Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 2013 – “Winnebago – Never Again”

We have now been in Forest City since September 9, and the events that transpired here have not been pleasant. To say that Winnebago is a reputable company couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact they operate much like some of our elected officials by promising the world before you buy (or vote), and then stick it to you after the sale (election). Sound familiar?

We checked in, bright and early, at 7 am on Monday morning. They had our appointment reservation, noting the broken roller and cracked tile. We also wanted an oil and filter change and chassis lube. Since service customers are limited to 3 items to be repaired, unless their coach is still under the factory warranty (1 year), I had to choose between the wind noise emanating from the driver side window, OR, get them to check the slide that we spent 2 days at Lazy Days last year getting adjusted. I chose the noise, which was a mistake.

By 3 pm, Monday afternoon, they had completed the oil and filter and chassis lube. They deliver the coaches back to the parking lot in front of the service center and instructed us to again show up at 7 am on Tuesday, and to plan on spending 2 nights in a hotel while they were repairing the slide. OK, if that’s the only way for repairs to be completed.

The following morning, Tuesday, we delivered the coach promptly at 7 am, and proceeded across the street to the Lodge Resort, and were told we could check in after noon. Later that afternoon, Al, our service advisor, phoned and asked if I wanted them to replace all 8 rollers or just the broken one. To which I replied, why replace only the broken one that had failed? Al informed me Winnebago had switched vendors, and the new rollers were substantially better. Since the slide was already out, which was estimated at 20 hours labor to remove and replace, I thought it prudent to change all 8 rollers to the newly designed ones.

Wednesday afternoon, Al again phoned me with news that our tile could not be exactly matched. They had a 16” tile, but it was the wrong color. They had the right color in a 12” tile, which would mean piecing together a few tiles to fill the void. Al asked if we could come over to the service center, and make a decision, to which we complied.

While in our coach, I asked Dave, the service technician, if I could see the broken roller. To which he replied, “What broken roller?” The one on the front that was broken, I said. Dave then informed me it wasn’t broken and why it had malfunctioned.

What was originally diagnosed by Leach Camper Sales in Lincoln, NE, as a broken slide roller, turned out to be a bent slide roller mounting bracket caused by the improper installation of the bed rail when the motorhome was manufactured at Winnebago. The bed rail SHOULD extend the length of the slide, and is what the 8 rollers rest on when the slide is out. It is a 2-1/2” to 3” wide board, and is at the very outer edge of the motorhome, so the slide doesn’t rest on the ceramic tile floor. It was originally installed about 2”-3” too short, causing the front roller to roll on the edge of the board, and over time caused the front end of the board to become concave on the top side.

Over time, the roller bracket malformed due to the increase in weight on the unsupported half of the roller. The bracket in turn, scratched the floor, scoring the ceramic tile, and eventually the 16” tile snapped. Dave then took me back in our coach and showed me how he replaced and extended the bed rail, to fully and completely support the weight of the front roller. If it had been done this way, the right way, when the coach was originally built, I seriously doubt I would have had any problems at all with the slide roller(s).

The following morning we were informed that we would need to spend an additional night at the Lodge, to allow for the thinset to cure for 24 hours before the tile could be grouted. 

By 3 pm on Friday afternoon, Winnebago had completed the repairs, and presented me with a bill of $3,852. When I explained to Al Steen, our service advisor, that the lion’s share of the bill (over $2,600) was directly related to the slide repair, and I felt Winnebago should bear some responsibility, as the rail bed was incorrectly installed when the coach was built. Al said he would check with his boss, and in about 10 minutes returned and said, “I’ve knocked off 2 hours of labor”. I stood there in utter amazement, and after regaining my composure said, “That’s all? $210? That is all Winnebago feels is fair?” To which he responded, “Well, your coach is after all, over 3 years old. I have some flexibility, but over 3 years when the warranty is one year, what do you expect?” “Maybe 50%”, I replied, and added, “I don’t think $210 is fair”. Al then apologetically added, “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

And the issue with the wind noise resulted in 1.4 hours of labor ($147), and a description on the statement; “Wind noise driver’s window (SA 9-9) Test drive, no more noise than normal.” Really? 1.4 hours for a test drive?

By now I’m starting to think I made a BIG mistake of buying another Winnebago product, after a similar experience 3 years ago with the ’06 Suncruiser while we were here for service. It’s been a week now since Winnebago gave me the shaft, and I’ve slept since, and now feel confident, that I did indeed make a mistake. We have talked to too many Tiffin owners over the past 3 years, and feel if we had purchased a Tiffin, Bob (Tiffin) would have covered 100% of the slide repair. Everyone who speaks of him responds in a similar fashion, stating him to be one of the fairest, honest, reputable men they know.

