If a Tree Falls on an RV….

…it’s really freaking loud! And that’s just what happened to us last fall. The tree could have fallen in any other direction and we would have been fine, but it fell perfectly on us. Howard and I were laying in bed at the time. It was the end of the camping season in NH and the last night we were staying in our RV. I was awake, thinking about all the things we had to do that day to secure our RV for the winter and pack for our trip to Michigan. I heard the tree snap and was waiting for the usual thud that follows as it hits the forest floor. Instead there was a CRASH, SMASH, BOOM and the RV shook so hard I thought we were rolling off into the woods. Our poor dog Max jumped up and was standing in the middle of the RV with his feet spread like he was on a boat in rough seas. Howard and I immediately sat up in bed. I said, “I think a tree hit the RV.” Howard replied sarcastically, “You think?!”

Sign at Camping World

We took the RV to Camping World for repairs. That’s what this post is really about because it ended up being a four month long ordeal. The following is an account of what happened, which I’ve written in a letter to Marcus Lemonis. Marcus is the CEO of Camping World, Good Sam, and Gander Mountain. He also has a TV show called The Profit, a reality show where he helps struggling businesses. There is a sign in Camping World that says to contact him with any concerns. I believe the issues we had were not all Camping World’s fault though. The RV manufacture, parts providers, and the priority freight driver who drove around with our awning on his truck for 29 days, all deserve some blame too I’m sure. Since Marcus is a big player in the RV industry, perhaps he will find my feed back useful.

Dear Marcus,

My husband and I have enjoyed your show The Profit. Hoping to catch a few more episodes, if we ever get our house back. Our “house” is a 2013, ‘26 travel trailer made by Cruiser RV. It was a showroom model at the RV show we purchased it at, and has all kinds of great qualities including top of the line appliances and components. It’s also super light weight. We’ve towed it all over the country with our Ford Ranger. My husband and I run our own company and can work anywhere we have internet. We’ve customized the dinette area into a great work space that can hold four or five computers. We replace the mattress with a TempurPedic. This RV is our home and our office. I’m telling you about our home because we brought it to Camping World for repair work and want to share with you our experience.

The morning of Oct. 23, 2017 we woke to a loud crash and what felt like an 9.0 earthquake. A tree had fallen on our RV. It smashed a vent on the roof above the refrigerator, destroyed the awning, and poked two holes all the way through the wall into the bathroom. We found out later, it bent the front jack too. It was a mess. We taped garbage bags over the holes and vent, called my insurance company, then secured the RV for a NH winter. Luckily, we were already planning to get an apartment and not travel that winter. The next day we had to go out of town and when we got back there was snow on the ground. We couldn’t have any repairs done until spring.

Roof Damage

I had asked my insurance company to recommend a repair shop, but they said to bring it anywhere. I chose the nearest Camping World, about an hour and a half away in Conway, NH. I chose Camping World because they are a large company and I felt they would be better prepared to deal with my insurance company and handle some extended warranty work I wanted to have done too. I also called them and asked if they could do all the work I needed and was told that they can do everything, even take the RV completely apart and put it back together again. Great!

It was April 24th before enough snow had melted and we could get our RV up to Camping World. I had been talking to Mona there and already sent her photos of the damage, my insurance info. and  my extended warranty info. When my husband and I were there on the 24th, Mona did our paperwork. I mentioned this because  “Oh, Mona did your paperwork.” will come up again, several times, over the next few months.  I will note, Mona non longer appears to work at Camping World.

Back to the paperwork. Mona did one work order for the insurance repairs and one work order for the warranty repairs. I asked if they could look over the whole RV too incase there is something that should be fixed that’s not on my list. Mona said a 20 point inspection comes free with a Good Sam membership. Mine had expired so I renewed it that day. The 20 point inspection went on a third work order. I also made it clear that if my insurance or warranty company would not cover any of these repairs they need to let me know. I didn’t expect the insurance to be a problem, but I had a lot of little things on the warranty list I wasn’t sure would be covered. If they weren’t, my husband and I would either fix them ourselves, not worry about it, or give Camping World the okay to do the work, once we knew the cost.

After a week, I hadn’t heard anything from Camping Word so the following week I left a voicemail for Mona asking how everything was coming along on the estimates. I also sent her an email. I didn’t get a reply. On May 4 I got lucky and either Mona answered her phone, or she returned my call, I don’t remember which. She didn’t have all the info she needed for the extended warranty company. (She could have let me know!) I scanned my info and emailed it to her.

May 11th I talked to my insurance agent, who had not heard anything from Camping World yet, so I tried to get a hold of Mona or anyone in the service department. No one returned my calls.

