Category Archives: Product Information

Good Sam. Bad Actor?

This is the reimbursement check I received from Good Sam in its original envelope showing a postmark date more than 2 weeks after I was told it was mailed. My address has been redacted.

This is a short saga (the oxymoron is intentional) of my recent experience with Good Sam Roadside Assistance.

I have Good Sam Roadside Assistance for my 5th wheel. Recently while backing my RV into my parking spot where I store the rig I got myself into a jam and couldn’t move forward or backward without a high probability of damaging my RV or the one next to mine. Don’t ask…

I called Good Sam for some suggestions or help. The agent I spoke with asked me some questions, one of which may have been key to deciding whether or not they would help me. He asked if there was any risk of damaging my vehicle or another and I said yes. After all, that is why I called them. When I answered that question I was thinking about towing it forward or backward with my pickup truck, not having it dragged sideways by a tow truck with a winch. I’m not used to thinking in those terms. Why would I be? I didn’t know that could be done.

I was told there was nothing they could do if there was risk to my vehicle or another. The conversation ended. Flustered and frustrated, dead in the water so to speak, blocking traffic at the storage facility, in desperation I called an independent tow company. A tow truck was dispatched and about 10 minutes after it arrived my RV had been dragged sideways, without risk of damage to neighboring vehicles and I was able to move again. I was handed a bill for $281.

After thinking about it over the next few days it seemed to me Good Sam should have dispatched a tow truck and handled this on their dime. After all, wasn’t that what I was paying them for? I called them and asked if the kind of tow operation used to rescue my rig (something called a “winch out” I learned by reading the invoice) was covered under my policy. I was told yes, it was and that the agent I spoke with on the night of the problem didn’t ask enough questions to properly determine the correct course of action.

I was informed I could file a request for reimbursement online and I did. After doing so an email arrived  on Nov. 28 saying I would hear from Good Sam in 5 days. I didn’t.

On Dec. 23 I called Good Sam to follow up on the situation. I was told that a reimbursement check had been mailed on Dec. 4 and that it could take 3 weeks to arrive. 3 weeks? I asked. Why would it take 3 weeks. I was told it was sent 4th class mail. What? How much money could they save sending a letter to me with something less than 1st class postage? How much is a stamp nowadays? 50¢?

I’d never heard of 4th class mail so I decided to do a little checking. What I found is that there is such a thing for items over 8 ounces, but not for a letter. Was the agent with whom I spoke misinformed? Lying to me?

The check arrived a couple days after I spoke with the agent and it was postmarked Dec. 22, not Dec. 4, although it was dated Dec. 4. It was sent first class mail not 4th class as I had been told.

I was originally denied service to which I was entitled. Had I not had the wherewithal to look further into the situation I would have been stuck with a bill for $281. How many people I wonder are told by Good Sam they aren’t covered for something when they should be and wind up paying out of their own pockets for something they shouldn’t have to?

Next, I was promised a response in 5 days which I didn’t get. After that I was misinformed about when my check had been sent and the mail service used.

In my estimation, nothing about my experience with Good Sam in this instance except for the eventual reimbursement went right–Good Sam fumbled the ball at every possible opportunity. That’s my opinion anyway. What do you think? Is Good Sam a bad actor?

Coming soon, a report of my DIY installation of an AIMS 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter.

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Nothing to Sneeze At

Parts of a so called non-refillable pepper mill
A so called, non-reusable pepper mill. Using some heat as described in the accompanying article I was able to easily disassemble the parts and refill. There are three parts to this one: the vessel or body (glass), the grinder core (black), and the grinder housing (white).

While pepper may make you sneeze, choosing whole peppercorns over pre-ground, paired with a good quality pepper mill is really nothing to sneeze at. Freshly ground pepper is preferable to pre-ground pepper bought in a tin because peppercorns contain volatile compounds that begin evaporating the moment peppercorns are ground and exposed to air. There are green peppercorns, black peppercorns, white peppercorns and more. How do you know which to choose? There are different pepper mills. Which are the best? Can you refill those “non-reusable” pepper mills from the spice isle in the markets? All this and more in today’s episode of Old Man in the Kitchen. […READ MORE]

The Eye of the Eagle

Immature black-crowned heron preening.
Immature black-crowned night heron preening.

