Sunday, August 21, 2011

The "not so great" Purchase Experience

For those of you who have had RVs of one sort or another over the years, all the things I have been rambling about may seem like a bit of "deja vu," but for me everything is new and writing posts about it has helped me a great deal.  I also hope that if other "newbies" read my posts, they might either be helped or comforted knowing they are not the only ones who feel a bit lost at times.

So this is how Saturday went:

First off, I think I did my homework:
  •  I checked out the Nada price information, and decided the price was both fair and within our desired range.
  • I searched for any ratings for the Alfa line and found it rated well, higher than Winnebago, but not as high at Tiffin.
  • I looked for any comments on forums etc. and didn't find to much negative.
  • I made a two page list of what we wanted and questions about this particular coach.
  • I lined up an RV inspector (maybe not the best, but who I could find available at this time.)
We stopped for breakfast on the way there so we were comfortable in our bodies.  Food always makes me happier.

When we got to the dealership we found the Alfa up front, with the door open and the generator running and our name on the window.  Good presentation!

We did a quick look around the outside and went in, soon to be joined by our smiling salesman.  I have little sense of time, but I think we spent about a half hour looking at things with him and asking a few of the easier questions before we took a test drive.

The salesman drove first with Craig up front and me in the recliner.  Knowing how sensitive Craig is to rattles, I identified one big one as being the top of the stove burners, removed it and held it on my lap.

Craig's drive started on a country road, then onto the freeway, which was moving very slow, and then onto a surface street area.  He didn't like the exhaust breaking very much so turned it off, and liked the feel of that better.

I drove it on some surface streets and then back to the dealership doing a turn around at the end of the street in a large cul de sac, and then parked it next to a curb at the dealers lot.  Nothing hard.  (my evaluation was that the National drove a little smoother, but the Alfa was pretty good.  Craig was OK with it and said it didn't feel too big.)  

The salesman answered a few more questions and then left us alone to talk and look some more.  Neither one of us was at the "we have to have this one or die of disappointment" point.   We could have walked away with regrets, but decided to take the next step. We had agreed on the need to get an inspection the night before.

So we called the salesman in and said yes, with some conditions.  We all sat down and he began putting our agreed on fixes in writing.  A new windshield,  clean a spot on the ceiling, repair of the engine cover door, and giving us an estimate on repairing the bottom edge of the from bumper which is scuffed up and cracked.
He told me about it last week from Arizona and it was as he described.  He told me then they would not fix it, but I'm hoping to get a good price on the work as part of the sale.

All of this went smoothly, BUT when we stated the condition of having an independent inspection, the whole thing almost fell apart.

The salesman called in the manager and they both went on about how they had never heard of such a thing.  Why call in someone from the outside when they did a complete inspection using their experts! That if you bought a coach from "La Mesa" you didn't need any one else's opinion.  They were very "arrogant."

Craig  said that that was one of our requirements and there was no other way we would buy the coach.

The manager said he had two other customers that wanted that coach, and he couldn't hold it for us any longer. We said fine, sell it to them and  give us our  refund.  (It turned out they had never run my credit card, and all there was in our folder was a note with our credit card number etc. that I had given the salesman over the phone when he called me from Arizona. I do have to check my American Express account tomorrow however just to make sure.)

Then the manager said a few other things that I ignored, but whatever he said, it made Craig very angry, and he said he could never do business with "that man" and stormed out to the car. Craig later told me he thought the manager was being very verbally abusive to me.  I just heard it as sale "bluster" and was willing to call their bluff on canceling the possible sale.

So, I went out too, and we sat in our car for a few minutes to cool off.
 It is never good to drive while upset. I'm not sure we wanted to leave it at that either.

Our salesman came out to talk to us and tried to smooth things over.  By then the manager had agreed to include the condition of our "approval" of an independent inspection report, if it could be done by Wednesday.  So we went back in and put it under contract, with everything in writing. This time giving them a deposit by check.

Once that was done there were handshakes and congratulations all around.

No used RV is perfect.  We know some of the imperfections of the Alfa, mostly due to it being almost five years old.  We do not expect out inspector to reveal anything, but if he does we will still can walk away.  I hope!

Next post:  The pluses and minuses.  Why we choose this one.


  1. I can hardly wait to read your next post. Glad you stuck to your guns on the inspection. Way to go.

  2. Good for you for sticking to your guns, I hope the inspection goes well for you.

  3. good for you for sticking it to them!..can't wait till the next entry!!

  4. What's with those guys anyway? And independent evaluation is a good idea and they were obviously bluffing anyway. Great that you forced them to agree. Should be an interesting inspection.

  5. Having to deal with vehicle salesmen of any kind has never been my favorite thing to do. And they always seem to use that old ploy about somebody else waiting to buy whatever you are interested in. I think you did good in holding your own.

  6. Good for you for being firm! Don't let them bully you, this is a major purchase, and you have the RIGHT to make sure it's free of defects.

  7. It reminds me of buying a car, a big pain in the neck with dealing with the salesmen. Glad you held firm on having an inspection. Looking forward to your next post. It is a nice looking motorhome.

  8. Waiting for the next step is hard. If this is the right one, everything will turn out positively. How does that work, does the inspector go to the vehicle or do they take it to the inspector? I didn't get one, so I hope that I have lucked out.

  9. I'm anxious to hear the "rest of the story."

    Hope it works out well for you.

  10. Good for you for not giving in to arrogance. I hope it all works out for you. Once all is said and done, I think a letter to the president/owner of the company is in order. Rudeness is not acceptable and they need to be called on it.

  11. Wishing you well on the next step. We've never had such a horrible experience but with that said....I dislike having to deal with vehicle salesmen of any type.
    There is nothing wrong with you getting an inspection and if they are confident of their inspection they should welcome it.
    Good luck!!

  12. Merikay I am so impressed with your negotiating skills. The salesman and haggling part are our least favorite parts of buying any vehicle. Way to go sticking to your need for an independent inspection!

  13. Aren't sales managers a blast? Good for you for sticking to your guns.

  14. If you haven't done so, it would be a good samaritan move to report that dealership to Angie's List. It might be a life saver for someone else down the way.

  15. Wow. Someday, I want to own one of these, too and I have never thought about all that would go into the purchase. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this, it's certainly teaching me alot.

    Have a great Tuesday. :)


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