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Old 11-29-2019, 10:38 AM   #1
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Warranty Woes and Not Buying Local - heads up to first-time buyers

I know this topic has been covered in other threads, but wanted to relate our experience with getting warranty work done as (naive) first time buyers back in 2018:

We live in TN but purchased our 2019 Grey Wolf 27RR toy hauler up in OH; the only two dealers here didn’t have one in stock and we weren’t going to pay thousands more to have one special ordered or to buy a new truck to handle something bigger and heavier. We expanded our search further and further out (NC, SC, VA, ect.). A dealer 600+ miles away in OH was the closest dealer that had what we were looking for.

When we were up in OH ready to make the deal, I spoke with a FR rep on the phone and specifically asked her about having warranty work done at another dealer under the circumstances. She did admit they encourage people to purchase local because many FR dealers won’t do warranty work on units they didn’t sell (didn’t give me a reason, though). So I called my local TN dealer and he said they’d do warranty work on it for me if needed. Problem solved, right? WRONG…

Besides the numerous cosmetic issues I had to have addressed by the dealer in OH before taking possession (since they didn’t give the unit the once over and have them corrected BEFORE selling it as they’re paid to do when they accepted delivery from FR), we discovered a few additional minor issues after taking it for a shake-down at a local campground in TN. We dropped it off to our local dealer (great folks, btw) to have the issues repaired. They said they would do the warranty work but asked that we pay them up front and submit the claim to FR ourselves; we agreed. After all, as long as the work’s done at an authorized FR dealer, what’s the difference who submits the claim, right? WRONG…

I contacted FR owner relations, the same woman I talked with when in OH, to find out where to submit the claim and she told me to email it to her.

At this point I will try to cut to the chase and spare you as many of the ad nauseam details of the weeks-long back and forth that ensued as possible.

First I was told that without pictures, they wouldn’t reimburse. Although most of the issues couldn’t be captured in pictures (e.g., a slightly misaligned entry door hanging up on something just looks like a picture of the door), luckily the dealer that did the repairs had taken some nonetheless and I was able to forward them to FR.

Then she asked if I had gotten pre-authorization from them before having the job done. Um, no. Didn’t know I had to since I took it to a FR dealer. I asked her for written guidelines on the warranty claim process since I didn’t see them published in the FR handbook or on their website, and she sent me something regarding using “mobile techs or non-dealers” (if anyone wants a copy of it, let me know). But, I said, this IS a FR dealer. She said I know, but since you’re submitting the claim yourself instead of the dealer submitting it, they’re treating it as a non-dealer claim. Huh?? Well, ok then. She also said that even though they have no authority over what the dealers do, they’d be reporting this dealer to the warranty department for not following proper procedure.

Again, in my mind, what’s the difference?

Anyway, after much angst, I finally did get reimbursed - less $50 for the tax and “shop supplies” used to do the job, but it was hard fought.

Come to find out after searching around the web and talking with a couple of dealers, the reason many dealers don’t like doing warranty work – and in many cases won’t – is because it sometimes takes FR up to 180 days to reimburse them (yes, that’s 6 months) and, on top of that, they don’t get paid their full labor rate. So now we know.

I got the clear impression from my civil but tense email exchanges with FR over getting reimbursed for this claim that FR really doesn’t care much about us, the owners. She all but said that in one of the emails:

"The dealers are privately owned businesses that look at Forest River as a vendor to buy wholesale product from.
We don’t have any control over their businesses and the policies for warranty are in place to benefit the dealers because those are our customers.
Those companies pay for their units in full when they buy them from the factory so the relationship between those businesses and who they sell to, are solely between them.
That means that for the warranty process, we stand behind the products by covering our dealers financially if they need reimbursement from us and they can get that by filing claims."

Of course I beg to differ when it comes to the warranty since the warranty is on the unit I now own and is between me and FR, not the dealer I bought it from.
In all fairness, the FR owner relations woman was helpful and I tried not to take my frustration with getting stuck in the middle of FR’s warranty claim issues between them and their dealers out on her. Like she said, she’s just the one who relays the bad news.

