Forest River’s new policy: Good news or an idiot’s tale?

Forest River’s new policy: Good news or an idiot’s tale?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, or maybe there really is an RV manufacturer that’s “seen the light” and wants to do something to make peace with the RVing community. Whatever the case, a new move by RV giant Forest River has created a bunch of “unhappy campers” among the ranks of its dealers.

At mid-month, Forest River sent out a memo to its dealers across the country informing them of new procedures that dealers must take if a Forest River-built unit is returned for warranty repair work. Here’s a summary:

When a customer brings a unit in for warranty work, the dealer must fill out a Forest River “Drop-Off” form. A record of that form will need to be made every time the unit comes in for warranty service. If a rig turns up for warranty service previously done for the same problem, then the dealer is mandated to contact the factory if “that issue may substantially impair the use, market-value or safety of the vehicle.”

Where it gets even more interesting is another reason for mandated contact with the factory. A report must be made “whenever the vehicle has been in repair for seven or more days, whether at one dealer or in combination with other dealers, for an issue that may substantially impair the use, market-value or safety of the vehicle.” [emphasis ours] Of interest, most states that have applicable Lemon Laws kick in when a vehicle is grounded for service for up to 30 days.

Putting the heat on local dealers, Forest River rounds out its new commandments with the following punishments for ignoring the protocols: “To the full extent permitted by law, Forest River reserves the right to withhold dealer indemnification if dealer fails to comply with any of the dealer requirements in this addendum.” In other words, do what we say, or don’t expect to get refunded for your parts and labor, and if the customer sues, don’t expect us to back you up.

According to a story published by rvdailyreport.com, many Forest River dealers are taking umbrage with the new policy. Arguably, it appears on the surface that Forest River may be feeling the wrath of consumers who are fed up with spending their days not out RVing, but pacing the floor waiting for a phone call to come and pick up their repaired rig. But dealers are incensed, some saying that the problem with long warranty repair delays is a matter of the company failing to provide repair parts in a timely way, and often shipping the wrong parts in the first place.

Another complaint by warranty servicing dealers? “Warranty [work] is a no-win scenario for dealers,” said one dealer. “The dealers generally get half of the revenue they would receive from external paying customers and we spend three times as much work trying to get paid for the lesser amount.”

How this internal war will shake out between Forest River and its dealers remains to be seen. But for Forest River customers, the big question is this: Does this new policy mean a weather-change that could actually lead to positive changes in customer support? Or will it simply be, like Macbeth’s idiot’s tale, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”?

##RVT795

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20 thoughts on “Forest River’s new policy: Good news or an idiot’s tale?

  1. Marcus

    Bought ’05 Wildcat, new. Had TV antenna wiring problem, axle misalignment that ate tires, bed frame broke, A/C coil freezing up, (sensor not on coil), and the biggie……rubber roof bubbled up, split 1/3 of trailer length, with thunderstorms predicted in 2 hours. Dealer had taken pics of bubbles, sent to FR who said it “wasn’t bad enough for replacement.” Left on a trip a week later, discovered the damage at our destination 230 miles from home. I called the dealer, reminded him of FR’s ” not bad enough comment. I then told him, “Well, it’s bad enough, now!”
    Forest River……not for me, Bubba

  2. -brent

    We bought our FR 2.5 years ago, then started reading thru the horror stories of frames coming apart and all sorts of scary stuff. Emailed our seller (private party ) with a few questions and discovered that they had no issues with anything and neither have we since then. I did most of the bigger maintenance items like tires, springs, and roof resealing that would seem to be expected on a now 10 year old 5th wheel TH; but it has been a great rig. Now there is that curious concept of using a hammer on hidden inside walls to bring in wiring and water lines 1 LOL

  3. Robert

    Forest River is owned by Warren Buffet’s company Birkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffet has always preached about being honest and companies he owns are run well. I would suggest finding a way to get his attention about the problems with Forest River.

  4. David Reese

    Forest River builds junk,they show good,but under the bling,it’s all poor workmanship. Bought a new 2014 42′ Sandpiper, both slide mechanism had to be replaced,this took over six months just to get the parts. Lazy Days t.v. in Tucson did the work,what a bunch of incompetents these people are. Beware of Lazy Days in Tucson. Forest River is the problem. Would never ever buy their carp again

    1. Alex

      Totally agree the industry could build better products and dealers provide better support. Until that happens, be prepared to undertake your own troubleshooting, fixing and maintaining. Its not that hard and kudos to FR employees who visit websites, offer information and guidance to frustrated customers (note: their participation is voluntary and they provide disclaimers that their responses are not in an official capacity).

