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Old 06-17-2014, 08:57 PM   #1
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Camping World disappointment

In the past, Camping World has reliably had very competitive pricing on parts and supplies. We needed a new control module for our Atwood water heater for a trip from Everett, WA to Portland, OR. We drive by perhaps 20 RV stores on that route, but I ducked into the CW in Fife, WA to see if they had the module.

They did, but even with the Good Sam discount, it was $299 for a relatively simple electronics PC board. Our trip had already been delayed by 90 minutes and I was anxious to get to our destination before all the good paddock spaces were taken, so I bought the module and installed it in the CW parking lot. The gas burner came back on line (we only had 110v with the failed module) and we were back on I-5 heading to the race track.

$300 for a simple PC board nagged at me, so when I had a moment I Googled Atwood water heater control module. Adventure RV popped up with the same board, same manufacturer's part number, but less than $130.

I reached out to CW yesterday. Today I spoke with someone from the Fife store that offered, somewhat under duress, to adjust the price down to $259 - their wholesale cost. I have managed purchasing for various manufacturing companies for quite a few years and have a decent idea of PC board costs. I told the rep from the store that if that is their true wholesale cost, someone at CW is doing a terrible job sourcing parts. He offered to kick the issue up to the regional manager, but challenged me to find any brick and mortar store that could match their pricing. I made one call, to a local RV store with only two locations. Their RETAIL price was $264 and they had two in stock. Took me all of 7 minutes, and 5 of that was spent on hold while the parts guy took care of another customer. Who knows what price I might have gotten if I had called one of our larger regional RV mini chains.

The regional manager called and said that he had found the board for less than $200 online, so I directed him to Adventure RV's website where the module is less than $130. He thanked me for spotlighting what a terrible job CW is doing purchasing this part and told me that he would call the Fife store manager and authorize him to do better than adjusting the transaction to the CW wholesale cost of $259.

The Fife manager called, but only offered to adjust the price to $259. I told him I would get more satisfaction than a $40 credit through sharing my experience on social media.

I know that I should expect to pay more from a brick and mortar store that I can walk out of with the right part. I have no problem with that. But to pay 250% more? That is a ripoff.

If you have trusted CW for your RV parts and supplies without checking around, as I did in this instance, you should stop! They should have the purchasing power to buy that board for $60 (and part of me thinks maybe they do, but marked it up 500% to take advantage of folks with a failure during a trip).

There is one silver lining to this - our membership renewal is sitting on the desk right next to my keyboard. It will move to the shredder momentarily.

'04 National TropiCal T350
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'84 Royale RP-37 Sports 2000 or ~285 hp turbo Miata
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Old 06-17-2014, 09:34 PM   #2
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Your example is perhaps a reason the CW owner's TV show is called "The Profit" (or something like that), I don't watch it. If the renewal you plan to shred is for the CW "President's Club", I NEVER renew that in advance because they will let you renew at the register when you are stuck & having to buy something there, and can cover the cost with the "savings".

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Old 06-17-2014, 10:25 PM   #3
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Its not fair to price a retail establishment with a online one. They have virtually no overhead where the retail place has tons. If you want the part right now and be able to return it immediately if there is a problem use the retail place. If you want to wait and never know if the place will still be in business the next week if you have a problem, then buy the cheaper online one. There is a reason why it is called a "retail" establishment. I use both, just depends on how bad I want the part and if I'm willing to just eat it sometimes if there is a problem with it.
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:06 PM   #4
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I normally buy what I need online, unless of course I cannot wait for shipping. When I cannot wait, I pay the premium at CW. As with anything, if you don't need it right now and can wait for it to be shipped shop around, not sure why you are so unhappy, you chose to shop there and paid the premium for needing it right now. While I wish CW were more competitive pricing wise, no one is holding a gun to anyone and forcing them to shop there.
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:46 AM   #5
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89sandman must have missed the part of my post where I said I do expect to pay more at a "real" store. Anything under $200 would have been a non-issue, but $130 on-line vs. $300? Does a brick and mortar store need to mark a part up 500% to make a profit? No way.

