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New Forest River service policy irks RV dealers

New Forest River service policy irks RV dealers

ELKHART — Forest River RV yesterday issued a policy and procedure addendum for dealer service warranty repairs that has sparked nationwide outrage among the company’s dealer network, RV Daily Report has learned.

Here is the policy notice sent to dealers May 17:

Forest River builds quality, dependable recreational vehicles that enable our customers to thrive in the pursuit of adventure and comfort in the great outdoors. Forest River’s commitment to quality extends to all facets of the customer experience, including maintenance and repair of our recreational vehicles. In order to achieve these goals, Forest River is making the following service addendum to its Warranty Policy & Procedure for all of its authorized dealers.

CUSTOMER UNIT DROP-OFF FORM

The Forest River Unit Drop-Off Form (download) is required to be recorded for each customer warranty service visit.  

CONTACTING FOREST RIVER

The dealer must contact Forest River whenever there is an intake for a second repair on a vehicle for the same issue where that issue may substantially impair the use, market-value or safety of the vehicle.

The dealer must contact Forest River 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. [NOTE:  Most state Lemon Laws are 30 days cumulative.]

Forest River has set up a central dispatch for these communications. The number is: 574-825-7000.  

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.

Thank you for your continued efforts. It is because of our unique relationship, cooperation and focus on quality that every part of a customer’s experience with Forest River is exceptional.

For additional information, or to discuss these requirements, please contact:

DIVISIONAL WARRANTY SERVICE REPRESENTATIVES ARE LISTED ON PRODUCT WEB SITES UNDER “CONTACT US” PORTAL

RV Daily Report has reached out to corporate executives to elaborate on the reasons for the new policy and to answer some of the questions dealers have raised. However, the company has yet to respond to the inquiries.

The news has raised the ire of RV dealers across the country who are incensed that Forest River has shifted liability for repairs to the dealership level, and then threatened to remove legal protection from the dealers if they do not comply with the policy.

“The company is being very unreasonable and wants its dealers to jump through a lot of hoops to take care of Forest River customers — and then only get paid whatever the company thinks is fair,” one dealer told RV Daily Report.

The policy also opens the company to major legal issues with it’s dealers, one person suggested. Others have indicated that lawyers are being contacted to prepare a more formal response to the new policy.

“Forest River is putting liability concerns squarely on the dealers.  Our 20 group is furious with this,” another dealer told RV Daily Report. “They’ve crossed the line when they threaten to not indemnify us if we don’t follow this procedure to the letter. Some of the items in the policy cannot necessarily be followed by dealerships.”

The legal definition for indemnity means protection from being sued and security against a loss or other financial burden.

While at first glace the policy appears directed at spurring dealership service departments to more quickly respond to customer service requests, which is one of the biggest complaints among RV owners. However, dealers question how it is possible to complete repairs quickly when the company has problems delivering parts to service departments in a timely manner.

“When does this stop? When do manufacturers start taking on at least a portion of the responsibility? They build the unit, we finish building the unit and when a customer comes in for work (warranty or otherwise) we are at the mercy of receiving Forest River parts,” one dealer explained.

“The burden should not be put entirely on dealerships to try to keep Forest River customers happy.  Warranty is a no-win scenario for dealers,” he added. “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.”

He referred to the frustration dealers have considering the number of pictures the manufacturer requires, frequent contact with Forest River tech support lines, excessive documentation that must be submitted, and delays in getting a part shipped to the dealership, only to discover the firm shipped the wrong one.

“How do we comply with that?  There are so many loopholes or judgment calls in any repair situation,” he added. “Yet, if we don’t comply to what they feel should have been done, then we are no longer indemnified by Forest River. This makes no sense.”

“It’s frustrating that warranty repairs are being looked at so critically,” one dealer noted. “It sure would be nice to see the RV Dealers Association get more involved with some of these manufacturers to smooth out processes, and build more trust between dealers and manufacturers.  Look at the automobile industry and how quickly and efficiently it can provide service to customers — and in a fraction of the time.”

Some of the provisions of the new policy are leaving dealers scratching their heads figuring out how to comply with them. For example, a customer is required to sign a form indicating he or she is electing to “store” the RV at the dealership until repairs are completed. However, the customer is told that storing it for repairs does not prevent the use of the recreation vehicle.

