RV dealer says: “Didn’t buy from us? Then we won’t service it”

By Chuck Woodbury

It’s a familiar tune. I hear it often. Someone buys an RV from an out-of-town dealer, then when they need it serviced, their local dealer won’t do it — of if they do, then far into the future. “You didn’t buy from us,” they say.

So if you’re in the market to buy a new RV, keep this in mind. In today’s world, with RVs being cranked in record numbers — and with poor quality control, chances are excellent you’ll need that new RV serviced, and likely more than once.

Can you imagine buying a car — Ford, Honda, Chevy — and then have a dealer where you didn’t buy it turn you down when you needed service? What is wrong with the RV industry!

Here’s a letter I received today from reader Brena B. (last name withheld by request):

Dear Chuck:
We bought our Coachmen RV in March, 2015. When we readied it for a second outing in May the air conditioner would not work. We called both Coachmen dealers near us in San Antonio and both refused us; Crestview RV in Selma asked if we had bought the coach from them, and when we said no, they said they might be able to get to us the end of August, three months away. The closest other Coachmen dealer was Ancira in Boerne, Texas and they refused to talk with us since we did not buy from them. Neither place was helpful when we were looking to purchase.

We had wanted a Ford chassis since the front seats swivel and neither dealer had a Ford and said they doubted they could get one. We then went out of town to purchase our RV.

Luckily, Camping World in New Braunfels, was very helpful (since the A/C was under warranty) and they had us an appointment within two days. Since then, we have routinely used Camping World.
Being a military family (now retired) we moved a lot and I just wondered what people do if they have moved to another area after purchasing a new RV. Do other RVers had the same problem getting service just because they did not buy from that particular dealer? Is this a trend?
You have mentioned in your articles that new RVs today are lacking in quality (I agree). In that case, more and more RVers will be seeking repairs. If a licensed dealer does not help, then who will?
Have you had a similar experience? Please leave a comment.


32 Thoughts to “RV dealer says: “Didn’t buy from us? Then we won’t service it””

  1. Astrid Bierworth

    We encountered this problem with our Crossroads product that we bought in 2013. We were eventually able to find a dealer to service it nearby. Then we also found an independent repair facility even closer. We traded it for a Montana this spring, out of the area. We were able to find a Montana dealer not far away who would do warranty work. So I guess the moral is to keep trying. There are dealers and repair facilities around, you just have to keep trying.

  2. Ray Zimmermann

    My impression is that dealers are primarily in the business of selling RVs and service is a headache for them. There are plenty of stories of people unable to get timely service from a dealer even when they DID buy it there. My advice is to look for independent or mobile RV service providers. We are lucky here in Arizona, which being a prime RV area has good service providers. In other areas they may be harder to find or you may have to go farther. A good resource is the RV Service Reviews website: https://www.rvservicereviews.com/Index.asp

  3. Chris

    I’ve had that same problem with my Jayco travel trailer here. That’s why I use Camping World for my service. Camping World, though, was less than helpful when I was looking to purchase. I avoided the local Kodiak dealer because he told me up front that was his policy. I had to call Jayco in Elkhart once, and I complained about my treatment at the local dealer. They said they were aware, it’s common and there’s nothing they can do about it.

    1. tom hughes

      if that is the way jaco treated you then i would not by a jayco product.

  4. Pat HSmith

    The same probl m for us. W bought a new 2017vista
    From a private party in Vancouver and need ed warranty work in RR in marysville, wa. Was treated the same Moreith question you didn’t buy it here. Was told 2months before a simple oil change too. There is no customer service out there. Camping world in Burlington, wa. Is always available but not warranty work. You would think spending almost $100,000.00 you could be treated better by Winnebago, or possibly a ford dealership too

  5. John Snell

    In our area this is not a problem. They are more than happy to do repair work or whatever. It must be a good problem to have if your turning away extra business.

  6. Adam Sudtell

    I have had the same problem with a 2016 keystone cougar 30rli. I’m in California and I purchased in Michigan because it was a east coast floor plan the could not get in California. I spent hours on the phone after I picked it up and towed it home . I had a o e page list of issues I discovered on my trip home no dealers near me would do warrenty work because I didn’t purchase from them and keystone would do nothing to help. Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen

