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Forest River and Gillette RV Sales - poor quality
Posted on Saturday, August 6th, 2011 at 11:07am CDT by 8d7b3630
Product: Wildwood SE
Company: Not Available
My parents purchased at 2003 Forest River Wildwood SE Fifth Wheel camper from Gillette Interstate RV in East Lansing, Michigan. They did so after careful consideration and comparison to many other brands and types of RV????????s. This was their retirement dream; however, this camper quickly became, and still is, a retirement nightmare.
The salesman at Gillette sold them a credit life policy with my father listed as the primary and my mother listed as the co-owner of the vehicle. My father was 69 years old at the time the policy was sold. They were told that the policy would only cover him until age 70, but that it would also cover my mother after that time. At the same time, they were sold a Refund Addendum through Signet Financial Group for approximately $1800. This policy stated that if no repairs were turned in under the camper warranty for a specified period of time, the policy premium would be returned to them in full. The camper has had many repair issues since the first time it was taken on a trip. My father paid for every repair out of pocket under the assumption that he would eventually receive the refund from Signet. Unfortunately, Signet has now ceased to operate and no money will ever be returned. When my father passed away in February of 2011, my mother called to turn in the credit life policy claim, only to be told that the policy lapsed the day my father turned 70 years old, and that it never covered her as it only covered the oldest person on the policy.
Forest River is supposedly one of the higher end camper manufacturers. However, after doing a bit of research, I find that there are thousands of complaints on their products from dissatisfied customers, many whom have had the same complaints as my parents.
Issues with this fifth wheel camper since purchase include:
???? First time out ???????? register in bedroom was found to be broken, bathroom faucets leaked, and the exterior door was incorrectly adjusted causing it to not close properly
???? Second time out ???????? table leg was rusted, a poor seal around the antenna caused leaking into the bedroom ceiling
???? Covers on all four speakers are broken and popped off
???? Poor adhesive on the slide out boot, was attached with duct tape in spots
???? Bedroom register had still not been replaced by Gillette as promised
???? Hot water line under bathroom vanity was dripping. My father had to tighten himself while on vacation to avoid water damage.
???? Large rear window leaks very bad (as noted by service department at Gillette); water could not be mopped up fast enough. When taken back to Gillette for repair, window was reset but caused wrinkling of wall covering. At that time, my parents tried to tell Gillette????????s service department that the water was not coming from the window, but running down between the walls. Service department denied that water could be coming between walls.
???? The fresh water tank monitor was broken
???? Sofa springs were snapped ???????? when this was brought to the attention of Gillette, they stated that they had sent a service tech into other models of Forest River campers and that this was a normal occurrence
???? Left LP gas tank leaks; smell of LP gas throughout the unit; could only use the right tank
???? Sewer drain hose leaking; had to be replaced
???? Leak in bedroom ceiling, caused mattress to be soaked; this leak was reported but Gillette did not repair it
???? The large rear window was noted to shifting and moving again; Gillette again said that this was the source of the water damage to the walls and that it was not possible for water to be coming between the walls as there was no damage inside of the cabinets. The window was re-caulked or re-puttied, but with a very messy, unprofessional job. Putty is smeared all around the side of the camper. Appears that it was sloppily done with no effort at clean up. Gillette RV said that they could not repair the water damage to the walls unless they redid the entire interior, which in their words would be cost prohibitive.
???? Front left landing gear broke while on a trip last summer; had to be tied up with rope in order to bring the unit home. When taken to Gillette, my father was told to take the camper to Dennis Trailer Sales in Lansing, MI as Gillette didn????????t have room for it on their lot. This particular landing gear was no longer manufactured, and Dennis Trailer Sales had to order a different type.
???? Beading strip above rear window is broken
???? During a heavy rain this spring, water was seen running directly down the left rear corner between the walls; there is extensive water damage, trim popping loose, buckling of walls, and mold.