That puts dealers in a major bind if the RV is disassembled waiting for parts and the customer expects to be able to pick it up at the dealership and use the RV in the meantime. According to the policy, the dealer must allow the consumer to use the RV or Forest River will remove legal protections from the dealership.

The company provided dealers with a special drop off form to use when bringing in a unit for repair. However, Forest River did not supply a form to use when people want to pick up the RV to use it before the repairs are complete. That leaves dealers facing liability should something happen to the RV or the occupants when the unit is removed from the dealership for temporary use.

Dealers feel they are unfairly singled out for doing second repairs for the same problem when warranty payments don’t reimburse dealers for time to properly diagnose the situation. As a result, service techs often address what appears to be the symptom without being able to take time to diagnose the true cause, one dealer explained.

The new policy is fueling discontent among dealers in light of a recent decision to impose what Forest River calls a “Spring Logistics Surcharge” on every invoice to cover costs to get recreation vehicles from the factory to dealer lots.

“It is bothering that Forest River appears to be making decisions that take advantage of the dealer body without any recourse,” one dealer asked. “What’s next? Imposing a “Had to get out of bed” surcharge?”

Should Forest River executives respond to RV Daily Report’s request for comment and clarification, a follow-up story will be published.

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report and can be reached at greg@rvdailyreport.com.

40 comments

  1. I would be delighted to join in a Class Action Law Suit againt Forest River! I don’t have the $ to fight a big corporation alone! They are aware of that & really could care less about the quality of their products or their customers! I’m sure they have attorneys on retainer & plenty of money to back them up! Question #1) Why does the customer have to pay for the repairman to come check(not ever fixed 1st time!) a problem under warranty? The inconvenience is enough without paying for Forest River’s sloppy work! 2) How about compensation for enduring the misery of no heat in the winter or air in the summer? Not to mention the cancelled trips! 3) Compesation is also due to the customers for the MONTHS we couldn’t camp because our RV was waiting & waiting for parts to come in & then waiting for them to be put on the RV! They were always behind because the dealerships had so many that needed fixing!4) Roughly FR owes us $60 cash for paying for warranty techs just to make a repair call! 5) Compensation for trying to camp in unbearable heat & cold for 1.5 yrs! 6) Compensation for the many months we could not use our RV as it sat waiting in the warehouse to be fixed! We still had to make payments every month! 7) Compensation for worrying what will go wrong next! 8) Compensation for the many phone calls to the dealer to BEG for our RV to be fixed & to endure the rudeness of the staff! I will be checking my email for the details of when I can expect the check! A letter of apology would be nice too with an agreement to fix everything else that will probably go wrong!

    • It seems to be a combination of quality at the factory and competent, educated salesmen or technicians. Really disappointed in our travel trailer from day 1. It isn’t easy to drag a rig around for repairs let alone getting it done right. Especially frustrating when it is a production quality issue that should have just been done right on the line.

  2. I purchased a 2016 FR product, and also have had issues with quality and getting repairs. I will agree that FR has horrible QC issues, and the quality of manufacturing needs attention. BUT….I don’t think it is fair to FR that they be held responsible for the poor customer service of dealers, such as Camping World or others. I watched a recent video of a couple who bought a FR product, and were calling the rig a lemon, pointing the finger at FR. A few problems were FR manufacturing issues, but then, at least half were problems from a converter, window blinds, dealer incompetence, or other components that FR just has no control over. Like blaming FR if the transmission went out in your Ford chassis….some things are just not under FR control. I do applaud FR for taking steps in the right direction, and would hope us as consumers get behind them, rather than the dealers. Make the dealers get off their back sides and do a better job of addressing or correcting issues. In the video….Camping world technician over filled the hydraulic fluid and it spilled all over the rig, causing damage to multiple components. An error that should not be expected from the dealer, which tells me the dealers need to also embrace the fact they need to up their game as well. The problems we are having are across the board, and I’m happy to see any steps in a direction that will help to reduce the number of problems moving forward.

    • “I don’t think it is fair to FR that they be held responsible for the poor customer service of dealers, such as Camping World or others.”

      Huh? What? Why is it not fair?

      Forest River has total control over who sells their product. If Forest River chooses to sell product to whomever it is that exhibits known incompetency, terrible support and service after the sale, etc, then Forest River is ultimately responsible. I do not see how anyone can claim otherwise.