  7. KC Piton

    We are full-time RVers and are never in the same spot twice. We have a DRV and we have had to have it serviced unexpectedly in Florida only once. Please note, we have had many problems since purchasing the new RV in 2016, but had went to the factory in Indiana for those repairs. Our problem was the belly was literally falling off due to water being able to get in when going down the road in the rain. The rainwater saturated our belly insulation which caused the belly to literally fall off. We were able to make an appointment at America Choice RV in Ocala, FL, an authorized DRV repair service center. The timing worked out because we were on our way to Miami, FL, for an 11-day cruise to the Panama Canal. With driving time and a few sightseeing overnight stays throughout Florida, this would give the dealer about 2 weeks to fix the issue. When we returned to pick up our rig, we found that they had not even looked at it. Two weeks and they didn’t touch it! This may have turned out to be a good thing because when we watched them fix our rig, they were going to put the belly in place WITHOUT adding the required insulation!! Every DRV rig has belly insulation. Another very disturbing fact is that we could tell someone went through all of our cupboards and drawers. YUP!!!! They left about 8 cabinet doors open. They must not have wanted anyone who was outside to hear the sound of the doors clicking shut. What were they doing inside??????? They must have been looking for cash because it did not appear that anything was stolen, and we do not keep cash in the rig. We went to the manager and told them about this and his response was that he didn’t know how someone could get in because the gates are locked at night. I then told him it must be one of his workers, and I received a deer in the headlights look. I do remember when we were making the appointment on the phone that the lady said to ensure all your valuables were out of the rig. Hmmmmmm…… They “fixed” the rig but we had to have it re-done. I do NOT recommend America RV Choice in Ocala, FL, for repair work. If you are in a pickle and need to use their services, watch them like a hawk and don’t leave any valuables in your rig.

  8. Betty Dagle

    We have an airsteam trailer. Our first we bought used, then a new one. We encountered shops that would not work on airstreams in general, but would do tire/brake work. And would do state inspections. Then we found a wonderful small local shop (not a dealer) who would do the work in a reasonable amount of time at a reasonable price. He was willing to work on any brand, or model. Once our warranty was up, we went to him. I didn’t realize how lucky we are.

  9. Jeff

    Yes, I have ran into this problem too. We used to own a Mobile Suites and took it to a local MS Dealer. We didn’t expect them to fix the problem (under warranty) But, just wanted them to look at it and see what they thought the problem might be. They Refused!

    Our current product, REDWOOD 38RL (now out of warranty) was never fixed by our dealer (nearly 200 miles from our home) Eventually took it to LIPPERT in Indiana and they did a bang up job and fixed the problem quickly.

    These Dealers that do this stuff or have this STUPID policy need to realize they are driving customers away. Word of mouth can be very destructive to dealerships. It’s an attitude that need to GO AWAY!

  10. Harry

    How true.
    I was at Holand Motor Homes in Palm Desert couple of days ago looking at Leisure Vans products.
    Salesman said if we buy from him he can get us in for service “pretty fast”, if I buy from another dealer it can take from 3-4 months to get an appointment!
    The pleasure of new RV!
    Our 13 year old Safari Trek looks pretty good noe!

  11. tony novello

    the main problem is the manufacturers. they all say there is nothing they can do about it because all they care about is selling their units to whatever dealer they can. they also know that the quality control department is the consumer. pump out flawed units; it is all about their bottom line.

  12. Mike Bolline

    Aren’t car dealers required to service their brand of vehicle regardless of where purchased? It might be in the franchise terms. Why don’t the RV mfg’ers do the same. Maybe a coordinated letter campaign to legislators would be in order. The RVmanufacters would hate this type of regulation.

  13. Mike Hewitt

    The reason most dealers won’t service a unit not purchased from them is the manufacturers won’t stand behind any work that needs to be done under warranty. I went through a similar situation as my new Winnebago had a lot of things wrong and said the dealt would take care of them. Fortunately my dealer did but it cost them money that they couldn’t get back from Winnebago. I had to spend the night in a motel because the sides and the roof were separating Winnebago would not pay said they would cover the repair even though it had a 10 years warranty on the roof.

  14. Robert

    Trying to get into a RV dealer’s garage on the road—whether your brand or not—is a waste of time. Standard response: “at least a month”. They know you’re a one time customer. Thank heaven for independents and mobile techs.

  15. Charley Dickson

    We’re in the same boat as everyone else here as we got our rig from a Southern California dealer who didn’t check the operation of the washer/dryer, or the awning. Had a horrible time the first time we used the washer and it wouldn’t fill. Then it didn’t drain in the drainpipe, so water soaked the bedroom carpet. Awning needed a part which was pointed out to the dealer in the PDI, but they didn’t do anything about it. As we were in Houston the first two months with our new rig, we looked for dealers in the area because the manufacturer said we had to go to a dealer that sold the brand of our 5th wheel. Strangely enough, they either said they had too many customers already, or cited part of the State of Texas franchise laws saying that they couldn’t service a rig from another dealer! Finally had to go to an independent dealer who had our issues solved in about 1/2 an hour. Ridiculous that we had to go through the hassle that we had to, as well as for other folks with the same problem.

