2009 WINNEBAGO ERA: PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED
NOTE: "BRAND NEW" UNIT CURRENTLY UNUSABLE BY OWNER
(STILL, AS OF 12/10/2010)
Latest: after being returned, with assurances that the unit was all leak-tested and QC'd, the windows are still leaking. See photos:
Window in sliding door: looked over to change lanes and saw the water stain
Panel (pax side, aft) showing dirty stains where window was removed/replaced.
Dirt/staining under aft pax side window
Aft pax side window - wet to the touch u nder the plastic panels - staining visible.
Aft pax side panel beneath window - wet, stained.
History: This 2009 Winnebago 170XL, purchased new from Paul Evert's RV (Fresno, CA), delivered on 12/30/09, has been a nightmare.
The salesperson was Julien Castillo, who assured that I was receiving a new vehicle that would be fully inspected and detailed before delivery to me.
The first problem: After being asked to ensure the dealership would not install any nameplates, markings, etc., a nameplate was attached to the sliding door. Julien advised that it could not be removed. I told Julien to cancel the transaction, because I wasn't interested in seeing a nameplate like that on a 60+K vehicle. Later, I was told the plate would be removed and was assured I would not be able to tell where it was, that the bodywork would be flawless, etc. Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case, as the repair is not only visible, but you can see the swirls and scratches on the sliding door, as well as bubbles in the paint on the left rear door, which also had a nameplate removed.
We'll skip for the moment that Julien knew there was no plate on the sliding door and that the person who installed it told him it was there before - I knew better, as I had looked at the photos of the unit on Paul Evert's RV Country website - which were promptly removed when there was a problem. That's okay, I have them in my file - and I give them credit for trying to fix the problem created by the stupidity of riveting into the door of a new $60K vehicle, as if it should be a billboard for the seller. Maybe on a Class A 30+ foot motorhome, but not on a 24' Sprinter!
The second problem: Upon arrival, I noticed a warning light illuminated in the dashboard. I asked what it was and Dennis (the person who drove it for delivery and who was to provide an orientation to the unit) didn't know, said he assumed it meant the lights were on - but it proved to be a warning indicating that a lamp was out. A new bulb was purchased, but that wasn't the problem - there is either a wiring fault or the rear lamp assembly has a problem, because the lower right fog lamp does not illuminate with fresh bulb purchased or when swapping out with another bulb which does illuminate in another receptacle.
The third problem: The house battery for the ERA was weak. I was told it was charged at the dealership and was fine. The ERA was just driven from Fresno, so it should have been fully charged even if it wasn't charged at the dealership. Testing at NAPA showed the battery to be failing. They refused to replace it under Winnebago warranty and charged a pro-rated amount based on manufacture date of the battery (not delivery date of the vehicle).
The generator: Had 9 hours on it - why, if it was new, was it run for 9 hours? Dennis said delivery people often run the generator while driving so they can have additional a/c from the overhead unit. I asked if he did that on the way from Fresno, and he said no. He guessed that they probably ran the generator at a show or at the dealership, nicely using almost 10 percent of the service (oil change) interval at the new owner's expense.
From there, the list of defects and problems grew (the unit was dirty, there no satellite radio operable, sliding door wouldn't release from inside to close, gravity water fill cap was off/wouldn't seat, the "woodgrain" appliques were peeling off, wires were exposed and coming through the grate, bed wouldn't retract to sofa position, etc.), with Dennis at one point suggesting he take the ERA back to Fresno, because he was appalled at the condition it was in when he tried to go through the delivery list/orientation. Unfortunately, that would mean canceling a trip and putting hundreds of miles on the vehicle.
If a picture is worth a thousand words ...let these speak to Winnebago's "craftsmanship," product line, and the attention to detail (or lack thereof) by manufacturer and/or dealer - because this is what I saw:
The ERA was delivered in the condition seen in these pictures, with the exception of the brown fluid leaking from the refrigerator, which didn't appear until the next morning. Because the ERA was delivered in the afternoon while it was raining, picture-taking of some items was delayed.
This panel was hanging off at delivery.
Faux woodgrain - peeling up - does not conform to shape of dashboard. Same problem on passenger's side.
Refrigerator leaking some type of brown fluid.
Another view of the fluid before cleanup.
More fluid at the rear of the refrigerator.
Window aft of sliding door. Note insulation visible at left lower portion of window - the tint and materials used are curling and pulling away from the window.
See the buckling in the film behind the window - at left side and right side.
Buckling of film at right lower side of window.
Trim piece coming out at forward, lower end.
Open the sliding door and you can see the attachment piece for the trim piece, visibly not seated.
Also, the sliding door does not release to close from inside after it has been opened.
Kick plate matting material - falling down - either not attached or trimmed correctly.
Windows on driver's side are sagging, not flush with body like the other windows. In this picture, the window is fully closed. Note the gap.
Switch assembly for rear bed - popped out of its frame. Bed also would not retract.
Shade on left side is coming down - appears to not have been mounted correctly, and is damaged/creased..
Note the crease in the shade at lower left.
Passenger side trim - damage from chemical or wax?
Passenger side door - damage from chemical or wax?
Doesn't look "new."
Nice delivery? Oil stains on floor mat. Note: at the time this picture was taken, owner had never used the RV.
Note ridge of dirt on lip of mat leading from vinyl toward cab area. Apparently, no one cleaned it in for quite some time.
Note the grime/dust buildup under the window knob - customer was assured the unit would be delivered fully detailed.
Maybe no one bothered to open the window,. much less clean the dirt from around it.
This is the panel above the battery- note the cutout in the left corner, but the wood does not sit flush or drop into a ledge. It looks like the wood rail should have been installed, from the cutout point back, lower by at least the thickness of the plywood. As a result of this, the wood is loose and rattles.
Partial list of problems:
1. Battery: House battery did not work when ERA delivered. It had to be replaced and NAPA did not honor the warranty as stated in Winnebago manual, claming that warranty runs from date of delivery.
2. Refrigerator - gave errors and did not seem to operate correctly. Problem worsened as shown above.
3. Satellite Radio - not connected or tested (although owner was told it was tested). Upon inspection at another service center, owner was told the satellite system was probably never connected to the radio. If so, how could anyone at Paul Evert's ever have tested it?
4. Generator: cut off during use repeatedly - unit is at a service center now.
5. Window vent screens: many were bent and not attached - appears glue was not holding screens in place. Some screens were bent.
6. Vent windows: sagging on driver's side - with noticeable gap from body when closed.
Note windshield screens had to be lashed together but still fail at sides.
7. Windshield shade screens: inoperable - when attempting to close, the adhesive at the outer edges fails and the paper screens move to center. Also, the screens do not close at center and stay using magnets - magnets appear to have been installed improperly.
8. Overhead a/c - heat unit - did not heat - it is in to be checked.
9. iPod connector cord: yellowed, sun-baked/damaged.
10. Window (blackout) shades: as pictured, the one behind the stove appears as if it is improperly mounted, it is creased and sags to the left side.
11. Kick plate mat: fell into body - either not cut or attached correctly.
12. Sliding door: does to release to close from inside.
13. Electric sofa/bed - does not retract from extended position.
Trim attachment piece not seated.
14. Trim panels - loose, falling off, etc.
Chemical/wax damage to door handle
15. Detail: RV was dirty, grimy and stained in parts; exterior trim piece was coming apart, apparent chemical damage to exterior, dent in left rear, paint scraped/missing on exterior shower cover door. Greasy fingerprints on headliner. Dirt throughout.
16. Tint/moulding/insulation behind window aft of sliding door - buckling, coming off, and showing white insulation (visible).
Window doesn't close flush, sags.
17. Windows not flush/sagging
Dent is on side but it looks like slight bend in bumper, too.
Resolution (or lack thereof, thus far)/communications:
Wrote to Julien Castillo on 12/30 and 12/31 outlining some of the problems. No response as to how to address the problems. Called Hank Dudley, Service Manager at Paul Evert's RV Country; he could not address the satellite radio problem, said he'd have to call Winnebago (which I told him was closed that day). I outlined some of the other problems and told him I didn't think the dash appliques were on the list Dennis made; during the call, he said Dennis arrived with the list and he would make sure that was added, along with the other things we discussed.
Attempted to call Winnebago on 12/31: Recorded message said they were closed.
Went to Mike Thompson RV Center (Winnebago authorized service center) on 12/31: First question was "Did you buy the unit here?" They thought the satellite radio unit was not connected, but could not remove the radio or do other involved work that day; they saw the brown fluid leaking from the fridge, said they would have to test it, call Winnebago, get authorization to repair under warranty, then likely wait a week to two weeks for parts, then repair/reinstall. The service manager saw the problems with the shades, the sagging vent windows (said they've seen that recently and the window will have to be redone) and other items. He scheduled a repair appointment for Monday, January 4, 2010.