Last fall, my father was told that all leaks were repaired. He brought the camper home to be parked for the season believing that the repairs had been made. My father passed away in February of this year. When my mother went out to empty the camper and ready it for sale, she found the moldy, rotting mess of the walls caused by the rainwater between the walls. I have contacted Gillette Interstate RV and spoke with the general manager. He told me that ????????this is just a risk you take when buying an RV????????, said that these units regularly spring leaks from the roof or the corners unless all seals are replaced every year, told me that if his service department said that the leaks were repaired, that meant that the leaks were repaired. He also told me that in his many years in RV sales and service, this problem of leaking was quite common. He did not address the fact that the unit had been in repairs many times, at my father????????s expense, and told me that we should have reported the leaking corner last fall. Reporting it last fall was not an option as Gillette assured us that the leaks were made, no water was coming in through the walls. It was not noted to be leaking again until we were readying the camper to be sold. He hinted that perhaps my father did not perform the optimum maintenance on the unit and that he caused the leak himself, either by poor maintenance or running into a tree. This was NOT the case; my parents were very particular about their camper. In fact, my father died as a result of removing the snow from the roof of the unit. The general manager also told me that the best I could get from him was a discount on labor for all repairs, but that there had to be a dollar limit. He also stated that we were basically screwed. He had nothing to say for telling my father that Gillette didn????????t have room to repair the unit.
Forest River????????s mission statement is to help people enjoy outdoor activities to their fullest. In fact, Forest River's web site reads:
"In 1996, Forest River founder Peter Liegl had a vision. He foresaw an RV company dedicated to helping people experience the joy of the outdoors by building better recreational vehicles. Continually growing, Forest River operates multiple manufacturing facilities throughout the mid-west and west coast.
Our large production capacity enables us to fill our customers' orders promptly without cutting corners or rushing through production procedures. This ensures that each Forest River product is conscientiously built and undergoes thorough, detailed inspection before it's shipped to the customer. This ensures that every family who desires quality recreation will find a Forest River product that serves their needs, interests, budget, and lifestyle.
It is our mission to help all our customers enjoy their outdoor activities to the fullest."
However, it appears that corners are cut and production procedures are rushed through. If a thorough, detailed inspection was performed before shipping to customers, I don????????t believe that the thousands of complaints that can be found online would exist. According RV-Rating online, ratings from owners of the Wildwood, manufacturer and dealer support was surprisingly low. However, since Indiana Business Magazine reports that Forest River placed seventh on Indiana Business magazine????????s most recent ranking of the state's largest private companies and the largest Indiana based RV company, one would expect a better quality product, better support from the manufacturer, and better service from the dealers of Forest River products. I am quite sure that anyone working at a Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet's company) held company or any of its subsidiaries would not be happy with a product that is as defective as the Wildwood has proved to be. It is a shame that a business owned by one of the most successful entrepreneurs and operated by a very successful founder would put the average RV buyer through this type of a nightmare.
Consequently, my 71-year-old widowed mother who is living on a very small fixed income is saddled with a camper that will cost a small fortune to repair, still owes $9000 on, is unusable, and is not able to be sold in the deplorable condition it is in at this point. I have spoken with the attorney who is handling the estate for us and with Michigan????????s Attorney General????????s office. Both have told us that we need to address this matter with Gillette, Forest River, and Berkshire Hathaway before proceeding in any other manner.
I have taken photos to document the damage to this camper, but I doubt that Forest River, Berkshire Hathaway, or Gillette RV will act to correct this damage. She is now out of the credit life policy that they purchased in good faith to protect them from owing on a camper if one of them passed away, out of the money spent for the Warranty Refund Addendum, out of a usable camper, and now will either have to sell the camper at a loss or continue to pay for a ruined fifth wheel. The lack of answers that we can get regarding this whole RV fiasco leads me to believe that my parents were fooled by Gillette Interstate RV????????s salesman into buying a credit life insurance that they knew would not cover for the duration of the financing and the sale of a fraudulent warranty refund policy, which has had it's own share of complaints before and after ceasing operations.
I would like to know why Forest River does not stand behind it????????s products, why they would market their products through unsupportive dealerships, and what Forest River will do to rectify this situation.