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Old 09-17-2010, 02:39 PM   #1
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Berkshire and FR Warranty

We had the pleasure of checking out a new Berkshire 36 the other day, and really like it. We've had time since to review the Forest River company and the company's reputation for quality and warranty service. As a comparator, we're also looking at the Tiffin Phaeton/Allegro motor coaches. What has us very concerned is Forest River's philosophy that their independently owned dealers are NOT required to perform warranty service on coaches they've not sold:

"Our Dealers are as a rule, independently owned and operated businesses. Outside of those customers they personally sold products to, they are not contractually obligated to perform warranty service on Forest River products that were purchased elsewhere. There may be an occasion that you would be required to return to the point of purchase to satisfy warranty requirements"

That seems comparable to buying a Cadillac or Corvette (both of which we have recently done) and then while on a trip being told that we have to go back to the Cadillac/Corvette dealer where we bought it if there's a problem.

That's certainly not customer friendly in my humble opinion, particularly when motor coach travel could find us at any point in the United States, Canada or Mexico when a problem needing dealer support might occur. For an investment of this significance, I want to know that Forest River stands behind its products without question.

A similar concern is - what happens when we purchase a Berkshire then move to another state - do we still have to go back to the dealer from which we bought it, or will a closer dealer provide service? If so, that doesn't build confidence in Forest River's approach to customer support. Tiffin's reputation for customer friendly service is well known.

What we would like is to be convinced that the FR philosophy provides equally excellent service for the owner who is on the road. We live in a small town 200 miles from the nearest Forest River dealer in southwest Colorado. That alone makes it an expensive trip to go to a dealer for service.

When service has been needed on the road, has FR stepped up top ensure it's handled without hassle by any Forest River dealer or other authorized dealer? We'd think Warren Buffett would have it that way to maintain his reputation, especially with the name of his company on the front of the coach.

I understand that having independently owned "dealers" requires minimal capital investment on the part of Forest River - but at what price to reputation?

Comments please from FR owners? Can anyone comment on their experience with the Berkshire?
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:00 PM   #2
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we purchased our georgrtown (also a fr product) from a dlr 10 miles away .to me location out weighed the price . im sure if i brokdeown on the road i woud be taken care of by any fr dealer. but put your self in the dealers place 10-20 million in inventory' read some of the minor complaints you see on these forums and.ask your self if you want the aggrevation of piddilly warranty tweaks when some one else made the bux .its relationalship marketing .if im in fl and sell aguy in pa a mh ill never see him again i got his money and sent him down the road of course i can sell him for less
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:44 PM   #3
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I've always been told that there is more money to be made in service than in sales. It makes sense to me. Selling the vehicle is a rare occasion but we all know service on these babies is never ending. The dealerships are compensated by the manufacturer for warranty issues the same amount whether they sold the vehicle or not. If a dealer earns your business by doing good work, under warranty or not, you're going to keep going back there, aren't you? Even after the warranty expires.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:27 PM   #4
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The DW and I have been seriously looking at a G/Twn 373 and I have the same reservations about Forest River warranty. I have not read one with all the fine print but there are many federal and state laws that regulate warranty by the OEM. A corporate policy that says the local dealer is under no obligation to repair those items covered under FR warranty is troubling but it may not allow the OEM to demand that a purchaser return to the factory either. Our local dealer is advertising 8% off full MSRP on a 373. When and if we decide to actually purchase a FR product we will give that dealer a chance to sell it but there are too many MH's around that are just as good and maybe even superior at a competitive price. Buffet does not need the money so I guess his dealers also subscribe that they only need the sale if they make a huge profit on the front end. Good luck to them with that philosophy in the long run.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:05 AM   #5
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Having tried to contact FR to pose my question and concerns, I received a note back saying that the email I sent them was deleted without being read. That tells me all I need to know about Forest River and their warranty. I'm moving on to a different manufacturer....Tiffin.
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:11 PM   #6
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For me you make a good choice
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:36 PM   #7
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Before you go too far down the road of thinking that there is a huge difference between the Tiffin and anyone else you may want to perform a little more research. We looked heavily at the Tiffin and the Berkshire before we went with the Berkshire. We shied away from the Tiffin because the two Tiffin dealers we tried to deal with were brutal in tactics and their reputation on service was equally as bad. Dealers make money on warranty service as well as on sales. Would a dealer put their own customers before someone who bought elsewhere? I think that would be a reasonable approach, but if you research your forums you will find that Tiffin dealers do this as well as the dealers of other brands.