1/4: Still nothing from Paul Evert's RV Country. When I called the salesperson and left a message on 12/31/09, my call was not returned until much later, when I started writing about the problems and inquiring if the salesperson was in the office that day (he was, I just didn't receive any prompt call back, or the kind of fast communications which were commonplace when they were trying to sell me the ERA. After I wrote to follow up, Julien Castillo assured me on 1/4/10 that he had talked with the GSM and the GSM would get back to him by the end of the day. At 5:30 p.m., I hadn't heard anything.
On 1/4, I wrote to Winnebago Industries customer service; letter was sent by fax.
On 1/4, I took the ERA to Mike Thompson RV Center twice; it sits there now.
1/5/10: Received a call from Jay at Winnebago. I returned his call in the afternoon and he assured me that the problems would be addressed. We discussed the timing and logistics, that certain parts will need to be procured and shipped, etc. Jay said Winnebago will start a file and ensure that these problems are recorded as warranty issues. Jay also said I could wait to have the window problem addressed, as that is major and will take quite some time to repair (they'll have to remove the lavatory, etc.). Jay confirmed for me that the warranty runs 'til 15,000 on the odometer, contrary to what was represented by Julien at Paul Evert's (who told me the warranty is 1 year or 15K from the date of delivery and the mileage at delivery). The only rubs were the issue with the sliding door, which they say could be a Dodge issue, and the rear lamp, which they also say could be a Dodge issue; only problem is, I never received any warranty info regarding the Dodge part of the ERA - that apparently should have been provided by Paul Evert's but was not and, now that the time period to check those things passed (Paul Evert's should have checked when they received the vehicle). I don't want to be "in the middle" and am not feeling good about the lack of documentation - but, so far, that remains a problem to be resolved through Paul Evert's.
Spoke with the folks at Mike Thompson's for an update and to make a plan for resolution. They told me they are trying to work with Jay at Winnebago to get parts authorization and to get parts ordered on an expedited basis, and that they can handle all the repairs, but they won't start the window until they are sure they have authorization for enough time to do the job correctly (have to wait on parts anyway).
Leonel told me they cleaned the fridge and it didn't leak anything and seemed to run properly. They thought someone had spilled something in there earlier (odd, since this was supposedly a new RV and I never used the fridge).
- The sliding door was taken apart. They found a broken cable, which they ordered. They said if I have to go to Dodge to get it fixed, they will at least give me the cable to take there.
- The fog lamp: oddly, there was no wire to the lower right lamp - not a bad bulb, not a bad circuit, but there was never a wire going to that lamp. So, the question is, HOW DID THAT PASS INSPECTION OR QC AT DODGE, WINNEBAGO, OR PAUL EVERT'S?
- The generator was checked and the air box was taken apart. They put it all back together, connected something that wasn't connected as it should have been (which was causing it to overheat), and made some adjustments. The generator ran for 3 hours with no overheat or shut down.
- They ordered a new front shade set; they said there are retainer clips missing and the unit wasn't installed correctly. In the meantime, they did something with the current screen, so maybe it will work.
- They were unable to get the satellite radio to function; they say they need time to make calls to the tech support dept. for Jensen, but it is likely that they'll need a new radio.
- Other repairs are deferred. I asked to pick up the ERA on Wednesday before closing so I could take it to Indio for the weekend. They had the door apart but said they can put it back together.
-Rec'd a msg. from Paul Evert's GSM; I called him back in the early afternoon but was relegated to voicemail. At 5:30 p.m., I still had not heard back from him.
1/6/10 - Called Leonel and picked up the Sprinter (which MT had at least done an exterior wash/rinse). Repair of the door was deferred, as was the window repair, the front screen, and other things for which parts were on order; satellite radio problem still not resolved but tech support thinks it may be the cable between the radio head and the antenna unit, or the connector, etc. I pointed out to Leonel the kickplate (rubber) which was falling down, that one of the woodgrain appliques (passenger side) was still coming up even after repair. I had MT loosen the seat mounting bolts with an impact wrench so I could start working on a plan for installation or placement of a crate; unfortunately, they do such a poor job of laying the floor covering that if you remove the plates, you see the shoddy looking cutouts, rather than 4 clean holes.
I found a piece of trim that should go on the wood which makes up the battery box; the support piece for the lid was never set below the level of the front as it should have been, so, when the trim didn't fit, it was just thrown in the battery box. The lid doesn't sit correctly because the box was built incorrectly.
Note: Refrigerator fix: ignitor wire was not set up correctly.
Generator fix: air box had insulation loose and genset needed adjustment.
Woodgrain appliques: bent with heat gun and super glued
Switch for bed: hole not routed out properly; expanded and switch reset.
Bed: taken apart, lubricated worm screw, reattached.
Radio power: not wired correctly; connected to chassis line so power would not be lost (presets and clock would remain).
Fog lamp: wire tapped into other side - they said there was no wire to the lamp on the right side.
Shades: New set for front ordered; new pull-down shade for over stove ordered.
Window: parts ordered for window behind slider
Not addressed: vent windows (not flush) on driver's side;
Deferred: Satellite radio
I noticed a long scratch on the sliding door and called Leonel, left a message on his voicemail.
Still no return call from Paul Evert's GSM (left him a message yesterday midday).
January 7, 2010: Add to the list today: Porch light inoperable; windows do not work on accessory setting (ignition), rear speaker/tv switch - should allow TV through rear speakers but does not operate correctly. Scratch visible alongside roof in corner - perhaps they backed into something at Paul Evert's and that's what caused that and the dent?
Shades failed again (front windshield)
January 8, 2010: Generator failed again. Parked at Wal-Mart to buy some supplies, left the generator running and the a/c on to keep the dogs cool (the whole reason for buying this piece of ....) and, despite the service last week, it failed in something less than the 45 minutes or less I was gone.
Water might be leaking under the gravity fill area; tried filling from the main hookup after buying a special "white hose" for potable water and something to block the front windshield from view (since the screens there are useless). No matter how the hose was attached, the connection at the fill leaked.
The bathroom smelled - which I found odd, since no one used it (at least not me or anyone since the vehicle was delivered "new."); deodorant added yesterday didn't seem to work, so I added water and ran the macerator pump to drain out the black water and the grey water holding tanks. Odd that the connection is of such a small diameter - so it can't be used with any standard waste fittings for RV hoses.
-Spoke with Leonel at Mike Thompson and he said he's pretty sure it is the fuel pump on the generator. He said to wait until some of the parts come in before bringing it back for service (I offered to have it dropped off Monday).
Still no return call from Paul Evert's.
January 10, 2010: Shades failed. Generator failed twice today. Bed didn't work until third try and manual assist when on battery only. Drained black and grey water tanks, added more water to each after first pump out and pumped again, then added deodorant. Left unit plugged into house AC.
January 18, 2010: Wrote to Julien Castillo by email - informing him that the dispute would escalate since the problems and condition of the vehicle have not been addressed
January 20, 2010: With still no word from Paul Evert's RV - I disputed certain charges with AmEx.
January 26, 2010: Called Mike Thompson (Leonel) to follow up on receipt of parts and potential scheduling for appointment. I received a message from Jeff at Paul Evert's (dated January 20, left on the business line while I was away), so I called him on his cell phone. We talked at length (he said he agreed with 85% or more of what I said regarding condition, how it shouldn't have left the lot, etc.). Jeff said it cost them $2K for the body repair for where the marquees where affixed; I told him about the problems with it, lack of blending, etc. the dents, etc. Jeff said they would make it right.
Prepped list of required repairs for Mike Thompson's - service appointment is for 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
January 27, 2010: ERA taken back to Mike Thompson for repairs. Many of the repairs requested are for things supposedly repaired earlier, including the generator, refrigerator, etc.
Brown fluid leaking at back/from top of refrigerator (again).
Seems to be coming from behind cooling fins. Where is the shelf that goes there?
Fluid leaked out from refrigerator and trailed across floor when I opened the door.
Brown fluid from refrigerator - leaking from top inside of unit.
Screen behind driver's seat - fallen off..
Quality adhesive? Quality application?
Another trim panel falling off.
More trim coming off. Note the cut line for the plasti-veneer isn't even straight.
Panel fallen down behind stove.
Dent, scrape or problem near roof - from delivery date.
Wrote to Winnebago; copy to Jeff@rvcountry.com. Also called Leonel because porch light, which was on list for repair, did not transfer to worksheet at Mike Thompson (and because email addr. was wrong).
February 1, 2010: Tried to reach Jay at Winnebago. No luck today.
February 2, 2010: Called Winnebago again; Jay was out for training - they said he'd be back tomorrow. Left my numbers in the msg.
February 3, 2010: Called Winnebago again; was told Jay was out for training again. Left message with both numbers.
