This article was written in Jul. 2019 before I even got on the road to become a Nomad. In Oct. 2019, I decided I needed to go #VanLife instead of buying an RV.
My decision was based on the following:
-All the issues in the RV industry as you will see in this article.
-I wanted to be able to move fast.
-I wanted to be able to park anywhere a car could park.
-As a Speaker, Author and Trainer, teaching from the road, I needed to be able to go into neighborhoods especially subdivisions with very little hassle.
Three (3) years later (2022) — I am still very satisfied with my decision to buy a Van vs. an RV. Now I travel around the country teaching from the road in my 2019 Dodge Ram Promaster.
I can’t successfully write this article without first breaking down what has happened in the RV Industry and especially with Camping World, one of the largest RV dealerships in the country.
Everyone needs to be glued to Youtube especially if they are an RV or Motorhome “enthusiast,” or a person wanting to one day buy an RV.
Watch the series of videos by Alan Warren, The RV Wingman, on a popular youtube RV show entitled “The RV Show USA,” who is a consumer advocate for RVers.
One of the best advocates in the RV industry is a newsletter at RVTravel.com, owned by Editor Chuck Woodbury, who has a list of monthly recalls in the RV industry. The newsletter is the longest running and best newsletter about RVs anywhere. So subscribe today.
Why Class Action Lawsuits Were Needed Against Camping World
Class Action lawsuits create changes in ‘policies and procedures’ and they gain major media attention. But how is this Camping World fiasco going to affect future sells of RVs? We all are hoping for the better.
Currently, there are 13 class actions against Camping World and several other individual complaints. Not only does it look like they are headed for bankruptcy, if RVers who bought from Camping World, don’t act fast they will lose even more thousands of dollars on their ESPs (Extended Warranty Protections).
These fees can be up to around $6000 in some cases. Many RVers who did not buy through Camping World, still have these Good Sam’s memberships for road service and insurance so they too need to be concerned.
Once Camping World file for bankruptcy, which is right around the corner, RV owners who bought through Camping World will no longer have an opportunity to get this money back and don’t think because of Camping World’s ‘doom and gloom’, it will be the ideal time for you to buy through them — because it won’t.
Understand that most of the RVs bought at Camping World is new. Camping World has the worst Customer Service for RVers out there — hands-down.
Not only do they go in and take over other RV national dealerships, but they also fire all the real ‘certified technicians’ and replace them with workers who are nothing more than ‘glorified’ handymen — according to Camping World Whistleblowers.
And this is why when you need a repair with this company, it takes 3 months for them to get to you and another two months to order parts.
Many facebook groups’ admins and moderators are trying their best to keep down all the ‘negative chatter’ on these forums in regards to Camping World, but this is the time for RVers to be ‘well-informed’ on the issues.
Those who bought RVs and Motorhomes through Camping World, need to apply for a refund on their ESPs (Extended Warranty Protections) before the company files for bankruptcy or before it’s too late.
I am sure these admins and moderators on facebook and other forums are people who actually work or is connected to Camping World, but now is the time to educate all RV and Motorhome owners on what to look out for now and in the future, especially if the RV industry ever plan on getting back on track.
I believe because of the tenacity and boldness of the Class Action complainants to come forward, this will lead to an avalanche of current and future RV owners demanding better customer service and a better quality of RVs and Motorhomes.
In many states, the state’s Attorney Generals have had to get involved because of all the RV complaints so make sure you research the manufacturers and dealerships ahead of time on the website at www.BetterBusinessBureau.org. And don’t forget to look up online reviews and complaints at www.PissedConsumer.com.
Camping World is encouraging buyers to finance through them instead of paying cash outright for an RV so they will be in a position to make more money on any deal.
They are even telling some buyers they have to finance through their dealerships instead of with their own credit unions or banks — and this is against the law.
Many RVers trade in their RVs every 32 to 40 months, and that’s when many folks who bought at Camping World especially, find out for the first time how they were cheated by them.
One guy paid $12,000 for a camping trailer and 5 years later he still owed $25,000 on it. One lady said they quoted her a price of $53,000, but when she walked out she owed $75,000.
One person, a female, said she were prepared to pay thousands of dollars for an RV, over $200,000, but Camping World tried to charge her $20,000 for an ‘extended warranty.’
However, she ended up walking out and bought her RV somewhere else and paid $4,200 for a seven-year warranty with Wholesale Warranties, who supposedly always pay their claims. She said the warranty paid for itself in 3.5 years so this was another deal that Camping World lost because of their unethical practices.
