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…….