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Truth Revealed by RV Dealership Employee. It Isn’t Pretty.

There’s no doubt that many RVers are fed up with the industry practices. 

Visit any RV online forum, and you’ll see comments from disgruntled owners. Rarely, however, do industry insiders share their personal experiences.

Today we’ve got the scoop straight from the source.

Let’s dive in.

rv dealers

Who’s Spilling the Tea?

On the Reddit RV community called GoRVing, an RV dealership employee has opened up a can of worms. Their name on Reddit is u/Kirk_Hinrich, and here’s how he introduces himself:

“After 7 years of working in almost every department for rv dealerships and corporate offices, I just had my second baby and I am ready to move on to a different industry.

I think there is a lot of trust issues between customers and sales/ service employees and I hope I can help answer any questions.”

Like all Reddit posts, anonymity allows users to share more than they would in the public spotlight. 

It also means verifying accuracy is impossible. Whether you read on for education or entertainment, take it with a grain of salt and use your judgment to determine accuracy.

We can’t validate any of the following claims due to the source of the original post (Reddit). 

However, it’s not too hard to believe what is said.

Is MSRP Real, and How Much Less Than It Should I Pay?

We all know MSRP is rarely paid, but how does a dealership use that number? Well, Kirk_Hinrich says, “Depending on the dealership, sometimes that msrp is just a made up number.”

20% off the MSRP is a reasonable expectation.

If you can get the listed sale price as the actual price paid, that’s a good deal. Often fees and taxes can jack the sale price right back up to the MSRP.

Kirk_Hinrich continues, “Usually they have a sale price at least 20% lower. In my opinion, a fair deal to negotiate is to try and get that listed sale price out the door after taxes, title, licensing, etc.”

Has Quality Gotten Worse?

Redditor Fearless-Deer9250 wants to know if quality has really gotten worse over the last two years.

The OP’s response was somewhat reassuring. He says:

“The construction itself hasn’t really changed. The biggest thing is the high demand as well as parts/labor shortages. The manufacturers are pushing them out much faster without property quality checking them…”

New or Used?

Should RVers buy a new or used unit? It’s a question as old as RVing itself. And, there are people firmly positioned on either side of the argument.

The fact is, RV dealers make good money from selling both new and used.

Here’s what Kirk_Hinrich thinks about the issue:

It can all depend on your situation and plans so there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. If it was me personally, i would prefer getting one that is used but I know has been through the proper inspections to make sure everything is working and in good shape.

A lot of older models were built better, but if the previous owner didn’t care about maintenance, it won’t matter.”

What’s the most common way people get ripped off at an RV dealer?

We decided to join the conversation and ask Kirk_Hinrich a question on Reddit, too.

Our question is, “What’s the most common way people get ripped off at a dealership?”

Here’s the frightening answer:

“On the day you pick up your new camper, you will be excited and spend a good chunk of your day there. Most places are going to bring you into a finance office for a long time and wear you out with all their information. Not all of it is bogus but once you sign up for one thing, they will keep going and going. 

Just make sure you listen and know what you are signing up for. Too many times people see their first payoff amount and don’t realize there is thousands more than what you thought.

Large dealerships get kickbacks from the bank and they will sometimes sell you the camper below cost because they will make way more off of financing.”

If you see a “finance discount” price, know that something is fishy.”

He spells it out with a straightforward sentence…” They are all selling cheap units and a low price and making their money on the back end.”

Are RV Dealers Really That Bad?

Even after reading the insight from an RV dealer employee, it doesn’t seem like dealers are all to blame.

The RV manufacturers need to increase quality and quality control.

And, the consumer needs to become educated on the buying and financing process before getting an RV on a whim.

What do you think about these insights?

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  1. Gerry sykes says:

    Why so many recalls. Where to get slide out serviced?

  2. JEFF ALSOP says:

    Good story, and so true. I was in the car biz both sales and service for 45 years. I saw crappy quality come and go as the ”bean counter’s” took over the car company’s…then, maybe something happen’s like the asian companies came to America and kicked the Big three’s Ass. All of the sudden, quality starts going back the other way….for awhile. I hope Quality does the same thing in the rv industry now that we have the conversation going. And , Yes the RV dealers [Just like the Auto Dealers] Know they can get you in the door with low advertised prices, and sock it too you in the ”rear end” of the deal with Financing and add on’s.One Tip, Untill things settle down [The covid hangover] if you do buy a New RV, just spend some time going over everything to find the ”issue’s” befor you head out!

  3. Ted Cook says:

    About buying and selling your RV. I’v been thru 2 lemon lawsuits. Buying used after the 1st buyer has fixed everything and taking the 1st hit . I have bought new 3 times and 2 resulted in lemon law suits.
    My attorney told me on one case the rv engineer told him even through the class A sold for $160K the company only had half that in costs to build. So 30% reduction in price should be where you start to buy.
    I’v been reading your site for maybe 2 yrs. You do a great job writting but I have been RVing since 1999 bought 2 new class A’s one new trailer and one used class A. Crossed the USA 3 times. I remember early in my reading of your articles you seem to focus a lot on food.
    Most of the RV ers I know rarely go for the food experience we go for the scenic/entertainment value in the trip not for food.
    You are way off in your obseveration of 55+ parks especially in the parks with 500 to 2000 sites .
    I’m always curious how you can find so many different ideas to write about keep up the good work. Ted and Janet

