RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

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jgalt133
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RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

My family recently rented a Winnebago Travato for a vacation from a small, local RV rental company. It was quite expensive, but we felt it was worth the cost given the area we would be traveling to is quite remote with minimal amenities. When we picked up the RV, there were already two problems known to the rental place (broken awning and broken sprayer for cleaning the toilet). We weren't thrilled about those things, but figured we could deal with them.

When we arrived at our first night's destination, we used the toilet in the RV for the first time and found out it was broken! It wouldn't even flush. We called the RV rental company who made some suggestions, but nothing worked. Eventually they said, "well, I guess you could just go without a toilet". This of course defeats the self-contained aspect of the RV (plus, my wife would not have been happy having to do her business in the woods). After manually emptying the toilet bowl by hand (with some cups, trash bags, and plenty of paper towels), I took a closer look and figured out that I could manually open/close the valve by reaching down (inside the bowl) to the bottom. Lovely, but I figured it was better than bailing on the trip so we continued on the road.

On the second day, we noticed an issue with the ignition. Sometimes the car would refuse to start. After some troubleshooting, we found that a variety of tricks (e.g., opening and closing the driver's side door, jiggling levers around the steering wheel, etc.) would get the car to suddenly recognize the key and start up. We called the RV rental place, but they didn't have a solution but said we could try to find someone to fix it if we could track someone down. Someone from the small town we were in (population of 22) happened to be a jack of all trades and came out to look at it. He was very thorough, but couldn't find any issues. He wasn't willing to open up the steering wheel column (which is where we suspect the problem lies) because he wasn't familiar enough with the layout of the RV and was worried about causing further damage.

After further testing, I found that adjusting the steering wheel position slightly made the problem disappear, so we decided to continue on our way but were very anxious about the ignition issue for the rest of the trip -- moreso because we were traveling through very remote areas without cell phone reception. The only reason we even continued was because we made sure we had a full water tank, plenty of food to last a week if needed, and we did have ways to get help if needed (even if it meant a long hike).

Fortunately, the ignition issue did not reappear until several days later when we were "back in civilization". By then, we were ready to just head home. There were also quite a few other issues that we decided not to worry about (e.g., we could not use the shower because the drain or pump did not work, there seemed to be no in-cab air filter since we kept breathing in road dust when driving, etc.).

While we still enjoyed the trip, it turned out to be far more stressful with more hassle than a normal trip would be. We would certainly not characterize the trip as a "vacation". Perhaps an "adventure"?

The owner offered us a token discount (i.e., one night's refund out of eight days) on our rental to compensate, but it struck me as inadequate considering the issues that we had to deal with (e.g., we lost two to three days worth of activities while waiting for call-backs from the RV rental place, trying to track down a repair company, etc.). We mentioned that we felt that the discount was inadequate given the condition of the rental and that we felt refunding two or three days was more appropriate. They said no because they have no way to guarantee that the RV will be in good condition and that there would be no malfunctions.

At this point, we are trying to decide whether it's worth pursuing the matter further. Right now we are inclined to drop it, leave a fair and honest review for the rental place, refuse to recommend them to friends and family (we are local), and never use them again. However, at the same time, we feel that they did not hold up their end of the bargain and showed no empathy. What would you do in a similar situation? Is it worth filing a complaint with some local, state or federal agency?
adamthesmythe
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by adamthesmythe »

jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:31 am They said no because they have no way to guarantee that the RV will be in good condition and that there would be no malfunctions.
Half of this makes sense.

I hear that dealing with malfunctions is part of the RV experience (and that failures are not uncommon).

Nevertheless delivering an RV without existing problems seems to me a required minimum.
quantAndHold
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by quantAndHold »

RV rental places are notorious for stuff like this. RV’s are prone to problems. Renters, because they don’t know what they’re doing, are very hard on them and often don’t report things they broke because they don’t want to get charged, and the rental places are only about half a step above used car lots.

Anyway, pretty much the only thing you can do is spam every review site with one star reviews. Lay out everything that happened, and what you were offered. This may cause the rental company to deal with you in exchange for removing your reviews, and then you can decide if you want to do that or leave the reviews up.