Called Mike Thompson - they said they still haven't received the front privacy screen from Winnebago (even though they had weeks and I was assured my parts order would be a priority), and that after talking with Sirius, Sirius said the cable that was installed (a communications cable) was never the correct cable and has to be replaced.
The generator ran - there is no fuel pump or adjustment like they thought, but they didn't use the generator like I did, just the generator and the a/c - so now they'll shift focus to the a/c, believing it may be "short-cycling" and causing the generator to shut down. So still no reliable generator - a/c setup to ensure the dogs are not at risk.
Freezer module - still leaking some kind of brown fluid ("we don't know what it is and don't want to find out"), so a new freezer module was ordered - again, this means no usable refrigerator/freezer for a trip.
City water hookup - connection ordered (not received)
Repairs: second repair of woodgrain dash appliques - assured that "this time they'll stick."
- porch light fixed (didn't illuminate);
- vent windows - the windows which were sagging were removed and reinstalled on shims (the window cut outs were too large);
- backing material aft of sliding door replaced after taking out complete lavatory/shower module;
- battery box enclosure: reset to lay cover flush and reinstall trim piece.
Note: rebate still not received from Winnebago. Wrote to JC for follow up.
February 3, 2010: Picked up ERA - two stains on carpet and some dirt on the headliner. The lav and cabinet aft of it was taken apart for the window repair - unfortunately, it did not fit back together - and the gaps were filled with some kind of caulk. Still no front privacy screen, despite being assured the parts would be sent as a priority. No city fill water - they didn't send it because (according to Leonel) Winnebago wanted to wait and send it with the freezer module.
Adjustment done one AC - but no assurance that would fix the generator/AC problem.
Porch light - said it was a bad build - they fixed it.
Kickplate - reinstalled - but is dirty and coming out at the bottom.
February 4, 2010: Drove the ERA to Fresno to Paul Evert's RV Country. Met with Julien Castillo and showed him the condition the unit was delivered in and the body issues; he agreed that it looked like some sort of chemical damage to the body panels, he saw the dent and problem at the roof, saw and agreed that the repairs done by the body shop where the Paul Evert's plates were mounted were terrible, visible, etc.
When I asked Julien what happened with the rebate, he came back and said that I stopped payment on the AmEx; I said regardless that rebate was to come from Winnebago and wanted to know if they interfered with it, etc. Julien said he would follow up on it. $50.88 for propane - mostly all used to run the generator to assess problems. The wonderful service continued - when I went out to get the propane, the lady who was to fill the tank said she did not want to get on the ground, that she might get dirty, so I had to get on the ground myself and attach their hose to the ERA. Nice.
February 5, 2010: Received message from Jay at Winnebago, who said essentially that he was glad 90% of the problems were fixed.. Tried to call back but was on hold for over 10 mins., so I wrote a lengthy email outlining the problems and pointing out that, in my view, we were far from having 90% of the problems fixed. I noted that there was still no working generator/ac combo, and detailed a long list of continuing problems. Sent Jay pics and videos by email. Noticed black mold on fan in cabin; fan in lavatory is not sitting right in headliner/ceiling.
Aft panel following repair - filled with some kind of putty, edges don't meet.
Lavatory fan - doesn't line up after repair of window area.
Driver's side screen - with gap, because the screen doesn't fit.
Refrigerator panel fell out. Note AC circuit is tripped.
February 6, 2010: Fridge would not work on anything but 12 volt setting and, even then, was intermittent; control top panel fell off.
February 7, 2010: Generator failed on level ground with ac/heater running on heat. Restarted, failed after less than 2 mins. Tried with microwave as well, and that was a definite no. AC power failed; circuit breakers didn't pop, but I reset them and then the AC power worked. Fridge did not work on AU or gas setting. More brown fluid from freezer area.
February 9, 2010: Received a call from Jay at Winnebago; discussed the situation and I asked again that the vehicle be exchanged for a new one, as I do not feel safe in the ERA provided. Jay said the District Manager would have to see it, inspect it, that it's a lengthy process if I went that route as opposed to going in for another shot at repairing the items not working, etc. Jay said the District Manager would be in CA starting the 23rd of February.
February 10, 2010: Sent additional pictures to Jay at Winnebago; he confirmed he received and was able to open them.
February 11, 2010: Sent last repair documents to Jay at Winnebago. Tried to email Jeff at Paul Evert's but the email bounced back as undeliverable, no known user. I wrote to Julien Castillo and he confirmed that Jeff is no longer with Paul Evert's RV Country. Wrote to Julien Castillo to follow up on rebate not received.
February 13, 2010: People visiting for a GSRC meeting wanted to see the new vehicle. Unfortunately, when I started the generator, it failed after about a minute. After restart, it quit immediately. Helen, Doug, Tony, Michelle - all witnessed.
February 14, 2010: Scanned first repair documents and sent to Jay at Winnebago via email.
February 15, 2010: Received message from Julien Castillo. Reply via email re: status.
February 17, 2010: Called the new GSM for Paul Evert's. Didn't reach him, but I was provided with his cell phone number, so I called that and left a detailed message, advising also that I would be seeing the District Manager for Winnebago.
February 19, 2010: Drove the ERA to Phoenix for inspection. Met with Winnebago District Manager; he inspected the ERA, took notes and will be conveying the information. While we were meeting, Paul Evert's called him. In addition to everything else, I pointed out some of the body issues I attribute to Paul Evert's and also discussed the lack of Sprinter paperwork. The generator died once while he was here (although in his car); we started it again and went to dinner, and it was not on when we got back an hour or so later.
February 22, 2010: Tried the generator at about 12:20 while at OK Salon for a haircut; it died at 1 p.m.
February 25, 2010: Noticed one of the decals is already peeling from the bottom. Still haven't managed to get pictures for the other body problems.
February 26, 2010: Spoke with Jay at Owner Relations, Winnebago. They rejected my request to replace the vehicle and insist that it be repaired at Altmans RV in Colton, CA, some 70 miles or so away. They have no idea when they'll have the parts, refuse to loan me a unit to use in the meantime, and are not allowing me to return to Mike Thompson for service. When I said I did not want the ERA to go to Altman's in Colton, Jay pointed out that the Winnebago warranty allows Winnebago to choose where the vehicle is to be repaired. No thought of the customer there - and not a moment's consideration of my request to send the district manager to Mike Thompson's to supervise the work there and make sure things are made right at the place where I'll likely have to go for service in the future. Also, no agreement on warranty issues or anything else - Winnebago's way or the highway it seems but, wait - no, can't take it to the highway when there's no refrigeration, reliable generator/ac, and so many other problems, now can I?
March 1, 2010: Spoke with Jay at Owner Relations, Winnebago. Jay is arranging for a complete refrigerator replacement and said the new unit ought to arrive this week to the CA warehouse of Dometic. Although we don't know where that is, he was trying to schedule installation at Mike Thompson, which was a welcome change from where we left off last week. Jay and I talked for a while - and it sounds like his plan is to get the vehicle to a "new" condition - but that may require missing the HD Collie show and leaving the unit at Mike Thompson, since the delivery service they use will only pick up from one dealer and take it to another (Altman's in Colton). Hopefully they'll get everything right.
I sent in the extended warranty for the furnace and for the a/c. I asked Jay for paperwork on the generator, since I don't have any, reminded him that I don't have paperwork for the Sprinter. I appreciate his position in trying to hold the dealers' feet to the fire but explained that I just don't want to be caught in the middle. I also told him about the scratch to the fridge that happened at Mike Thompson and the scratch to the door. that was made there.
March 8, 2010: Wrote to Julien Castillo after finding out from AmEx that they (Paul Evert's) falsely tried to assert that I was provided all warranty documents; they submitted the sales form that I signed long before taking delivery of the vehicle (it had to be sent up their prior to registration) indicating that documents were received, but I was able to prove that I did not receive the vehicle until later. So, now we know Paul Evert's isn't just sloppy, they'll lie when it suits them rather than make things right with the customer.
March 9, 2010: ERA dropped off at Mike Thompson's RV Center. They said they think the have the new refrigerator. I told them to call Winnebago regarding what they are or are not supposed to do for service.
March 10, 2009: Additional pictures and squawk list sent to Jay at Winnebago.
March 14, 2010: Wrote to Jay at Winnebago.
March 23, 2010: Confirmed that there was no reply to my email and that no one left any phone messages from Winnebago in the 9 days since I wrote, so I wrote again to Winnebago:
As some time has passed, and since I did not receive a reply to my last email to you, would you kindly update me with respect to the progress, status, etc. of repairs to my ERA?
Received a reply which said, in part:
Jay said Mike Burke and his staff have been working very hard on your ERA and have made real progress. Dick Higdon is planning on being at the dealership later this week to inspect your ERA.
Wait, I thought Mr. Higdon was supposed to supervise the repairs throughout? What does "real progress mean?" What was done, what remains, and will it be on time? I wrote again:
Do you have any indication as to what in particular has been done and what remains to be done?
