Well, First off I will start this out by saying we are lucky so far. We have yet to be plagued with the service issues that I have been seeing on a lot of these stories, and I will pray that we don't.
My wife and I after rattling back and forth for the past six or seven years finally decided to pull the trigger on a travel trailer, nothing fancy, nothing large, but something for us to enjoy, and to allow the children to have some fun in as they are growing up and it provides a good outdoor activity for them as their interests begin to change as they mature.
I started looking online at several different models, we had a general idea of what we wanted, but wanted to see what all was out there being first time travel trailer owners. I finally found one that was located at Camping World of Tyler Texas. A 2022 Heartland Mallard Tailwind.
It was perfect for what we wanted. Bunkhouse Floor plan, spacious in a small setting, lightweight, good overall reviews from the manufacturer, and a good within range price. We started this process at the main Corporate Camping World website, with pre-approvals, and setting up an appointment to go visit the dealership which is about 90 miles from our home.
We had it all set up, load up the entire family (Four of Us) and head to Tyler one weekend. We arrived at the dealership a bit early and in we go. The staff at first seemed ok, we introduced ourselves, and said we had an appointment to look at the camper, they had a "Oh, you must have set this up on the corporate site" kind of reception, and I had a feeling that no one knew we were really coming, but the girl at the desk located our information and introduced us to Daniel, one of the salespeople there.
At this particular point I will give Daniel a five star review, he was knowledgeable, informative, and really sat us down to ask us the questions that needed to be asked, and really worked in our favor. He did want to show us other options that were comparable, both higher, and lower priced. He was doggedly against us looking into used options, and I am honestly happy about that knowing what I know about the company now.
After looking at several other options, we were still sold on our original choice, so inside again we went and started the purchase process. First thing first of course lets check the credit, financing availability, sold us on a hitch for our truck, which I knew we would need, and was going to have them do it anyway. Daniel even saved me about $600 dollars on one item by using his knowledge of campers and the sort. (I did promise him I would not reveal this information and will keep my word to him) At that point we started discussing different starter packages, and insurance. We purchased a package that include everything we would need to get started. (I did not know that Propane Tanks, Propane, Batteries, Cords, Hoses, and the sort were not included with the camper) I guess that this is commonplace, but I'm not 100% sure, Remember, I am new to this. Now, I am going to take half if not most of the blame for this package that we purchased, because at no point in time did anyone give me a specific, or itemized list of what was included, so to this day, aside from what is listed above, I dont know what else was included.
We will go ahead to the the next thing and get back to the "Package" later on. By this time all the financial stuff had came back and we were approved, we all went back out to the camper to kinda walk thru it and point out issues that we noted, Daniel joined us and helped out a lot easing my mind about items, and answering my dumb questions that had to do with stuff I had seen in that Robin Williams movie "RV". We made a list of several items, interior and exterior, minor in nature, a blind wouldn't stay up, a loose faucet, little mis-attached body molding, nothing to really write home about, but still, its a brand new travel trailer, and I want it to be as such.
Daniel said he would get all this over to the service department, and when we came back the following weekend, everything would be buttoned up, the trailer would be cleaned up and washed, and we would be "Ready to Go". We went back in to discuss what we needed to do over the next few days before coming back to pick up the trailer. One of those items was of course insurance, and Daniel explained that using your normal insurance company that you have on your vehicle would not be the best coverage for the camper, and may not cover those little things that may occur, but the "Good Sam" insurance was the way to go. He gave us a form with some information on it, and asked us to check into it. After it was all said and done, and signatures were given, we went on our way, looking forward to picking up our new travel trailer, and looking for parks to take it too, and booking reservations, we were so excited, couldn't wait!!
So a week of time passes, and we all load up to go get our wonderful new travel trailer! 90 miles back to Tyler. We get to the Camping World, walk in, and are sat down at a table to wait, I found myself looking for Daniel, our salesman, who I guess was not there at that time. I was under the impression that he was going to be the one showing out our trailer too us since he was so knowledgeable, had helped us make the list of corrections, and had assured me that all my questions that a first time camper had would be answered at the show out.
So here comes a fella in his overalls, younger guy, barely 20 if I had to guess, he introduces himself as the person doing the show out. So we all head out back to the camper, and he immediately begins with, "Here is your propane tanks, here is your battery, here is the freshwater tank, this is the city water connection here is your waste discharges"...the whole time I am stuck thinking to myself, "You know, I smudged the nose of this thing last week and they have not even tried to clean this thing up". He goes on, even being sure to point out the back bumper, and that is....well, what is that? I told him it was the bracket for the outdoor grill...heck, even I knew that.. Inside we go and he continues his run through, really doing no more that I could do myself, and haven't ever owned one of these things, but I am pretty sure I know what a propane bottle and a battery look like.
The whole time this is going on, my wife and I are noticing that nothing that we had went over the week before had been repaired. Then the guy is like OK, that's it, sign here. I told him as nicely as I could, I wasn't signing anything, and that there were still several outstanding issues from the previous week, and we had also today located a few more. One of which is where did all these screw holes on the interior come from? "Oh that's where we had to adjust a bracket, or this needed moved". I asked if that's the case, are we just stuck with the holes? "Well all we can do is putty them". I mean it was like pulling teeth to get them to show me how to operate the dang awning!