In the future, though. If you’re renting an RV. While you’re still in the lot, test every one of the RV’s systems. Make sure you know how to use everything. Make sure the toilet flushes and the shower works, and everything drains, the generator works and the AC puts out cool air. Show up with a list. It might take an hour to do this. You’ll still miss things, and you’ll likely find broken stuff on the road. But the second thing is rent from the least bad place on the review sites. They’re more likely to be responsive when something goes wrong.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Topic Author
jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

quantAndHold wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:25 am RV rental places are notorious for stuff like this. RV’s are prone to problems. Renters, because they don’t know what they’re doing, are very hard on them and often don’t report things they broke because they don’t want to get charged, and the rental places are only about half a step above used car lots.
They did mention that renters often don't tell them about issues. I get it. Many people are worried about not getting their security deposit back. However, I feel like some of these issues could have been caught on the lot (especially the broken toilet and shower not draining) doing a post-trip checklist where they test everything.
quantAndHold wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:25 am Anyway, pretty much the only thing you can do is spam every review site with one star reviews. Lay out everything that happened, and what you were offered. This may cause the rental company to deal with you in exchange for removing your reviews, and then you can decide if you want to do that or leave the reviews up.
We are certainly leaving a review. My wife and I already talked about whether we would remove the review if they offered us additional discount and decided against it. Any additional refund would be so small that we would not accept it. We feel it's more important that others be aware of potential issues dealing with the rental place. For us, it's not about the money. It's about the rental place not acknowledging the severity of these issues or seeming to care that their RV was not in better shape. The rental place goes to great lengths to say they are one of the best because they do their own maintenance (and is why we chose them over renting directly from someone in our neighborhood using Outdoorsy).
quantAndHold wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:25 am In the future, though. If you’re renting an RV. While you’re still in the lot, test every one of the RV’s systems. Make sure you know how to use everything. Make sure the toilet flushes and the shower works, and everything drains, the generator works and the AC puts out cool air. Show up with a list. It might take an hour to do this. You’ll still miss things, and you’ll likely find broken stuff on the road. But the second thing is rent from the least bad place on the review sites. They’re more likely to be responsive when something goes wrong.
I agree. It was definitely a learning experience. In the future, we will do a full pre-trip inspection before driving off the lot. We would not have caught the ignition issue then as it was intermittent in the beginning and progressively became worse during the trip, but all the other issues would have been detected before we were hours away from the lot.

I also plan to bring my toolkit with me next time. I suspect I could have fixed some of these issues (or patched them) if I had my toolkit with me.
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:22 am
jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:31 am They said no because they have no way to guarantee that the RV will be in good condition and that there would be no malfunctions.
Half of this makes sense.

I hear that dealing with malfunctions is part of the RV experience (and that failures are not uncommon).

Nevertheless delivering an RV without existing problems seems to me a required minimum.
Precisely. Not to mention, some problems are more serious than others. A RV that won't start in the middle of a federally-designated wilderness two hours from the nearest town of any size? A toilet that won't flush when you are boondocking? Those are pretty serious issues. Their response when we mentioned they did not appreciate the severity of the issue was that there's thousands of things that can go wrong in an RV. Sure, but again some issues are more problematic than others.
alex_686
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by alex_686 »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:22 am I hear that dealing with malfunctions is part of the RV experience (and that failures are not uncommon).
That is one of the reasons why when we bought our travel trailer we specifically got a very simple one without a bathroom.

I will note that the issues that you mentioned are common with RVs and can occur suddenly. These issues are much more common with rental RVs and they are not exactly maintained with care or love. And doubly common in this post COVID era. I do not think your situation being deep in wilderness is particularly harsh. As a old boy scout these are things that you just need to be prepared for. Their suggestions that you figure out the best local resource also makes sense. Doing this stuff remotely is darn hard.

In the future you now know to do a walkthrough of the critical systems before you drive off of the lot. I mean, was the toilet working before you left or did you break it? Not suggesting you did but you want to figure these things out beforehand. Once again, trying to troubleshoot these things remotely is hard.