My husband and I were getting nervous now. We were supposed to be out of our apartment before Memorial Day and needed to move back into our RV.

Sometime between then and May 19th I was finally put in touch with Roger, the service manager. Roger returns his phone calls!

Some of the Tree Damage

I told him we had to be out of our apartment and needed our RV back to live in. He said they were still working on getting the part prices but he would try to speed this up. I think I called him every day to get a status update, then on the 19th we started communicating mostly by email. Roger replys to his emails too!

One of the part price hold ups involved the kitchen sink. One of the water hoses had detached from the faucet. It looked like something froze over the winter and broke a small metal ring that held it together. I told Roger to forget about the sink. We can fix that ourselves.

On May 20th both estimates were done.

Monday, May 22 I talked to my insurance contact. He said they should be able to get this approved in the next day or two, the appraiser just needed an appointment to take photos of the RV and they had a question about a charge on the estimate. Talking to my insurance contact over the next few days he said the appraiser was having a hard time getting ahold of anyone at Camping World. I gave him Roger’s info and said to call him. He’s the only person there who returns phone calls after all.

May 26th a guy from the extended warranty company went to Camping World. I don’t know what he did, but Roger told me he had been there.

This brings us to Memorial Day Weekend. My husband and I were able to extend our stay in our apartment until June 9th. This should give Camping World plenty of time to get our RV back to us now.

May 30th my insurance company approved the estimate.

June 2nd the extended warranty repairs were approved. I asked Roger if there was anything they weren’t going to cover, because I need a quote for that. Roger replied in an email, “Deductibles is all you will owe I think”.

June 6th I asked for an update and Roger replied, “Nothing yet and body shop is coming tomorrow to look at it and figure when they can take it. Looks like some parts have shipped.“

Stupid Tree

June 9th my husband and I moved out of our apartment. This was difficult as our car and truck were completely full of all our belongings we had to take out of our RV. I had to borrow a car to move our suitcases, desks, chairs, and computers. We went to stay with my 90 year old parents in their tiny condo for, hopefully, just a few days.

I asked Roger for an update on June 13th and he said our RV is hopefully going to the body shop this week, parts were coming in slowly, and there may be a chance it will be ready next week. Another update on June 15th said the warranty parts were in and they are ready to do those repairs. He was still waiting on the body shop, but was reminding him.

It wasn’t until I was writing this that I realized, why does my RV need to go to a body shop? I thought Camping World could do all the repairs?

June 20th Roger wrote, “Extended warranty stuff is done, body shop told me they are taking the trailer on Monday the 26th” On June 23rd I was told the body shop would need three days to do the repairs then all Camping World has to do is install the awning.

It’s been two months now. Things had been moving along up to this point, even if they were moving along rather slowly. However, this is when it all really fell apart.

On June 27th Roger emailed, “Just got off the phone with the body shop and the best he can do is try to get it back to me the week of July 10th.”

WHAT???!!!

Turns out the body shop, that supposedly looked at our RV back on June 7th and was too busy to fit us in so far, was going to close for the entire week of July 4th.

July 10th Roger wrote, ”Just called [the body shop] and he is on track to get [the RV] back to me this week. I will do my thing and if all goes well you should have it for this weekend.” July 12th Roger let me know they were picking up my RV from the body shop, they just had to install the awning, do the paperwork, and we could hopefully pick it up the next day.

Were we actually going to get our RV back? (Spoiler alert: the answer is no.)

On July 13th I learned that Camping World did not have the replacement awning for our RV. I found out later that the parts guy had called the manufacturer to order the awning. The manufacturer said they don’t make that part, this other company does. The parts guy called that other company and they said they don’t make them anymore. Or something like that happened. The problem is that nothing else was done as far as ordering an awning.

Roger suggested we come get our RV so we can be living in it and when the awning comes in we can bring it back and have it installed. Bringing it back was going to be a pain. I was able to convince Roger that when the awning was in he could send a couple guys down to Holderness, where my RV will be, and install it there. So my husband and I drove the two hours up to Camping World from where my parents live, to get our RV.

We get to Camping World and see Mike in the service department. I think I left him voicemail way back in May. He never called back. There was some confusion because, “Oh, Mona did your paperwork.”. He found the work order for the warranty repairs. He said that came to $400 something dollars. My husband and I said no, we are only supposed to owe the $100 deductible. We asked what the insurance repairs invoice said, but that paperwork hadn’t been found yet. We had to wait for Roger, who was with another customer. While we waited we walked out back to check out our RV. Seemed like forever since we had seen it.