  16. John B

    It is a pity that when one spends a large sum to purchase and RV, that the dealers can put a ‘wet blanket’ on the overall RV experience. Long story, but after dealing with a local dealer, their lack of reasonable pricing, caused us to rethink purchasing the RV, But after some diligent digging around, we purchased the exact RV that we wanted, and $30,000 less than are local dealer. When we needed some service, the waiting for a service spot (we take care of those who purchased from us)The RV sat and waited for over 2 months. Things have improved a bit since the dealership was purchased by a large conglomerate. But I just can not imagine what would happen if there is an issue on the road, if all of the dealers of a certain brand, iterate, didn’t buy it from us, so nothing we can do about it attitude. This is not only irritating, by very frustrating. And Chuck, just wanted to thank you for you diligent pursuit, of raising the issues and concerns of RVer’s who feel helpless with RV dealers.

  17. Mr. Fuddled

    We bought our unit from a private party. Overall, we have never had a problem getting it serviced anywhere except once. We took our unit into Jay’s RV Center in Eureka, California for some repairs and to service it for an upcoming trip. We didn’t get it back for over four months. The dealer only had 3 or 4 employees doing service, and only one building . Their reason was that any units needing service or repairs automatically get pushed back when a new unit is sold and needs to be serviced before delivery. I found out our unit had been bumped back a couple times because of this policy. The policy is understandable, but nonetheless frustrating. By the way, our last trip through Canada going to Alaska we had one service center bend over backwards to accomodate repairs. We were back on the road withing a few days.

  18. Brian

    We bought a Tiffin Allegro Bus in 2006 at least in part due to the Tiffin reputation. Things may have changed but back when we were still under warranty we could go to any RV repair shop and they knew Tiffin would cut a check within two weeks of when invoice is received. We were told by many shops it can take months and months for others to pay so they don’t like doing the work. We have also found Tiffin dealers who don’t want to work on our Bus because we did not buy from them – how dumb is that? We are fulltime and travel everywhere so we have no “local” dealer. But if we find a dealer who takes care of us they could be where we buy our next. Good service gets good sales. Research before you buy – let the buyer beware.

  19. Linda Jackson

    I can understand a dealer having this policy. The dealer I use believes that they should take care of their customers befor someone who bought somewhere else. They will help others but not at the expense of making their customers wait.

  20. Jim

    We have purchased a new Tiffin Phaeton from an out-of-town dealer since we’ll be full timers. The local dealer wanted over ten thousand dollars more to buy from them and told the price differential was when we needed service, we could be ‘prioritized’ over other non-buying customers. That’s pretty expensive considering we may never need service when passing through the area.

  21. Laura

    Out of the 16 months I have owned my 2017 Roadtrek CS Adventurous, I have spent 4 months in the shop. I have stayed in my rig in dealerships from North Carolina to Oregon. Some of it is Mercedes chassis related, and some is coach related. I constantly deal with the “you didn’t buy it from us” garbage. Roadtrek is treating me better than usual because it’s getting pretty lemony around here….

    I’m full-time, and I travel nearly all of the time, so it’s not like I can run back to the Michigan dealership where I initially bought it. But the biggest stick in the eye so far is when I did go back to that dealership…and had to wait two weeks for an appointment.

  22. Robert

    Bought my Jayco from Jayco dealer that is a mile down the road from the factory. Towed it back to Orlando Fl & after the first season had a punch list of items that needed repairs. Nothing big but still warranty items. Called the local authorized Jayco dealer for an appointment & sure enough the BS started with “did you buy it from us” rhetoric. Long story short I ended up calling Jayco direct to complain. They said they are independent dealerships & have no control over them. Unbelievable isn’t it! How do you grant someone exclusivity for a product & refuse to service it? I was ready to call my lawyer & see if I could sue for breach of warranty. Called Camping World & they took me in within 2 weeks & did. Great job so I let go of pressing a lawsuit. Well guess what a few months ago I needed additional warranty work & to my disappointment received word that Camping World in my Central Fl area is refusing to work on Jayco products because of reimbursement issues with Jayco not paying them . I’m very disgusted with this industry in general & feel that these Rv dealerships are nothing more than a bunch of con artist whores. I found an independent Rv repair only facility in Kissimmee Fl that actually took in the camper for warranty work. Selling my unit after next trip & going back to hotel/ motel camping. Between the shrinking campgrounds/ prices of things going up ( Campsites, fuel, storage of Rv) it will probably cost me the same without the headaches.

  23. JB

    Even trying to get the dealer you bought new from to fix things they missed in their so called “PDI” is a hassle in itself. After buying a new Grand Design product from an unscrupulous dealer in Kennewick,Washington…I had a list a mile long of warranty problems…all the phone calls and griping in the world was to no avail…so I had to fix most of them myself.If I had not been a retired mechanic,I doubt if I could have done some repairs on the money pit. I feel sorry for many who know nothing about doing repairs themselves and have to rely on these crook dealers to fix things. I am considering giving up the RV lifestyle because of greed and indifference from RV dealers…any brand for that matter.RV quality control has went out the window since 2008. Now I wish I had my old Hitchhiker back.