So as a first-time buyer, my experience was a real eye-opener and I learned a lot. Had I known then what I know now, I probably would’ve walked away from the dealer we bought from since it was their dereliction of duty in not doing the post delivery inspection that they’re paid by FR to do and taking care of any issues prior to selling it that put us in this quagmire to begin with. Fortunately, all of the issues were cosmetic in nature, not structural or mechanical and all was well in the end but it was extremely frustrating.

My advice to first-timers is, 1) yes, buy local if at all possible, 2) ask the dealer to see the delivery inspection report from when *they* received the unit from FR - and any repairs that were done, 3) make sure they do a thorough walk-through (PDI) with you, 4) even if they do, take as much time as you need to go over the unit with a fine toothed comb, including every seam, molding, hinge, nut & bolt etc. and 5) if there are any problems, don't sign anything, pay in full or take delivery until they're taken care of. Period. Then 6) take it for a good shake-down immediately after taking delivery and if any other issues come to light, take it right back to the dealer to have them addressed. And take pictures. Good luck.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:35 PM   #2
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Thank you for your post.

Unfortunately, you are not the first to have this same situation (there are other posts on several forums saying the same) but hopefully your findings will help the next one looking to buy.

New owners take note and do your due diligence when buying.

Also, mobile techs are looking better and better for those who want to go elsewhere to save a buck when buying instead of buying local and getting the service done there.

I have always said... finding the right dealer is often as important as finding the right R/V.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:38 PM   #3
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Just want to clarify one of your statements, Forrest River nor any other manufacturer pays us (Dealer) to inspect/PDI, (Pre Delivery Inspection) an RV when we receive it. A PDI on a travel trailer takes three hours to perform. Repairs/adjustments are not performed during the PDI. Repair/adjustments are performed on a warranty work order. At our Dealership the PDI is done before you receive an Orientation at delivery time with a Technician.

Hope you have smooth sailing with your new camper.
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Old 11-29-2019, 01:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5picker View Post
Thank you for your post.

Unfortunately, you are not the first to have this same situation (there are other posts on several forums saying the same) but hopefully your findings will help the next one looking to buy.

New owners take note and do your due diligence when buying.

Also, mobile techs are looking better and better for those who want to go elsewhere to save a buck when buying instead of buying local and getting the service done there.

I have always said... finding the right dealer is often as important as finding the right R/V.
Finding the right mobile repairman is like finding gold. My guy is wonderful, never more than a day or two for any work. He has two mobile repair trucks and a small shop. I give him all my work, oil changes, bodywork, etc., because I want him to stay in business.
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Old 11-29-2019, 02:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Scotrv View Post
Just want to clarify one of your statements, Forrest River nor any other manufacturer pays us (Dealer) to inspect/PDI, (Pre Delivery Inspection) an RV when we receive it. A PDI on a travel trailer takes three hours to perform. Repairs/adjustments are not performed during the PDI. Repair/adjustments are performed on a warranty work order. At our Dealership the PDI is done before you receive an Orientation at delivery time with a Technician.

Hope you have smooth sailing with your new camper.
I've got to ask.... then with what you are saying, you, as a dealer, don't look at the unit when it is delivered to you to make sure it is even cosmetically free from defects and not damaged? Surely, you do a cursory walk around for obvious exterior damage. True?
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Old 11-29-2019, 02:34 PM   #6
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DaGrinch, yes, the Sales dept. gives it a look over at delivery looking for drivers damage and to check for the equipment it was ordered with. But again, no manufacturer is paying a dealer for any check of the trailer. They only pay for a warranty claim once a defect is found during PDI.
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Old 11-29-2019, 02:42 PM   #7
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We have bought all our latest RVs long distance. Never local. Once we buy from a dealer, we never see them, or any other dealer again for any warranty work. We use independent service only shops. Some mobile, some not, some both. Use RV park personnel and Google for suggestions when traveling. Have had warranty, and extended warranty work done all over the country, all by independents. The service techs always got the pre-authorization for work, and we only had to pay up front once. Work done was always great and very timely.
If you can find a great local dealer to take care of all your warranty needs in a timely manner, fantastic! I've never found that elusive dealer, and most problems don't happen close to home anyway.
So is a dealer necessary after the sale? Not at all.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotrv View Post
Just want to clarify one of your statements, Forrest River nor any other manufacturer pays us (Dealer) to inspect/PDI, (Pre Delivery Inspection) an RV when we receive it. A PDI on a travel trailer takes three hours to perform. Repairs/adjustments are not performed during the PDI. Repair/adjustments are performed on a warranty work order. At our Dealership the PDI is done before you receive an Orientation at delivery time with a Technician.

