by Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
One of the recurrent questions asked by folks considering the purchase of an RV is very basic: Where should I buy? Here are the most important factors I would consider. Please note, my list may not agree with yours and is not in sync with conventional wisdom.
1. Unless I were a technician with a solid skill set or took a technician with me, I would not buy from a private party. Some private sellers are very honest; some are very dishonest, but unlike dealerships, private parties have no track record to maintain and some are not even knowledgeable enough to know what works and what doesn’t.
If you are thinking that buying privately will save you a bushel of money, unhappiness is sure to follow when the purchase price is low and the need for service after the sale is high. I might call this the “Yugo syndrome,” coined when that famous little import from Eastern Europe invaded the United States in the mid-’80s.
2. I would buy from a hometown dealership whenever possible. Even in this age of depersonalization, when shopping via the Internet is all the rage, there is much to be said in favor of buying close to home.
My reasoning here is twofold. First, hometown buyers are more likely to get hometown service. Why? Because they are the buyers who are most likely to return a second time. When I do service work, repeat local customers will most often find the first thing they hear when they call is that I answer by calling them by name because I loaded it in my smartphone. Like most dealerships, I have discovered repeat customers are the best customers and if they are close by, it increases the odds I will see them again.
Secondly, as a sequel to my first point, if you are committing to buying an RV, you are also committing to the inevitable service work that comes as part of the deal. Many dealerships service their own customers first. You may well save a few hundred or even a couple of thousand dollars by shopping on the Internet or buying hundreds of miles away, but if it takes two months in the middle of the camping season to get your RV repaired, the savings may not be quite so memorable!
3. I would buy from a small dealership rather than a mega multi-site conglomerate. I like personal service; I think most folks do. Small dealerships are more likely to remember me. With large businesses, I have too often heard the phrase, “It’s not personal; it’s only business.” Try to convince someone committing to purchase something with a long-term loan that it is not personal.
I know mega-site dealerships have a greater selection and sometimes getting what you want close to home is simply not possible. If that is truly the case, buying from a large dealership may make sense. More often, however, I see folks looking for a way to save money that in the end may not save them much at all.
I have three more points to cover, and I’ll do it in the next installment.