  4. Vicki says:

    So true! Bought a used RV, asked the salesman specifically to check roof condition. He got up and looked, “looks fine”!
    Went to pickup, they pulled generator for service. Didn’t get for 3months. 4 months later, we got 6″ of rain, roof around vent leaked, dealer did nothing.
    Stored for winter. Following summer, got ready to use. AC not cooling! 1 month to get into shop.
    Had to be replaced, used GS extended warranty. First AC damaged in shipment, was not notified. Got second, ready to pickup after 4 months! Extended warranty covered 1 hr of labor! Told they do pay for “upgrades” since original no longer available.
    Used once, then winter!
    Following spring it was converter and CO2 replacement, 1 month.
    Started AC and left running, checked following week, not working! Another month to get appointment. New AC failed, Dometic only warranties 1 calendar year! Another replacement, took 3 months! Plus the cab center light assembly just “fell out.” Ordered trim parts from dealer, never came!
    Dealer finished work, brought home & stored Nov 2019!
    Covid parked all 2020.
    No longer can afford to move it! So it sits on the drive!
    I read, and hear of so many failures of dealers, parts, and manufactures. People stressing to have a certified RV instection bef pi re purchasing. Great, but not all areas have inspectors or solar dealers or even service that can install a Composting toilet!
    The full-time traveler blogs can either do the work or can afford to have it done! I cannot get on roof anymore, don’t have tools/equiptment to do repairs. Service this year went to $140 per hour! RVing is not for someone on SS!

  5. Captain Quirk says:

    “Has Quality Gotten Worse?

    “The [industry insider’s] response was somewhat reassuring. He says:

    “The construction itself hasn’t really changed. The biggest thing is the high demand as well as parts/labor shortages. The manufacturers are pushing them out much faster without property [sic] quality checking them…”

    Well, wait a minute.  If the mfrs are pushing them out much faster without properly quality checking them, then the construction HAS changed.  >:-( 

    Not reassuring at all! 🙁

  6. Charlie says:

    We bought a Coachman 5th wheel and RAM 2500 in April 2020. Our expectations were realistic and we’ve not been surprised at a dozen or so minor problems. Trailer axle out of alignment causing tire wear. Stapled together trim popping loose – put back with glue. Canopy needs replacement after 3+ years. Roof insulation in slide out lacking. “Solar ready” a joke. But biggest surprise was
    the truck. Rear shock failed 6 months after purchase and dealer refused a repair. Luckily only a $300 DIY. The only trailer warranty issue was a tv failure. Rv dealer replaced it without hassle.
    Being handy and having realistic expectations has made our transition to full timing a delightful experience. Yes there are ongoing maintenance requirements but fewer than in the stick house we used to own.

  7. Wayne says:

    Reputable and honest dealerships can be found but they are rare. Ihave bought new and used from Campers Unlimited in Gadsden, AL. People come from measurable distance to buy from them. Fair deals, good equipment and a great sales staff and service department make them great.

  8. Gary Elzey says:

    I love You guys have loved folling all your travels for a long time

  9. Sam Warr says:

    Buying an RV is the first step to a wonderful travelling experience or an overwhelming nightmare. Before you pay for the unit, get ahold of an RV certified technician. Take him with you to check every system, brakes,electrical,slides,lighting, furnace, hot water heater, gray water and black water shut-offs, air conditioning, toilet, windows and doors for stability. Water leaks are the last thing you want to happen.

    Does the unit come with black water hose and fittings? Do you have electrical readouts inside the trailer giving you voltage and amps. Does the unit come with an external electrical surge protection or one built into the electrical panel? Learn how to use an electrical multimeter! It can be used for checking the unit electrical systems as well as electrical hookups at RV parks. It is invaluable!
    Are the tires at the proper pressure. I would not travel without a TPS system to check the heat and tire pressure and furnishes the information to a unit on the dash with readouts for each tire which the driver/passenger can monitor. This system has saved us a number of times from a complete catastrophe.
    Does the unit come with hoses and plumbing fittings necessary for water hook-ups? Does it come with temperature readouts in the frig and freezer? Does it come with towels racks in the bathroom?
    In other words, buying the RV unit is just the beginning. The buyer should know as much as possible about every system, otherwise they will be spending a lot of money at an RV repair facility, possible losing the ability to use the unit for months.

  10. A. Deakins says:

    RV dealerships generally work to the same predatory sales model as car dealerships. And, like car dealers, corporate dealers are typically worse than family owned. Big chain corporate dealers arguably are the worst of all. There are other ways to shop for a new RV (and car/truck) online. Personally, I prefer two year old used RVs, but, if one really aspires for brand new RV, think about throwing out “reverse auction” invites to all the nearby dealers. Dealers make no money on unsold RVs (or, cars/trucks). Most dealers have an “online sales team”. Just be sure you have sorted out your strategy and you know what your qualifying criteria is for the responses do you want to see. You may even want to engage a professional buyer or buying service. The resulting savings can be impressive given the ticket size of a new RV (or car/truck).

  11. Axshunjax says:

    We purchased our first bumper pull at an RV show in Indianapolis. After looking at all the RVs there we came back to the layout we like best.The price was within our budget and they gave use good service until we took it in for our first warranty maintenance. No dents scratches in perfect condition service said it will be a little while go get breakfast. While we were eating got a phone call and the service dept said there was some damage.Did we hit something-no-but we did notice a hot shot riding around the parking area in a fork lift before we left to eat.went back assessed the damage and had to think about fixing as we had a trip coming up. While thinking it over we thought we would look at a 5th wheel – hubby fell in love with the layout and we went to see if the budget would work/ It did as the dealer gave us more on a trade than we had paid for it and it was also on sale as newer models were coming in. So far happy with the dealer. But with the new 5er found some shoddy workmanship after taking it out on a couple of trips – buyer beware