Listen to the deposition of Marcus Lemonis, the owner of Camping World, (Part 1,Part 2), with his #SmugTestimony, as if what is happening at Camping World is not his fault. He has no shame for what he has done to people who have bought RVs there. He was supposedly thinking about running for President. I think not! RVers would have a field day with him.
‘Wake Up Call’ for the RV Industry
What is happening with Camping World at this time was desperately needed. The RV industry really needs, aka “A Good Shakeup,” with back-to-back Class Actions, which would give them all something to think about.
We as consumers must demand “better customer service” and a “better quality of work” from any industry especially the RV industry. Let this be a “Wake Up Call” to everyone who works in the industry and who plan on buying RVs or Motorhomes in the future.
Like in the car industry where cars today are not made with as ‘good of quality’ as they were years ago, the RV industry is no different. However, the RV industry needs to be regulated like the car industry with #QualityControl.
There is no competition in the RV industry. There is no one or no other groups or countries challenging the RV industry and this is why RV manufacturers are finding a way to continue to make these poorly-made, cheap RVs.
It takes 3 to 4 days to build an RV and two and a half months for repairs so this alone should tell you something about where and how RVs are built.
Some of the RV factories only have 3 service reps because most of their workforce doesn’t actually use computers. Again, most RVs are made in Indiana and who lives in this area? There are big Amish communities in these areas that are not computer-savvy.
At the end of the day, everyone would like to purchase an RV with GOOD QUALITY, but this still won’t guarantee that you won’t have issues with it, whether you bought it NEW or USED, especially because they are coming off the assembly line SO FAST today.
This is why it’s extremely important to hire an NVRIA.org Inspector up front on NEW and USED RVs.
And because many industries like the RV industry are hiring their family, friends, and neighbors on these jobs through nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism and refuse to fire them for shabby work, QUALITY CONTROL has been thrown out the door.
As a matter of fact, the CUSTOMER SERVICE and the REPAIR ISSUE is so bad in the RV industry, many RVers are jumping aboard Class Actions lawsuits filed against Camping World and I believe it’s just a matter of time before they go after other companies besides Camping World.
Also, I believe because of all the problems in the RV industry, especially with the HIGH REPAIR COSTS, many travel enthusiasts are skipping the headaches and just engaging in #VanLife instead.
RV Industry – Opportunities for Growth
Many have said the Baby Boomer generation was the best generation. As a Baby Boomer myself, I believe this to be true. Some have regular monthly incomes so they have been able to go RVing with their grandchildren and other family members and just relax — as they see more than just their backyards.
Many Baby Boomers have been able to retire from jobs they held for 30 years so they have monthly pensions and monthly Social Security checks. Because of Baby Boomers, there is always a fresh supply of customers to buy RVs.
As many employers today allow their employees to work remotely from their homes, the average age for RVers is 45 and these individuals are tech-savvy. However, today also many middle-aged women are fastly becoming the largest group of RV consumers out there.
Many Generation X’s, Millennials and Generation Z’s are being born into the RV industry and are benefitting from the growth and opportunities in this industry.
The RV industry is not as dismal as many people think. There is a lot of opportunities in the RV industry for growth. However, this growth needs to be regulated.
Many travelers still want to go RVing, not just as weekenders, and despite what has happened with Camping World, they still want to become ‘Full-Time RVers’.
You have industries like Nascar that uses campers and RVs during their events so the demand for RVs and motorhomes will never decrease.
The owners of Cracker Barrel Restaurants and Bass Pro Shops, who also owns Cabelas, who are RVers themselves, are offering up their national parking lots for RVers to park there overnight for FREE after their establishments close for the day.
Other business establishments like HarvestHosts.com (665 Wineries, Breweries, Farms, and more) and Casinos (CasinoCamper.com) have partnered with the RV industry to gain customers and clients to build and grow their businesses so you can also park at these establishments for FREE, but is invited to partake in their services and products. Many other businesses are looking to also go this route.
Many homeowners, especially those who register at www.BoondockersWelcome.com, who own land is welcoming RVers with open arms to park on their land and enjoy themselves for FREE. Other landowners are also looking to turn their land into hangouts for RVers.
Despite the Camping World fiasco, many campgrounds and parks are being built because of all the interests in traveling Full-Time in RVs. There are tons of jobs being built and a major need for RV technicians (also called ‘mechanics’) and inspectors.
Also, there are many opportunities to open up training schools or academies to educate everyone on the RV industry – how to buy; how to fix; how to inspect; etc.