One of the big draws of a Tiffin is the service that the owners get from the Red Bay plant where the rigs are made. What that means is that the local dealer can't or won't fix the problems the owners have with their rigs and they end up having to truck down to Red Bay, Alabama for proper repairs. If you happen to be close to Red Bay then that may not be an issue for you, but I'm over 1000 miles from there and I sure as heck don't have either the time or the inclination to truck down there every time I have an issue.

Every board I have been on seems to be filled with people who are firmly convinced that the dealer they bought their unit from couldn't service a tricycle without screwing it up. From my own experience Forest River is no worse than anyone else in this regard. I just had my rig winterized at a Coachmen dealer who only sells trailers. Whenever I have had an issue with the dealer I have contacted Forest River and they have made every effort to make everything right. I think that is all anyone can ask for from a manufacturer.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:10 AM   #8
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Although I appreciate your comments, the fact that FR deleted my email asking the question without reading it simply tells me all I wish to know. Tiffin has responded to each and every email question I've posed to them. That tells me a lot about the company.
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Old 10-22-2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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I understand your reasoning and wish you luck in your search. We have been happy with our Berkshire and know there are many others who are also happy with theirs, as there are many who are happy with the Tiffins. It's always fun to check out the different rigs and try to determine what makes the most sense for each of our particular situations.

Enjoy, and many happy and safe travels to you.
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Old 10-23-2010, 05:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnytaxman View Post
Before you go too far down the road of thinking that there is a huge difference between the Tiffin and anyone else you may want to perform a little more research. We looked heavily at the Tiffin and the Berkshire before we went with the Berkshire. We shied away from the Tiffin because the two Tiffin dealers we tried to deal with were brutal in tactics and their reputation on service was equally as bad. Dealers make money on warranty service as well as on sales. Would a dealer put their own customers before someone who bought elsewhere? I think that would be a reasonable approach, but if you research your forums you will find that Tiffin dealers do this as well as the dealers of other brands.

One of the big draws of a Tiffin is the service that the owners get from the Red Bay plant where the rigs are made. What that means is that the local dealer can't or won't fix the problems the owners have with their rigs and they end up having to truck down to Red Bay, Alabama for proper repairs. If you happen to be close to Red Bay then that may not be an issue for you, but I'm over 1000 miles from there and I sure as heck don't have either the time or the inclination to truck down there every time I have an issue.

Every board I have been on seems to be filled with people who are firmly convinced that the dealer they bought their unit from couldn't service a tricycle without screwing it up. From my own experience Forest River is no worse than anyone else in this regard. I just had my rig winterized at a Coachmen dealer who only sells trailers. Whenever I have had an issue with the dealer I have contacted Forest River and they have made every effort to make everything right. I think that is all anyone can ask for from a manufacturer.
I am in the middle of that same issue, trying to order a Tiffin. The dealers are terrible! I guess they think they are going to make up the difference from the losses of previous years. I have walked away from one who has exactly what I want on the lot and I am getting ready to walk from my local dealer who will have to order.

It is really starting to tick me off and Turn Me Off from getting a Tiffin all together.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:35 PM   #11
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I really wish I knew what there is about some Tiffin dealers that make them think there are no other rigs on the highway. One dealer pulls the "make me an offer" game. So I made him an offer which he said was an insult, so I told him to counter with a less insulting offer. He never did. Second dealer gave me a trade number back in November which was reasonable. I contacted him in February and he jacked up his trade price by $19,000. Now I could understand an increase and I could have taken the hit for an extra thousand or two, but not close to 20. Bye, Bye Tiffin at that point. I have no doubt that the Tiffin is a good rig, but it's not going to get me to pay an extra $20,000 to some arrogant jack rabbit just so that I can say I have a Tiffin. We have been happy with the Berkshire and have no regrets with our decision.
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:17 PM   #12
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Well I stuck to my guns and started a broader search. I guess if you want something you will find it and find it on your terms.
I have found (so far) a dealer in Florida (Rivers RV) who has shown me they are interested in me as a client and so far have treated me very well. I have placed my order and we will see what happens when the motorhome comes in. I even thanked them for finalizing the negotiation with respect towards me. Can’t stand the underhanded used car lot salesmen tactics.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:21 AM   #13
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Congrats Explorer on your order. I hope you enjoy your new purchase. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:56 PM   #14
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Does Forest River offer a factory service center???
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