Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nightmare to Dream: Tiffin Customer Service Puts Them Back on Top

There are a lot of things to consider when looking for the rig that will be your home.

What we most want is a coach that runs/works well, built by a company that stands behind it's product and supports their owners. Included in that is buying from a dealer that shares those qualities and has a good working relationship with the manufacturers.

I have owned a couple motorhomes that I inherited, but we have never purchased an RV. My best friend and her husband have had a travel trailer and a couple motorhomes over the years so my indirect experience is through them. Until a couple years ago that experience was pretty positive. They bought quality used units, traveled regularly, repaired the minor issues that arose, enjoyed themselves. 

Then they bought the used LaPalma. Many issues arose with that coach and the dealer's handling of some of them was suspicious. It became a money-pit with no manufacturer warranty. They worried about their safety and the cost of the next inevitable repair. Fed up with sinking thousands of dollars into a rig they could no longer enjoy they decided to buy a new coach.  We were already looking at new but this sealed it for us - we'd suffer the depreciation for the warranty.

Their first deal for a new Thor fell through when the dealer refused to honor their agreement on the trade-in value, got very nasty, and then pulled the contract! The experience was so terrible they decided to keep the LaPoopa. But after one trip north and still more problems, they again went new rig shopping. 

About this time Bill and I were narrowing down our choices and the Tiffin Allegro 33aa was at the top. Everything we read about quality and customer service was impressive and we liked what we saw at the RV show where we did a quick walk-through. Bob Tiffin was there and seemed like a pretty stand-up guy who believes in what they build.

So I am very excited when the BFF sends me pics of their new Phaeton! Beautiful coach, everything they wanted, good deal, good buying experience. They plan their shakedown run and head north again. Lovely trip, they note some things that need to be addressed, they schedule an appointment with the dealer upon their return. The only real concern they have is the leaking windows. All the windows. Leaking, not condensation.

The first "alarm" went off when they were told by the service guy that the windows are "supposed to do that". Whaaat? But the service department will be working with the Tiffin area-representative on all the items and certainly that person will not agree that leaking windows is normal or acceptable in their coach. This is around November 11, 2013. The estimate on the repairs is two weeks. 

The first week in December the new Tiffin owners contact the dealer for a pick-up date. There isn't one. Challenges with communicating with the Tiffin rep, holidays, etc., etc. Okay, no problem, they have no plans until after Christmas so no rush. Note to self: NEVER tell a dealer there's no rush.

A couple more calls in December, still working on a couple of the items, they'll have it right after New Years. Middle of January they drive to the dealer and see their rig sitting in the same spot it was in November, covered in dirt, with no sign it has been touched. The service rep now tells them that the Tiffin rep has been working with them on the leaking windows (apparently they aren't supposed to do that). They are now going to try stuffing fabric in the frames to see if that fixes them as the other things they tried were not successful. 

The first thought you had when you read that? Yeah well multiple that by ten and you might imagine the owners' reaction at the dealership. After a passionate explanation as to why that was NOT going to happen, the owner received the direct phone number of the Tiffin rep. The equally passionate phone call resulted in the rep's agreement that fabric-stuffing was out and all new windows were in. There is no "window warehouse" so they have to be made and shipped from Alabama. How long? You guessed it - two weeks. 

The rep suggests they take the rig home to wait for the windows to arrive. The dealer had washed and waxed it so they agreed it would be best to get it off the dirty lot and get it home for the couple weeks. Back in their driveway they are able to check things out more thoroughly. Moisture under the throw rug in the bedroom that looks like it came from the seam of the back slide, more signs of leaking at each window, puddled water in the fusebox.   Mold. 

He has COPD. Mold is something to be avoided at a distance, let alone in the walls and under the bed. They are heartsick. This coach is a sieve, it seems to be tweaked so that nothing lines up right. New windows are not going to fix this. She does her homework and sends Bob Tiffin an email.

At this point it's February and I'm ready to walk away from our dream rig - the 33aa. They have been 90 days without their rig and there are still no new windows at the dealership. Then comes the call from Alabama.

The national rep is flying out to California to talk with them and see the coach. It doesn't take two weeks. He comes to their home. He looks and reads and listens. He makes no excuses. He makes an offer that they turn down. He listens some more. He agrees to recommend they get what they ask for.

Within days they are picking out the color of their new Phaeton. All their belongings in the coach are removed by professionals, cleaned of all the mold, and returned to them neatly boxed a week later. The local Tiffin rep has a job change. The coach is picked up and driven back to Alabama. The new one will be delivered in May.

That Tiffin customer service you've heard about? It's real. That Tiffin Allegro 33aa? It's back on the top of our list.


  1. I will never have anything else but a Tiffin. We spent time in Red Bay getting our coach "fine tuned" and are so happy with their service. Tiffin gets four thumbs up from John and I.

    1. Good to hear further confirmation of happy owners!