As I wrote earlier, I have to go on a trip at the end of the month, which is now just 8 days away. I have to use the ERA for that trip, which will run through April 13. After that, if work remains, you can have it again.
I trust you'll coordinate with the service to bring the ERA back either to me or Mike Thompson on the first of April.
March 24, 2010: Spoke with Dick Higdon, who had a few questions and took the time to review the status of repairs with me, saying many are completed and many, while in progress, should be completed as things would come together at one time. Dick admitted that he was on vacation last week but was going to go to Altman's to inspect the ERA. Wow, so the whole week I was away and the ERA was at Altmans, really no one from Winnebago was "eyes-on" - definitely not the way I would have handled the situation - but Dick said he was helping with the ordering and staging of parts, keeping on top of the situation, etc. Dick said the technician who was working on the ERA was doing a very good job.
I was not happy to find out that the generator had been low on oil and they thought the shut downs were a result of that - as it wears the system. I reiterated that since they had a new generator staged there, it might be best to replace the one I have, since I paid for a "new" vehicle, rather than leave me to experience problems with it down the road.
I was told the repairs were delayed because one of their technicians was sick. Apparently, Altman's is not so well-staffed in the repair department (3 person crew) so the loss of one person had significant impact.
Dash appliques: one still coming up per Dick's review.
Ceiling: refitted with a pair of wooden strips added (I hope that isn't unslightly).
Battery Box: cover fitted properly
Couch: unable to repeat problem. Dick and I discussed how it "labored" (his words) - he said he'd need to operate it again to see.
TV mount: new TV bracket ordered which has a change in it. Not yet rec'd/installed.
Screens: all screens removed, adhesive removed, and being reattached. One screen was found to have a hole in it.
Rear galley shade: reinstalled.
Refrigerator: replaced. Not sure if they cleaned up underneath. I asked Dick to have them check when they check the panel behind it which fell down.
Radio/TV switch: no details but tech was in touch with dealership - a couple of things were wrong - "misconnections" in system.
Back left door repair - Dick said the area seemed okay. I told him there were some bubbles in the paint - that I don't want to have a problem there in the future.
External water pump switch: problem corrected
Ceiling panel behind driver's area: addressed
iPod cord and dash pads: will be replaced.
Radio power switch: ok Sat. radio: ok
Louvre on a/c: missing louvre or strip replaced.
In the middle of repairs:
Ext windows: have spent quite a bit of time, tore down one, have two on order - but can't tell until they come because there was a change just about at the build date of my coach. Said the repairs at MT were good but didn't correct the "lay flat" issue - which could just be how they were mounted.
Ceiling fan: Mold in the ceiling fan? Not sure, but they found the roof vent was cracked and there was a water leak. They ordered a new unit complete.
Bathroom vent fan: in process - doesn't fit right. Dick thinks they can't change the hole but can change the fit on the roof so it works properly.
Cabinetry: bathroom cabinet front by cargo door - Dick said he had the dealership shipped some paneling so they could make the panels as needed to fit better - and so they don't squeak. Area at back which "was to me atrocious the way it fit," (Dick) being addressed.
Rear door: Velcro(R) buttonL do we move Velcro or leave it? If we remove, we have a hold, have to put rivet in and paint to match the door, etc. Dick said he suggested leaving it alone: I told him I talked with Jay about the upgrade to the door - adding the bars, etc. and suggested Dick do that with matching fabric.
Kickplate: received but not yet replaced.
Running board flex: has not been looked at.
Sliding door repair (body): Paint guy from Altman's at Colton will look at it.
Swoosh decal at top: 2 new decals ordered.
Discoloration of body panels: Might be residue, not damage - they'll have to see.
- I pointed out the adhesive/discolored area on the stove counter - asked that they clean that up.
Water faucet door - not addressed
Front sunscreen- not an upgrade as previously thought but some additional hardware to make them work better. We discussed - because paper may already be torn or have holes in it.
Table strap: assured will be taken care of.
Dick noted a dent on the rh back door - wasn't there before. We discussed the body, timing, and that perhaps they should get all the interior work done for the April 1 return and I would be willing to bring the coach to Altman's in Carson to get the body work done - maybe leave it there after my next trip.I told Dick I would much rather have the work be done properly than rushed to meet some deadline - so if that meant I got the unit back for my April trip and it would go back for the bodywork later, that would be okay.
City water fill: replaced.
Rebate Dick said they learned from sales that the rebate was based on the fact that a dealer was a participating dealer - and had to replace the ERA with a like unit - that Paul Evert's did not order a new ERA so the rebate did not apply. Dick said there was some discussion about how to rectify and that I am to contact Dale Cantrell and iron out with him. I discussed my issue as as customer, being left to set things right for something that really is between dealer and manufacturer and my displeasure with it. Dick said Dale Cantrell will have something to say that will be agreeable and, after further discussion, said Mr. Cantrell will be agreeing to refund that rebate amount.
I also discussed the whole notion of Winnebago refusing to replace the vehicle and where this leaves me as a customer which is, at best, on the last day, with what I paid for some time ago, and after all of the aggravation, upset, etc. Dick said they don't want an unhappy customer, and that's why they're stepping in to take care of things, that they don't want me beating them up on the Internet, etc.
March 25, 2010: Spoke with Dale Cantrell at Paul Evert's. He said I did not get the rebate because Paul Evert's has not yet ordered a replacement vehicle per Winnebago's requirement. I explained that Julian Castillo said my rebate had been processed when I purchased the vehicle, that I would receive the check shortly, etc. and that they were/are a participating dealer. Mr. Cantrell did not offer anything other than saying that they did not order a replacement vehicle until I said Mr. Higsdon already told me he agreed to make some sort of refund - so I hit it head on and asked him how he wanted to handle the payment. He said he'd refund the $7,000 on my credit card and I asked for confirmation to my telefax number. I also pointed out that I was less than pleased when I found out that he responded to the BBB complaint by fraudulently stating that I had received manuals (by providing the executed sales agreement) when he should have known the vehicle wasn't even delivered until days later. Mr. Cantrell said he didn't know, does a lot of deals and couldn't be expected to know the details of every one, etc. - to which I said you'd think you would familiarize yourself with the details or at least review the transaction before responding to a formal complaint. Mr. Cantrell didn't argue at that point - it seems they knew they were (and are) in the wrong - but this still doesn't settle things. Mr. Cantrell said they were in touch with Winnebago and asked for hard copy manuals to be mailed to me. Still not the slightest apology - this dealership is some piece of work.
I wrote to Julien Castillo to keep him advised.
March 26, 2010: Sent email to Mr. Curtis at Paul Evert's RV Country to follow up on credit to AmEx. Received a reply indicating the credit confirmation was being sent by telefax. Received telefax confirmation. Spoke with AmEx representative to update with respect to status and to ensure dispute remains open for other disputed charge.
TM from and TC with Kathy Estes (sp?) at Paul Evert's to provide address for mailing of Sprinter manual, which she said may have to be ordered (said one was sent but not sure if they have another on hand at Winnebago).
March 28, 2010: Sent email to Dick Higdon:
March 28, 2010
Subject: Generator, etc.
Date: March 28, 2010 2:15:03 PM PDT
I have been thinking about that situation with the generator and while it is good that you say Altman's found the problem (stating it was "low oil level"), I am really uncomfortable with that generator remaining in my ERA. I paid for a new vehicle - I was assured that the only use was driving from the factory to Paul Evert's and driving to and from one RV show in Pomona. I never expected ANY hours on the generator and now, to find after repeated service checks, etc., that it was run on low oil for some 40 hours or so, it leaves the generator in a condition I do not want and should not have to accept.
This whole thing is a nightmare for me - what I paid for and expected was a new vehicle built to quality standards. What was delivered was a lemon, falling apart, in poor condition, as you know. I have repeatedly requested Winnebago replace the vehicle but it seems the company is unwilling to provide what I paid for, to wit, a new vehicle, and is choosing to piecemeal things and cut corners when it comes to customer service/satisfaction. This makes me unhappy and nervous about using the vehicle. As I said from the outset, the generator/ac combo is the most mission critical system for me - I can't afford to have problems and put lives, human or canine, at risk. I ask that you instruct the people at Altman's to put the new generator in the ERA.
Also, you mentioned that they installed wood strips on the headliner. I am not happy about this; there are no wood strips on the 2009 or 2010 and I should not have to take the unit with these sort of "fixes" which are obviously visible and change the look of the interior. I noticed that the 2010 ERA does not have any such wood strips - so please, restore my vehicle to new condition, as I was told it would be - not put it together with "fixes" for sloppy factory work.