  3. sorry i bought forrest river product, more problems than Any one needs

  4. Hello, I have bought a Seirra 3350bh 4/17/2017 picked up 4/22/2017 camped in my driveway 4/29/2017 pouring down rain. While in camper rain poured thru the sofa window down the wall and onto the floor that was while we was in the camper. We returned the camper to dealer 5/6/2017 to have window issue fixed but when we put camper on 5th wheel water poured out of the front jack (door side ). Water is one of the worse issue of a camper.
    So who knows how much rain has poured thru the window while on sale lot, in your lot on transit, we are figuring the floor issue lines up with the window that leaked. The service ordered side doors when asked when they would be in , they forgot and ordered and they are still on order. They are side to side doors ours opens from top to bottom, the drill holes are in the side of the doors no way for the water to drain. When you opened them up it poured out, needles to say the doors are warped especially the same side as the floor jack issue with water. When you open and shut the water side door it pops open the other door, so when you are driving down the road the door comes open. While they had the camper they fixed minor stuff inside the camper. I got up onto my roof to point out the cracks in the seal up front along the cone. They had not gotten that far this was a week or so after we left it. They plugged the window holes up top to prevent more rain from coming in. Was told that they could not reproduce the water at the jack, although I have a video weeks after we left it there on a clear day it was dripping out of the front jack. The original reason the camper was going in was the floor, the rest of the stuff came up after we got the camper home. When I came to check on the progress of the camper the service department said it was ready to pick up. I called next day to make sure everything was done, they forget to do the floor. A week later on June 3, 2017 told no doors yet they would call when they was in. I got into the camper to check the floor, the floor was not even touched. I came unglued we had already made our first payment on the camper not camped anywhere except one night in our driveway. The floor still in need of repair, was told the floor guy canceled twice on them. We took it home , we had issues with the truck that pulls it so we was unable to camp right away after we got it home with a borrowed truck. I started to put our belongings into the camper getting ready to camp. I was having issues with the table slide out, I could not open the top cabinet with out hitting the frame of the slide out. The bottom cabinet opens up with out hitting the frame. I thought that I may not have opened it fully so I closed and reopened it, no changes in the cabinet problem. I ran my hand down the side of the slide out and from top to the bottom the gap ranges less at top and bigger at the bottom on both sides. The slide out does not seal with the camper wall. As I was having this issue I noticed light coming thru on the floor on both sides of the bunk house slide out. So I opened and closed the slide out thinking I did not fully open it, same result light coming thru. Same thing you can run you hand down the back of the slide out and their is a gap slide out not sealing to camper wall. I called the dealer warranty department on a Monday no return call 3 days later I called them back was transferred to service. I asked if their was an easy fix for this and would It be a return stay. I was told how to adjust the campers slide out, after trying to tell my family what I was told, decided it was not our place to do it. Called dealer and was told to bring it in Friday, get there had to leave it. I explained the situation, will get to it when they can may not be today but you will have it by Saturday. I got a call at 4 ish that it was ready, could not do any adjustment to either slide out. I immediately went down to get camper, I had him explain to me why their was not adjustment to either one. The slapped two pieces of rubber on the bunk house to stop the light from coming thru. The table that is where it comes out and no adjustment. I know that when I was opening and closing cabinets when we looked at it the cabinet door would have been an issue with me. I had him run his hand down the backside of the slide outs and told him it did not seal like our other slide outs did. I was told it was to let the wood breath. That is how these are, even though they are not up against the wall of the camper. the bracket prevents them from sealing to the camper wall. Now I have slide outs that don’t seal to the camper wall, I have bugs that come up thru the bunkhouse slide out if you look straight down you can see daylight. So I have all these issues before we took the camper camping for the first time July 3 to make sure we would have no issues for the weekend. Filled our holding tank and off we went to whitewater 35-40 minute drive. Get to our spot unhook, next thing the door side (same side of jack issue) starts to pour out water. I called couches right away because it was our holding tank got ahold of a gentlemen he told me to slit a hole in bottom of belly to release the water. the side by door had already pulled away do water was coming out thru there, pushing up on the opposite side. Besides water coming out a bandana type thing floated out along with a fixture and a square type on top of the silver lining was seed type things. My wiring was underwater from the holding tanks water. When I got into the front storage, water was under my tool box and the battery box. Along the wall was a rust track where water had been running down the side of the campers wall. This was not caused by the holding tank water only way it could is if water could travel up hill about 25-40 inches and come back down the side of the wall. I took pictures of this my husband ran his hand where the rust line was but it was dry but the storage area held all the water that came down. When I called the warranty department on 7/5 I had been dealing with one gentlemen so the other transferred me and of course voice mail . When I called the dealer I left a message with the warranty dept. so they new of our issue (7/3). I waited called back, I spoke to the other gentlemen and told him the situation. I was told he would talk to service and call me back , 7 hours later he called me back. I was told the earliest he could get me in was 8/2 for repairs, they could not push a customer out to fix our rig. Wow I know that we did not buy a high end rig, but we are customers too and we have had nothing but issues with this camper since day one. I was going camping this weekend and no holding tank to put water in. I was told you could do a mobile tech? I said someone could come to my house and fix it, he said no you could go on line and fix it yourself. My response was no I can’t I was told by fr rep not to do any work on camper to take it back to you. The mood changed. I asked once again about me doors, I was told they was on order. I asked for the parts number and phone number I would call them myself to see where they was at. I was given the part number 3783557-03 and phone number to call. I left a message at both numbers, while typing this letter today I got a call back the part was not ordered until June 27th, that was the day before I brought my camper back for the slide outs. Mind you they was supposedly ordered back in May when they had my camper. I have had nothing but bad luck with this camper and feel that all I will have with this camper is bad luck. I love the layout I love the design, but water is the worse issue for a camper it produces more trouble down the line that you can not see. MOLD is a killer . The cone has become issues with fellow Sierra models the FROG forum has several ones with this same issue.
    Please I need these issues fixed and feel very unsure about the service department that I have to take it back too, they tell me one thing and it turns out another. I may forgot somethings on this letter to you, I am trying to be optimistic that all these problems will be fixed before my warranty with you comes to a end so far 3 months have gone by. Glad we purchased an extended warranty. I am going to call my FR rep after I get down with this letter and request to bring the camper to Goshen Indiana to get repaired. All my issues is on the entry door side of the camper the water flows from somewhere and is making a real mess of this camper.
    Thank you
    Pat Irwin

