When we first got serious about buying an RV earlier this year, we did what any discerning consumer would do. We, as Dubya once said, went to The Google.
Yes, the dealer sites had a lot of great information. The Facebook pages created by the various manufacturers were fun to look at (pretty pictures!!). And the reviews found in various RV industry publications with online editions were also helpful. But The Google really proved its worth when it directed me to an online owners forum for people who own, or are interested in owning, an Everlite, the brand we ended going with.
Reading the forum gave us a real glimpse of problems and concerns that dealer websites and the dealer-sponsored Facebook pages don’t want you to know about. It also brought to light issues only someone who has traveled in and used an RV, as opposed to just touring one at an RV show, would discover.
I figured the forum would be a good resource for us after we made the purchase for things like troubleshooting or creating work-arounds to address poor design elements. I had no idea it would be like our own 24/7 concierge service until we ran into our first issue on the maiden voyage.
When filling our fresh water tank at a campground that didn’t have fresh water hookups at the individual sites, we discovered the water was going into the tank and directly onto the ground. Being brand-spankin’ new to this whole RV thang, we thought perhaps a plug was missing but there was no way for us to be sure.
Being new to all of this, when we completed our closing paperwork at purchase we checked every “yes” box that was placed before us offering extended warranties, road side services and emergency help. So when we ran into trouble, we went to our folder of paperwork and Brian called the first number he found.
While he was on hold, he suggested I log onto the Everlite owners forum and post a question asking if anyone could confirm it was a missing plug. After minor connectivity issues, I logged on, explained the situation and asked if anyone knew about the drainage plug for the fresh water holding tank.
As I was typing, Brian came walking up and, talking to the person on the other line, he says, “You need my VIN number? Okaaaay.” I stopped what I was doing and located it for him. I continued typing.
About two minutes later I heard him saying, “I’m not sure what size the tires are.”
I raised up my head up and gave him a look like, “What the …. ” he shrugged his shoulders like, “I dunno.”
As I was hitting “send” on my forum message, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer when I heard him say, “You need to know the color of the trailer?”
“ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!” I yelled. “DO THEY KNOW YOU ARE CALLING ABOUT A PROBLEM WITH THE FRESH WATER TANK?! WHY IN THE HELL WOULD THEY NEED TO KNOW THE COLOR?!”
For the next few minutes the bizarre line of questioning continued as I feverishly pressed the refresh button on my iPad looking for a forum response. In about the same time it took us to locate the help line number, I had a response:
“There is, indeed, a drainage plug directly under the hose connection for the fresh water fill,” a forum member concurred. “You can pick up a replacement at most any hardware store.”
As Brian listened to the person on the other end type stuff into a keyboard, I mouthed to him that the problem was likely a missing plug and he could hang up. I interpreted the look he gave back to me as meaning, “I’ve committed this much time, I’m not hanging up now.” Can’t say I blame him. You want some kind of return on investment.
About 15 minutes later and about two transfers to other people, they came back with, “Could be, maybe, but not entirely sure so don’t quote me, but we think maybe there is a plug of some sort meant to hold in the water and there’s a distinct possibility it has come up missing.”
Moral of the story: free advice isn’t always bad. And it’s usually a whole lot quicker. Finding that forum was the most useful insurance we bought, and coincidently, we didn’t buy it at all.
BTW.. the people from the helpline assured Brian he wouldn’t have to answer all of those questions again. They just had to get him “into the system.” So next time, they said, it would be a whole lot faster.
If only we could remember which helpline it was that we called! I think I’ll stick with my forum peeps.