Lastly, you said there was no change in the front privacy screen but merely some hardware to be installed. The magnetic strips were manufactured incorrectly - meaning that the polarity causes them to oppose, rather than be attracted to, each other. I was told on January 4, 2010 that a complete new unit was ordered (Mike Thompson) - it should have been available long ago. I was also told by Jay at Winnebago that a complete new unit for the front was on order. Again, I don't want this piecemealed. Please see to it that the front privacy shades are replaced with a new unit with the magnets properly set and the complete mounting hardware.
Schuster & Associates
Office Phone: 562 596 5900
Office Telefax: 562 431 4540
This communication may contain legally privileged and/or confidential information for the use of the intended recipient identified herein. If you are not the intended recipient of this communication, you are notified that any unauthorized review, use or dissemination or copying of this communication is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient and received this communication in error, please immediately notify the sender by reply e-mail, delete the communication and destroy all copies hereof.
March 30, 2010: Spoke with Dick Higdon, reviewed plans for return of vehicle (tomorrow, noon, leaves Colton, goes to MT where Service Mgr. knows to expect it and have me called as soon as it arrives. Papers from Altman's will be left inside).
March 31, 2010: Follow up with AmEx to ensure posting of credit from Paul Evert's. LM for Claudette Davis.
1 o'clock passes, 2 o'clock passes, 3 o'clock passes all without word from MT. I call MT, get put on hold a while, then finally get someone who confirms the vehicle is there. I get a ride to go pick it up, expecting a "new" vehicle, at least from the inside, and what do I find? That promises from Winnebago were again broken (no supervision) and the vehicle is returned to me dirty, broken, etc. Let the pictures speak for themselves - but I'll add what I learned in the first few minutes:
1. They took my 50 to 30 amp converter plug, so I have no way to plug the vehicle in to charge.
2. The refrigerator doesn't work on 12 volt setting.
3. Most of the screens still have gaps, and now, the screen mesh is loose or off between the screen frame and what it attaches to
4. Fan in bathroom - still doesn't line up correctly - they put a big rubber gasket in, but you can feel with your finger where that will vent moisture into the headliner.
5. The headliner - they made what was a nice ceiling look tacky and like hell, putting in two wide wooden strips and a lot of screw buttons - so now there are screw buttons everywhere plus these wide strips - something I not only wasn't consulted on before it was done but never would have approved.
6. The rear radio - no output to speakers when on AM or FM (haven't checked others).
7. TV bracket - missing a piece on top, now has a cable release, but wire assembly was left hanging.
8. Front privacy screen - despite assurances to the contrary, it doesn't stay together at the middle as it should. It says it did on the Altman's paperwork, but there's no clip and no way to make it stay together. Altman's did, however, after consultation with Winnebago, put a screw in each side of the paper to hold it there. So much for the replacement that was supposedly on order since January 04 - that never materialized, and despite discussing with Dick Higdon that Jay Swearingen said it should be available during the first week in March, all they did was jury-rig the old, non functioning unit.
Call to Dick Higdon - no answer, left message. Wrote to Dick Higdon and Jay Swearingen - got unavailable message from Dick Higdon (autoreply).
From: Jeremy Schuster
> Date: March 31, 2010 5:30:24 PM PDT
> To: email@example.com
> Cc: Jay Swearingen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Schuster ERA
> March 31, 2010
> You assured me my ERA would be picked up at noon or close to it,
> driven to Mike Thompson's, that the service manager was alerted and
> would call me as soon as it arrived; that didn't happen - and only
> after I followed up later did I find that the vehicle was there.
> After all that time, you'd think everything (except exterior, which
> we said would be done later) would be perfect - delivered in "new"
> condition as we discussed - but that didn't happen. In fact, at
> first glance, let's look at what's obviously wrong:
> - Refrigerator inop on 12 volt - cycling, making loud clicking sound
> from under pax seat. Breakers not tripped there.
> - Rear radio - not operable on am/fm through speakers (have not
> tested other functions)
> - Privacy screen - there is no clip or way to hold it together at
> center - it does not "stay" as you assured me. Jay told me there was
> a replacement, you claimed there was only a hardware upgrade. The
> slip from Altman's says they talked to you and made a hardware
> change - is that the sheet metal screw put in each side? That is the
> "big fix?"
> There are still gaps in the screens, readily visible; the headliner
> repair is terrible - not only does it look too wide and sloppy, but
> you'll note that there are screw/buttons all over and it has made an
> otherwise attractive ceiling look bad. We won't even get to the
> emergency brake cover being broken or off, of finding lighting rings
> on the floor or the atrocious amount of dust and grime (or a list of
> other problems) - it is obvious that neither you nor anyone else
> with a hint of experience in customer satisfaction checked over this
> vehicle before it was dropped off at Mike Thompson. Let me retract
> that - someone thought to wipe down the floor and spray some air
> freshener but that's about it. So much for your promise to supervise
> this and Jay's assurances that it would be right.
> I've only spent a few minutes in the vehicle - and again, am
> shocked. If this is how Winnebago handles things and what it
> believes is quality, I don't think we're going to have a resolution
> favorable to Winnebago.
> Please contact me immediately at 562 852 5908
> Screen - driver's side rear
> Headliner - apparently they couldn't bother to clean the scrape or
> dirt from before
> Dirt/finger or palm print
> Does not look right
> Gaps in screen
> Gaps in screen
Dings in drawer
> Screen gaps -
driver's side near cab - adhesive residue visible
> Grease? at passenger entry area
> Emergency brake - cover off.
> Cover to emergency brake - left on couch
Ring off lamp
> Aesthetically pleasing? NO!
> Note- additional screw buttons now, nothing lines up.
Screen gaps - lots of dust/grime
> Ring missing on lamp - found on floor.
Tape residue? on
I'm trying to figure out some other things in looking over the Altman's paperwork - they said when checking the water pump (outside) they had low voltage, so they hooked up to 110 - why low voltage? The battery was new.
Also, they were to check for the fog lamp wire from the rear lamp housing - instead, they looked under the hood and under the vehicle - that's not where the wire is routed.
More listings of
miswiring from the factory.
Once again, the customer is provided a dirty vehicle with systems either not tested or inoperable. Another two and an half weeks in the shop and this is what I get for trusting the assurances of Winnebago.
TM Kathy Estes of Paul Evert's - says Winnebago has a Sprinter manual to send but they want to send certified. Have to call back to give her info on when/where to send.
April 5, 2010: Received call from Dick Higdon. I mentioned some of the problems, including the generator failure, the inoperative refrigerator (on 12v), the radio, the condition, etc.. Dick offered no excuse for the poor condition of the ERA on return or any of the problems. When I pointed out that he didn't supervise the repairs (he said he was on vacation the first week the ERA was at Altman's), as promised, that Winnebago broke its promises to me, that its representations proved false, that he did me and the company a gross disservice by withholding the generator replacement and then sending me on the road, only to have it fail again, not considering the reputational losses, etc., and after I said a bit of what I had to say, Dick characterized me as "an angry man," perhaps failing to recognize or take responsibility for his own or the company's failures here. Dick said a demand letter is probably in order and I pointed out that I already sent one some time ago, asking for replacement of the vehicle. Dick said he would be speaking with the CEO; I asked to have the CEO call me - so we could speak - executive to executive (at least former, having been a COO of a publicly traded company).
I pointed out that I felt his earlier report probably was much of the cause of the problem recently - meaning his idea that he could handle the repairs and that I'd love the coach (his words, which he attempted to deny saying today - but for Brian, one of the witnesses, piping in and saying he heard him say that) probably weighed heavily in Winnebago's decision - so rather than replace the coach, they had him continue the repairs, leaving me where I am, with a dirty coach with inoperative systems. Dick had nothing to offer other than to say that the company would be in touch with me sometime in the future.
Some kind of black adhesive(?) goo they got on the cabinets
More adhesive goo - on a different cabinet.
More adhesive goo - another cabinet (rear, driver's side)
Only partly caulked?
Roof hole drilled in the wrong place, so the lav fan doesn't sit right, and with the rubber ring as it sits, vents into headliner or inside of roof.
They must have run the a/c at the shop - because now the filters are filthy.
Privacy screen inop - still - despite being promised replacement.
Winnebago's answer to mis-drilling the roof vent hole - make a rubber gap. That wasn't done right as well.
TV bracket - missing piece - left off or doesn't fit now after "repair."
April __, 2010: Received letter from Winnebago corporate electing to repurchase under the California Civil Code. I wrote back and asked for a copy of the purchase contract and, separately, to point out that I wanted replacement, not repurchase (sent to OR@winnebago and do Dick Higdon).
April 12, 2010 Email from Winnebago:
Dear Mr. Schuster,
This is in response to your email we received on March 31, 2010 addressed to Mr. Dick Higdon.
A copy of the purchase contract for your Winnebago Era is needed to properly review your request. We would ask for you to please provide us with a copy of the purchase contract at your earliest possible convenience.
Your request will be evaluated once all the appropriate information is received.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions relative to this matter.
