Forest River is Taking our RV Back!

Whether you’ve been following our story or not here’s the skinny. We bought a new 2016 Forest River Cedar Creek 36CKTS in March 2016. After several months of research we determined that Cedar Creeks were higher quality than most fifth wheels on the market. So when we found one that was marked down $33,000 for being a year old model the dealer wanted off their lot we jumped on it.

We moved in a few months later and started making plans to quit our jobs and travel full time. During the few months before we left we began to notice a few problems with our RV, but nothing major. The first thing was a storage bay door wouldn’t latch. It worried us because if something fell against it while driving it could fall out on the road. I got two sheets of plywood, installed some lock hasps on them and called it good, our stuff wouldn’t fall out.

After our first night, OUR FIRST NIGHT, on the road our rose colored glasses were violently ripped from our eyes. We had boondocked at a rest area outside of St. Louis for our first night. When we woke up our refrigerator wasn’t on. OK, maybe that’s not such a big deal right? Well except for the little thing where we had bought about 30 lbs of good cheap Kansas City meat, vacuum sealed it, and froze it. I woke up to a race against time. I knew we only had a few hours before it all thawed and we’d loose a few hundred dollars of meat. We eventually found a store that sold dry ice and bought ourselves enough time to find an RV mechanic.

I’m going to be writing a book detailing our entire epic saga. Writing it all here would take you a few hours to read. So fast forward a few months to when we’re staying in Texas waiting for the weather to turn so we can start our epic national parks trip up to Washington state. We’d been having some problems with one of our grey tank valves sticking open. We contacted Forest River, which we’d had several dealings with at this point, and were less than satisfied with their customer service. But they authorized us to use a mobile mechanic. So at least that was nice of them.

This mechanic will be a whole chapter in the book, he was a real character. Laura and I still joke about how terrible his service was. Anyway, IF he would show up he knew what he was doing. Anyway, we showed him this weird wave in our exterior wall. He properly diagnosed it as adhesion separation, NOT delamination. The bad news he gave us was just how difficult repairing would be. He said that very few shops would be able to, and even fewer would want to attempt it. He told us that one of the only places, and the best one qualified to do it, would be the manufacturer.

At this point in our travels our list of warranty repair items was getting quite long (about 20), or so we thought back then. We contacted Forest River, told them what was happening, and that we wanted to bring it back to them for repairs. They responded by telling us that it had to first be inspected be an authorized Forest River repair facility. The closest one was over two hours away. We called them, pleaded our case, and they agreed to squeeze us in for an inspection a week later. They were were so nice. They found several things that we hadn’t noticed, fixed something the mobile mechanic had messed up, and even found that we had the wrong VIN number on our insurance (thanks Camping World). However, the service manager told us that he’d never touch the wall problem, and that we’d HAVE to go to the factory, this was the second repair facility to put this in writing.

After five and a half hours of driving, $55 in fuel (that Forest River refused to reimburse), and a day of our lives that we’d never get back, we finally had the proof we needed from an authorized, certified, blah blah blah repair facility. With our new evidence in hand we emailed Forest River asking for a factory appointment for repair again, confident that that couldn’t deny us. Come to find out that we were being dumb, because they denied us. We were told that any Forest River authorized service center could complete the repairs. Then they sent us a list with about 300 of them. Not only did they not help us find someone who was capable of repairing their mistakes, the rep we worked with was extremely difficult to get ahold of.

Fast forward again to where we finally found one that could repair the wall, and agreed to try. It was located near the final destination of our trip in Washington, it was also near my family. Which was good because we needed someplace to stay for the months it was being repaired. We made plans to put our RV in the shop for the summer when our trip ended. When we got to Washington we packed all of our stuff, moved it into storage, and showed up at Camping World to turn in our RV on the day set for our appointment. Que the crazy.

When we pulled in we saw that the parking lot around the shop was PACKED! I found someplace I could park somewhat out of the way and went inside to find out the next step. I spoke with the man we’d been in contact with earlier and we started to get the turn in process going. He showed me an older list of problems they had received from Forest River so I gave him the updated list. Right then I remembered that I needed to move the RV and dump the tanks before we turned it in. He told me where to park it and I went to work.

One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen happened about 10 minutes later while I was flushing our black tank. I was standing outside of our RV talking to the guy waiting behind me for the dump station, just listing to crap flow through a tube at my feet. When all of a sudden a man in a camping world shirt comes storming around the corner holding a a crumpled stack of papers waving them around like a sword. He targets the poor man standing in front of me first. “Are you John Hebard?!” he shouted? My unwitting partner in crime was obviously confused, shook his head, and squeezed out a weak sounding no. The camping world employee then turned his sights on me, and the stack of papers. Pointing them at me as if he could strike me down with them he loudly asked “Are you John Hebard?!” Against my better judgement I said yes.

The Camping World employee quickly approached, opened up the papers and glanced at them, as if he had to reassure himself that what they still said the same insane thing. Waving the papers around he exclaimed “I’m not touching this, I don’t want anything to do with this lemon! No one told me that the list was 80 items long!” I told him that I didn’t blame him. He finally announced himself as the service manager, and told me that it would take months for him to even try to fix everything on the list. You should have seen the look of shock on his face when I just said OK. I think he was expecting me to blow up and yell or something, but we’d planned for that. After my obviously unexpected answer he visibly calmed down, a lot.

