That Time We Drove to Forest City, Iowa for RV Service
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That Time We Drove to Forest City, Iowa for RV Service

posted in: RVing, Vlogs | 27

Back in October before our warranty was up, we tried to schedule an appointment with our dealer to get our rig serviced.

We had a long list of fairly minor fixes, things like getting the cables replaced on our captain’s chairs because we couldn’t move them, which made reaching the gas pedal frustrating and difficult. Plus we had a piece of our counter top that was slowly breaking away from the cabinet, and the piece of metal that holds our fridge in place was barely hanging on. (You’ll see more in the video below).

We sent a list of what needed to be fixed over the service department, scheduled a time to drop off our RV, and made plans to stay at my parent’s house while the service shop fixed everything.

We gave them our rig for two weeks. I was able to help throw my sister’s baby shower and Heath went off hunting with his dad.

But after two weeks away from home, we couldn’t wait to get back in the rig.

The day we were scheduled to drive back into town and pick up the rig, we called them to see if they were able to fix everything.

They told us they hadn’t even looked at it yet. 

What?! They had it for two weeks! Plus, we gave them the list of repairs before we even dropped off our home. Not to mention the fact that they knew exactly when we were picking it up.

I fully planned to give them an ear full when we picked up the RV, but conveniently the manager in charge of our rig was not on site (and hasn’t been any time that we’ve called him in the past six months).

There was a note on our paperwork saying they diagnosed all of our issues and ordered the parts. It clearly stated they would call when the parts came in and at that time we could return the rig for actual service.

At this point we had to reach out to Winnebago Customer Service to let them know of the delay because the end date of our warranty passed. There was no way we were going to pay out of pocket for all of these repairs just because their service shop didn’t actually service our rig. I was beginning to expect that our dealer, Crestview RV in Buda, Texas, was delaying our repairs just so they could wait until our warranty date passed. (I have no proof of this, but it’s a known issue that service departments often delay or refuse warranty work.)

Winnebago Customer Service (we called the 800 number we found online) said this would be no problem and gave us a statement in writing via email, should anyone challenge us on it in the future.

And then we waited for a call from the dealer. Two weeks passed and we called the Parts Department, no answer, no reply. Then Christmas passed and we called again. And again. And then suddenly it was March, no one would take our calls and at this point I assume they either never ordered the parts or ordered them, forgot about us, and used them for someone else’s rig.

Either way, it was clear they were never going to fix our rig.

Now, you may already know that Heath and I blog for WinnebagoLife and that Winnebago sponsored our RV Entrepreneur Summit in February.

Tired of the run-around from our dealer and knowing that other service departments would likely do the same, we called up our friend Russ, a product manager at Winnebago.

[You can watch Heath’s live interview with Russ on Winnebago’s Facebook page]

We emailed him the same list we gave Crestview back in October, plus a few other things that had since started giving us issues on the rig like our jacks.

He called back a few hours later and told us to show up at 7 AM on Monday and they could get everything fixed. Dream. Come. True.

Because most of our repairs fell under our warranty and because the service team over at Winnebago are real life heroes, they did not charge us for any of our repairs.

This did mean we had to cancel our plans to spend March and April driving along the Gulf Coast of Florida and instead drive directly 15 Google Maps hours directly north to Forest City, back into the throws of winter.

In this vlog episode, we spend three days with our RV in the shop and spend our nights in the Customer Service parking lot (they have 50 AMP and we had a nice grassy area right outside the door!).

We actually had a lot of fun exploring the teeny tiny town of Forest City and hanging out with the Winnebago team, though we do thoroughly enjoy giving Iowa a hard time for being, well, Iowa. However, most importantly, our rig is back to its original glory and we are back on the road, eager for more adventures!

What has your experience been getting your RV serviced? Have you ever gone to your manufacturer?

PS Still waiting for you to return any of our messages, Steve.

Follow Alyssa Padgett:

Travel blogger

Second half of Team Padgett and full-time traveler in our Winnebago Brave. I blog about our travels, how I run our production company from the road, and the ridiculous things Heath does on a daily basis. My husband thinks I'm funny.

  • I sure hope that your Winnebago taskmasters realize the value of this single post and video. I would have NEVER considered a Winnie — even though I’m an old codger. The real-ness and warmth of you two and the other folks is better than $500K of silly brochures and ads.

    • Hey Dick!

      Really appreciate the comment and thoughtfulness. I just think it’s helpful to share our experiences in this whole thing so it could potentially help others going through the same process (also to give realistic expectations).

      Thanks man and good luck on whatever RV you end up picking out.

    • Bill Bliss

      Heath’s experience is not an exception. It is the everyday experience of every Winnie owner that drives to the factory. If you book an appointment, it may be a month and a half or more to get a date, but if you just show up, they always leave slack in the schedule for drop-ins. In our case (we have done this twice) on arrival day they gave us a check-back in two days and then we had an appointment. Drop-ins can have up to seven items looked at (my sneaky wife put two items on one line and they still took it!). Our first visit we had some warrantee items and some out of warrantee items and all of them were fixed for free. Our second visit we had a few more items and, again, no fee, but we did pay for them to install a gas-electric water heater to replace the original gas-only. We are always plugged in, so using propane while we are work-camping was a pain because we would have to pack up and go somewhere for propane, even if it was on-site. The staff was without exception very polite, helpful and excellent. There are several surprisingly good restaurants within driving distance.

