Look out for scammers

Look out for scammers

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

These RVers met a “nice young fellow” in the parking lot of a Walmart in Cedar City, Utah just a day ago. On returning with a cart load of groceries, out in the far end of the parking lot a clean-looking fellow approached us to warn us of a problem with our trailer.

no scam“You must not know it, but you’ve got a real problem with your spring shackles,” he warned. Russ walked around the street side of the trailer with the man, and squatted down for a look. The young fellow was quite insistent that there was a problem that could really damage the springs. “You really ought to have that fixed,” he said.

Russ said he’d get in touch with his “repair advisor,” and the man quickly pointed out that we could get the problem repaired quickly at a nearby service station. He added that he was the shop manager there. Russ thanked him and headed back into the trailer. After the friendly informant was gone from view, he took at look at the curb side running gear just to compare the differences. Although not a professional by any means, he’d helped with a axle repair problem just a few months back, and nothing that he saw there struck him as strange.

Oddly enough, on the street side of the trailer there was an obvious and definite problem: A broken spring shackle. Not something we wanted to deal with, we checked on the Internet and soon found a local trailer repair shop.
At the shop the owner verified we had a broken shackle, told us he had the parts on hand, and soon had us backed up to the shop. Not only did he fix the problem, he also checked the suspension system and declared he could find no other problems–certainly nothing wrong on the side where our “friend” in the parking lot had so adamantly worried over. We left with repairs done, and a couple of spares for use if need be, and a bill of less than $40.

This is the first time we’ve been ‘hit in a parking lot’ by somebody looking to scam us on repair work. There are plenty of unscrupulous folks lurking at filling stations and “repair garages” waiting to soak you. The days-gone-by trick of not fully inserting your dip stick in the tube and showing a frightened driver that, “You’re two quarts low!” have moved to much higher dollar stuff, and most of us are careful about it.

So what do you do if somebody tells you that you need RV repair work–and you’re not so sure? First off, be sensitive to those internal warning bells. Why would somebody be walking around on the fringes of a parking lot, scrutinizing trailer suspensions? The guy was as smooth as a snake oil salesman, and it surely put us on alert.

If you really are worried about a possible problem with your rig, get a second opinion, a professional is best, but an experienced RVer may be in a good position to “talk you through” a question about something you’re not sure of. If you’ve a friend in the business back home, don’t hesitate to phone and ask advice, even sending a picture with your phone cam for a quick look-see.

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