Buyer Beware

 Posted by at 3:11 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 082013

Because I’m sure you don’t want to hear that I spent all day yesterday working on the new issue of Gypsy Journal, I thought today we’d talk about scam artists. But not necessarily those working on RV dealer lots, though we know that there are lots of them out there too.

But they aren’t the only ones who want to rip off RV shoppers. There are con men out there advertising high end RVs who claim to be middlemen, selling the unit for a family member or friend, usually after a death in the family. They will tell you that the widow can’t afford to keep the RV and just needs it gone.

In actuality, all they have are a bunch of photos and a story and they try to con you into sending money as a deposit or for an independent inspection and you never hear anything from them again.

Back when we were shopping for a replacement for our MCI bus conversion, Terry and I ran into a similar scam from a guy in Las Vegas. He said he was selling a Winnebago Ultimate Freedom for an uncle who had died and said it had been stored in a pole barn for over two years. He said that for a $500 deposit he would hold the motorhome for us, with no obligation if we didn’t like it. We were only 100 miles away and said we’d be there the next day and he still wanted me to wire him a $500 deposit. I said no, we’d be there and look at it and we’d talk money then.

We got to Las Vegas the next morning and called him, and then spent the whole day running from one place to another waiting for him, and he’d call and have some excuse about being delayed, and wanted us to leave the deposit with somebody there and then he’d tell us where to meet him to see the RV. Eventually he did have an “associate” show up with a motorhome that was a piece of junk and still had the repo auction paperwork laying on the dashboard.

Another concern is that there are a lot of low mileage cars and RVs offered for sale that were in hurricane flood waters. They clean them up, but they will never work properly. A couple of years after Katrina slammed the south, a relative in the Midwest was shopping for a used RV and found an incredible deal, (which happened to be offered by a third party claiming that he was selling it for a family member).

The deal sounded too good to be true, which meant it was, and I urged caution. I had the prospective buyer crawl inside the bays and look around, and sure enough, there was a faint water line hidden underneath the carpeted sidewall way back in the bays.

On another deal, Terry’s cousin and her husband were looking at a brand new fifth wheel on an RV dealer’s lot and had already made the deal, but asked us to look at it before the money changed hands. I was concerned because he was not a dealer for that brand and asked why they had a new rig there that they were not a dealer for. I wasn’t satisfied with his vague answer. We looked underneath and the plastic underlay cover was sagging. Closer inspection showed that the whole frame was rusty. The dealer never even came out of the building to talk to us once I pointed that out.

Not too long ago a blog reader asked me for advice on a used motorhome he and his wife were considering purchasing from a dealer. They contacted me to ask me how somebody without much technical knowledge can know what to look for in a used RV to avoid trouble down the road. I urged them to pay to have an independent inspection done, and sent them the names of a couple of reliable businesses to contact from our Guide to RV Good Guys. They wrote back to say that they contacted one of the places I recommended, but when they told the dealer they wanted to have it inspected, he hit the roof and told them no way! He said every RV on his lot was inspected by his own techs and that once they owned it they could have anybody they wanted in the world look at it, but that no outsiders were coming into his place to tear through one of his rigs. That’s when I told them to walk away from the deal, very fast!

There are some good deals to be had on used RVs, both from dealers and private sellers. But there are also a lot of crooks out there who prey on RV shoppers, and will rip you off in a heartbeat. If you’re shopping for an RV, do your homework, know who you are dealing with, demand to see a clear (not salvage title) on anything you are considering buying, and remember… if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Thought For The Day – Ideas are everywhere. Pick them like flowers. – Ross Ward

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Nick Russell

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

  2 Responses to “Buyer Beware”

  1. BTDT with the salvage title deal. It wasn’t TOO TOO good, but it was a deal AND it was THE brand we had been looking for. When I called our (mutual) insurance agent to add it to a policy, SHE informed that the title number he was giving indicated it was a SALVAGE title – not just a “had been in an accident but was repaired now” title. She said ‘WALK AWAY” – which we did.

    The next RV we thought was a good one (with another dealer) was a low price – and after we insisted on an inspection, that revealed roof separation which could only be seen with a ladder and close inspection to the roof seams. Of course, THAT dealer didn’t happen to have a ladder we could use when looking at the trailer. But, the inspection fee of $250 was WELL worth it to keep us from sinking $10 grand into a lemon.

    6 months later, we are STILL searching for a GOOD RV, at a price we can afford, that isn’t a LEMON. It would be nice if dealers – RV and CAR dealers – were held to a higher standard.

    We totally agree, Buyer BE WARE!

  2. We got burned in exactly that way 4 years ago. We found a really nice Monaco online and the seller said it belonged to his mother and that dad had passed away and she could not keep it. He said she just wanted out from under the paymnts. It was advertised at over $30K under low blue book and he said he had a lot of calls and it would go fast. So like fools we wired him $1,000 deposit with the understanding that if we had any problems with the RV he’d refund it. We drove from Lansing Michigan to Atlanta and found the address he gave us was a convenience store. No RV and nobody had any idea what we were talking about. We tried calling him and the number was no longer in service. Cops said it was a throwaway prepaid phone and a commonly known scam.

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