Where Will It End?

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 092016

If you have been reading this blog or the Gypsy Journal for very long, you probably know I have a reputation for saying what’s on my mind, and I’ve been known to step on toes now and then. You may also know that I have said for a long time that the biggest problem with the RV lifestyle is the terrible quality of what the manufacturers are putting out, and have been for as long as we’ve been on the road.

It’s a big part of the reason that we’ve never had much advertising or support from the RV industry. They don’t like people to talk about their dirty little secret, which is no secret at all.

Here is a blog post I wrote about this issue a while back, titled The Worst Part of the RV Lifestyle.

And I’m not the only one who is speaking out about it. This week in his RV Daily Report, Greg Gerber tackled it with a post titled RV Death Spiral: Manufacturers in race to the bottom. I think Greg is right on the money, but I also think that he and I, and everyone else involved in the RV media, can talk until we’re blue in the face and not a damn thing is going to change.

Way back in about 1999 or 2000, when our top of the line Fleetwood gas motorhome was literally falling apart after less than a year, I asked a VP at Fleetwood how they expected to earn a customer’s repeat business with their poor quality and the way they ignored customers’ problems. He told me, “There are tens of thousands of new RVers coming into the market every year. All we need to do is sell them one. What they do after that is their business.” Basically that’s the pyramid scheme mindset – get their money one time and instead of nurturing that customer for a long term relationship, move on to the next one. I think prostitutes work the same way. And this industry sure has screwed a lot of consumers over the years.

So where will it end? Sadly, my friends, it won’t end because the consumer who is new to the RV world has no idea what he or she is getting into. I’ve heard more than one wannabe RVer say that they are going to buy a new rig, because when you buy something used, all you’re doing is getting somebody else’s problem. What they don’t know is that there is a very good chance they will spend the next year running back and forth to the dealer trying to get warranty work done, they will show up for appointments only to learn that the dealership doesn’t have the parts on hand and they have they have to be ordered, and that while they may walk in with a list of fifteen or twenty or more things that need correcting (no, that’s not uncommon at all in a new RV), they may be lucky to get five or ten actually taken care of.

It won’t end because, just like that fellow at Fleetwood told me a long time ago, there are tens of thousands of new RVers coming into the market every year, and they have no idea of the screwing they are about to get.

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  10 Responses to “Where Will It End?”

  1. Which is why we are still driving and using our 1993 Beaver. We bought it used (just turned 4 years old). NOTHING was wrong with it. It is a quality coach (expensive and low production numbers). Yes, we have spent money on the RV but it’s because things WORE OUT !!!!!!!!!! We agree about manufacturers. They just don’t really care about quality control. They can sell the RVs so that’s all that matters. And we don’t ever want to spend a year having warranty work. Because that’s what has happened to most of our friends who buy new RVs.

  2. I’m not sure if I happened to get that “one” made just after everyone got a raise, but considering all I’ve done in a few short years, it’s holding together rather well. Tiffin has backed me up all the way. Sure, there are minor things, like the funky switch on the dash AC, but it still works. It’s sad to see people pay so much money for something that immediately falls apart with no effort whatsoever by the company to listen to customer complaints and improve their products. They just don’t give a damn!!

  3. I think you are absolutely correct regarding the majority of brands I have toured, inspected, examined and/or considered. We were absolute nitwits when we began looking for our first rig. It was complete dumb luck that we stumbled on our first coach, liked it and bought it. We learned how to drive the 1993 36′ motorhome on the way back from Phoenix to Philadelphia! We found out later that we had purchased a solid, well made, wonderful machine. We still needed to put a good amount of cash into the thing to bring it up to scratch, but it served us very well AND the manufacturer has always done very well by us. THAT is key! We are now on our third Foretravel … all used and all solid and well loved. My advice to all lookers is to buy the BEST QUALITY USED rig that you can afford … look for maintenance records from the previous owner that show she was well loved … and don’t worry about age. Rigs from the mid ’90s to ’03 or ’04 are often the very best!

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more. However I do believe there are some brands that back there work. Granted you probably can count them all on one hand and have a couple of fingers left. I bought used to avoid going through this. Still had to fix a couple of issues but for the most part happy with my Winnebago purchase.

  5. I haven”t yet bought an RV but I am looking at a scamp fifth wheel or a Casita trailer. Scamp and Casita still seems to have good reputations. Do you have any experience with these RVs.

  6. Sarah, I have not had any experience with either one, but I know people who have Casitas and enjoy them.

  7. Agree completely. Ya know people get a glint in here eye , a dream in their head and just go do it. It is the same when I was a Realtor. People wanted everything new, beautiful and high end on a beer budget. No idea of what they could afford and would get . RV are the same.
    I cannot believe what I read on many Facebook pages about the ignorance of even the basic tenets of RVing and then at jumping in with 2 feet to only find the water in the pool is only 12″ deep. So on one hand the Manufacturer are right. As long as people are willing to by junk that’s what they will get

  8. I love to travel and have been to 47 of the 50 states and almost all the National Parks. I like driving and I am a camper at heart, having spent a lot of nights sleeping on the ground in some wild and not so wild campsites. When my kids were young we did a lot of popup camper camping all over the west. Now that I am retired, I would seem to be a natural RV customer. But I am not.

    I have read RV Travel blogs for 15 years, getting ideas on where to travel and what to do. Along the way, I’ve read hundreds of terrible stories related to poor RV build quality. I have no desire to buy trouble. So I have never and will never buy another RV for all the reasons outlined in this post and the linked post. The RV industry will never have me as a customer.

    My wife and I travel comfortably in our Toyota Avalon, getting about 29 mpg. The current model has 80,000 miles or so on it and it’s never had a mechanical or quality problem. We stay in reasonably nice motels as we drive and often in vacation rentals when we stay somewhere we want to stay, I think what we do is less expensive and, considering the lack of wear and tear on our nerves, a better method of recreational travel for us.

    The RV industy is not user friendly and it’s costing them a lot of money.

  9. Is this true for Newmar and Tiffin also? I’m looking to go fulltime in four years and i’m wondering what i should budget for warranty/repair.

  10. When we decided to full-time, we had no idea what we were doing, having never evenmprt-timed. We lucked into a 1987 Beaver Marquis because
    Seiten was within budget (read “very,very cheap). It had been lived in (mostly parked) for a couple of years and had a leak around the windshield. Lucky for us it was at the sweet spot … not worth investing in if you were only going to sit in it, but a great deal if you were actually going to use it.

    We ended up fixing the leak … and doing routine maintenance on the engine, generator and appliances – but that was ALL it needed. So far we’very put almost 9,000 miles on it without any serious or expensive issues.

    I think they just made better busses back Then!

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