When we bought our new RV it was for us a sizable expenditure. Such being the case we considered things we could do in order to protect it. A good polymer treatment for the paint was one thing. Another was a Progressive Industries 50 amp hard-wired electrical management system (EMS) in order to protect the electronics from, among other things, power surges, high and low voltages sometimes encountered at campgrounds. Progressive makes a number of EMS systems, some intended to hang on the power pedestal and some to be hard-wired into the RV.
Another measure of protection we purchased was a 50 amp voltage regulator, a Hughes Autoformer. This device can boost campground voltage when it falls dangerously low allowing you to safely use equipment that might otherwise be damaged by the low voltage. They also make a 30 amp model. [READ MORE…]
In my previous RV I only had 110 volt household current when I was plugged into shore power at a campground, when I ran my disturbingly noisy generator, or when I turned on my inverter to power the single, dedicated outlet I had installed along with it. This last method involved running extension cords from that outlet to other points inside (or outside) the RV where I wanted or needed household current–inconvenient and a tripping hazard.
Upon getting a new RV my plan had always been to have an inverter installed that would supply power to all of the RV’s existing 110 volt outlets so that power would be available throughout it without needing to run extension cords–a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that would also eliminate the hazard of tripping over extension cords.
When I started looking at all that was involved in wiring an inverter into the RV’s electrical system it soon became apparent to me that it was outside my wheelhouse of skills. So, I decided to have that done professionally later on, but until I could hire it done I was comfortable doing a more simple trip-over-the-extension-cord style hookup that would at least provide us with some AC until the professional installation could be performed. [READ MORE…]
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?
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In the first three parts of this article my energies were focused on providing readers with information about finding the best deal possible on a new vehicle, in particular when ordering one from the factory. Part One was on the basic principles. In Part Two I wrote about helpful web sites, collecting price information and going or not going to dealerships. Part Three addresses the right and wrong people to talk to–who to deal with and who will waste your time–and how to request a price bid. There are better and worse ways of doing these things and I gave voice to my thoughts about them.
Here in Part Four, the final installment of this article, I expand on my previous remarks about titles given to dealership personnel, I’ll have some things to say about the dealers with whom I interacted along the way, relating my experiences with each (negative and positive alike, mostly negative–surprise, surprise). I will also write about my final moments at the dealership where I made my purchase and how things almost fell apart, hoping that by doing so it will help equip you toward avoiding similar scenarios. For good measure I’ll toss in something counterintuitive about how financing may in some cases actually save you money, if handled properly. READ MORE…
The Right & Wrong Way to Find the Right & Wrong People
When it came time to chase down the dealer at which I would get the best price for the truck I was going to buy I soon learned how not to go about contacting dealers. Most if not all dealerships have some sort of Contact Us page on their web sites where you fill out an email form, field by field, entering your name, email address, sometimes phone number and finally your message. Do not do this! If you do you will find yourself bombarded by absolutely idiotic, automated replies that completely ignore what you’ve written, mindless salespeople trying to sell you whatever they have on the lot, or somebody that will say anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to come to their dealership. If you give them your phone number you will get phone calls from dealers who will press you and press you again and again to come down to their dealership because they know people they can get through their doors represent their best chance at making a sale with the largest profits. If you fill out those forms you will also find yourself subscribed to promotional mailing lists where dealers send you advertisement after advertisement about things in which you have absolutely no interest–you are going to get SPAMMED. [READ MORE…]
In Part One I wrote about retail (MSRP) and wholesale (invoice) pricing of automobiles. I pointed to hidden profit areas such as holdback that allow dealers to sell vehicles “below cost” and still make money. I also said that knowing the MSRP and invoice pricing really doesn’t matter because in the end the only thing that does matter is getting the lowest price for which a dealer is willing to sell the vehicle. Even so, if you are like me then it will be a matter of some comfort to know invoice prices for the base vehicle, options and packages. [READ MORE…]
If you’re like me, when it comes time to purchase a new vehicle you become filled with dread at the thought of being worked-over by a team of sophisticated, sleaze-ball sales reps in the offices of a car dealership. If you don’t experience that sense of panic, you should, because those guys can sell ice to an Eskimo while making him feel like they just saved his life.
In my recent quest for a new vehicle I have learned that, thanks to the Internet, if you handle things wisely you can get great price without leaving the comfort of your home, indeed without ever talking to a sales rep. Here is how I did it… (READ MORE)