It has been a few weeks now since we took delivery of our new 2015 Newmar Ventana 4002 motorhome from Fife RV Center in Fife, WA. Now that we have been living in it for a while, I thought it was time for us to provide a review of the delivery day and the work done in their Service Dept.
Just a warning, this is a very long post but we feel that we need to be very transparent in our lives and want to be very open and honest.
Let me also preface by saying that this was not the first RV we have ever purchased, obviously. This is actually our third RV. The first RV we owned was a Keystone Outback fifth wheel that we purchased from a family owned dealer in OKC. The second was our Newmar Ventana that we purchased from Camping World, also in OKC.
As I stated in our first post about our new home, the buying process went very smoothly and we loved working with our salesman and the finance staff at Fife RV. They made everything very simple and extremely easy. Then came the hard part, the waiting for delivery day.
We had to wait two weeks because when we purchased the RV, we also purchased a new combo washer/dryer and a satellite antenna to be installed as well as three new Fantastic Fan roof vent covers.
The day prior to delivery, I texted our salesman and told him of our delivery appointment. He responded telling me that he was actually at the Newmar factory for training and that he wouldn’t be there. He told us that the Sales Manager would be waiting for us to arrive and that he would take care of us on delivery day. Minor detail, but it would have been nice for him to contact us and tell us he wouldn’t be there that day instead of me having to contact him. This was the first of many failures on delivery day.
Then delivery day finally came! Monday, December 5th! We couldn’t wait to get there to get our new home. We were so excited! However, when we pulled in to the lot at Fife RV with our motorhome that we were trading in, my heart began to plummet almost immediately. It was a sign of what was to come, unfortunately. I was leading the way with the Jeep and Tex was following in the motorhome. I pulled into the sales lot first and stopped a gentleman in the parking lot asking where to go. He told me to have Tex follow me to the Service lot. However, after I went around the corner, another guy came out and stopped Tex from going anywhere.
Since Tex wasn’t behind me when I got to the Service lot, I walked back to where he had been stopped. Apparently, the guy told Tex that the Sales Manager had to inspect our RV first before he could go anywhere. He said that he needed to put the slides out and look at the inside before we could go to our new RV. I told him that we had boxes and stuff packed everywhere and there was no way that the slides could be put out without us moving stuff out of the way and that they couldn’t see much until we emptied it. He said ok and for us to go on ahead and walk back over to the Service lot, which was quite a distance, to where the new RV was parked.
When we got back to the Service lot, and saw our new home, I was very disappointed. When you spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on a new home, you expect a certain level of service. The devil is in the details and Fife RV missed the mark big time.
Our new home was parked beside their Service building across several parking places. There was nothing special about it. It would have gone a long way to maybe have a big red bow on the front, or a sign that said “Welcome Mr. & Mrs. _____ to your new Home” or maybe just a piece of red carpet leading to the doorway – something. With it being the Holiday season, they could have incorporated the holidays somehow even. We have TONS of RV friends and I have been very impressed by dealers who go out of their way to thank their customers and make them feel special. Fife RV did none of this. Another fail by Fife RV.
I walked into the new RV and introduced myself. They said that they were still going over final inspections and for us to go inside and wait. After waiting inside for a several minutes, we were finally introduced to the guy who would be providing the walkthrough with us.
We went back outside and got the dogs out of the car and put them in the new RV. Remember, it had snowed on us all the way there and it was very cold. At that point, the staff member (I can’t remember his name) stated that he would be recording the walkthrough for the dealer. I honestly have no idea why they would want it filmed except to protect them from a lawsuit or something, maybe a problem customer in the past that claimed they hadn’t told them something and ended up having problems.
Anyway, the walkthrough progressed but it was very, very basic. It was basically, here is the light switch, here is the couch, this is how you turn on the heater, this is how you close the door (yes, he actually taught us that) etc. He never went over anything on the driver dash, how to start the engine, anything about any of the driving components of the RV at all. You would think that the safety features and the most important stuff that you deal with when driving a motorhome would be covered during the walkthrough but it was never mentioned at all.
We asked a few questions about the Oasis hydronic system since it was new to us. He was able to answer a few basic questions but openly stated he didn’t know much about it. We finally just decided to just shake our heads and agree with whatever he said and just get it over with. Thankfully, we are very familiar with motorhomes and Newmar in particular, because his knowledge was very limited. We actually knew more than he did. He knew nothing about the inverter, energy management system, the automatic leveling system and several other areas.
When he was done with his walkthrough, he gave us a piece of paper with a survey on it. The survey was to critique the walkthrough process and how well of a job he did. He asked that we fill it out and to turn it in to the Service desk. I glanced at it and put it down on the dash. I had planned to fill it out once we were done for the day and I had more time to fill it out and think about my answers. It was around 11:00 am by this time.
