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Monday, August 15, 2016

RV Industry In A "Death Spiral"?

Above, The Beast at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Over the past year, ever since I bought my 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R (The Beast), I have followed the trends in the RV industry through different websites, magazines (such as Motorhome) and as an active member of iRV2.

During this time, I have noted that many RV owners, whether their rig is a travel trailer, pop-up, truck camper or motorhome (Class A, Class B, Class C), complain about quality control, or the lack thereof, by manufacturers. Some are better than others and some are worse than others.

Another major complaint is poor customer service by manufacturers. I have dealt with Winnebago's customer service and I am, happily, pleased with them.

A big complaint is getting warranty (or any other kind) work done in a timely fashion. After spending thousands of dollars for a new RV, consumers have to contend with having their RV sitting at RV repair shops for months. Literally, FOR MONTHS with nothing getting done. Some RV dealers refuse to do warranty work on a RV if it was not purchased from their dealership.

Thankfully, the only problem I had with The Beast was a stuck bathroom ceiling vent with a broken vent crank. It was fixed under warranty, but it took about three months from the time I filed a claim to when it got fixed. It wasn't Winnebago's fault, but it was the fault of the authorized repair shop, Camping World. I am very happy with my RV.

These and other problems has led columnist Greg Gerber to start a series on the state of the RV industry at RV Daily Report.com. He believes it's in a "death spiral".

He begins with:
Two weeks from today, I will be stunned if I have any subscribers or advertisers left on RV Daily Report. I’m adopting the old adage, “If I haven’t offended you already, take a seat. I’ll get to you soon.” 
After covering the industry for 15 years as a journalist, one of the best career moves I ever made was to actually purchase a product produced by the RV industry and hit the road using it. I started observing how the industry works from the eyes of a consumer. It hasn’t been pretty. 
I have come to realize the RV industry is in a death spiral. 
The current business model is simply unsustainable and the professionals working in the industry either: 
  • Know what’s going on, are in denial, and remain hopeful the problems will simply fix themselves. 
  • Don’t want to know what’s going on and keep their heads firmly planted in the sand ignoring many very obvious signs. 
  • Are aware of the problem, know it won’t end well, but are simply choosing to ride the wave as long as they can. 
Every other day for the next two weeks, I’ll publish another opinion column targeting a specific segment of the industry and explain how that segment is contributing to the eventual demise of the entire industry. I’ll look at: 
  • RV manufacturers
  • RV dealers
  • RV suppliers
  • RV wholesalers
  • RV parks and campgrounds
  • RV associations
  • RV owners
  • RV media
This will be an interesting series to follow. I plan on doing so.

To read more, go here.

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