an e-mail yesterday from a couple who bought a new motorhome last year and have been unhappy with it ever since. They said that both the dealer from whom they bought the coach and the manufacturer have both refused to address their complaints. This is not uncommon, and it is part of the reason why I have said for years that the worst part of the RV lifestyle is the poor quality of so many RVs on the market, and the total lack of support from so many dealers and manufacturers after the sale.
However, there is a flip side to this coin, and in this case, after reading the detailed e-mail the couple sent me, my first response was “huh?” Their first complaint is that the motorhome only has a 75 gallon fresh water tank and a 50 gallon black tank. They do not feel that this is adequate for their needs and they want the manufacturer to put in larger tanks.
Huh? Didn’t they read the specs on the rig before they bought it? That’s about average for most motorhomes, and about what we have in our Winnebago Ultimate Advantage. We get along just fine. Assuming that there is even room to do so, why in the world would they expect the manufacturer to change out their standard tanks for larger custom tanks, and absorb the cost?
Another complaint is that the rooftop air conditioners did not keep the motorhome sufficiently cool during a trip through Arizona, Nevada, and southern California last summer. The fact is that RVs are not terribly energy efficient, they have poor insulation, and on a very hot day, their air conditioners will typically only lower the ambient temperature about 20 degrees. So on a 100 degree day, which is not at all uncommon in the Southwest during the summertime, the best they can expect is about 80 degrees inside the RV.
Their third complaint is that the motorhome is only rated to tow 5,000 pounds and they want to tow their full size pickup behind them, with a full size Honda Goldwing motorcycle in the bed. The combination far exceeds their towing capacity. Their e-mail says that they were aware of the towing capacity when they bought the motorhome but “any motorhome sold today should be able to pull at least as much as we want to.”
I wrote back and told this couple that they really needed to be realistic. I think they are expecting way too much, and if I were running the dealership that sold them the RV, or the company that built it, I would not be able to help them either. I think they bought the wrong coach to start with, based on what they want to tow, and I wonder how much experience they have with RVs and how much research they did before they bought it.
They reminded me of two other unhappy RV owners I have come across in the past; one was a guy whose cats clawed up his sofa, and he wanted the factory to give him new one under warranty; and the other was a fellow who made several modifications to his rig himself, and butchered the job, then wanted the manufacturer to make it right under warranty.
I think one of the good things that will come about from the downturn in the RV industry is that several companies who made shoddy products and ignored customers’ valid complaints have fallen by the wayside, while the companies that made quality products and stood behind them have survived. But there are some customers that no company will ever be able to satisfy, no matter how hard they try.
Before I close, I want to tell you about an interesting new program that I just learned about called Harvest Hosts, which is developing a network of RV friendly farms and wineries that invite RVers in self-contained rigs to visit and stay overnight (no more than 24 hours) for free. The farms and wineries don’t provide any services, just a safe and unique setting where you can park overnight, shop for local products, and experience what the local farm or winery has to offer.
It sounds like it would be an interesting change of pace from typical RV parks and campgrounds. As I said, they’re new and have some growing to do, but check out their website at www.harvesthosts.com and let me know what you think. I like the idea.
Thought For The Day – When you go into court, your fate is in the hands of twelve people who aren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.