Why the first-time RV buyer can have a bad experience, and leave RV’ing with a bad taste…
Back in April of 2017 I had a nice chat with my dental hygienist; a nice lady with a young family, two boys and a husband eager to buy their first RV to go explore, take weekend trips and vacations. After all, she and her husband had grown up RV’ing and like most of us, they remember those times, as “the best” in their childhood.
I too fall into that category, camping was what we did. It was who we were as a family so I was happy to hear that this young couple would be sharing the “RV camping lifestyle” with their kids.
Being “in the business” so to speak, I had some limited knowledge and a bit of advice. I offered some research and information since I had recently purchased two RV’s, one used and primarily dedicated to rentals and the other new, primarily used for future full time adventures, but still a rental.
I recently had my 6 month check up and was looking forward to hearing how the search was going. “Still looking? Ready for advice? Oh, you already bought one? Great, how was your summer, where did you go? ” All, sadly were wrong questions. I opened up a flood of sour sauce, a sea of bitter taste that described perfectly what was wrong with the RV industry.
It was an impulse buy, a new 24′ travel trailer, perfect for a family of 4 with two boys and the very first one they looked at. That brand new look, feel, and smell is intoxicating.
There was admittedly a lot of research left undone before they signed the loan papers. If you leave that job up to the sales guy, well you’re going to hear what you want to hear. “Sure, you’re truck will tow it fine”… She explained her experience in vivid detail with every blemish described, not leaving out the strain that the experience had put on her family. My jaw was dropped, literally and figuratively.
After their maiden voyage they came back with a slew of issues. Sloppy workmanship, poor design, lack of testing… it went on and on. They were the kind of issues that plague the RV industry. It’s not just one or two manufacturers either, so I won’t name the model of trailer they purchased but it’s in the top 3 in terms of volume. Just about all brand new RV’s have issues. But when you’re not ready for it, and your truck doesn’t pull right, and you’re making payments, and you can’t use it, well…. that leaves a bad taste.
What really struck me wrong, what really made me sad and sick at my stomach was knowing the high she was on before the purchase last April, and witnessing the absolute low she was at now; after the purchase and only one trip in. “I don’t even want it anymore”, was her remark and sentiment. She wasn’t feeling the joy of camping memories, she was feeling duped. All of the positive quips I could muster didn’t budge her feeling that she made a mistake.
Why would they tell her that their half ton truck could pull a 7,000 lbs trailer? Why did they not test the refrigerator before the unit was delivered? Why did the buyer have to experience that and all of the other problems on their fist trip? Why was it in the shop for 6 weeks only to find out that the refrigerator had to be replaced? RV dealers and manufacturers: WAKE UP!
One of the most complete answers to these questions that I’ve found is a paper written by Greg Gerber, editor of the RV Daily Report. The RV Industry Death Spiral is a must read for new RV’ers in my opinion. Knowing is half the battle. At least new buyers can develop a buying strategy that won’t leave a bitter taste in their mouth.
Mark from Missouri wrote a blog piece about his search for the perfect brand new RV. It goes into amazing detail and analysis. Not sure everyone is cut out for this kind of science, but he was determined to buy new and he will never be able to say he rushed into it.
In my recent battle with the dealer I purchased from, I explained to the service manager, through clenched jaw, that information is key to understanding what to expect. Without it, you set your customers up for a bitter taste. Why do you want to do that? Why not spend the same amount of time to educate and set expectations. I know the answer…. money. If they don’t close, they don’t get paid. Well, we reap what we sow.
What was my issue? I had purchased a solar power system with upgraded batteries for extended boon-docking. Dummy me, I didn’t do the research and left it to the dealer to educate me. After all, he was an “Authorized Go Power” dealer who sold us our brand new 2017 Cardinal. I wanted it fast and easy.
I was told that I could add more panels. What I didn’t know was that you need to upgrade your solar regulator to handle more amps before you can add more panels. Dumb. If you want to know how that went, you can read all about my RV and the Resi Fridge.
As consumers we have a responsibility not to give our money to any entity who is not going to provide value in exchange. Whether it’s our government or a private industry, we are ultimately responsible. Caveat emptor. Knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge can make all the difference in the world to those dreaming of the “RV Lifestyle”, so please share if you care.
If you would like to learn more about how to buy an RV right, own right, and sell right, check out, “5 Steps to Starting Your RV Rental Business and Camping Adventure”.