April 12, 2010: Email to Winnebago:
Dear Mr. Swearingen,
Could you please inform me as to the reason a copy of my purchase contract is required? Also, since I made the request to replace the vehicle earlier, why is it that no contract was required to review my earlier request?
Have you seen any of the photos (not all have posted) from the recent repairs? Do you recognize that Altman's did not return the vehicle in good condition? Or that Mr. Higdon did not, as promised, supervise the repairs?
Please call me to discuss.
April 13, 2010: Email to Winnebago:
First, I would like to know why a copy is being requested. It seems to have no relevance if there is no dispute that this vehicle was purchased new from an authorized Winnebago Dealer.
Schuster & Associates
Email from Winnebago:
Per our Legal Department, it is their custom to review the purchase contract
as part of the evaluation process.
Winnebago Industries, Inc.
Email to Winnebago:
What is it they are evaluating? I thought this had already been evaluated a month ago - and back then, no one asked for the contract.
Email from Winnebago:
The contract will define that you bought the unit, from who, and the terms
of the sale. The Legal Department can not complete the review of your file
until the purchase contract is received.
Winnebago Industries, Inc.
Email to Winnebago:
Again, your reply does not provide the information I requested or respond to my inquiries.
Winnebago is aware that I bought the unit, from whom (Paul Evert's) and the district manager has discussed particular terms of sale with me, so there should be no need for the document but, as the original contract was sent back to Paul Evert's RV Country, please contact the salesperson there (Julien Castillo) for your request.
The email I have for Mr. Castillo is:email@example.com.
Schuster & Associates
Email to Paul Evert's/Julien Castillo:
Mr. Julien Castillo
Paul Evert's RV Country
You will likely receive a request from Winnebago OR for a copy of the purchase contract for my ERA. I would appreciate it if you would forward a copy to them. I believe your controller scanned it and sent it to American Express, so there should be a copy handy.
Just to keep you updated, repairs have not gone well. The vehicle condition seems to get worse, not better - despite assurances from the District Manager that he would personally supervise repairs (as it turned out, he went on vacation).
I have asked that Winnebago replace the vehicle; in the alternative, I request the Paul Evert's replace it, as it clearly was not the "new" vehicle I was promised or in satisfactory condition.
Schuster & Associates
April 14, 2010: Email to Winnebago (with 10 pictures attached)
April 14, 2010
Dear Mssrs. Swearingen and Higdon:
As you probably recognize from my earlier communication, my Winnebago ERA, which you demanded I have repaired at Altman's in Colton, CA (after repeated repair efforts by Mike Thompson's service center), was not returned clean or repaired properly.
I previously forwarded some of the pictures I took when entering the vehicle at Mike Thompson's (where the vehicle was returned) so you could see the condition, which was dirty, stained, with the emergency brake cover broken/off, and a plethora of other problems. It seems the the longer your (authorized Winnebago) people work on it, the worse the ERA gets. Altman's got some kind of black adhesive goo on the cabinets, dented one cabinet face, perhaps while working on the windows, and someone during this service dented the rear door. I still do not have a reliable generator a/c combo, the refrigerator, which was supposedly replaced, does not work on the 12v setting, the shower/lav fan vents into the inside of the vehicle between the headliner and inner roof surfaces (making the shower unusable) - and the list goes on - without even reaching the sound system (no AM, the switch in the back does not work on Radio setting and it appears everything is now wired to TV) or bodywork (and, by the way, the silver swoosh decal on the hood has now turned off-color much like the other two which were replaced) or delivery condition of the vehicle.
Here are some additional pictures. I did not take pictures of some of the things we already spoke about - and do not intend these to be comprehensive - this is just what you see at a cursory glance, in addition to the things I've already forwarded and we've spoken about.
The lack of care and lack of supervision - not only the lack of quality at the factory, but the repeated misrepresentations, broken promises, and niggardly manner in which the company will withhold replacement of certain items while leaving the customer to experience repeated failures or attempt to make trips when critical systems are proven unreliable, are appalling.
I have been patient and asked nicely, repeatedly, that Winnebago replace this vehicle - which has had so many wiring issues (outside light, radio power, rear radio, refrigerator, 110 line tripping, etc.) and systems issues as to leave any customer feeling unsafe. You refused, and refused to provide a loaner vehicle while mine was in service and, to make matters worse, refused to allow the ERA to be serviced at my local service center, claiming that it (Mike Thompson's) was not living up to factory standards and forcing me to have it serviced at Altman's, some distance away. You told me the vehicle repairs should take a week and I was assured Mr. Higdon would personally supervise the repairs - only to learn later that he went on vacation, that the majority of the repair staff were out sick and that despite being given over two weeks, none of the exterior repairs could be done in that timeframe.
It is time to take responsibility and admit your failings - and do right by the customer. I want the vehicle replaced with a new one, fully tested and inspected to ensure that the problems/defects present in this ERA are not in the replacement. Failing to do as requested at the outset will undoubtedly present reputational losses as this harangue continues.
I am sure you don't recognize this, but I am one of the top-ranked competitors nationally in AKC Obedience Trials - I have a very visible profile with one of the top Rottweilers in the country, so people talk with me, see what I drive and always want to know what will help them. You can imagine what I have to say about my experience with Winnebago; the mere fact that we are still at this and that the vehicle has been in the shop in the aggregate of more than a month out of the few I've owned it speaks volumes but, trust me, everyone wants to see the vehicle and, when I open it up and they see the inside, they are shocked - typically coming away with the impression that Winnebago has an apparent lack of quality. I have been unable to attend the National event which was the reason for buying the ERA (a trip to the Rottweiler nationals in Colorado) because it has proven unreliable and typically unavailable despite allowing over a month of visits to your authorized service centers; you can bet I will receive a lot of inquiries as to why I am not there (one of my dogs would have probably finished his Obedience Trial Championship title there - the highest designation/title available from AKC, other than the NOC title gained by winning the National Obedience Invitational) - and my response will be to share my experience with Winnebago and the ERA. We will be competing in Orlando this weekend - and talking with the east coast competitors about the experience.
I have asked that you have the CEO call me so that we can speak about the potential reputational losses as well as the history regarding this vehicle and other factors, as I feel your attempts to save the corporation money and continue this affair do not take the bigger picture into account. To date, I have not received a return or direct call. I received a request for a copy of my contract, as if there is some dispute that I purchased a new Winnebago ERA or perhaps to give your legal department some cause to dispute liability; regardless, this evidences a continued lack of customer care and very poor owner relations. If I were to serve as an executive at Winnebago, you can bet I wouldn't allow problems like this to escalate and garner the attention they have (and, trust me, you haven't seen the proverbial tip of the iceberg in that regard).
Please bear in mind that my patience is being tried past its limits; please have your CEO contact me so that we can resolve this matter without further delay.
Partial caulking - note fan vents into roof - allowing moisture up in between headliner and roof. Should the customer suffer because the factory drilled the roof vent hole improperly?
black adhesive? something Altman's got on the cabinets and windshield
black goo on another cabinet
black goo on yet another cabinet
rear cabinet now has a dent at lower edge and black adhesive nearby-will have to get a picture of that for you.
Privacy screen - does not stay closed - no clips, hardware - and magnetic ends OPPOSE each other. Was promised replacement in January, 2010.
TV bracket - missing piece (left off, does not fit now)
black adhesive goo on another cabinet
They must have tested the a/c at Altman's - because they returned it with filthy filter; too bad the generator still failed, making it unusable in the sweltering AZ heat.
Schuster & Associates
April 20, 2010: Spoke with Dick Higdon about the offer from Winnebago to repurchase the vehicle. I stressed again that I wanted to be a happy Winnebago customer and that simply repurchasing the vehicle wouldn't solve the reputational or other issues. Dick mentioned that while he planned to have me bring the vehicle to Altman's this week, their service manager would be on vacation for a week so he didn't think it would be a good idea. He asked that I wait and allow him time to go back to legal and corporate, explain that I am interested in replacement, not repurchase, the benefits, etc. and to see what he can do. Dick is aware that I leave for Aruba shortly; we discussed schedules, and his plan to be away for a couple of days, leaving the plan for me to just stand down while he tries to make something happen with Winnebago (in other words, I am not to respond further to the letter).
April 21, 2010: Received Sprinter manual - wow, there is a lot of stuff there I should have had at the outset. Wouldn't it have been nice to know service intervals, etc.
-- see emails for notes for period April 22-28---
April 28, 2010: Checked Weatherby address for any mail; received the original of the FedEx'd letter regarding repurchase.