About an hour later, as we were heavily involved in moving everything from the old RV to the new one, he came back and asked for the completed survey. He wanted it back before he left for lunch at Noon and it was now Noon. So I had to stop in the middle of moving everything and fill out the survey. And, I had to fill it out with him watching me and hand it back to him when I was done. I don’t know about you, but when I am filling out a survey, I don’t want to be rushed and I certainly don’t want to write bad things about the guy I am handing it to. That is so awkward! If I had been allowed to fill it out and turn it back in at the end of the day to the Service Manager or even mail it in, I would have given completely different answers that I gave that day. I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to fill it out in a hurry and certainly didn’t feel like I could give an accurate critique of his work. Another fail by Fife RV.
Now, back to the walkthrough….as it was ending, someone drove our old RV over to the Service lot and parked it about 30 yards from the new RV. When we went over to put the slides out so that we could empty the inside, the passenger slide out wouldn’t work. We couldn’t believe it! Even after telling them NOT to put the slides out just a few minutes earlier, they went ahead and did and got some of our stuff caught in the slide and now it was jammed. It wasn’t able to close fully so it was now in a jam and wouldn’t move at all. This meant that we couldn’t put this slide out during the move out process, which greatly impeded us getting boxes, clothes and stuff out of the bedroom. Just another problem and disappointment with the level of service that day. Another fail by Fife RV.
And that brings me to my next point. Every RV dealer we have watched, every friend that has ever posted picture of their delivery day, even when we bought our last RV, have always had their dealer go out of their way to make it as easy as possible to move stuff from one RV to the other. Whether that meant parking the RV as close as possible, to even putting a crosswalk from one RV steps to the other so that you don’t have to go down 4-5 steps and then back up 4-5 steps (which would have been amazing considering my sprained ankle), all of these ways make the experience of buying an RV so much nicer. Fife RV did none of this. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even acknowledge our presence after the walkthrough. Once the guy got his survey, they could have cared less. Another major fail by Fife RV.
As it turned out, because the slide was jammed and the RVs were parked so far apart, it was much harder and took us much longer to move our stuff from one RV to the other. It was a horrible experience and Fife RV could have made just a few simple gestures to make it a much more enjoyable experience. And remember, it was snowing and very cold that day! Heck, they could have even just offered us a drink or something. We were there for 5 hours after the walkthrough and they never acknowledged us.
When we finally got through moving our stuff, we still had to pay for the items that we had them install after the purchase. We went inside to pay and even though we had been there for 6 hours, the Service Manager did not have our bill ready. He told us we had to wait so we went back outside and turned on the RV and went about getting it ready to drive home.
When Tex went to lift the jacks, he had some questions because they were a little different than our old RV. I went inside and tried to find someone to come out and help us but I couldn’t find anyone. The Service Manager was supposed to be working on our bill but even he was missing in action. I finally saw some people in an office and interrupted them and asked them for help. They went and sent the guy out that had done our walkthrough. He answered a couple of questions but told us that he knew next to nothing about it and that he really needed to learn more. This was another fail by Fife RV. They really need to have someone who is very knowledgeable about motorhomes and all of their features do the walkthrough with customers. Thankfully, we are not first time buyers but if we had been, we would have been very lost.
As I was outside walking the dogs during this time, I happened to look up and see the Service Manager running back to the lobby from the main road. I have no idea where he had gone but he had not been working on our bill at all. We ended up waiting for about an hour for the bill to be finalized so that we could pay it and be gone and it literally took us standing in front of him for him to complete it. This was another small detail but made a huge difference. He had all day to get the bill ready but ended up delaying our departure for about an hour. Another fail by Fife RV.
Finally, after all this, we are told not to leave because the Sales Manager wanted to talk to us. We had to walk back to the Sales building, which is quite a ways, to find him to see what he wanted. After being there for 7 hours that day, he finally wanted to thank us for our business. You would think that if you spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on an RV, that they would acknowledge you at the beginning of the day and not at the end of the day. By this time, we were exhausted and just ready to be gone. Another fail by Fife RV.
Another major disappointment of that day and one that still bothers me was the fact that no one even offered to take our picture in front of the RV. I know, it is a small detail, but everyone who buys an RV wants to show it off and wants their picture taken with it. As I stated earlier, if they had a big bow on the front or a sign saying “Congrats” or something festive and then taken our picture in front of the RV, that would have been amazing. It was just a huge disappointment of that day. I was so looking forward to seeing our new home and getting our picture taken to commemorate the day and I have nothing. The only picture that we have of us in front of the RV was taken the day we went back to sign the final papers. We just happened to walk past it as they were taking it to get some diesel and we stopped the driver and asked one of the service guys that was walking past us to take our picture. Another fail by Fife RV.
Now for the service review. We have mixed feelings about their service work. A few things they did a pretty good job on and there are also several things that they failed on, one miserably.
First, when they were installing the washer/dryer, they damaged the toilet lid by accident. They didn’t mention it to us at all during the two weeks they had it installing parts. Apparently, that is what they were discussing inside the RV when we arrived that morning because that is where they were standing when I walked in. They had ordered a new lid and it had not come in prior to us arriving so they eventually had to tell us about it. Thankfully, it came in while we were transferring stuff to the new RV so they installed it while we were there. It would have been nice for them to tell us up front instead of hoping to cover it up without us knowing.