One of my greatest joys while living full-time on the road in my RV was visiting America’s most beautiful natural places–Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, Zion and Canyonlands, Yosemite and Yellowstone, to name just a few. I can’t tell you how many times while doing so I wished I could have had a closer look at things in the distance–animals and scenic vistas, even the heavens. Some of the places I visited were recognized as International Dark Sky sites–places renowned for stargazing–and here too a close-up view would have come in real handy and enhanced the experience. If I could only see like an eagle! Read more…

Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster

Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster
Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster

The idea behind this product is to boost cell signals thereby improving your ability to both make cell calls and transfer data (Internet) in locations where it can otherwise be difficult or impossible to do so. I’ve used one of these for almost a year (as of April 2015) as I’ve traveled about the country in a motorhome. So, it’s from that vantage point my comments are issued.

At times my Mobile 4G has made all the difference: the difference between being able to make a cell call or not; the difference between being able to load a web page, send an email or not. By bolstering signal strength it can also reduce dropped calls, prevent dropped Internet connections as well speed up Internet downloads. Surprisingly, there have been occasions where it has been advantageous to avoid using the booster–more on that later–but in those situations you wouldn’t need it anyway, in my experience. READ MORE…

It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your solar charge controller is?

The solar panel portion of the GoPower GP-PSK-120 solar panel kit
The solar panel portion of the GoPower GP-PSK-120 solar panel kit

When I first set off on my See-the-USA-in-an-RV trip back in May of ’14 I brought with me a little, 120 watt portable solar panel kit with the idea it would generate a little electricity and cut down a little on how long each day I’d need to run my generator, and it has. As time has passed and my explorations into the scintillating world or sunshine and solar have progressed I’ve learned more and more about the whole solar thing. Learning about this sort of stuff is fun and has practical benefits, one of which led me to replace the controller on my solar panel kit and this has allowed me to go generator free for the most part since then. READ MORE…


There probably aren’t too many RVers that haven’t heard of the 50% off campground discount program known as Passport America (PA). If you haven’t, this post will serve as your introduction to this program which I believe is very worthwhile. If you’re already familiar with PA there may be a tidbit or two in this post that all save you money on other things you weren’t aware are part of the program. READ MORE…

User Report: GoPower GP-PSK-120 Portable Solar Panel

The solar panel portion of the GoPower GP-PSK-120 solar panel kit
The solar panel portion of the GoPower GP-PSK-120 solar panel kit

Unlike so many so-called product reviews which merely repeat manufacturer’s claims about the features, benefits and claimed performance of their products in an effort to get you to buy the product so that a commission may be earned, this is an actual User Report based on my personal experience with the product and the manufacturer.

In this report I will be writing about the GoPower 120 Watt portable solar panel kit, model GP-PSK-120. Originally I rated this product “Don’t Buy” but since then the product has changed and so has my approach to reviewing products. Realizing that a product may well suit the needs of one person but not those of another I think it makes more sense to simply describe my experience with it and let readers decide for themselves whether or not they would want to purchase.

As far as the GoPower GP-PSK-120 goes, my original rating was based in large measure to that which I regarded as failed tech support. The vagaries of human interactions makes this element of evaluating a product something of an inconsistent variable. Regardless of the product or company you might get great support during one phone call and terrible support during another call two minutes later. Product quality is less likely to vary as much, so it seems to me.

As to the quality of the GP-PSK-120, GoPower has changed the charge controller since I bought my kit. I have not tested the newer product but the manufacturer’s claim is that the new controller performs better than the old one. This could make a significant difference in performance of the product, upping it from what I originally believed to be fair or even poor to good or even better. READ MORE…