      Much unhappiness among RV’ers reminds me of the guy who bought a new 30 foot yacht and ran it aground on the first outing. After rescue by the Coast Guard, he just shook his head and said “I just don’t understand. The map was blue where we were going.” Many first time RV’ers build their expectations upon automobile experience. Which ever way the FR experiment goes, the customer must share responsibility for safe and proper operation of RV systems. If one isn’t prepared to view RV’ing as a hobby and learning experience, it’d be better to drive cars and stay in motels.

  5. Alpenliter

    Years ago I toured the Western RV plant, maker of Alpenlite products. The thing that sold me was the last person on the assembly line had a checklist and gummed color dots. Several hours later the unit would be reinserted back into the assembly line to rectify the problems before being sent out to the dealers. Years later, the dealers took over that function, and shortly afterward WRV folded. While other factors came into play, the lack of quality control at the factory is always telling.

  6. Ron Schmitz

    I agree if manufacturers would do there own pre- delivery inspections, dealers wouldn’t have so many warrenty issues. Also my dealer must wait for authorization on all warrenty repairs & part ordering before any work is done. So You bring your rv in & a week or 2 goes by waiting for authorization, then another week or 2 for parts, before work is ever started. Not to say dealers are not to blame for not having enough Qualified Technicians (not just warm bodies in the shop) to do the requied work.

    1. Marcel Ethier

      Sometimes it IS the dealer’s fault. I had our rig in for warranty work and it stayed there for 90 days (fortunately I didn’t need it at the time). Out of 13 items, 3 were repaired. Dealer stated they did not get parts from FR. I contacted FR and they stated they had no record of the dealer contacting them of warranty work or parts required. FR contacted the company and my rig went back to the dealer. 3 days later all warranty work was done. I do not trust dealers anymore.

      1. popeye

        Sounds like too little too late.

        Just build a quality product in the first place already !
        People won’t mind paying for that quality if it is REAL!

        1. robert maher

          so true, just build it right the first time.

  7. Gary Reed

    It appears Forest River does not track their warranty claim submittals by dealers. They should. E able to look at warranty work ptevioysly completed by dealers and if come back work appears again for that same unit this should be seen from the unit serial number and model at the time of dealer submitting.
    Then if is poor dealer workmanship Forest River can contact the dealer direct for or why the come back work is or was necessary before paying a dealer warranty claim a second time for work previously performed. Forest River needs to look into a improved warranty reporting program instead of dumping all the responsibility on their dealers.

  8. Tina GAllagher

    I think this is just the beginning. It needs to be “hit” from all sides- Lawmakers need to pass and enforce lemon laws that include RV’s- the “as-is” clause shouldn’t leave owners in the doghouse. Dealers have had a field day being “nice” until the contract is signed, then treating customers like parasites (this is NOT all dealers). Factories need to do a MUCH BETTER job of producing a well-built working product. Customers need to get petitions to lawmakers and collectively demand better products or boycott mfrs until they straighten up. this is like the car dealer’s of the 70’s- things have to change.

  9. Troy

    This could be a good thing, but I can see this backfireing. I can see dealers just dropping the brand altogether. Then what happens?

    1. Marc Mularz

      Forest River is the largest manufacturer of RV’s I believe. So just dropping them is really not an option for many dealerships.

  10. W. Graves

    Just maybe forest river is actually trying to find where the problems are being created whether on the manufacturing side or the dealer itself. I read so much about dealers not helping people and delivering a unit that IS NOT prepped properly. I’ve had forest river products before and mine have always been really great units!!!!

  11. Jim

    Bob,
    With your idea, I do believe the manufacturers would start producing a “good” product.
    The problem I see is they would raise prices to pay for it.
    It would not cost the dealer more money, but it sure would you.

  12. Jerry Miller

    A large loophole. if “that issue may substantially impair the use, market-value or safety of the vehicle.”
    Presumably the dealer will make the call on this, and they can simply say it does not fit this requirement.

  13. Alex

    We bought a new Forest River Class C. The dualies were way underinflated; after our pre delivery inspection, a tech removed the slide out fuse without letting anyone know; the automatic stair failed to retract due to the door sensor falling off. The factory support was excellent; at the dealer level, support as a total zero. Even on a new RV, you will sign a disclaimer stating that once you accept delivery, the vehicle is “AS IS” and to correct defects, call the factory. I say Bravo to Forest River for attempting to track product service and quality by their dealers.,

  14. Mike

    So Forest river builds junk, then puts the onus on dealers to make timely fixes, while paying them half the going rate for their work. So the dealer is “rushed” to make a fix, but worries about it “coming back on them”, while using unqualified workers because they are cheaper. I expect there will be fewer FR dealers after this. Just one more reason why I performed 20+ hours of “warranty work” on my new trailer on my own because because going into the dealer/warranty grinder just wasn’t going to happen.

  15. bob aikman

    It is time all dealers get together and refuse all warranty from Forest River let these large companys set up there own warranty shops becauce the garbage that is coming out of all these companys is just awfull

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