First we noticed the shiny new jacks on the RV. They looked great. Then we walked around the other side. The roof vent was still smashed. Why hadn’t that been replaced? Plus it was raining. Water could be getting inside the RV, behind the refrigerator where it could be doing damage. Damage that wouldn’t be noticed right away. The outer side panel had been repaired where the holes were, that was good. Inside the floor was pretty dirty with pieces of styrofoam and wood, from the holes in the wall. That we overlooked since we were technically picking the RV up early, before the awning was installed. We were not able to overlook the missing wall panel by the water heater, or the HOLES IN THE BATHROOM WALL! Excuse my shouting, but wasn’t that what the body shop was supposed to fix? If not them, then why hadn’t Camping World fixed that already. I know the inside wall covering was not made any more, but it’s just one small section in the bathroom that needed repair. Way back in May we talked about matching the interior wall covering pattern, which is pretty plain, as close as possible. As long as it looks good so we can resell the RV someday. As long as there aren’t holes with wood and styrofoam sticking out.

Roger finally came out to talk to us. He said not to worry about any additional warranty charges, he would take care of that. Good, because we didn’t authorize any work that we were going to have to pay for (beyond the deductibles). We brought him out to the RV and he seemed visibly shocked and disappointed at the condition of our RV. When he saw the holes inside the bathroom had not been repaired he began writing like crazy on his clipboard. He promised us he would make this right.

We left without our RV and drove the two hours back to my parents tiny condo.

In the days that followed there was supposedly some mix up at the awning manufacturer and the awning still hadn’t been shipped yet. When it did ship, it was supposed to go priority truck freight to get here as soon as possible. Roger was waiting for a tracking number then he would let me know when it would be in. I kept emailing asking if he had the tracking number yet.

I didn’t get a response until July 19th when Roger wrote, “I am so sorry for not returning your e-mail, things have been crazy with family members dying and me covering but I will look into where we stand and get back to you.”

July 20th Roger told me that the factory screwed up again, but they were definitely shipping it today. Also on this day, I was told the RV was in the shop getting the rest of the repairs done.

August 2nd we went back to try and get our RV again. There was still no awning, but we could live without it until it comes in. This time our RV was in much better condition. The missing wall panel had been put back. The wall in the bathroom was repaired. The wall covering wasn’t an exact match, but it was very close. They even put the ComandStrip hook I had on that wall back in the same place. The inside was clean too. They had our RV electric hooked up so our battery was charging and our refrigerator cooling down. The roof vent was replaced and the outside had been washed, except the awning side so water didn’t get in the mounting holes for the awning. This was how we expected to get our RV back. Roger was making things right. Now we just need an awning.

August 15th I let Roger know that my husband and I were leaving NH in the fall. There were two months left to get us an awning. Since there had been no word on the awning, no available tracking number, and no idea where it was, I suggested he order another one.

Awning Delivery
Installing the Awning

Late in the day on Friday, August 18th I received an email from Roger saying an awning had arrived. There was no paperwork with it but he was ninety percent sure it was ours. On Monday he verified that it was our awning. Two days later on August 23rd, four months after we brought our RV to Camping World, a Camping World truck with two employees and our awning pulled up to our RV site. The employees were very nice and professional and installed the awning quickly.

Our RV repairs were done. Well, there was still one thing, Roger let me know one of the outside decals had not come in yet. It took us a while to figure out which decal was missing. We’re still not really sure, and we certainly do not need it. I told Roger to forget about it.

Just a quick side note; As a designer, I find those “Nike” type swoosh decals RV manufacturers love to decorate their products with, extremely ugly. Even worse are the airbrushed collages of wolves howling at the moon, cougars, and random nature scenes embellished on certain RVs. I believe most consumers would prefer something a little more modern, even minimalist would be better. Maybe you have some influence with the manufacturers.

The Repairs are Finally Done

In closing, Camping World took way too long to fix our RV. It was an extreme inconvenience that affected our work, my parents, and our summer, and it was made much worse by repeated promises and deadlines  that were not met. We spent thousands of dollars on a seasonal RV site that we can only use for a couple months now. Had we know this would have happened, or at least been given an honest timeline, we could have made different living arrangements for the summer. If it wasn’t for Roger, I don’t know if we would have ever gotten our RV back. Sure, I blame him for some of this too, but he did make things right for us.

Good luck with “The Profit” and your other endeavors, especially Camping World. As Roger said in his last email, “This RV industry is not easy.”

Laurie & Howard Fenter

I know this was a super long post, but I just want to mention one last thing. Our insurance company, AAA (American Automobile Association), has been awesome! I’ve had their roadside assistance since 1994 and have used their auto, home, and renters insurance. They are affordable and very easy to work with. They handled the claim on our RV immediately and told me several times not to worry about a thing. I highly recommend them.

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