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Old 03-31-2023, 03:10 PM   #1
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Question Did I Get Taken?

This is a LONG post, I apologize in advance. Grab a cup of coffee and an easy chair!

I’ve been fairly lucky, I haven’t had to pay for any RV repairs in about three years, outside regular maintenance, which I do most of myself.

The DW & I bought a new Grand Cherokee to tow behind our rig. There are two private RV repair shops in my town, but only one of them gets decent reviews. There is a CW about 45 minutes away however. I drove to CW and got a detailed quote on outfitting our GC for towing, including a Roadmaster base plate, braking hardware for my existing Brakemaster air brake system, brake light switch. seat bracket kit for air hose coupling and a universal wiring kit for the lights. The quote was $3438, which included all Roadmaster parts and the labor to install them.

I ultimately decided to give the local shop with decent reviews a shot, as I like to promote local business. The shop is run by a guy who use to only provide mobile service, but opened up a shop as his business grew. I figured this was a good sign. I had some problems contacting the shop by phone, as I always got a voicemail. I went by the shop personally and spoke to a lady in the office. I told her I would like to get a quote. She said I would have to speak to the owner, and gave me his phone number. I thought this was odd. I spoke with the owner, who said he couldn’t give me a solid quote without knowing what was involved. He said he has done this type of install before, but not on a GC. I should have at that point gone elsewhere, but I thought he has to be better than CW...right?

I bought the necessary Roadmaster hardware online and made an appointment for the install. I paid $1060 for the equipment. I dropped my GC and RV off on my appointment date. The owner was not in again, so I asked his office manager if he had a quote for me yet. She said she had no idea, but she would have him call me. When I arrived there, my RV’s electric entry step stopped working, so I asked them to look at that as well. I left the vehicles and waited for the owner to call. He eventually called, but would not give me a general quote. He said there was a lot of work involved. He did say the step should be an easy fix, but again no quote.

The following week, the shop completed the GC towing system install. I showed up, but the owner did not have an invoice for me yet. After waiting nearly two hours, he finally called me into his office. The labor ONLY to prep my GC for towing was $3009. He claimed it took his tech 19 hours to do the job. I about passed out, considering CW quoted me $1489 in labor for the same install. I have to admit though, they did a good clean install.

My RV step wasn’t ready however, as they were having a problem diagnosing the entry step’s power supply failure. They hung onto my RV for another week. I called several times to get a status update, but was given the same story - the owner is not here and we have no idea what’s going on with the repair. It wasn’t until I said, “button it back up, I will come and pick it up”, that I got the owner’s attention. The owner claims his tech could not find the cause of the power failure, so the owner had to do the job himself. He said the step’s 12V wire coming from the ignition had arced, blowing out the step’s control box and motor. The step was finally repaired two days later, at a cost of $1645... 6.5 hours in labor and $610 in parts.

When I got home, I found I could have bought an entire new step from eTrailer for $777. This of course did not include the 12V wiring from the ignition.

The shop I used does not accept credit cards, - cash or local check only. The owner sited a problem in which a customer filed a dispute with his credit card company, resulting in a loss to the shop.

So I come to the RV world - did I get used and abused, or is this normal for RV shops in this day and age?

Thanks for your input!
2005 Fleetwood Providence 39J
CAT C7 350, MP-8 Power Module

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Old 03-31-2023, 03:33 PM   #2
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The only thing I see is that you somewhat successfully beat out everybody's mark-up for parts. If they can't get you comin', they'll get you goin'.
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Old 03-31-2023, 04:34 PM   #3
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Camping World quote was very competitive to what I paid for my Blue Ox tow kit and RVi towed battery charger and brake system installed by my local dealer, which provided a quote prior to work performed. Only you can decided whether you got used and abused. If you are happy with the work by your local shop then do not worry about the extra cost.
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Old 03-31-2023, 04:54 PM   #4
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I installed my own base plates and wiring on two 2015 Grand Cherokees. One Summit and one Overland. The first took about 8 hours. The second 6 hours.