      • Bill, I have a question about your duel pas-electric water heater! Is it Dometic? And how do you like it? We just got one but haven’t had it installed yet. Heath read some not-so-great reviews so now he’s worried.

  • Andrea Elkins

    Look at you, Heath, rocking the button-downs on a DRIVE day. Crazy. 😉

    • Haha I always say, “Why are you dressing up?” And he says, I live in an RV, when else am I going to get the chance?

  • Onyx Joanne Henneke

    Horror stories like this are why I would never consider a Winne.

    • Really? As seen in the video had a great experience working with Winnebago! Our issues were with our dealer in Texas.

      • Onyx Joanne Henneke

        Don’t have to worry about that either, as I ended up buying a Lazy Daze.

  • Craig Harm

    What a bummer of an experience. Unfortunately, it seems to be a trend from RV dealers. Check this out from the “Great Escape” https://youtu.be/2gqAZN9W1jI . They had a terrible experience with the Big Lazy Days in Tampa. I also own a Winnebago MH. Some of the comments say they would not own a Winnebago, I would say that your service experience is indicative of the entire RV industry. Manufacturers need to hold their authorized dealers accountable. Finding a good, trustworthy service shop is the most important part of owning an RV.

    We really enjoy your stuff. If I may be so bold, maybe this is a subject you should do a story on. Would be interesting to hear from all your network of RVers on their service experiences and what they do about service. Remember, if you do this, to also consider that most all RV service shops do not do chassis work on Diesels. So that adds yet another story.

    • Interesting view of Lazydays! We’ve heard good things about them recently.

      From our conversations with Winnebago, they are pretty aware of the issues with getting serviced in dealers across the country, but there isn’t much they can do to fix it. I definitely think it’s something they need to invest more time and resources on fixing.

      We actually have a couple of posts with more stories on this in our Facebook group if you’re in there! There’s one thread of all great experiences and one thread of all bad ones 🙂

  • Gary Lamb

    Sorry to hear about your problems, guys. My previous rig, a 5th wheel, was unfortunately bought from Crestview as well ( San Antonio location) and our experience was just as bad. Probably the worst service dealer on the planet. We found a top notch mobile guy in Las Cruces, N.M. and now plan trips through there to get any needed work done. A sad commentary on the R.V. industry as a whole.

    • It is unfortunate indeed! Glad you found someone! We’ve had a couple outstanding service experiences, but on the whole, RV service shops need to step up their game!

  • Geri Ventura

    We purchased a brand new Winnebago Vista LX 36Y in August of last year from Wood Village Camping World in Portland, Oregon. After the dealer sold the one we had a deposit on, out from under us, they found another one with the specs that we wanted, and had it shipped to them from Alabama. (Don’t EVEN get me started on this!!)

    Once the replacement rig arrived, we found stained carpet, missing parts, slide issues and the Pièce De Résistance – a bullet hole above the passenger window. Yes – you heard that correctly. The brand new rig had a bullet hole that went all the way through the cab, including the privacy curtains. We found the bullet on the carpet below the passenger seat. (Who knows if this had occurred in Alabama, or if it occurred on the transfer drive to Portland.) We later experienced two water leaks that had caused damage to many of the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom.

    We have had the rig in CA for much of this year, and the Camping World in Valencia had handled most of the repairs – We have had GREAT service from their Service Writer/Manager(?) Kevin Schoudel … until…we were advised that they were no longer a Winnebago Authorized Service Provider. We have since found another Authorized Service Provider who will be working with us to finish up the rest of the water damage repairs. We have not finalized this process, but they seem very friendly and accommodating. I DREAD having to deal with any future repairs based on your experience and the many other blogs who have shared the same issues.

    • Wow–that is an unbelievable story. Shockingly, this is the second story this week I’ve heard of an RV being shot! That is a real bummer they stopped providing Winnebago service. Hopefully your experience with the new provider will be amazing!!

      • Geri Ventura

        We are currently in the process of selling our home and hitting the road full time – so it will be nice to get all of this warranty work completed. We have named the rig: Bulleit (as in the rye bourbon and a twist on the circumstances upon it’s arrival!) Super excited to take this big leap into a new chapter of our lives.

        • Haha I love it! How perfect. Welcome to the full-timer life! 🙂

  • Brian Wortel

    These are all great things to know before we buy our 1st RV!

  • Bridgette

    What a horrible HORRIBLE experience. Glad it had a good ending though.

    • Definitely a happy ending and now we can travel stress-free! 🙂

  • That sounds like a bit of a nightmare. I would be very curious to hear the excuse for the lack of communication and just overall terrible customer service from your dealer. You should update this when you hear from them 😉 I wonder, could the Winnebago Customer Service get in contact with them and tell them to shape up? This can’t be good for business.

    PS I was just turned onto your blog by a friend and I love it! Your adventures are so much fun and you are so inspiring! I’ve ditched the 9-5 as well but haven’t taken the leap of hitting the road yet.

    • Ha, yeah if they ever call us back, would love to hear their excuses!

      And thank you! We are obsessed with RVing and absolutely love it! 🙂

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  • Reenie Montgomery

    I am from Iowa and I am not surprised. Those are Iowa values. Help those in need.

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