Hope you have smooth sailing with your new camper.
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DaGrinch, yes, the Sales dept. gives it a look over at delivery looking for drivers damage and to check for the equipment it was ordered with. But again, no manufacturer is paying a dealer for any check of the trailer. They only pay for a warranty claim once a defect is found during PDI.
And that may be how YOUR dealership does it.

That is NOT how any of the several dealers I've dealt with do business.
They ALL did a PDI before we did our Customer Orientation and showed us the list of things they fixed/adjusted before we arrived on their lot to pick it up.

I have NO CLUE how they got paid or if they got paid for such nor do I care but any dealer worth their weight should be doing a PDI if they want to retain customers and garner new ones. For sure the ones I'm giving my money to.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:18 PM   #9
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5Picker, how did you get that we don't do PDI? We perform the PDI before the customer comes for the Orientation. I was just clarifying for the OP that dealers do not get paid for PDI as he stated. Simple as that.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:21 PM   #10
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5Picker, how did you get that we don't do PDI? We perform the PDI before the customer comes for the Orientation. I was just clarifying for the OP that dealers do not get paid for PDI as he stated. Simple as that.
Please forgive me if I drew that conclusion incorrectly.
That was how I read your two posts since you were quick to point out how you don't get paid.

Good on you (and your dealership) if you do.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:37 PM   #11
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Please forgive me if I drew that conclusion incorrectly.
That was how I read your two posts since you were quick to point out how you don't get paid.

Good on you (and your dealership) if you do.
Kinda how I read them, also.
I've had nothing but great service from my dealer (Keystone RV in Greencastle, PA) on the 2 units I have bought from them..... for the few times I've actually needed any service or warranty claims.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:40 PM   #12
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DaGrinch, my first post clearly states that the PDI is done before the Orientation.
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:45 AM   #13
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Odd how the RV industry does not use the painless car dealer model for warranty claims. This is 2019, not 1949.
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:05 AM   #14
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We were first time buyers, who can read! FR Hathaway 34RE.

When we went to inspect our fifth wheel we were surprised that the pdi was strictly a session on how to everything.

I questioned the service manager. They expect to get paid when all is well. This was one of the BIG discount dealers.

He said they inspect the unit in the sale area and do a thorough check out.

Petty much FR will pay them up to $1000 for repairs with no questions. So it behooves them, the dealer, to have it ready for us.

Due to the hassle of warrantee work I think the dealers prefer not to do it.

Frankly, our position was to do a good PDI and take care of minor stuff ourselves.

Many items on the rv are covered by separate warrantees.

Delivering our fifth wheel for an after sale inspection, then waiting for approval, then waiting for parts, then waiting for a day for repair, is a pain. Not worth the effort unless we are talking big bucks! Three trips to the dealer. My time is worth something.

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Old 11-30-2019, 11:07 AM   #15
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3) make sure they do a thorough walk-through (PDI) with you, 4) even if they do, take as much time as you need to go over the unit with a fine toothed comb, including every seam, molding, hinge, nut & bolt etc. and 5) if there are any problems, don't sign anything, pay in full or take delivery until they're taken care of. Period. Then 6) take it for a good shake-down immediately after taking delivery and if any other issues come to light, take it right back to the dealer to have them addressed. And take pictures. Good luck.
#3 - 5 are the most important. Our dealer kept saying that they'd do the warranty work AFTER we signed the papers. We insisted on the repair work be done before we signed the papers. It was amazing how quickly technicians appeared and repaired the problems. If we'd had it done as a warranty repair, they would have kept the rig and delayed our camping.