I have a few decades of purchasing experience including circuit boards, and this one eyeballs out to about $30 to build and a first tier wholesale price of about $60. The CW regional manager agreed that they have the kind of clout to get the best possible pricing, and that they had done a terrible job procuring that part. He thanked me for pointing out their poor performance.

The people at the Fife store, on the other hand, insisted that the part has a $259 wholesale cost and that I would not be able to find any other source that would be competitive with their $299 club price. How they could maintain that in the face of $130 internet pricing is beyond me, but their arrogance was insulting. That is when this became an issue with me. As I posted earlier, it only took one phone call to a small, two location RV store here in the state with a RETAIL price just $4 higher than what CW was claiming as the wholesale price.

If I under-perform, I don't let it affect my clients. I try to recognize the problem and deal with it before it becomes their problem. If I don't figure it out until they point it out to me, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure they get the square deal they expect when dealing with me. I guess Camping World doesn't feel the same way about their customers.
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'84 Royale RP-37 Sports 2000 or ~285 hp turbo Miata
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Old 06-18-2014, 10:46 AM   #6
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Looks like someone at Camping World does care. Today I received an apology for the arrogance of the two guys at the Fife store, and a price adjustment down to what a proper brick and mortar store should be charging for this part.

I'm not quite ready to start taping the shreds of my membership renewal back together, but if I need something that they carry at a competitive price, I'll be back as a customer.
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'84 Royale RP-37 Sports 2000 or ~285 hp turbo Miata
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Old 06-18-2014, 11:39 AM   #7
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Sandy is right, you can't compare with online stores. Many of them don't even have the parts in stock. They are simply a middleman.
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Old 06-18-2014, 11:58 AM   #8
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I agree that online stores don't have the overhead of retail stores. However, that does not mean that they are free to price gouge just because they have the part right there. In fact there are times when they don't have a part in stock and tell you that the price is the same for them to order it. They are simply concerned with their bottom line. I don't shop there and I don't let them service my coach either.
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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Social media and forums like this don't allow the retailers to get a away with a lot these days, I'd imagine.

That being said, I know there is still price gouging in different areas of inventory, I see it between my local Kroger and Wal Mart stores almost all the time, in a different form and fashion, but still price gouging. For instance, I can go by my local Stop N Go (Valero) for a gallon of Oak Farms (premium in my book, tastes the best) milk for 3.99. I've never been to a local Wal Mart and the identical gallon is now up to 5.99. Wal Mart? Really? Unbelievable. But its just one of those little niche items that I've become aware of and it irritates me to no end.

That all has nothing to do with the OP, but has the same flavor. I know that Camping World in store will match their internet prices, unless it was something that had shipping charges, a bigger priced item or something like that, and even then if you have good folks that value you as a customer, they will try to do what they can to help you with the pricing.

Sounds like some good folks at CW did the right thing for you, which is a positive experience out of a negative one. Good for you.

I was thinking, could you have ordered the 130 replacement part and returned the CW board? But its resolved now so I guess its irrelevant at this point.

Thanks for sharing though! Always be on the lookout. I priced a new Dometic 9100 awning and found it almost 300 cheaper on line, but when I added the parts that weren't included that should have been, it was only 100 cheaper than CW sale price. BUT CW does charge shipping and the other online store did not, so it's kind of a wash. Since CW is installing it, I went ahead and went with CW and hope they will discount it some at the final settling up of my claim with the new roof.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:52 PM   #10
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The company to get almost any board for RV stuff is www.dinosaurelectronics.com their prices are great and they know their stuff. I have used them twice and they will the company I will go to again.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:56 PM   #11
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Post your concerns on rv.net . Since Good Sam/Camping World own that site, they may help you out.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:04 PM   #12
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I will say, online stores are driving the small business person OUT of business. It's all going to Amazon and such.

People complain about my prices, saying "I can buy it for $xx online or even Camping World." I tell them, "Yes you can. Go ahead, run me out of business."
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mbrandt1402 View Post
In the past, Camping World has reliably had very competitive pricing on parts and supplies.
How far back do you have to go for Camping World to be price competitive? In the eight years that I've been RVing CW has always been a rip off. High prices are the norm there.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:57 AM   #14
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You are right about that, although lately I have noticed their prices are getting more competitive but still are high.

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