By this time Laura had gotten out of the truck and was standing with me. The manager explained how difficult it would be for his shop to complete the mile long list of repairs. Summer is their busy season, and were about 100 other RV’s awaiting repairs. He told us that he was going to suggest that Forest River take our unit to the factory for repairs, or buy us out of it. Obviously we were VERY excited to hear this news. We knew that the factory was the best place for the repairs to be completed. They would be faster, probably by several months. The manager let us leave it there, but told us that we might be coming back the next day to get it. He said that he would talk to Forest River and decide what to do. He said that he wouldn’t even attempt it unless he was guaranteed to be paid the full labor rate, not the usual .60 on the dollar warranty rate. Just from the list he estimated that it would take over 100 labor hours and around $15,000 to fix it.

The next day the Camping World manager called us to say that he’d been in contact with the warranty department manager at Forest River and that it was going back to the factory. After a little phone tag I spoke with the warranty manager also and he confirmed that it was going to the factory. However, the good news didn’t stop there. He told us that it was getting picked up within the week, that wear items not usually covered under warranty would be covered under good will, that Forest River would pay our fuel and hotels to drive to Indiana and inspect it ourselves before it left the shop just to ensure that it meets our expectations before they give it back to us. He also said that they would cover the work completed in some fashion, which they normally don’t cover anything after the warranty expires.

So they’re taking it back. A buy out could still be an option if they determine that fixing it will cost too much. But we won’t know anything until they get it back to Indiana and inspect it. Either way, we received amazing news and couldn’t be happier. Unless of course they replace it with a new unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Forest River is Taking our RV Back!

  1. Mark from Missouri says:

    I’ve been following the ordeal through your videos. Good to hear they are taking it back to the factory! I have to say the Cedar Creek is high on our list when we eventually buy a trailer. I can’t imagine going through what you guys are but know it’s a possibility with most any trailer. I’ve been paying particular attention to how the factory handled this. Because, like many others, service after the sale is just about the most important aspect. Especially when you consider the big three – Montana, Bighorn and Cedar Creek, offer much of the same amenities and basic foundation. I am hoping the new dealership repair/parts policy by Forest River will also be a good thing and create more competition to win customers via customer service. This is still a wait and see thing. Forest River getting tagged with fines by the National Highway Safety folks for failing to respond to recalls might be getting some national attention as well.

    I’m now waiting to see the outcome in terms of do they fix it or buy you out. And if so, will you stay with a Cedar Creek. Maybe they will give you a great deal on a new one like you had to start with.

    In another blog I followed their Lifestyles RV fifth wheel had major frame damage. The factory built them a new unit which took months as the company was a very popular brand at the time. They stayed in a hotel for months while the new unit was built. They were able to tour it while being constructed. They found problems after it was built which were promptly taken care of. Lifestyles went out of business shortly thereafter. I heard they lost their financial backing. Others say Lifestyles took care of customers, repairing everything, which in part caused them to go out of business. Who knows.

    All this is unfortunate as brands consolidate into Thor. Really hope some of the other non-Thor companies can hold out to include the Cedar Creek.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hebard's Travels says:

      Hey buddy! Sorry we haven’t been updating the blog as regularly, we’re hoping to get better at that! It definitely can happen with any of them out there. We still love our unit just want it fixed, lol. We’re hoping they take this and fix the pitfalls of their customer service because I think it could honestly be a great RV company if it treated customers better. Lemons happen, fix them instead of letting it get to be this big of a deal!

      Lifestyles was a brand we looked at heavily and a month before we bought they went out. We were really bummed to see them go. Evergreen as well. Cedar Creek is still owned by Forest River and I don’t think that will change.

      Thanks for leaving us a note! It’s great to hear from you. What all have you narrowed your search to?

      Like

  2. jrzygrl64 says:

    Wow! What a story! Bill and I were looking at and came “this close” to buying one – needless to say I’m glad we didn’t after reading your story! So sorry this has happened but sounds like you are on the road to getting a new one! Have you considered a Big Horn or Landmark? We know a several people who have one or the other (we have a Landmark) and no major issues among us! Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hebard's Travels says:

      We have considered both, this rig popped up first on our short list and we fell in love. We will be more careful with the next one. We still believe they can produce great rigs, but when there is a problem do they fix it correctly? Sure has been tough with customer service. We aren’t sure what we will do in the end but we miss our house.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. chapter3travels says:

    Wow. What a freaken nightmare. I’m so sorry you guys have had to deal with this, but happy to hear they are Finally doing the right thing. We have a Class A so I don’t know much about fifth wheels, but I’ve definitely heard that Camping World is awful. You would think these places would at least try to do right by their customers given how everyone is online these days and word gets around quick about bad service, but alas, many still don’t seem to care. Anyway, I hope this is truly a turning point for you guys and things start going in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Teresa says:

        If you’re willing to buy an older rig, you can probably find one in your price range. We did.

        If it’s something you want to consider in the future, do what we did and look at manufacturers with a reputation for quality, get info from RV Pricing and Values on actual selling prices for that model & if all looks good, get it professionally inspected.

        No manufacturer’s warranty, but as you’ve painfully learned, warranty work can be a huge ordeal anyway.

        I’m so sorry you guys have had such an awful time with broken things and the attempts to correct them 😦 Crossing my fingers that FR will make it all right for you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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