Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It is the night before we are driving to Pennsylvania to pick up the Roadtrek. Earlier today I purchased RV Emergency Road Service. We spent the end of the afternoon loading everything that we purchased for the RV and our first night in it into our SUV. Let me tell you that the shopping trip that I wrote about a few weeks ago was not the end of our shopping. We have been thinking of things to add to that list since and made our last purchase (so far) this afternoon. The back of the SUV is filled to the brim. I am not certain how it all will fit into the Roadtrek. Of course, things like the four pillows, sheets, and blanket took up a bulk of the space. There are still several things that must get added in at the last minute before we leave. We plan to add two more things to our purchases at the time of pickup - an RV power protector - a type of surge protector for the RV- and a collapsible cone (don't ask). I must admit that I have been anxious all day. Someone asked me yesterday, what do I have to be nervous about? Well... I tend to over analyze everything and then worry about it. I get plagued with what if this and what if that. I am sure it all will be fine. But knowing that sometimes just does not help the worrying. Well, we are off in the morning and I will continue this when the Roadtrek is ours.

Off to the dealer -

With every thing seemingly planned for and prepared for the night before, we got into the car to head to PA. Immediately, I found that the self-made GPS stand had come apart in a way that was going to cause a problem on this trip - so I got out of the car and went into my workshop to fix it. Just what I needed, because this was THE day and I was still nervous - perhaps more so.

It seems that every major road in NY, NJ, and PA, and even some small roads, are under construction. We drove into a thirty minute traffic jam that was caused by a small crew, not working on a road, but doing landscaping on the side of the parkway. This was the first of several tie ups that we encountered on our way, and our estimated three hour trip was increasing in time of arrival as we went along.

I must say now - and I am writing this two days after it took place (though you are reading this about one week later) - that this all feels that it happened long ago and it seems to have happened in a bit of a fog. There is a distance to it all.

Anyway, we arrived at the dealer in Pennsylvania about an forty five minutes later than anticipated. We went in through the RV supplies store and up into the showroom. There did not seem to be anyone around. The showroom floor is full of large RVs so it is not possible to look across from one side to the other. We kept walking inside to where we knew the sales manager's desk is and as we approached it there was a salesman sitting at a desk on the left. If you recall - I never met the salesman face to face. (See my earlier articles to understand why.) He asked if he could help me and I asked for the salesman we were to meet. "That is me," he said and with that knew who we were. I expected to sit down and do the paperwork - give him the check - before anything else, but he said that we should go outside and see the RV. He handed us each a set of keys. We followed him out the door and there it was in the front of the lot. This is what we saw -

It looked great. It was just as we expected. In fact it was better than expected because there were fewer identification markings on it that I expected. We ordered the RV with the Roadtrek name not on it - yes, this is an option and it is free. Going along with this, to my surprise, the dealer did not put his large decal on the outside. That was great. While it is nice to show something like this off, it is better sometimes for it to remain "just another conversion van". On the model 170 that is parked to the left in the photo, you can see some of the standard markings. Ours has none of that.

He started the tour by showing us the battery draw on the side. It is in front of the rear wheel in the photo but it blends in so well that one cannot really see it. As he is talking and pointing, I am looking around the outside for scratches, dings, or marks. Happily, there were none. (I have picked up new cars that did have them.) We moved around to the back and he showed us the how to open the back doors. At this point I remembered that I had the checklist that I made up - the one that was published here last week. We got it out and my wife had a notebook to record everything that he was telling us how to do. As I will go into later in detail (and in perhaps the next two articles) she need not have bothered.

Now, the checklist. It is comprehensive and everything that you really need to find out about - but when it is all going down and happening then and there - you forget all about the checklist and just keep attentively watching - and hope that you find out what you need to know and look back before you leave at that checklist to ask what was left out. For this the checklist was good, but we were too much in a flurry to look down the list and even check off what he was covering. He was not going fast but he kept moving along. There I was with the checklist in hand and my wife quickly taking notes. He noticed the checklist and made a comment that it was good that I knew what I needed to learn about. Too bad he never had learned what he needed to teach us.