An RV Training Academy in Athens, TX – https://nrvta.com is a training academy outside of Dallas for people who own RVs. They will also help RV technicians and RV Inspectors get their certifications and start their own businesses. These are great business opportunities for all men and women.
The training is a 5-day LIVE CLASS offered by this couple. They also offer an online class at a lower rate ($300). They even offer an RV park for RVers and for those arriving in cars, they have other places for them to stay or RVs for them to rent — while they attend classes. Many new potential RVers attend the classes even before they buy an RV.
This group is even working with FEMA (government contracts) to inspect trailers that they wanted to give to people who had experienced damages from hurricanes. This is what you call a lucrative career. This is how real business owners think and anyone can get into these types of jobs or businesses.
It’s imperative that we take #BabySteps and open up these schools and academies ourselves. We need to learn to do these repairs ourselves on our own RVs, even if we have ‘extended warranties.’
Or the only other choice RVers will have as they travel throughout the country is to google “RV Repair Shops” or “RV Mobile Repairers” in the area and take a chance on these repairers being ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘ethical’.
Living in Cars, Vans and RVs Can Be What We All Need
With many families falling victims to eating GMOs (aka “Processed Foods”) today, which turns off the brain, and are being evicted from their homes at an alarming rate, many should investigate the idea of living in cars, vans, and RVs.
So again, this just might be the PERFECT TIME to demand change in the RV industry. Until the government put their hands down and say they will do better by all people, by first of all giving them a decent ‘living wage,” we have to look for other solutions to house, clothe and feed people.
Cities in California, where there is a major homeless problem is even declaring ‘war on the homeless’ and forbidding them to camp out in their cars, vans and even RVs overnight. Many car and van dwellers are turning to rest stops since being kicked out of many areas, especially in California.
Personally, I am really upset at how Camping World treated their customers and clients. I am within 6 months of buying my FIRST RV. So the BIG QUESTION of the day is who else or what other RV dealerships have the same type of UNETHICAL PRACTICES as Camping World?
This dilemma has caused me to rethink my future decision to become an RV owner until I can get better clarifications on how to move forward. Meanwhile, as a former federal Whistleblower myself, at www.TheCathyHarrisStory.com, I do plan on supporting an RV industry Whistleblower, Kevin Frazer, Founder and Owner of Cheyenne Camping Center.
Another ‘outspoken critic’ against Camping World and unethical practices in the RV industry is the CEO of RV Sales of Broward, Gigi Stetler, who is the author of the book “Unstoppable.”
Not only did her RV company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL go up against Camping World, but she went even further and created “The RV Advisor,” (a group similar to AngiesList.com) to protect the rights of RVers.
The RV Advisor is here to educate RV consumers before and after they purchase an RV. Their goal is to be the #1 resource for RV owners.
This is why they promote proper operating practices and maintenance of RVs, provide virtual mechanical support, and have reviewed the leading service providers’ programs to offer their members the best options at the lowest prices.
Not only is Gigi available to look at your RV contract from other RV dealerships, but she has even stated on “The RV Show USA,” that her company will fix an RV’s emergency the same day and if it is not an emergency, the next day. No other RV dealership has this type of service. At least I have not run across it in my research.
There is another ethical RV dealership, a mom and pop business, RVStation.com with owner Cannon Combs, who has 7 locations in Texas (one in Oklahoma), who is offering FREE 2 hour monthly RV classes the second Wednesday of each month, even if you did not buy your RV with them.
They will be highlighted often on The RV Show USA. So again, there is a MAJOR NEED and NICHE out there for RV manufacturers, dealerships and even employees who are now Whistleblowers in the RV industry — to step up to the plate and set up these ‘ethical businesses’ to further educate RVers.
So between Kevin Frazer at Cheyenne Camping Center in Iowa, Gigi Stetler with RV Sales of Broward in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Cannon Combs at RVStation.com in Texas, what I really need to do is probably buy my RV from one of these dealerships — and call it a day — especially since all of them seem to be doing right by RVers and is not afraid to go up against Corporate RV giants like Camping World — #EthicalAndBrave.
Just know up-front what you are getting into when you purchase an RV. There is no such thing as purchasing the perfect RV. When you settle on an RV, it will probably only have about 80% of what you really want in it.
Again, be ready to wait days, weeks and months for repairs, especially in the summertime when everyone is out vacationing and because of the SHORTAGE of RV repair shops or mobile RV repairers.
Cathy Harris is a #VanDweller living ‘The Good Life.’ Her blog website is SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at www.CathyHarrisInternational.com.