Chuck Woodbury, editor and publisher of the RVTravel.com, the industry’s largest and most prestigious online publication, is a full-time RVer and an industry advocate. But Woodbury says RV buyers must beware.

The RV industry, with record sales in 2017, needs to better protect the best interests of buyers.

The RV industry needs to better protect the interests buyer, according to Chuck Woodbury, editor and publisher of RVTravel.com.
The RV industry needs to better protect the interests buyers, according to Chuck Woodbury, editor and publisher of RVTravel.com.

Woodbury, an author, internationally renowned RV industry expert and the host of the best-selling Better Business Bureau DVD, “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” is the guest on episode 25 of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

“There’s no international organization anymore that looks out for the interest of RVers,” says Woodury. “There’s nobody back in Washington, D.C., or in state legislatures lobbying for lemon laws for RVers. The only lobbying that’s going on is against lemon laws. The dealers and the manufacturers do not want lemon laws. It means they have to build better RVs pr take them back and they don’t want to do that.”

According to Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in Reston, Va., wholesale shipments increased 17.2 percent in 2017 from the previous year. Motorhome shipments increased 14.4 percent last year from 2016 totals.

But while industry sales highlight the industry’s boom, it’s also fostered growing concerns of decreasing manufacturing quality.

“To me, it’s a huge problem,” says Woodbury, who frequently receives letters from readers of his website and RV Travel Newsletter about catastrophic issues. “I am probably the only voice out there who is trying to get the companies to do something more to improve their products.”

Woodbury, who’s traveled throughout the world as an RVer for more than 30 years, believes manufacturers and dealers entice potential buyers with increasingly advanced equipment and furnishing and with low long-term financing. But it’s rarely in the best interests of customers.

“Many of manufacturers today do not even to do a final inspection before the RVs off to dealers,” Woodbury warns. “It’s up to the dealers to find problems. Some dealers will go and look through their inventory find problems. Other dealers just look the other way.”

Further troublesome is a lack of qualified assistance for RVers whose vehicles need repair.

“There’s a huge shortage of RV technicians, says Woodbury. “Generally, the dealers don’t pay very well, so it can be very difficult to get an RV fixed. We hear horror stories all the time about people buying RVs riddled with defects. It can take months to get an RV repaired. I feel sorry for people who have paid $100,000 or $200,000 or a new RV and they can’t use it.”

In addition to discussing the industry’s shortcomings, Woodbury also discusses new trends in RV industry, the increase of different groups buying RVs and other changes in the RV community.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Chuck is right on! In the last 3 years prices have gone up while quality has deteriorated. Additionally, during that time nearly 1.5 million new units were sold while the number of campsites remained static. Instead of just hitting the road now reservations are often needed a year in advance.

    • Chuck is expert among experts. Glad you enjoyed the podcast. I hope you sign up and tell friends and colleagues. It’s appreciated.

  2. This issue is the biggest reason that I have yet to jump into the market. I have multiple friends that purchased brand new class As and one of them could not even get home on his maiden voyage. The local dealer would not even talk to him and this very expensive motor coach sat idle for 5 1/2 months before he finally took it to a 3rd party rv repair shop to get it fixed. Now fortunately he is a doctor and could afford to pay for the repairs as well as sue the original dealer and manufacture. My second friend spent over $250k and had so many problems he promptly put it up for sale and is likewise suing the manufacturer. Talk about a “death spiral” of an industry.

  3. So, what can be done about this issue? We own a lemon we bought from CW. Class A deisel pusher. Has been in shop more than we have had it out camping. Very frustrating!

    • Pat:

      Thanks for reading. I’d like to refer you to my friend, Chuck Woodbury. He publishes the very informatiive website, RVTravel.com and has a free newsletter that addresses RVers’ concerns.

      • Thanks! I signed up for the newsletters! It is a shame the way we are treated after buying our RV. And these are not small problems! This past summer was our 2nd summer and cost us over $9k in water damage issues, inly to have it happen again and again. The Tech admitted it was a factory issue and that he didnt know how to fix it. He is no longer there.
        Pat

  4. Woodbury is not alone. Other independent experts I deal with have concluded likewise. Does anyone think overall quality in the Rv industry has gone up since the crash of 2007-09? There is no one pushing to pass an Rv lemon law, not generally and not with with specific standards. Not on the federal level, not in any state. Meanwhile the industry is still pushing against it. I was watching in the 1980s and have been ever since. Still, not too long ago the national attorneys general association was pushing Rv lemon law standards, but they gave up as conservative do-nothing politics took over one state House after another during the next two decades.. Meanwhile the crash of 2007–09, caused the industry to look for places to cut corners and still make a profit. Quality was the obvious first target. Quickly, it was business as usual all along after that for the Rv industry. And defects as usual for buyers. The industry touted long and hard the shakedown cruise idea, which allowed it to deliver new Rv’s laden with latent defects for the buyer to discover on their first trip out. Poor quality meant corporate savings, bigger profits, and putting off to tomorrow the warranty repair costs of today. The Rv loving or entranced public put up with bad quality out of a forgiving true love for the lifestyle, and the industry pushed poor quality to the max, trading long term quality for short term profit, time and again. And cutting corners in construction bled into other areas of the industry, in the lustful continuing pursuit of profits. Warranty claim reviews got really tight, not that the industry as a whole was ever loose with ready approval of dealer claims processing. And customer calls for help started getting the same poor quality handling that the rv’s got in the build process. So where does poor quality and sloppy claims processing lead? Ask Gulf Stream after a South Bend Jury verdict last year that exceeded the cost of one of their defective rv’s – they ended up paying multiples of 6 figures to settle a $125,000 Rv case after the jury let them know what they thought of poor quality and the customer runaround. Ask Forest River after a Hamilton Ohio jury returned its $250,000 verdict Friday night to an 80 year old widow who bought a lemon $43,000 Rv. There are lots of decent, honest and hard working people at the Rv factories in Indiana, trying to do their job right in the face of an industry that seems to have decided that getting the money in their corporate pocket, and keeping it there, trumps all else. The industry seems to have forgotten that you can fool some of the buyers all of the time and all of them some of the time, but you can’t fool all of them all of the time. Has every Rv company collectively decided to just make a buck and quality be damned? That’s what it looks like from my law office where since 1985 I have represented consumers who get stuck with a bad Rv and I have more cases than ever. Please, RVIA, build them right. When the manufacturers start building them right, I’ll go back to writing wills. Until then, I’m just too busy.

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