When we first started shopping for an RV, I started researching RVs and started communicating with RV owners on internet forums and email lists. There are several good ones and one specifically for Roadtrek owners. When I had a question I asked - and I kept reading what others asked about, and the answers they received. I gained a lot of theory. I knew what was supposed to be where and what to do with it. Now, up close and personal with the Roadtrek in front of me, I needed to know exactly where on this RV and how do you make it work. I would ask him something that I was pretty sure about and he would tell me either that had changed or that it did not matter - or the ever popular line - "You don't have to be concerned with that." I listened eagerly. My wife took notes and wrote down what he said, and I was happy - at least for the moment. After all he is the salesman and he knows what he is selling - and the basics have not changed on the Roadtrek from year to year, at least for the past several model years. I learned later that evening when we were at the campground- that he had no idea what he was talking about. Maybe he was making it up as he went along... But at the moment we had no idea of that and we went along pretty happy as he showed us outside and inside. I continued to ask questions. He continued to tell me answers - and I kept wondering how so much of this did not match what I had been researching all along. We finished the tour and we were heading back into the showroom. I quickly looked down the checklist and saw several things that we had not talked about. I asked. I was told we would go back to that later. OK. As we were finishing outside he mentioned the ever popular with vehicle salesmen Extended Service Warranty. I got suckered into that once with a car and have never again been persuaded. He made a very convincing argument why this was different for an RV and he told me the Finance Manger who would finish up with us would talk to us all about it.

We went inside and sat down with the Finance Manager who we had met before when we made he purchase and arranged for an RV loan. He was then and was now very knowledgeable. There were many forms to sign - just like when buying a house. There were much more forms than one signs when buying a car. Everything was signed and we handed over our check for the down payment. Photocopies and carbons were handed over and he shook our hands in congratulations. There was no mention of any Extended Service Warranty. I asked him.

The Extended Service Warranty being sold by the dealer is with an independent company that is supposed to be located all over the US and can be applied at non-participating service repair centers by reimbursement. It runs for seven years and covers everything inside and outside of the RV - the stove, the refrigerator, the microwave, the TV, the propane system, the sewage system, the tanks, and on and on. It also covers the vehicle engine. The problem is - and is with most plans like this - that it does not start when the manufacturers warranties end but rather runs at the same time and then on to the end of seven years. So with some parts under coverage you will get six years of extension and with some some you will get two. The cost - $2500.00! I had not expected such a high number. Meryl was not surprised at the amount. My question was - Do we have to buy this today? He said, no. We can purchase it at any time during the first year. Fine. We will wait and think about it. Unlike a car there are major cost things that can go wrong in the RV that you cannot just go to any service station to fix. So a warranty like this on an RV makes sense. It just costs so darn much!

We were done. The Roadtrek was ours. We went back to the salesman's desk and he had a cardboard carton full of RV supplies. "Here is my gift to you", he said. Inside the carton there was a drinking water hose, a pressure regulator, chemical to put in your tanks, a rubber donut seal, two butane, long lighters (for the stove), and a 15 amp to 30 amp converter plug. All very nice. (I have some returning to do of some of these things that I purchased on my own. I asked my last questions again. My head was spinning with the finalization of the purchase and all that he had told us before. He asked if we would go outside and he would take our photo in front of the Roadtrek - for something special that they will send us. We did that and while outside he answered my questions. That was it. It was time to go. We had spent over two and a half hours at the dealership.

Meryl was driving the Roadtrek to the campground that we made reservations at in Lancaster, PA to spend the night and test out everything on the Roadtrek. I was driving the SUV that we took to get there - gas is now over $4 a gallon and I have two cars that eat gas fast over two hundred miles from home. I thought that we would have to stop for gas to fill up the Roadtrek -another big surprise was the tank was full! So I get in my car. We need to get back down to the turnpike and drive an hour and a half to the campground. We both know the area well, but we do not know the area where the dealer is very well. She would follow me and communicate by cell phone along the way. I had the GPS. We were not going to stop and program the Roadtrek's in-dash GPS at this point.

I wanted to connect my cell phone with my GPS by bluetooth. I have done this a few times before just to see how it works. It has worked in the past. My attempts to get them to pair was just wasting more time so we set off.

As I am driving and Meryl is following, when I got to Valley Forge on the turnpike I thought that I should call the campground just as a courtesy to say we were on our way - as it was late. I got the very nice lady on the phone and she told me that they close the office in fifteen minutes. We were still forty five minutes away. She told me no problem - she would put a sign on the office door with a list of spaces that we can choose from - and we could pay her in the morning. Wonderful!

This was the day of delivery.

I will continue next week with our night and morning at the campground.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robert,

    (You answered my ? about the GPS in the RV forum.) I hope you are enjoying your new RV. I look forward to following your adventures.