Patti’s Saga of an RV Rookie: “The RV Lot: Do’s and Don’ts of Paradise Not”

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February 8, 2011

Usery Park, Arizona

Photo Caption: Usery Park, Arizona

Last weekend we met with an RV sales rep who goaded me to the dark side.  I left there, harboring thoughts of someone’s imminent doom. You can bet it wasn’t mine.

 If you’re an upfront, ethical RV sales rep who visits your grandmother every Sunday, this blog isn’t about you.  But, just as there are mediocre teachers and lazy lawyers, there are RV salespeople whose ancestors cavorted with masked bandits; ours qualified. Allow me to share.

Why were we even on an RV lot? Why are we looking, yet again, at RV’s when we just bought a lovely Jayco travel trailer that we all love? Because it’s a travel trailer. We discovered Day 1 that while hitching, unhitching, and towing a trailer works for lots of folks, it’s not for us. Frankly, we lean to the lazy side. So, we’re checking out B+’s or C-‘s (short Class C’s): which puts us back on the lots.

 Here’s some do’s and don’ts we’ve learned from hanging out on RV lots. And for those of you who’ve “been there, done that” for years, I’d love to hear back from you. Woodall readers can benefit from your expertise. Here we go:


  • Don’t tell RV staff what you can spend on a monthly payment. Those in the know (not me) say unequivocally that buyers should discuss actual price only. Sales reps can juggle numbers so virtually any price will come in at your “monthly “ figure. The price doesn’t go down:  the interest just gets manipulated.
  • Don’t assume you and RV staff are using the same language. For instance, when we indicated the actual price we were willing to pay on a coach we liked, “he” grandly came down to our price;  but with all of our trades, large cash down, and other stuff, we still would have been paying the original sticker price. Thank God for smart husbands.
  • Don’t believe, “I guarantee you this coach will be gone before this show (day, weekend, etc.) is over, because you just don’t see a coach with these features at this price.” On principle, I called back three weeks later. Every single RV we had  looked at is still available as I write. Also, we looked at one RV three months ago and it’s still on the lot,  too!
  • Don’t assume every RV salesperson is out to have his/her way with you and steal your money. It’s just not true. I’m going to write a blog on what constitutes a good RV sales rep. They’re out there.


  • Do say immediately, “You seem like a nice guy, but I’m telling you right up front we’re not ready to share any financial or personal information today. However, we’d like to look at some RV’s and learn some things.” When we’ve said that, RV staff were respectful.  Disinterested, but grudgingly respectful, and we got to see RVs.
  • Do your homework. Search the internet. Take printouts of RV’s in your price range to the lots. We’re more rational at home and less dazzled by what we can’t afford. And the RV rep sees you’re not a complete fool.
  • Do get on chat forums like Open Road’s Forum link on Woodall’s home page

You can ask endless questions of people who know everything there is to know in the universe about buying and selling RVs. I wish my Rving maniac of a Dad were still alive. He would have so loved this RV chat world.

  • Do take a legal pad and pencil. I write down almost every word each salesrep says. They are a bit nerve wracked when I look at my notes and quote them, “Yes, but earlier you said…”
  • Do get your hackles up when you hear, “What would it take to get you in to this coach today?” That’s unquestionably high pressure sales and each sales rep has been trained to ask that.  I always answer, “About a million dollars cash. Really.’
  • Do appreciate RV sales reps are human beings; they’re warm-blooded mammals who bear their young alive and are covered with fur,  just like us.
  • Do buy a book (there are many) that tells you all about the negotiating process. I have several, but my favorite is The RVer’s Bible : Everything You Need to Know About Choosing, Using, & Enjoying Your RV” by Kim Baker and Sunny Baker . Check out Chapter 3, “Buying and Selling Your Dream Rig”.  The next chapter, “Financing, Insurance, and Warranties” is pretty darn good, too.

 Isn’t it all just a great adventure, friends?  I hope you write back. I’d love to hear about your RV lot daze!

Happy Tales,


Leave a Reply


  1. reinita

    Yes, of course. We have been very happy with the salesman, the unit and Camping World’s service. We bought from the CW of Northern Michigan in Houghton Lake.
    I should note that we are strong believers of supporting businesses with quality customer service. We’ve bought eight vehicles from one Dodge dealership in our town of Lansing, Michigan, over the years because they’ve treated us fairly. And we’ve certainly sent our share of other buyers their way.

  2. Patti Faustini

    Wow, Reinita! That’s quite a story! I hope your sales rep, and his boss, check the Woodall’s blogs to read your positive reviews. Is it ok if I use a couple of your quotes in my upcoming blog on “the good ones?”

    Happy Tales,


  3. reinita

    We had a really good experience at a Camping World in northern Michigan last summer. We only stopped to “look” at hybrid travel trailers on the way home from a weekend tent-camping trip where we got completely soaked. The salesman listened to us and pointed out some options that met our needs. He was friendly and helpful. He left us alone when we wanted to talk, and even let us use his office computer to look up comparable units. We found one about $1,000 cheaper and he matched the price.
    Better yet, he gave us his cell phone number and patiently answered our myriad of questions even after our purchase, as we were complete newbies.
    I only wish we’d spent some more time looking at other options because less than a year later, we’re wishing we’d bought a 5th wheeler, but our travel vehicle (which we had to upgrade to so we could pull the HTT) can’t pull the 5th wheeler we now wish we had.
    But we thoroughly enjoyed our experience and if we do end up buying a 5th wheeler will probably go back to the same salesman.

