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Old 05-05-2013, 11:20 AM   #1
Winnebago Owners Club
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Newmar/North Trail/Insurance Horror Story (Long)

What appears here is an article that appeared Sunday, May 5, 2013 in the Fort Myers News Press. While it's mostly word for word I've omitted some non-salient verbiage for shortness.

Virginia Wilson's new mobile home is ruined and the manufacturer and dealer refused to give her money back or replace the RV with another one. Her insurance company told her if it had been called when a manufacturer's defect 1st cause the vehicle to flood, it would have been written off as a total loss. But because Wilson took it back to North Trail RV in Fort Myers where she had bought the vehicle in September for $315,000, it was now a manufacturers warranty issue her insurance company said, and the battle to get her money back was now hers alone.

“I bought a top-of-the-line mobile home,” Wilson said of the 43 foot Newmar Ventana. “I thought it's reliable it will last. I saved every penny for 2 years to make the $80,000 down payment.”

The plumbing hadn't been hooked up correctly and after what she assumed was a minor leak, North Trail told her it would dry out. But on March 9, water began to pour into the vehicle. It was coming out of the walls. The tiles on the floor popped up, it had reached saturation point.

When North Trail remove the cabinets, it was clear the water had been seeping out for months allowing mold to grow and rotting the wood and particle board. Examination of the RV showed shoddy workmanship. As an example, a water bottle was found stuck among the pipes and electrical wires, something that could only happen at the factory.

I (the columnist) called North Trail RVs general manager twice, both times I was told his do not disturb light was on but I could leave a message. I did, but he didn't return my calls.

Carl Snyder in owner relations at Newmar Corp. sent this e-mail response to my request for an interview: “with respect to the warrantee issues raised by Ms. Wilson, Newmar has and is continuing to work with her in getting those resolved in a fair and reasonable manner, and as expediently as circumstances will permit.”

Wilson has been paying $800 every 2 weeks to pay the note on the motorhome and her bank told her it expects to be paid whether she has use of the RV or not. She was living in the mobile home and using it as transportation. In the nearly 2 months it's been at North Trail, she's had to move into a small apartment and lease a car. “This has ruined me financially,” she said. It is also made her sick. She has been battling what she thought was a sinus infection and severe headaches. It turns out that the RV was filled with mold from the water leak and that's what's making her sick.

Wilson may have some rights under Florida's lemon law but because this is a problem with living facilities, which are usually not covered, she's not sure. Wilson also filed complaints with regulators in Indiana, where Newmar is based, but she may also have to file a lawsuit against the company as did more than a dozen other Newmar owners who have been in court with the company in the last 5 years. Court records showed dozens of cases against Newmar in the last 15 years alleging defects ranging from plumbing and electrical problems to formaldehyde gassing. In one case an insurance company sued saying Newmar had installed a defective refrigerator that had been subjected to a recall. Within minutes of the refrigerator emitting a strange odor and explosive sound, the RV caught fire and was destroyed. At least 2 of the cases I read involved RVs purchased at North Trail.

With mobile homes costing more than the average house, it's too bad that there don't seem to be more protections for consumers. And this worries me because I think a lot of people are buying RVs to use as permanent and vacation homes. If you are considering doing that, here are 2 things that can be learned from Wilson's experience. The 1st is to call your insurance company like you would for any other damage vehicle before you take it in for repairs. And the 2nd thing is if you choose to be a full-time RVer make sure you have a backup plan.

End of article.

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Old 05-05-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
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Horror story is right!

The main thing in the story which caught my eye, was that she was using a 43' DP for "transportation". Interesting.


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Old 05-08-2013, 06:04 PM   #3
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I feel sorry for her troubles, but the press article goes out of its way to insinuate that some nefarious deed is afoot. Tries to make it sound as though she is being stiffed by Newmar, but we simply have no information on that score except that Newmar is working with her. It's hardly surprising that Newmar and the dealer don't want to discuss their - and her - business publicly.

Her insurance company is as much a villain as anybody. They have obviously washed their hands of the whole affair, even though they admit they would have paid.

Most RV manufacturers will (grudgingly, I'm sure) pay for motel expenses if you are stranded due to a warranteed defect. I've never heard of a case where they paid for alternate transport, though. Tough to make the case that she was driving a 43 footer to the grocery store or to work!
Gary Brinck
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:46 PM   #4
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Couple of thoughts. I think all manufacturing companies have been sued, at least Newmar is still in business to sue. Second, hard to believe her "mobile home" was leaking enough to have water to "pour out of the walls" for 5 months without her figuing out something was wrong.

I do feel sorry for her, if this happened as she says. Don't know about the "shoddy workmanship" either. If it was as wet as they say for 5 months, not sure any structure would look like it was built well.

Mostly, from what I see in the story, the dealership has more culpability since she did report to them a problem and they did not solve it.

Just my opinion.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:27 PM   #5
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I have to agree with Dan, how you could not see a leak in a MH. It had to leaked out some where. It is a sad situation for all party's , hope they get it resolved soon.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:36 PM   #6
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Here's the thread started 3 days ago on this story:
Not a good Newmar story....
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:54 PM   #7
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This thread is also in Newmar forum and I post this.
I am sure Newmar will do there best to rectify the situation.
The owner needs to rectify their situation also and do some learning of how things operate and be aware that it is a roweling house on wheels and things loosen up.
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:21 AM   #8
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Wow. What a story. I am most surprised by some people's attitudes though. Surely there are always at least 3 sides to every story and probably errors in the initial newspaper article too. Maybe there were errors in judgement made by a new owner as well. Who among us hasn't made those?

But holy wow something in excess of 300k sure seems high end to me no matter what badge it carries. Maybe it's because I'm just co-owner of a lowly class C. I respect loyalty to the brand you own but find some of the comments on the other forum to be distastfull. I hope a satisfactory resolution is found soon.

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