I am being quite on the amount of your refund. No comment here.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.
ItzaHoot
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by ItzaHoot »

We had a similar problem with a rental years ago when the toilet didn't flush properly and we were boondocking in the Canadian "badlands". The rental company's advice was to bring it back (with them charging mileage both ways and us losing a couple of days vacation and they would TRY to find a substitute. With the aid of a flashlight and mirror, we finally found a mass of feminine products hung up on the wire in the flex hose in the system, a log of time with a clothes hanger, rubber gloves, and putting my hands in places you don't want to go, and I was able to clear the obstructions.

Since then we have rented several times and owned 2 rv's. I have two checklists my wife and I collaborated on to make sure we are fully provisioned for a trip, right down to salt, pepper, and garlic,nitrile gloves, cleaning supplies, etc. and that everything is working before leaving.

We also have checklists for travel, cruising, etc. Share them on Google drive so we can both edit them, keep them up to date, and they're always available.

My advice is to learn from the experience, create your own personalized checklists, go forth and enjoy life.
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galawdawg
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by galawdawg »

Sorry for your difficulties with the RV rental. As previously noted, recreational vehicles are generally NOT trouble-free/care-free vacation options. While the RV rental company should have done a pre-rental inspection, you also should have personally checked the function of all of the systems before you departed. If you didn't check these things (and it appears from a subsequent post that you did not), that is unfortunate and you obviously can understand now why checking them before you left would have been wise. I'm sure you would not have driven off in a rental RV without a working toilet, if that was important to you and your family.

The RV rental company offered to refund you one day (of eight days) or about fifteen (15%) percent. As I understand your post, the toilet would not flush, the shower drain didn't function properly and twice you had difficulty starting the vehicle but were able to start it after adjusting the steering wheel position. And some dust came in the vehicle while you were driving. You believe that a discount of two days (or three) would be more appropriate since you "lost two or three days of activities" (on your eight day rental) waiting for returned phone calls. In my opinion, the discount offered, while not generous, was certainly fair. While you mention on one hand that this was a "very expensive" rental, you characterized a nearly fifteen (15%) discount as "token" and stated that any additional discount would be "so small" that you wouldn't accept it. And you also mention that "it's not about the money." But you did request a refund for two or three days of the rental. So if it isn't about the money, what is this about? Would you be satisfied if the company simply sent you a sincere letter of apology but no refund?

Your belief that the company lacked "empathy" and didn't take these concerns "seriously" is not going to entitle you to any remedy or recourse. As far as other recourse, what does your rental agreement state (if anything) about the condition of the vehicle? What does it state about malfunctions or inoperable systems? What does it state about discounts, refunds or remedies? Is there a specific provision that was violated by the RV rental company? As far as filing a complaint with local, state or federal officials, what would be the purpose of that? Did the RV rental company violate some local, state or federal law or regulation? I think doing so would simply be a waste of time and energy.

Absent other information, I'm not sure that you have any remedy at this point other than leaving a negative review and telling others about your experience. You did mention that you enjoyed the trip but that it was more stressful than a "normal" trip would be. Have you taken a trip before in a short-term RV rental? What you experienced with your short-term RV rental is really not that unusual, unfortunately.
jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:31 am Right now we are inclined to drop it, leave a fair and honest review for the rental place, refuse to recommend them to friends and family (we are local), and never use them again.
I think that is the right approach. Chalk it up as an unexpected "adventure" and perhaps some lessons learned about short-term RV rentals...

Good luck with whatever you decide! :beer
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Watty
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by Watty »

I would just take the partial refund and get on with your life.

It could be a lot worse and they could have charged you for damage to the toilet and shower plumbing claiming that you had caused the problem by putting things down the drains that caused the problem.

When you picked it up you likely signed something saying that you had inspected the RV and would be responsible for any damage that was not noted in the paperwork.

If you ever rent again be sure to check out all the major systems when you pick it up.
tibbitts
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by tibbitts »

I would just drop it and leave whatever review you're inclined to. This is probably a common situation with RV rentals.
jerkstore
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jerkstore »

Having had a travel trailer for a few years, purchased new. I agree with the sentiment that "that's kinda how it goes." It takes a degree of self sufficiency and some adjusted expectations.