It's a bit like buying a house. Once you have the bank approved financing and they know you really want to buy their product, they will repair the rig in order to get you to sign. (The bird in hand principle...) That's what we did and were very pleased.
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Old 11-30-2019, 01:45 PM   #16
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Odd how the RV industry does not use the painless car dealer model for warranty claims. This is 2019, not 1949.
Big difference between Auto Dealers and RV Dealers.

Auto Dealers are Franchised by the manufacturer and have clearly laid out standards for how they do business.

An RV Dealer merely purchases product from the manufacturer and can actually do so from several different manufacturers. They are just like an independent tire dealer that buys different brands from different suppliers, all with different warranty policies and procedures. Some get their warranty expenses reimbursed as claims are submitted and some merely get an allowance factored into the wholesale price they pay and are expected to handle their own warranty expenses.

For those who want to avoid the "you didn't buy it from us, get lost" problem for warranty take a new approach when purchasing.

Go ahead and shop around and find your best price and then go to the local dealer and see if they can meet the price. If they come close you'll save in the long run by not having to drive hundreds of miles for warranty service.


As for me? I like my "Warranty Repairman". He's always there when I need him. It's ME. I was real picky when I took delivery and things I noticed were corrected before I hauled my TT away. Only issue since then was a $20 part I had shipped to me at my expense. Less than the gas to tow the TT to the Dealer.

Chasing around to dealers hundreds of miles away makes no sense to me when I think of all the time, fuel, and aggravation.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:14 PM   #17
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5Picker, how did you get that we don't do PDI? We perform the PDI before the customer comes for the Orientation. I was just clarifying for the OP that dealers do not get paid for PDI as he stated. Simple as that.
We looked at two new Class A's and both had slide malfunctions where one side came out and the other didn't. The dealer said they do the PDI only after the unit is sold, as you alluded to. I asked when the slides would be repaired so we could test drive them. The salesperson again said the slides would be repaired only after we bought. I asked how we could do a test drive with the slides sticking out 2" on one side. He shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't make the policies."

So we bought elsewhere.

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Old 11-30-2019, 02:53 PM   #18
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We looked at two new Class A's and both had slide malfunctions where one side came out and the other didn't. The dealer said they do the PDI only after the unit is sold, as you alluded to. I asked when the slides would be repaired so we could test drive them. The salesperson again said the slides would be repaired only after we bought. I asked how we could do a test drive with the slides sticking out 2" on one side. He shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't make the policies."

So we bought elsewhere.

Ray

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Old 11-30-2019, 03:17 PM   #19
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As a first timer I flew to Iowa to pick up my rv from an internet wholesaler. I saved $40,000. by doing so!! They did a very good PDI. Unfortunately, they talked me into an expensive rv& tire warranty. Waste of money! When my side door lock broke and my two big dogs & I had to climb thru the coach I had a mobile tech come to my campground ( no dealerships around.) Great service, but over $550. later, my extended warranty never would reimburse me. I’ll save my money by not purchasing an extended warranty next time and just pay for those independent repairs.
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Old 11-30-2019, 04:17 PM   #20
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As a first timer I flew to Iowa to pick up my rv from an internet wholesaler. I saved $40,000. by doing so!! They did a very good PDI. Unfortunately, they talked me into an expensive rv& tire warranty. Waste of money! When my side door lock broke and my two big dogs & I had to climb thru the coach I had a mobile tech come to my campground ( no dealerships around.) Great service, but over $550. later, my extended warranty never would reimburse me. I’ll save my money by not purchasing an extended warranty next time and just pay for those independent repairs.
Yes... I'd say if you really saved $40k on your purchase you could bank that money for repairs and never need any kind of warranty!
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