  24. John Groom

    I own a Newmar product. Found going back to Indiana to the factory (if possible) makes life better. Had the Newmar dealer in Jacksonville florida put off a warranty item I needed fixed because we had not bought from them – and now never will either.

  25. Patrick

    I have read everyone’s comments and totally agree with what is being said. I’ve often said that RV owners need a “Bill of Rights”. Unfortunately, until we become united and campaign with federal law makers, we are all just spinning our wheels. This is a national problem that is on the thresh-hold of criminal. Most don’t realize that you have paid for a complete PDI and warranty related repairs which are built in to the cost of the motor home.

  26. Sheryl

    We purchased a 2018 Elkridge in October. Had to go to Hammond, LA to find the model and style we wanted (about 900 miles round trip). First night on the way home, the smoke alarm woke us up. Smoke was coming from the main thermostat. We turned it off, fanned the smoke away, checked everything out, and slept restlessly the remainder of the night. There’s a dealer in Sulphur Springs, Texas, about 15 miles from our house. When we called them to see if they could check out the thermostat? We got that “No, we don’t service them here if you didn’t buy from us.” This after we have been to that dealership for inspections and parts! I called Heartland and they apparently CANNOT require their dealers to service their own units. I just do not understand this–if you buy a Dodge Ram truck, you can get it serviced at any dealer! Why isn’t it the same for RVs????? Fortunately, Heartland’s service department is very helpful–they sent us a replacement thermostat and my husband installed it. Works fine now. But, we just noticed that one of the dining room chairs is busted on the wood upright part. So here we go again–I’ll have to get them to ship us a replacement chair, I’m sure. The quality is not that great in this Elkridge, I am very sorry to discover. Interior trim pieces look bad, carpet nails not flat (ouch!), no outside shower hose and sprayer were included (go figure!). Overall, we love the trailer but their QC department needs some work!!!

  27. Mike Powers

    My wife and I have been looking for a fifth wheel for the past 12 months or so and your comments about warranty and service work while traveling has put a permeant hold on our purchase. At 75 years old I’m not going through the hassle. Thanks for all the prior comments, if the manufactures don’t want to hold their dealers accountable, and the dealers are not interested in servicing, then I’m not interested in an RV just to have the headaches discussed above. I’ll just buy a nice used or new Mobile home in a nice resort mobile park and when traveling get great service in motel and hotels. .Thanks to all who replied, you helped make up my mind for us.


    We have 2017 Forest River 34QS, the dealer we bought it from is only 20 miles away. At first they were very accommodating, not so much after 2 tripss there. So I found another F/R dealer 125 miles away & they dah the a same story if ya didn’t we WONT service it PERIOD. So its pretty much common practice that only the selling dealer can service it. Trouble is if they do a shoddy repair, your stuck with it, well the company says to take it wherever you want as long as its a F/R dealer. This all is totally unfair to the buyer who was told they were going to get great service, until they paid for it & then, well you know the rest? Don’t even want to get into the 25+ repairs they have made, or the lies in their fancy brochures that say one thing but its different or not even in your motor home. We’re fed up with them & all of the crappy recreation vehicles dealers need to clean up their act. I read something a while back on how the top selling American cars got to go to the bottom of the list when the Japanese auto manufacture came on the scene & delivered a reliable & low maintenance vehicle that very little problems, as far as quality control they re-invented it. May they can do the same for us recreational users! Any comments??

  29. Al B.

    I think this is a state law in Texas… that all warranty work must be done by the selling dealership???

  30. ed

    One commenter commended the mobile techs, and I will take a mobile tech over a dealer any day, but even that can be problematic. I needed stabilizers replaced and likely a fridge replacement. The mobile tech who agreed to do the work took a few pics and that was the last thing he did, for four months. I later learned that he has to front the cost of the items for replacement and then fight for reimbursement from the mfg. A fridge and stabilizers cost roughly 3k; he simply couldn’t do it. So even when you find someone who WANTS to do the work, they may simply not be able to.

  31. Rosanne D.

    We full time in a 2015 DRV Mobile Suites. Our front landing jacks began failing in July, 2017, when we were in Mesa Verde. Unfortunately the jacks failed completely by the time we reached Moab, UT. General RV in Salt Lake City agreed to schedule the repair but not until December, six months out! Their first question was did we purchase the unit from them. Needless to say, we did not schedule the repair with General RV! We wired the jacks up and drove back to Indiana where Lippert replaced them. Accommodating your customers is understandable, however, as more people are full timing it is reasonable to expect RV manufacturers to insist their dealers also accommodate the full timer.

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