We did 1 week south and 3 weeks out west this year. It rarely feels like a vacation, but always like an adventure. I keep a tool box with items I know I'll need, and some I might need. I also have a few spare parts, for stuff that wears out and is easier to bring along than to shop for in a moment of need. I've spent some decent time on RV forums too, learning from other more experienced folks.

We (5 of us) tent camped for years before getting a trailer. And in many ways it was easier, just less comfortable. I keep the trailer in the driveway for a few days before we head out on a trip, so I can confirm all systems are working and ready before we depart.
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

galawdawg wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:26 am Sorry for your difficulties with the RV rental. As previously noted, recreational vehicles are generally NOT trouble-free/care-free vacation options. While the RV rental company should have done a pre-rental inspection, you also should have personally checked the function of all of the systems before you departed. If you didn't check these things (and it appears from a subsequent post that you did not), that is unfortunate and you obviously can understand now why checking them before you left would have been wise. I'm sure you would not have driven off in a rental RV without a working toilet, if that was important to you and your family.
Precisely. This was my first RV rental ever and it did not occur to me that it was necessary to check these things. Now I know.
The RV rental company offered to refund you one day (of eight days) or about fifteen (15%) percent.
It actually comes out to nine (9%) percent once you factor in taxes and fees (which were not reimbursed even in a prorated fashion). For me, anything 10% or less is a token discount.
But you did request a refund for two or three days of the rental. So if it isn't about the money, what is this about? Would you be satisfied if the company simply sent you a sincere letter of apology but no refund?
Actually, yes. In some ways, it was how they responded that rubbed me the wrong way more than any discount they offered (e.g., they initially suggested going without the toilet, then when I followed up with them after the trip they said I should expect some things to be broken and they can't guarantee everything will be in working order). If they had responded in a different tone and been somewhat apologetic (they were not apologetic at all), I would have moved on.
Absent other information, I'm not sure that you have any remedy at this point other than leaving a negative review and telling others about your experience. You did mention that you enjoyed the trip but that it was more stressful than a "normal" trip would be. Have you taken a trip before in a short-term RV rental? What you experienced with your short-term RV rental is really not that unusual, unfortunately.
Now I know. Thanks! :sharebeer
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

alex_686 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:01 am
adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:22 am I hear that dealing with malfunctions is part of the RV experience (and that failures are not uncommon).
In the future you now know to do a walkthrough of the critical systems before you drive off of the lot. I mean, was the toilet working before you left or did you break it? Not suggesting you did but you want to figure these things out beforehand. Once again, trying to troubleshoot these things remotely is hard.
Agreed. I should have checked the toilet in advance of the trip (when we used it for the first time, it was broken). In retrospect, when they demoed the toilet before we left, I recall feeling there was something odd about how it flushed (i.e., I did not see the flap open and a lot of water seemed to remain in the bowl afterwards), but they were so busy walking us through the operation of the RV that I forgot to revisit it at the end.
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

This has been a very illuminating discussion. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts! It's clear that my experience is not out of the norm and that in the future I should do a more careful walk-through of the RV to make sure everything is working.
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

Watty wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:43 am It could be a lot worse and they could have charged you for damage to the toilet and shower plumbing claiming that you had caused the problem by putting things down the drains that caused the problem.

When you picked it up you likely signed something saying that you had inspected the RV and would be responsible for any damage that was not noted in the paperwork.
Fair point, and I suspect that's why they didn't know about some of these issues in advance. Why tell them something's broken if you are worried about getting charged for it?

Strangely they did not make me sign anything. After I had left the lot, it occurred to me that they never did the usual "walk around" to check for dings, scratches etc. that a car rental company would normally have me do.
Parkinglotracer
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by Parkinglotracer »

jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 4:15 pm
Watty wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:43 am It could be a lot worse and they could have charged you for damage to the toilet and shower plumbing claiming that you had caused the problem by putting things down the drains that caused the problem.

When you picked it up you likely signed something saying that you had inspected the RV and would be responsible for any damage that was not noted in the paperwork.
Fair point, and I suspect that's why they didn't know about some of these issues in advance. Why tell them something's broken if you are worried about getting charged for it?