19 hours is ridiculous.
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Old 03-31-2023, 05:15 PM   #5
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I've done nine toad setups, six for me and three for friends. In order for a shop to make money, they can't do a custom installation. They pretty much need to slop things to together. I'm not talking about unsafe work, but they aren't going to make custom brackets for the umbilical connections or use plastic wiring protection the length of the wiring, be it the umbilical connections or wires to the lights.

Every toad that I've set up, I make a custom bracket for the connections, that can take an hour or in some cases, 3-4 hours (welded and custom fitted). I recently did a friend's new Jeep Wrangler and used the Mopar wiring harness, half the Jeep had to be disassembled to run the wiring.

My point......what you were charged depends on how custom of an installation was done. I guarantee that CW would have just slopped the thing together as they don't have highly qualified techs or the time to do a quality job. If the job that was done on yours was well done, then you paid an appropriate price. People often want the perfect install, but shop for the cheapest price.

I hate when I hear a shop replaced all the components, like they did with your step. That tells me they're diagnostic skills are lacking and they're just part replacers, versus mechanics.
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Old 03-31-2023, 05:42 PM   #6
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My opinion; you walked into that with eyes wide open, but didn't heed the warning signs.
2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG 11B5MX,Infantry retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA." My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy
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Old 03-31-2023, 06:50 PM   #7
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i think your warning was when they indicated he had never done a Grand Cherokee before. Sounds like they did a good job but had you pay for their on the job training.
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Old 03-31-2023, 07:05 PM   #8
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Never authorize anything without a firm quote, in writing. (text or email)
Lesson learned the hard way…. I guess.
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Old 04-01-2023, 08:16 AM   #9
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I got a quote from CW in 2010 when I bought my 2005 Jeep. This was for all the components including tow bar and brakemaster and labor for the install. At the time it was ~$6K, I ran away.

I decided to do it myself. I bought the base plate and installed my self. Took my time and took a good 8 hours, had to take the whole front facade off the Jeep. I ran a separte wiring harness front to back and installed turn/flasher bulbs in my rear lights. Brake lights work with the braking system. This took ~4 hours. I also installed a Brakemaster 9160 unit with brake away, this was another 8 hours. I was not in a hurry, only had ramps to put my Jeep up on so working on my back or knees most of the time.

If the work the shop did was acceptable I don't think you should complain, you agreed to have them do it without having a firm do not exceed quote. Open end quotes are just a mistake waiting to happen.
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Old 04-01-2023, 09:23 AM   #10
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What you got was: more experience for future dealings with repair shops.

I would trust my auto mechanic shop to do work without an estimate (although they almost always call me with one anyway) because I know and trust them based on past experience. Any other place... nope, I want an estimate in writing first.
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Old 04-01-2023, 02:09 PM   #11
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My first non Wrangler install was Demco base plates on a Cherokee Trail Hawk. It took me almost 5 hours start to finish using supplied instructions. The next weekend, I installed Roadmaster base plates on a friends Grand Cherokee. That too was close to 5 hours start to finish, again, using supplied instructions. Both installs included diodes and wiring. The Roadmaster base plate install on the Grand was not much different than Demco and both very much more involved than doing a Wrangler. At 19 hours labor, I'd say you paid for someones on the job training. Even Camping Worlds labor quote at almost $300/hour is excessive for a 5 hour job.
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Old 04-01-2023, 02:23 PM   #12
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Best advice I can give is to never let Camping World work on your RV.

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Old 04-01-2023, 02:25 PM   #13
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Paying a premium price for something that turns out well will look cheaper to you down the road than paying less for something that didn't turn out well. Or something like that.
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Old 04-01-2023, 02:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
My opinion; you walked into that with eyes wide open, but didn't heed the warning signs.
X's 2! And sorry it happened.... But, if the work was done well, that's a plus. As all to often these things happen, and then you have to go pay someone else to finish or fix the mess a shop that was not competent did...

Me? Sure, I've been 'taken' a few times over the years. Used to make a personal battle to 'make things right' or 'get even'. Now? Well I'll use social media to post my opinion about a place or a service - then I'll move on. Just not worth kicking myself over something I now can not undue...

Go have some fun,
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