  4. Patti Faustini

    Hang in there Brenda; isn’t patience is soooooo difficult!? It sounds like things are coming together which is awesome.
    Happy Tales, Patti

  5. Gary & Brenda

    We are so close to being fulltime that is frustratingly exciting and exhausting at the same time. We have this house so empty that it is hillarious to us and so far have not sold or given anything that we miss. Most of what is left in the house has been spoken for, sold with a pick up at when the deal goes through or tagged for our storage unit. We have yet another open house for weekend after this one and getting lots of interested people emailing the realestate agent questions. So now we are just waiting for the phone call with the deals to come in.
    So I guess we are a step or two away from getting there. It is just the specific day that I would also like to know.

  6. Patti Faustini

    Great point, Butterbean. We DO like our little Jayco, and there IS no hurry..and you’re right…we CAN get along with it. I’m starting to think the real issue is figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives, disguised as a quandry about the best RV. Maybe the RV is just the symbol of options, changes, etc. Know what I mean? ps…what would you do differently if you had it to do over again?

    Happy Tales to you and yours, Patti

  7. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Patti,

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!!!!! I wondered how long y’all would be in that ‘camper’!!!! We looked for two years and made a good buy.. BUT I would do it differently IF I did it again!!! Look until you KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!!!!!!!!!! THEN HAVE IT CHECKED OUT BY A ‘TRUSTED’ RV MECHANIC !!!!! READ THE FORUMS
    (iRV2 & others, the owners forums of the brand, etc..) DON’T GET IN A ‘BIG’ RUSH TO BUY!!!! Use that
    travel trailer for a while, you CAN get along with it.. We have a 17′ WITH NO TABLE!!! IT WORKS!!!
    Good luck, Smooth roads & balmy breezes!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Patti Faustini

    Hi Brenda and Gary, thanks for writing! I love the phrase you wrote, “…took the time to answer our questions and show us around.”

    That seems to be what less than stellar RV reps don’t get! Before consumers will hand over thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, they might actually have questions and want to look the RV a lot!

    You sound good. Are you full timing yet?

    Happy Tales, Patti

  9. Gary & Brenda

    Sorry to hear that you have had such a bad experience buying your RV’s.
    We have purchased a 5th wheel in the past over the internet. There were many emails and phone calls back and forth between us and the dealership (we live in Manitoba the Rv was being sold in BC). All emails were answered immediately as well as lots of pictures and information, When Gary and our son made the trip to pick it up they even threw in a 5th wheel plate for free, there were phone calls and emails to ensure our happiness with the unit afterwards. We even recieved Christmas cards from them for 2 years afterwards the purchase.
    We now have a Class A motorhome and had the same kind of service. Our local dealership was awesome to deal with they had no problems giving us time to empty the 5th wheel unit and truck before the trade in and were terrific while waiting for all the financing to go through. We went through a few units before deciding on the one we purchased, they listened to what we said we wanted and didn’t like about the ones we were in first, and in no time at all they lead us to the one we bought. They followed up with us after the purchase and were very helpful through the whole process even before the sale was complete.
    There are larger dealerships in our area and we do not deal with them because we have gotten bad vibes or they have had no time to answer our questions, so we just don’t go back to them, but both of our purchase expiriences were with smaller dealerships that took the time to answer our question and show us around.

  10. Patti Faustini

    Hi Rick, Do you mind sharing why you’re moving up to a 5th wheel? Thanks for your comment, Rick, and let me know how this next nogotiation goes for you.

    Happy Tales,


  11. Patti Faustini

    Hi Jon del Pozo, and yes, it’s amazing. But, as you point out, what’s more amazing is that ineffective sales reps don’t seem to understand that WE have the money…wouldn’t you think they would want to make us happy, rather than be rude? I would like to hear back from an RV rep with a point of view of this. I’m thinking successful reps are those who understand who it is that actually makes the sale…the guy with the money. And that they would make more sales by being gracious than by being aggressive and caustic. I want to hear from “good” sales reps!

    Happy Tales, Patti

  12. All so true. We have been there and done that! We are getting ready to do it again – we have a B+/C- (2007 Winnebago Aspect 26A) and are going to be moving to a Bighorn 3055RL 5th wheel.

  13. Jon del Pozo

    Hi there Hoby,

    Isn’t it amazing what some salemen will do to make a commission? They fail to learn that we, the customer, who has the funds, will decide on what and when and not them. I’ve walked away from more than one sales lot, new and used vehicles, because they wanted personal information up front. It would seem like they just don’t get it. Keep the faith, there are those out there that are really into the customer and are willing to do whatever we need, within reason.

  14. Patti Faustini

    Hi Hoby, and thanks for your comment. Isn’t it amazing, what you experienced with that RV salesman?! What part of sales does he not get?

    I’m going to write a blog about what a good RV salesman looks like, at least from our point of view. And, the truth is, an RV rep that is considered “good : to a customer IS good, because that’s the rep we’ll buy from. He/She will make the sale!

    Happy Tales,


  15. Hoby

    Patti, I once had an RV salesman start with the pressure, and I said that I was not going to buy today, but was getting information about the products. He said, “let me know when you want to buy” and walked away; refusing to answer any questions about any of the units. Needless to say, we purchased from a different dealer when we were ready to buy.