In a ‘bricks & sticks’ home, repairs and maintenance are a fact of life. Back in the day, every small community had a hardware store where you could pick up what you needed, along with good advice on how to use it. Now Home Depot, Lowes, and other national or international chains provide the day to day supplies necessary to maintain a livable home. Since that type of home is in a fixed location, one can learn which companies do good roofing, plumbing, or lawn maintenance, for instance, in your neigbourhood.
But when you’re on the road like us, how do you know where to turn? It’s said that driving an RV is like putting your home through a 60 mph hurricane, tornado or earthquake every day! There are always small or large parts that need repair or replacement, and it’s nice to have the peace of mind that where you take your motorhome for parts and service will do a good job at a reasonable price.
Now I am not a negative Nellie (with apologies to all the great Nellies out there. LOL), and the tone that I’ve attempted to set for this blog is positive and encouraging, but the bloom has fallen so far off the rose with Camping World that I feel it bears comment.
For the past 10 years, the Camping World (CW) chain has been our “go to” outlet in the U.S. for motorhome parts and service. On all of our travels we have literally gone out of our way to shop there, noting locations that may be near our intended route, and rerouting to include a chance to stop and shop at a CW. As with any national chain or franchise, one develops an expectation for the shopping experience with that brand. Unlike smaller independent RV sales, parts, and service stores where – even if they have a flashy web site – it is difficult to predict the availability of good parts and service, we have expected a consistent, high standard at CW.
Unfortunately, we have had enough bad experiences with CW that we are questioning whether or not we should now find an alternative. While some CW stores have provided exceptionally good service, the number of stores where staff are unhelpful, and appear uncaring is now in the majority. Recounting the issues with CW would grow this post into a small book, so I will resist the urge to itemize all the small and large problems that we have encountered over the years.
The impetus for this post came from our experience since crossing back into the U.S. this month. The first CW we visited had no RV customer parking (we parked in an unmarked, undeveloped vacant lot beside the store) and didn’t have the basic plumbing parts we needed, referring us to an independent RV center up the road that had a large accessible parking lot, friendly staff, and the parts we needed. The second CW store, visited yesterday, also had no RV customer parking (a strange thing for a chain focused on serving RV customers!), but we didn’t realize that until we had pulled in. Every spot was taken by RVs for sale, so I had to disconnect our car, and back the motorhome out. The store looked busy, with service staff on the phone, on computers, or talking to each other, but no one apparently had time to serve customers. When I finally got someone’s attention, I was told that even the smallest service item couldn’t be addressed until the end of next month! They either didn’t carry the parts I was looking for, or the parts were not in stock. Finally, a helpful CW staff member printed off the name, address, and directions to an independent service center that might be able to help us. WOW.
Ok, now the good news! Yesterday we visited Major’s RV Service Center in Bourne, Massachusetts, and were blown away by the friendly staff and great service! The stark difference from CW was day and night. From the time we pulled up until we left, all staff we met were attentive, knowledgeable, efficient and effective in their provided assistance. Even though we were dropping in without an appointment (able to park in a huge lot with dedicated RV spots), staff took the time to listen to our issues, and had the necessary parts to complete the required service in a timely manner. David, Chris, and all the staff went out of their way to be helpful (one staff member offered to order in pizza or subs when I mentioned we hadn’t had lunch yet!) and got us back on the road to our current campsite, Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod, in short order.
On our overlandish odyssey to 48 states and 10 provinces, Betty & I know we will need regular repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to keep our motorhome rolling down the road. We have a trustworthy and reliable service centre back home at Stylings RV in Lockport, Manitoba. As previously noted, we got great service at Heidi’s RV in Hawkstone, Ontario, Sierra RV in Port Isabel, Texas, Quality RV repairs in Irishtown, New Brunswick, and Bluewater RV in Bridgeport, Nova Scotia. And now, if we are ever in Massachusetts again, we have Major’s RV in Bourne!
My hope and wish is that we can find (or develop) a network of trustworthy and reliable RV service centres across the continent that can provide an alternative to what we have come to expect from Camping World. Whether it is a competitive national brand (like Home Depot for ‘bricks & sticks’ homes) or a series of small independents (like the local community hardware stores back in the day) my dream is that full-timers like us, or weekend warriors, can have the peace of mind that their home on wheels will keep on rolling down the road.