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?