Jan 312010

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.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “Let’s Be Realistic”

  1. Nick, I;ve got to tell you, in Nov. I bought a 2000 Georgetown. The dealer gave me three sets of keys, not one would lock my storage bays. In Dec I left for Florida but was uneasy about leaving my rig with all my good stuff underneath, unsecured. I emailed Forest River, just wanting to get a key code to have a key made. I expected it to be a week be fore I heard from them. Less than 2 hours later my phone rang , it was Mike from Forest River. He said “you got a problem?”. I explained. He asked “What’s your address?”. A week later I recieved three keys in the mail, without a bill. How good is that? LOVE your postings!! Keep up the good work.

  2. We love the idea of Harvest Hosts. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity to try some new experiences in the countryside. Since we will spend this fall through next year in the west we will definitely give them a try.

  3. The motor coach couple is a perfect example of “too much money – nothing is my fault syndrome”. I was associated with an auto dealer whose products included GM and Mercedes. The the loudest, most difficult, unreasonable, and impossible to satisfy customers were usually the Benz owners. The majority of individual owners of both brands were satisfied customers but when it came to whining and complaining there was little comparison. Mercedes are quality but complex vehicles which results in complex problems at times.

    Too many times those who pay a considerable amount of money for complex products expect perfection which just ain’t possible in this world. By stamping there feet and demonstrating what assess they can be, they expect us commoners to fix there displeasure. The opposite is more likely!

  4. It appears you still can’t fix stupid. 😉

  5. I think the Harvest Hosts is a nice idea, but it isn’t free. $30.00 is reasonable if you like to move every couple of days. I did tour the winery’s in Napa, but after awhile just how much wine can you taste.

  6. Nick:
    We too have run across these type of folks. On a simple level, they are just clueless. On a scarier level they represent a huge part of the population in this country that have somehow been raised without any conception of personal responsibility and that everything that complicates their lives must be someone else’s fault. More sadly, they actually have an expectation that others have a responsibility to solve their problems.

    You only have to look at our current national politics to see how that plays out.

  7. hmmm, maybe you should approach the Harvest Hosts folks about doing a presentation at the rally. I see there is a membership fee, not much though. Interesting concept.

    Oh, any updates on the Yuma Food Bank? If not, we’re going to dump our canned stuff here at Q.

  8. Ahh yes, Nick! We to have had the plesure of this type of RV’er. We manage a RV resort here in Ramona, CA (San Diego). We get new RV owners that spend big bucks for an rv and get no training from the dealer how to set up all the systems and much less, DRIVE IT! They show up at the gate and demand that “WE” do it all for them. They hold their keys out and say they have been on the road for 3 days an something smells like sewer!!!???!!! Then they get all red faced mad when we offer to help but only insturct them what to do. I find this very odd that anybody would buy one of these RV’s and not ask for training or pay for a class! RV’ing 101 anyone? We will always help out everyone that comes to our resort but you have to do the work or maybe you need to go back to tent camping and use the comfort station. Michael

  9. We’ve just signed up for Havest Hosts. One free night in a vineyard or farm will pay for the $20 fee, and we’ll be heading through California this spring. Helluva deal!

    Those RV complainers must have their heads where the sun don’t shine, and I’ll bet they’ll cancel their subscription to Gypsy Journal and never email you again except to tell you off.

  10. Harvest Hosts is a great idea, but I am afraid that hosts will withdraw from the program in short order because RVers will show up with an utter disregard of the rules and of common sense.

  11. The Harvest Hosts sounds like a good idea. We are mostly in the east and this does not help us there. But for the times we are out west this would be interesting. LeRoys please give us a report when you use the system. My only concern would be do they understand the weight of our rigs and do they have adequate parking for us? We weigh 29000 lbs many coaches weight more. I hope they have a hard packed site for RVs. I do understand it would be dry camping. I am just concerned about the firmness of the site.
    The new RVers you talked about Nick are clueless people. They probably complain about everything. I am sure they did not do any research and just bought the RV on “It looks good, Marge. Let’s buy it.” They will complain forever and of course, it’s not their fault. As has been said there are too many of these folks in the world.

  12. Thank you all for your enthusiastic response to Harvest Hosts. We appreciate your comments and questions.

    Regarding the size question. Yes our RVs in the US are considerably heavier and larger than in Europe. We believe that our Hosts have taken this into consideration in making their decision to welcome RVs. The Hosts are commercial operations and as such do welcome large semi-trucks onto their properties for purposes of deliveries and shipments. They feel that if the trucks are able to access their properties and be able to turn around that large RVs will be able to access without difficulty.

    Although some of the overnight spots will be paved, we believe that most of the parking spots will be unpaved, improved gravel areas. Probably in better shape than our Quartzsite BLM lands.

    We can’t guarantee that all access roads will be wide open, but when you telephone the Hosts to give them notice of your arrival you should ask about issues that you are concerned with. The Host Directory lists details about each Host property and does state the maximum size rig that they can accept. That said, we only have a few Hosts that are unable to receive full size Class A or Fifth Wheel RVs.

    In regard to concerns about disrespectful individuals, we know there are always exceptions to the rule that RVers are polite and respectful. We also feel that our Hosts are aware of this as well. RVers should remember that they are guests on private property and can be requested to leave should they fail to follow the rules. If Hosts notify us of offenders, we will ask the offender to reconsider their behavior. In the worst case scenario, we can revoke their membership.

    Once again, thank you all for your tremendous response to Harvest Hosts!

  13. Donna,
    Yes, we will be collecting non-perishable food items at the rally for the local Food Bank or Senior Center.

  14. You know, I refuse to speculate on the motivations of others but rule number one when going into full time RVing is that there is no such thing as a turnkey lifestyle. Due diligence is the rule not the exception when changing lifestyles because a lot more has to change than just the road and abode. Its almost as complex as a sex change operation and cannot be entered into capriciously.

    Part of the serious nature of changing lifestyles is the reality that a new lifestyle means that just about everything is going to be different. To be truly happy in it folks must get their heads into it well before they start investing it with serious money and irreversible decisions.

    Today’s resources of the Internet and the forums, groups and almost unlimited rhetoric, opinion and historical experiences of others make it reasonably easy to never have to say “my bad”.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.