April 29, 2010: Received letter from Winnebago refusing to replace the vehicle and simultaneously devoid of the detail I requested in my letter to Mr. Post. After reviewing the applicable statutes, I replied to Mr. Post demanding replacement pursuant to a CA Civil Code section which appears to give the buyer the right to seek replacement as a remedy. Also wrote to Mr. Higdon to follow up and get a plan in place for repair of the vehicle, with a shop date of June 1, since travels won't allow me to get the vehicle in sooner. Also pointed out some of the items in need of repair which were included in earlier but not the last email. Went to Winnebago's fan page on Facebook and noticed it has been modified to I can't leave comments there.
May 9, 2010: Communication to Mr. Post at Winnebago:
May 9, 2010
Dear Mr. Post:
My last communication set out my position and demand for replacement of the ERA pursuant to CA Civil Code section 1794, which provides, in pertinent part:
"... (b) The measure of the buyer's damages in an action under this section shall include the rights of replacement or reimbursement as set forth in subdivision (d) of Section 1793.2, and the following:
... (2) Where the buyer has accepted the goods, Sections 2714 and 2715 of the Commercial Code shall apply, and the measure of damages shall include the cost of repairs necessary to make the goods conform.
... (c) If the buyer establishes that the failure to comply was willful, the judgment may include, in addition to the amounts recovered under subdivision (a), a civil penalty which shall not exceed two times the amount of actual damages. This subdivision shall not apply in any class action under Section 382 of the Code of Civil Procedure or under Section 1781, or with respect to a claim based solely on a breach of an implied warranty. ...."
It would appear from your communication/reply that you (Winnebago Industries) is refusing to replace the vehicle. If that is incorrect, please immediately confirm Winnebago's agreement to replace the vehicle.
Notwithstanding the foregoing or any repair requests, and since section 1794 by its language shows that replacement is a right accorded to the buyer, please take notice that if you are unwilling to replace the vehicle, I may proceed as authorized by the Code to enforce the right of replacement, together with any and all costs incurred and to seek any penalties which may be allowed.
Nothing in this communication is intended to waive any rights or remedies available to me as a consumer/purchaser or relieve Winnebago or Paul Evert's RV Country of any obligations under law.
Thank you for your attention hereto.
Schuster & Associates
also, email to Mr. Higdon:
I have not heard back from you. Winnebago is not responding to my demand pursuant to CA statute to replace the vehicle. They have stated that you are in charge of repairs, acknowledging that this obligation continues regardless of the Code issue.
I would like the vehicle repairs and body to be taken care of as soon as possible after my return from my current trip. I expect to return on May 26, 2010 or prior. I ask that you schedule the work and have the necessary parts at the ready to minimize time in the shop, as the vehicle has already spent more than a month at dealerships for repairs.
You may also wish to note that the woodgrain applique on the leftmost side of the dashboard is again peeling up. The screens are also falling off and there is a bad rattle from the two side privacy screens while driving, regardless of how tightly the screens are secured by the Velcro(R).
Schuster & Associates
May 12, 2010: Email from Dick Higdon:
Please respond with acceptance or refusal of Winnebago Industries' offer to
repurchase your vehicle. Failing repurchase, we will make repairs per the
Winnebago Industries Limited Warranty. I will monitor repairs to assure they
conform to industry standards.
Please contact the Altmans location in Colton, CA (909-422-0311), to set an
appointment for repairs. Since you are dissatisfied with several of the
repairs made at that facility, the vehicle will need to return there for
rework. Additionally, the replacement generator for your vehicle is at that
Please advise as to your appointment date once it has been determined.
Service District Manager
Winnebago Industries, Inc.
From: Jeremy Schuster [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:25 PM
To: Dick Higdon
Subject: Re: Schuster 15K18032 Warranty Repairs
I have set out my legal position pursuant to the CA Civil Code.
Repairs are due regardless. As explained earlier, I have now way to get the
vehicle to Colton. We agreed the next repairs would be in Carson and I
agreed to get the vehicle there. Please set that up per our earlier
agreement and conversations, which included your statement that Altmans in
Colton does not have a body shop (as the Carson facility does) which is
required to effect many repairs.
Sent from my mobile
May 14, 2010: Email from Dick Higdon (reply):
Thanks for your response.
I have reviewed our previous correspondences, and I will attempt to have
replacement parts in our dealer's possession when the vehicle is presented
for repairs, to avoid unnecessary days out of service. Would it be possible
for you to have the vehicle taken to Altmans/Carson anytime in advance of
your return on the 26th, to expedite repairs? Alternately, we could set an
appointment at Altmans for the week of May 24, or the week of May 31,
whichever is more convenient for you. Altmans has indicated they can receive
the vehicle after the 19th, and go right to work on it.
I have placed an order for repair parts to be sent to Altmans in advance of
the vehicle's arrival. Can you please furnish a good description of the
"Cabinet dent from last service" you describe in your April 29 email? Is it
a drawer, door or cabinet face? And a photo would help. I can add any
necessary cabinetry items to the parts order.
I will await your response.
May 24, 2010: Left message for/email to Dick Higdon. Auto reply:
I will be at the factory for meetings the week of May 24-28.
If you need immediate assistance, please contact Winnebago Tech
Service or Winnebago Warranty department.
May 25, 2010: Email from Dick Higdon:
Please take your vehicle to Altmans as planned, on Wednesday the 26th. The
dealer does not require parts for each and every repair, and will begin
repairs as soon as is practical. Mr. Donato can give you more information on
when repairs will begin and time requirements to complete the repairs once
he inspects the vehicle with you and reviews your list of issues. Parts
will arrive and will be replaced as necessary to bring the vehicle to
conform to industry standards and the Winnebago Industries Limited Warranty.
May 26, 2010: Vehicle left at Altman's RV in Carson, CA for repairs. Mr. Donato (sp?) went over it and felt he couldn't make it right - can't devote the resources necessary to fix everything.
Lavatory door – left side upper catch broken, pulled out of top of door. Cheap hardware needs to be replaced. Pictures sent via email to D. Higdon.
TV bracket – had partial mechanism replaced but cover was left off – does not fit with new part installed. Pictures sent previously to D. Higdon.
Refrigerator – not working on 12v setting.
Generator –replace? – Fails intermittently despite repeated repairs.
Cabinetry – Altmans got some kind of black goo on the windshield and several cabinet faces as well as the right side lavatory door. Dented rear cabinet face.
Woodgrain dashboard appliquŽs – driver’s side continues to rise up (peel off) despite 3x repairs. Pax side coming up slightly.
Radio (rear) – no AM reception. Radio/TV switch still wired incorrectly (Rear radio does not function on Radio setting, works on TV setting). Front radio – tie in – check b/c it works on radio setting.
Speakers – front speakers and forward speakers under cabinetry and on lav cabinet side distort at moderate volume.
Emergency brake – cover broken off when at Altmans.
Interior – Rubber floor matting stained/disclored - cab area.
Carpet – stained prior to delivery.
Exterior – discolored areas, dent in rear driver’s side near bumper, dent above that near roofline, dent in right rear door near top, bad paint near battery box vent, bad repair where Paul Evert’s had its logos (sliding door, minor bubbling on left rear door), paint coming off bottom side of flaps for LP/water/cable access; bad blend or something on right side of sliding door 2/3 way up, bad gelcoat (or repair?) pax side rear halfway up.
Missing paint on door to exterior shower; chipped up paint on underside edge of access panels (panels you lift to access water/waste pumps and LP gas).
Lower panels (plastic) discolored in several areas; door handles discolored. Could be sun damage or wax residue? Pictures provided to D. Higdon previously.
Check driver’s side and pax side near roofline – it is showing some sort of buckling.
Lavatory – ceiling not right; fan hole drilled incorrectly, vent fan vents into headliner. Gasket is not acceptable fix. Light not flush. Material not caulked where it meets cabinet.
Running board – under big sliding door sags badly when you step on it.
Screens – pull away from metal of windows, metal frames not cut correctly, mesh material also falling out; screens unusuable/ineffective. Screen actuator closest to TV appears stripped – does not function.
Windows – driver’s side vent windows do not lay flush. Dust/dirt come in –see photos.
Headliner – replace? Current headliner was stained, overhead lamps mounted off-center –and now lookg terrible with the additional button screws and wood rails (never approved)
Fabric/interior panel – at hinge point on left side (inside left rear door) is torn/cracked. Was not that way when it went in for service.
Rear driver’s side fabric panel – screw buttons are misaligned/misdrilled – not the same as on the pax side. Pictures sent to D. Higdon.
Front privacy screen – magnets repel each other, does not stay closed, is not mounted on right side and rattles severely. Right side peeling off – bad glue job, bad ÒfixÓ – pictures sent to D. Higdon.
Privacy screen – pax side – paper material falls out, mechanism defective; rattles underway. Driver’s side – extreme rattle when on road. Winshield screen – does not stay together, is not mounted correctly at right side.
Rear privacy shade cloths – mounting not correct. Do not stay in place and have to be placed crooked because Velcro¨ tabs not mounted symetrically. Consider replacement with cloths that are attached to bars as used in 2010 model.