Strangely they did not make me sign anything. After I had left the lot, it occurred to me that they never did the usual "walk around" to check for dings, scratches etc. that a car rental company would normally have me do.
I would not be so nice. I’d protest charge with cc company and document problems. Maybe small claims court. An accurate review on line at a minimum.
mary1492
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by mary1492 »

Take their offer of the one day refund, chalk it up to experience and move on. If you pursue it further it is going to cost you time and potentially money with no guarantee of even getting the one day refund currently being offered.

Do you really want to hassle with this? Surely you have much better things to be doing with your time.

Again, take the one day refund, and move on.
DoubleComma
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by DoubleComma »

jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:43 am
adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:22 am
jgalt133 wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:31 am They said no because they have no way to guarantee that the RV will be in good condition and that there would be no malfunctions.
Half of this makes sense.

I hear that dealing with malfunctions is part of the RV experience (and that failures are not uncommon).

Nevertheless delivering an RV without existing problems seems to me a required minimum.
Precisely. Not to mention, some problems are more serious than others. A RV that won't start in the middle of a federally-designated wilderness two hours from the nearest town of any size? A toilet that won't flush when you are boondocking? Those are pretty serious issues. Their response when we mentioned they did not appreciate the severity of the issue was that there's thousands of things that can go wrong in an RV. Sure, but again some issues are more problematic than others.
As a former RV owner I can say all the things you reported are not unusual for RVs. There wasn’t a trip where I didn’t fix one thing or another.

After we sold our RV, we wanted to take one final trip with our RV group so we rented one. Worse experience ever. It’s one thing to own your own and have to perform DIY fixes, but it’s yours and you know everything about how it was taken care of. In our rental we experienced several issues I would never have on my own because I took care of our RV, renters by and large don’t. Not because they don’t want to, they don’t know how too.

I will never rent an RV again, it’s that simple. I always cringe when I hear folks hear suggest to people considering buying an RV to rent first. In my experience (N=1) the rental experience was nothing like owning.

You summed it it right by calling it more of an adventure than a vacation.

I’m not going to defend the owner of the business you used, they should provide better product that can make a great experience. That said, if you would have showed up and he said the unit wasn’t available because it required repairs you would have arguably been more upset. Second, It’s well understood RVs need TLC and maintenance all the time, and this is on privately owned units going out for 20-40 days a year. A rental unit is probably on the road 100 out of 120 days during the season … they just can’t take that wear.

Last, even before the current supply chain issues, getting RV parts was challenging with a lot of waiting. Even if the rental places wanted to fix everything, I doubt they could I a reasonable time.

If I was you, take the one night refund. Leave an accurate and fair review, not an emotionally charged hate post, but remember the thing your reviewing is the rental of a product that is of questionable quality to begin with.
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jgalt133
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by jgalt133 »

DoubleComma wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 7:37 pm I will never rent an RV again, it’s that simple. I always cringe when I hear folks hear suggest to people considering buying an RV to rent first. In my experience (N=1) the rental experience was nothing like owning.
I agree, but there can be some value to the rental experience. It may be as simple as learning that you need a different layout, bigger (or smaller) RV, or don't need or use a feature as much as you planned. For example, I learned that I don't like showering in the wet bath (even if it worked) and would just use the campground shower. That said, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the rental experience from the RV experience itself.

I know that if I eventually purchase one, it would be much better experience since I would be able to take good care of it and do my own maintenance (or at least take it in to be addressed if needed).

If I was you, take the one night refund. Leave an accurate and fair review, not an emotionally charged hate post, but remember the thing your reviewing is the rental of a product that is of questionable quality to begin with.
Agreed, that is my plan. Thank you!
tfunk
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Re: RV rental had many issues but company not sympathetic

Post by tfunk »

I am on the other side of this as I own a very nice Class C Diesel that we only use about 30 days per year. It is always tempting to sign up for one of these rental agencies we see at various times. This thread confirms my feeling that potential damage to systems is not worth the hassle or expense of my RV being damaged. I agree with the posts that explain that RV systems can be delicate and need to be handled with care. (Example: Us just raising the blinds without centering the hands resulted in a damaged blind). I could list many, many more. A renter with no RV experience will not know about this. Not their fault.
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