  5. Robert Friendly

    But why are people making such a Major Purchase without getting a Professional Outside Inspector to check it out?
    Isn’t $300-$500 worth it for your families piece of mind?
    Why aren’t people Googling FR and all the other companies for complaints and information as well as praise for a job well done.
    Shame on us for not taking advantage of these Resources.
    Shame on us for not taking responsibility.
    I’m thinking of buying an Airstream soon. I made a call to the Service Department to see how I would be treated if I purchased there. Very professional. I also asked who the “Best” and most informed Airstream Rep was on the lot and they told me.
    Go Deep before you buy.

  6. We purchases a2012 i Cedar Creek 36rd5s in 2014 The Graphics on the front are washing away and Forest River said they would not replace because we are the 2nd owner.
    Our latest saga started when a 18 wheeler hit our living room window with their mirror on 5/11/17.
    We were referred to Duncan Systems by our insurance company.
    at first Duncan Systems said 10 days to have the window to a local Rv repair shop ..I thought great
    A week later Duncan Systems tells me that the have to wait until Cedar Creek is finished with their run of windows and then they will make mine. I explained that I covered the window with a garbage bag and duct tape and that we had 3 or 4 severe storms and that water was getting to my rig ruining the carpet and sofa.
    There was silence and then the statement you can put a claim with your insurance company.
    I waited another 4 weeks and still no window or any remedy to cover the taped up window but we got more rain. Another 6 week passed still no window
    Finally I called Forest River I guess I was lucky and got to speak to someone in service I was told that the window was in stock based on the vin number I supplied them with. I told the service person that I would have Duncan systems call them for the window ,I waited 4 or 5 days and call Duncan the told me that the contacted Forest River left messages and no one would call them back.
    I myself tried called and after waiting over 40 minutes hearing that some one would help me I was transferred to the customer service mail box waited overnight no call back.
    I tried twice today again no one answered.
    We are supposed get more rani all week and I get to watch my rig get ruined
    Now that’s customer service !

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