Interior – dirty, dusty – all fabric valences, headliner, etc. – never delivered clean/new.
Screen over microwave – still sags and binds up – does not operate correctly. Carpet stained prior to delivery.
Electric bed mechanism – operates intermittently. Sluggish to retract when it works. Usually have to operate switch 3x on/off/on sequence to get the bed to retract.
Rattle from right side of RV while driving.
Furnace cover – loose, rattles – poorly mounted. Screws are barely holding it in place.
Pax side of dash next to glove box – is falling or pulled out.
Exterior plastic screen – driver’s side – comes out at aft section – is only held in place by front plastic clip – reinsertion tried, same problem repeats.
30 amp converter plug was on 50 amp plug when left at Altman’s – when the vehicle was brought back to Mike Thompson, there was no converter plug.
Mx interval in dashboard – will not reset. Oil change done at 10,000 miles by Dodge dealer – but system will not reset.
Also, there is a recall on the vehicle – not attended to on any service visit (Mike Thompson or Altman’s) – to reprogram some part of the system computer.
Repair list did not include damage below one window, which appears to be leaking. That was pointed out separately to Mr. Donato.
Wrote to Mr. Higdon to let him know the vehicle is at Altman's and the situation.
Thank you. I spoke with Mr. Donato this afternoon, and the dealer will
commence work by replacing the generator, repairing the refrigerator 12v
issue, and addressing other issues that do not require parts, pending
receipt of the parts order. I have received the information you sent in
several additional emails, and I will obtain parts for those repairs. Please
furnish details (requested previously) of the damaged cabinet door, frame,
or drawer so I may obtain the necessary parts for that repair.
Winnebago Industries, Inc.
June 5-6: Pasadena Kennel Club show - can't use the ERA - which is sitting at the shop in Carson.
June 8, 2010: Wrote to Dick Higdon (email) again requesting an action plan - and an update since tomorrow the ERA will have been in the shop for two weeks.
Please contact Dennis Donato at Altmans RV for an update on status of
June 11, 2010: Received call from Dennis Donato at Altman's with update on ERA. Dennis said most of the exterior was cleaned up and that the unit would be moved inside for some of the interior repairs, but they were waiting on some parts (new window, support brackets for running board, which they felt would be compromised if they tried to straighten them). When asked, Dennis said much of the whitish stuff we saw was wax residue - that it cleaned up but that from time to time I'd have to use Armor-All or similar product on those plastic panels.
Dennis said the wiring leading to the board for the refrigerator was not correct and this caused the solenoid under the pax seat to short out. He also said that when they removed the LP line for the refrigerator, there was a glob of styrofoam in it, so he'd be surprised if the refrigerator ran correctly. Dennis said it cools down nicely now - but the wiring issue also affected the proper charging of the house battery.
A few speakers are on order along with a fabric panel for the right rear and some other parts. We discussed scheduling and I advised that I'd be going to Oregon on the 23rd. Dennis said he didn't think it would be done by then - but I explained that I'd be flying and just wanted to let him know because I wouldn't be able to pick up the coach during that four day period.
I didn't ask for an action plan from Dennis or about the bed, fog lamp wiring or some of the many other things - just felt it was good that they were making some progress after having the unit for over two weeks.
-Wrote to Dick Higdon to let him know that Dennis and I spoke and to inquire about rear privacy shades and a couple of other unaddressed issues:
Sent: 6/11/2010 10:47:22 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Re: Following up
Dear Mr. Higdon,I spoke with Dennis Donato at Altman's today; he called me following your call with him and advised that the exterior is mostly done, which was good news - probably the first good news I've had with this coach in a while.I was surprised to learn that the wiring leading to the refrigerator was wrong; it seems as we've discussed that virtually all of the wiring in this coach has been wrong since the outset. Is there a disgruntled employee at Winnebago purposely screwing these things up or someone who is in need of training and supervision? Either way, I think you can agree that there never should be as many wiring problems as we've seen in this coach. Hopefully you'll get to the root of the problem and they can go through and check the unit out so we don't have other problems (incidentally, I don't know if you asked Dennis to find that missing/broken rear fog lamp wire - I don't think that was on any of the recent lists, but a loose wire out there still is of concern).Anyway, Dennis said the incorrect wiring also caused the solenoid to short out under the pax seat and was preventing proper house battery charging (maybe that's why the house battery was bad on delivery?). He said that they also found styrofoam in the lead in line of the LP gas to the fridge. Dennis asked if the refrigerator ever worked on LP because he said he'd be surprised if it did, but I told him it did, except not very well. I'm figuring they have the unit working well now and am glad at least one thing will work correctly.I guess we're waiting on parts. I didn't have time to ask but am wondering if you will replace those rear fabrics which don't stay up with the modified bars/shading, so that way we can also avoid having to do body work to put the incorrect mountings where they belong. After all we've gone through with this, I trust you agree that's a minor accommodation which would fix a problem, eliminate dispute over an obvious factory mistake and serve to create some good will. Also, what is happening with the front privacy screen and the issues there?I didn't ask Dennis for an action plan either, since I figured would rest more with you than him, but I would appreciate that from you at your earliest convenience.One more thing I think didn't make it to the list was that perhaps from all the testing, when you looked up at the a/c unit, the filters visible were pretty filthy. I can probably take them out and work on them but if they're checking everything out anyway, it might be good to have eyes on those since we've had the a/c - generator problem. I'm not as concerned about this, naturally, but just want to make sure everything is right.Please accept my thanks for staying in touch with Altman's and coordinating repairs. I was glad to learn that in the past two weeks some progress has been made.Please feel free to call to discuss.Sincerely yours,
Went to Altman's to pick up the ERA, which looked like it had some attention during the past 7 weeks. From a cursory look, it appeared most of the body work (dent repair, scratch repair) was done and that the exterior had been cleaned, with the plastic cladding Armor-All'd. Dennis said the refrigerator and air conditioner was working fine (the generator was replaced, but not the Hobbs meter) and that certain things were still open items, including the windows and screens. I tried to operate the privacy screen and Dennis saw that it did not stay together, so he said he'd get in touch with Dick Higdon about that one and a couple of other little items.
After getting the show gear in the ERA, we headed up to Carmel. Although we were never going fast, it seemed at the first fueling stop that we got lower mileage than previously but we'll see how that balances out - as maybe some of that was from idle or something while the vehicle was in the shop. I also noticed that the side cladding was already starting to show through where the damage was, so it looks like Armor-All isn't a solution. Also noticed the refrigerator (exterior) vent was not painted on the lateral edges. You can also see the door repair (sliding door) when looking from low to high or in bright sunlight. Looks like they refinished part of the running board.
Noticed that the passenger side rear window shade can't be attached to the Velcro(R); the tab is on the wrong side of the shade.
(Tuesday): Brought the vehicle back to Altman's as agreed. The plan is to meet Mr. Higdon at Altman's tomorrow morning.
(Wednesday): Met with Mr. Higdon at Altman's. He told Dennis to order a Hobbs meter and replace the one in the ERA. I demonstrated the problem with the privacy screen (windshield) and told Mr. Higdon how I worked around the problem. We discussed "relaxing" the pleats" to see if that will allow the two sides to stay together at the center. We also went over the other completed repairs -leaving windows and screens as open items - as well as some others (fog lamp, etc.).
insert more of the history here, including the August visit with D. Higdon, in which I was told I would have to bring the ERA to a Dodge dealer to try to get them to replace the cladding ruined at/by Paul Evert's, to address the fog lamp issue present at delivery, and to deal with the maintenance interval reset in the dashboard.
September 24, 2010: Wrote to D. Higdon again - since it has been another month since we met and my request to have the windows replaced (since Mr. Higdon said the old ones were no longer manufactured and they had no solution for the problems, including them not laying flat on the driver's side, as Mr. Higdon saw when sitting in the driver's seat and looking in the driver's side mirror). Still, no resolve - another month of delay, another month of devaluation of the vehicle, insurance paid, while it rots in the sun at Altman's. Seems authorizing replacement of the windows a month ago would have solved a lot of problems but it has been withheld, apparently. I'm getting fed up and seriously considering putting this into suit.
December 3, 2010: Spoke with Ledi at Altman's - said they have been working on the ERA but it will not be ready this week. Told it would be ready Wednesday.
December 6, 2010: Emails to Lani Cassidy at Altman's and Winnebago: No reply.
December 7, 2010: Lani Cassidy - supposed to call me back and let me know status. Did not receive a call back.
Lani at Altman's RV, Carson: "The ERA will not be ready today." 12/8/10
December 10, 2010: "Vehicle was all leak--tested and QC'd." Didn't even get far on the freeway before looking over to change lanes and seeing the massive seepage stains and wet area under the sliding door window. Upon further inspection, the aft pax side window panel was wet as well, stained and it was obvious that the vehicle was leaking.