Another thing that they failed to fix was the basement cargo door on the driver side. The front compartment door did not latch properly when we were looking to purchase the RV. We commented on it and it was duly noted. However, it is still not latching properly and still needs to be fixed. I suppose Tex will fix it when it gets warmer outside.
One more issue that we noticed during the purchase process was the fact that the RV had been used to steal parts from during its time on their lot. The water filter and the bezel around the radio were taken from this RV to go into another RV at some point. We mentioned this to our salesman and it was put on the IOU form. We also mentioned it to the Service Manager and he stated that this practice was quite frequent under the previous management but this had been stopped under the new management. While that sounds nice, I wonder why it took someone actually buying the RV for them to order the parts. Why weren’t they ordered when they were robbed from this RV and immediately replaced? Another sign of poor service by Fife RV.
Another issue that we didn’t realize was a problem until recently was the fact that they, at some point, took out the SD disk that makes the navigation system operate. It was probably taken from the RV when they took the bezel around the radio as it is all one system. We found out when we tried to work the navigation system and couldn’t get it to work. After doing some research online, we realized that we didn’t have the operating system disk that comes with the radio. I contacted the Service Manager and he told me that he would take one from another RV on their lot (sound familiar) and mail it to us. As of today, I still have not received the disk.
One thing that we didn’t notice during the purchase process was how hard it was to open and close the main entry door to the coach because we were never the one to open or shut the door. The salesman always did. The door latch is super hard to open and I literally have to tug and pull on it several times to get it to open. Since they have had this RV for over a year on their lot, they had to know of this problem but just ignored it. If nothing else, it should have been caught during the very expensive PDI that we had to pay for as part of the contract. It is also very difficult to shut and you have to literally slam it for it to shut. Tex used some WD-40 on the latch and it is somewhat better. We aren’t sure if the shutting problem is because of the cold temps and the molding or what the issue is exactly. We are going to wait until it gets warmer to decide what to do about this issue. Another sign of poor service by Fife RV.
We are happy with the satellite install and the Fantastic Vent Fan covers; however, we have not yet been on the roof to inspect their work due to snow, rain and frigid temperatures.
And last, but certainly not least, is the most important failure of all and a very serious issue. During our drive home from the dealer on delivery day, the speedometer and tachometer dial gauges did not work. We stopped for diesel on the way home and called the Service Manager. He stated that he has known of this happening two other times. One on a Dutch Star that they had sold and one on another Dutch Star from somewhere else. He stated that it was most likely a relay from the computer not working.
Now, can you tell me HOW they did not know about this issue??? They HAD to know about this problem. They have had this RV on their lot for over a year and never done anything about it. When I told the Service Manager about the problem, he stated that we had to take it to Freightliner to be fixed. No apologies, no nothing. Just matter of fact, we can’t help you. It was less than a 5 minute phone call. Now mind you, we just spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on a new RV, had just driven away from the dealer not 20 minutes prior and he is telling me I have to take it to Freightliner to be fixed without so much as an apology? What HORRIBLE service from Fife RV!!
And to this date, we have never heard from Fife RV. No follow up call from anyone, especially the Service Manager who I spoke to about the problem. We were so upset and are so disappointed in Fife RV. We did receive a call last week from a survey company out of Florida. We aren’t sure if it was originated from the dealer or Newmar, but we were very honest and hope that our answers will help future customers of Fife RV.
For the next week after our purchase, we spent our free time getting settled in and organized. On December 12, Newmar posted an article on Facebook about their Comfort Drive system (which we love) and I replied and stated that we were very unhappy with our brand new Newmar because of the speedometer and tachometer not working. I didn’t tell Tex that I had made that comment because he was at work. Well, not two hours later, he got a call on his cell phone from Newmar!
They had seen my post and somehow figured out he and I are related (even though he goes by a nickname on FB) and called him about our problem. Now, that is customer service and something that Fife RV needs to learn!
They asked him about the problem and called Freightliner immediately and put them all on a conference call together. Freightliner was very helpful and told us that we could bring it in to any of their local repair facilities as soon as we wanted to so that it could be fixed. Tex called Valley Freightliner in Pacific, WA and spoke to them about our issue. They were very concerned and were very nice. Due to the Holidays, we have decided to wait until January to take it to them to be repaired.
Just today, December 21st, Newmar called us again to check on us and to see what the status of the repair is. That is why we love Newmar. They are very concerned about the issue and are doing everything in their power to make sure we are happy, even though it is an issue with the Freightliner chassis and not anything Newmar did.
And don’t get us wrong….we LOVE our new 2015 Newmar Ventana and absolutely love the Newmar product. We highly recommend Newmar! Their quality of work and craftsmanship is outstanding. We love the fact that they are family owned and that they stand behind their product. None of these issues have anything to do with Newmar at all and everything to do with the dealer where we purchased it. Unfortunately, they are the only Newmar dealer within several hundred miles so if you are in the Seattle area, you either buy from Fife RV or you travel elsewhere.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share. We would love to hear from you.