I had no plans to sign anything at that point. By then I think this young man was starting to notice my frustration, and apologized, admitting it was his first show out (Thanks for giving the first time travel trailer owners a first time show out guy Camping World, that's just what I wanted.) By then another, and I'll give her one thing, she was more knowledgeable than first time guy, but even then, she was showing us things that she was not correct about. There wasn't even anyone there who could tell us if our camper had electric and gas heat or just gas. By this time someone else had come out and explained the we owe you list, and I begrudgingly signed off on the show out. Back inside we were, and my wife could tell by this point I was kinda fuming about the whole situation. I told her I was about ten minutes away from just saying hell with it and leaving. But you know, I was excited, not so much by this time, but I knew she was excited, and both my daughters 9 and 12 years old respectively were as well. Mind you at this point we had spent about two hours at the dealership, and were waiting on finance.
At about the two and one half hour point, they came and got the keys to my truck to install the new hitch, and we were finally called back into finance at about the three hour mark. The finance lady was nice, and it went about as expected in any financing meeting. I'll keep this one short and too the point...
We were given the wrong interest rates and payment (Was in my favor so no complaints there) We were told we would get a warm and loving welcome letter from the bank that would allow us to choose when we wanted to make our payment and give us all the pertinent information about our loan. (We got the first statement, made the first payment, set everything up online blindly, then received a one page "Welcome Letter" a week after that, that was not warm, informative, contained no information about our loan and simply had instructions for setting up with online banking. I already did that, because I had a payment that I did not want to miss)
We were told that the trailer would initially be registered in the county of origin (Correct) and that our tags would come directly to us from the TxDOT, my wife even asked for clarification because that's not usually how it works... we were assured that's how it would work (Nope, they showed up USPS from Camping World signature required, had to go to the Post Office to track them down as we were not home at the time of delivery)
We were also sold on several Elite Good Sam Packages, by this time this Good Sam name was popping up everywhere....Oh what I did not know at that time....
So that sums up all the finance stuff, nominal in the long run, and you cant just point at one person or the other, It could have been the bank being slow sending info, could have been the other way around, I don't know... but while we are at this point in the adventure......here comes the service department guy with the we owe you list...bad news, some of the parts will have to be ordered, and it could be months before we get them....Great...thank goodness all of the stuff was minor.
By this time we were tired, frustrated, ready to hook up and get outta there, my wife brought up the fact that there was another, identical model on the lot... Could they not just go rob Peter to Pay Paul? The service guy was a little apprehensive, but said he would go ask. I mean, the biggest issue was with a cabinet door in the camper that was warped, or something to that extent. Service guy returns from the office high up in the clouds and says that they gave him the authorization to take the door off the other camper on the lot.
It was at this point that the most knowledgeable and service orientated guy I had dealt with all day showed up....the fella that put the hitch on!! He should be in charge of this place! Friendly, Informative, knew his job, explained everything in great detail about the inner workings and function of my hitch, a true professional at what he does!! No complaints there either, he even took the time to answer a few of my questions about features on the travel trailer that I didn't understand, until he was ushered off to start another install. For my bunch, It was finally time though....finally time to get all that stuff that we purchased in that "Ready to Go" Package we had purchased the week prior, that had everything we needed to get started camping!!! Oh the joy!!
We were finally at the best part of this mis-adventure!! Well, until we realized that it consisted of some leveling blocks, a discharge hose, and a couple other odds and ends. We were toured thru the store loading up this buggy with all the ACTUAL "Ready to Go" items that we really need to be "Ready To Go" that tallied up to over $600 extra on top of the $1000 "Ready To Go" package that we had purchased. But alas, we were done, tired, broken, and just wanted to get home....so we left...had no issues on the road, I give Trailer Hitch guy all the credit for that (He Knew His Stuff), and the next day I take the time to go thru the Heartland Bag with all the pertinent information that I was going to have to read up on because Lord only knows, Camping World was no help to the first time guy.
Well, there is no owners manual, and no paperwork on the Rooftop HVAC unit in the package. Well, guess its time to pull out my ace in the hole, my salesman, a guy who told me if I ever had any issues, just text him, a guy who assured me he would always respond to my text as soon as he could.........CRICKETS.....To this day he has never responded, and since then, I have managed to just find it all on my own, I think...I mean I am new to this. As my long winded story is winding down at this point I am recollecting a few things that I had forgot to mention in context above.....Like, the fact that I learned on my own that the keys to the door, do not fit the locks on the storage and outdoor kitchen...and I only had one set to the door. I asked service guy about this and his response was, well, you know, all those are keyed the same, so anyone who has a Mallard Trailer can get in...This still does not mean I don't want a set of keys, go get them, or am I supposed to ask the next Mallard Trailer owner I meet at the campground. Yes I would like ALL the accessories INCLUDING all the keys to my BRAND NEW Travel Trailer.
In closing I will go back to what I know now about Camping World, and Good Sam Insurance, and Good Sam Elite packages.......ITS ALL THE SAME GUY.....this would have been a MAJOR red flag for me had I had prior knowledge of this, but again, I'm new to this, and should have done more research. Companies like this do not care about their customers, the only this they are interested in in you pulling off the lot, and making their bottom line. This is not the only one of them, but this one directly affected me, and obviously many others.
Again from these stories I read I guess I am blessed as maintenance issues have not started popping up, but its only been two months so I'll just keep praying. They seem to think a trip back to Tyler is right around the corner....Its not, and the point is not to have to continuously go back.