Goodbye Winnebago, as they are NOT a good buy. I’m taking my future business to Tiffin…….

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013 – “Is Winnebago a Good Company?”

Our time in Montrose, CO with Carl and Carla, this third day of September, is over. They will continue westward, while we travel eastward to Forest City, IA. This day we journey I-70 over Vail and Loveland passes, with an overnight stop at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, CO.

On the outskirts of Denver and on the road shortly past 9 am, to hopefully avoid rush hour, we’re back on I-70 for a short distance. Now I-76 becomes the wind beneath our sails, as we lumber towards Nebraska. I use the term, with tongue in cheek, as I-76 JUST HAS to be one of the roughest roads we have ever been on…..EVER!!!!! At times we could only travel at 45 mph to maintain the structural integrity of Elly. Finally we cross the state line, and merge with I-80; now we’re flying at 65 mph, the maximum speed we travel due to the speed restriction on the toad. We arrive in Ogallala, and overnight at the Country View Campground.

Travel day 3, back on I-80 towards Kearney, NE, where we planned to stay at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds. We stopped here overnight 3 years ago for $10; electric only. When we discovered they had raised their rate to $15, coupled with the fact they are only a few hundred yards from the railroad tracks, where trains run constantly, all night long, we hit our favorite campground finder, where CC found Hall County Campground ($20) in nearby Grand Island.

The park is located about 3 miles south of town, and is very quiet, which made for a good night’s sleep; well worth the additional $5.

Day 4, once again I-80 is our pathway eastward where we will return to Walnut Creek in Papillion, NE, for yet another overnight stay. CC contacted her friend, Dixie, and made plans to have dinner with her and her husband, Ken. This is an unusual year, travelwise, and this marks the third time in 30 days we have seen Ken and Dixie. It is always a treat for us to meet up with old friends, especially when a good meal is involved.

On the Friday morning of travel day 5, CC and I both woke up feeling the effects of not have traveled this fast for quite some time, and realize we are both creatures of habit, and this pace is not our normal. But press on we must, as our appointment in Forest City is Monday. Once again, we jumped on I-80 towards Des Moines, IA, to Prairie Flower State Park for another overnight sleep.

We both can see light at the end of the tunnel on our last travel day up I-35. Today was the shortest travel day, about 140 miles, but it seemed to take forever. We pulled into Forest City, after stopping in Clear Lake to wash Elly and her toad. All of the good camping spots at the Winnebago Service Center were already taken by 2:30 pm, so we overnighted across the street at the Welcome Center.

Monday morning 5:30 am, September 6, we awoke and started the arduous task of prepping Elly for her orthopedic doctor appointment, to have her slide removed and roller(s) replaced. We ahd her in the waiting room at promptly 7 am. By noon, we were notified of the diagnosis, and that surgery would take place Tuesday morning, an overnight stay, replace rollers and broken tile, another overnight, and grout and re-install slide on Thursday.

The Knights Inn Lodge is now our home for 2 nights. In 1969 it was originally a 17 acre estate of the daughter of John K. Hanson, founder of Winnebago Industries. In 1987 Winnebago purchased the property, and together with Wyndam Properties, added 10 “Embassy Suites”, converted the main residence to a lodge, and converted the stables to 5 guest rooms. It opened it’s doors to the public in 1988. In 2008, the property was purchased by a retired Methodist Minister, who operates the lodge to this day. The view from the back deck overlooks Bear Creek Golf Course and the banks of the Winnebago River.

Will we be departing Forest City tomorrow? If past performance is any indication of future performance, probably not. Three years ago we were here originally for 2-3 days, and ended up almost two weeks. I spoke with a gentleman that purchased a new 2014 Meridian, on August 6, and of the 65 days of ownership he has spent the past three weeks at the service center. Hold on; my phone is ringing………………………(to be continued)

Just back from the service center, as Al, our advisor had called to tell us they were having problems matching the tile. Could we come over and decide what we would like to do. It seems the 18” tile that “matched” was the wrong color. They’re alternative solution, replace the 18” tile with a 12” tile of the same color, and piece together leaving 2 more grout joints than the original. CC decided the 12” solution was “less obtrusive” than the different color. Not perfect, but under the circumstances, tolerable. While inside our rig, inside the service center, I asked if I could take a picture of the repair work, as the slide was only partially in. “Absolutely not”, was their reply. “We have a strict no pictures policy”. “But we’re on the inside of MY rig(?)”, I responded. Again, “Absolutely NOT”. As we left I asked CC, why the hell did I buy another Winnebago product?

To be continued………………………………