RV Buying Tips and Scams To Avoid - Part 2
Before you go running off to buy, read our other section on How To Buy A New Car & Avoid Scams. Nearly all the topics covered there apply to RVs as well. Read this section entirely. Whoever is asking the questions is in control of the conversation so you ask all the questions. First of all, tell the salesman you are not buying today no matter what. Even if they ask you "what can we do to make you buy today? Just name your price." Tell them even if it was free you would not take it today because you are going to shop around and no one is going to stop you. They can't argue with that.
They have a response to everything you say, so don't say too much. They'll tell you their prices are cheaper, they have the best safety record, they'll tell you anything to get you to sign and don't let that relaxed atmosphere fool you. Watch out for the turnover scam. They pass you from one salesman to another or the sales manager and wear you down. Remember you have the upper hand, you can just get up and leave. If they try to delay you, don't turn around, just keep walking. Don't let them separate you and your spouse and don't give them any valuable documentation that you'll have to try to get back from them to leave.
Since you can't determine how much the dealer paid for the RV like you can with cars, take your clue from one of our visitors. He helped his brother make buy a Damon Escaper double slider. The MSRP of this vehicle was $176,500, and the sales price was $131,000. You can see that at this level a 35% drop is possible. On coaches selling in the $100,000 range the discount should be 18%-25%. On lower priced units, you might try 10%-15%.
Don't ever let them negotiate by monthly payment. You should always negotiate by the selling price of the vehicle and ask them to outline all the ridiculous fees they expect you to pay like advertising fees, dealer prep, etc. You want to negotiate all those out of the picture before they even have a chance to put it on an invoice.
Don't let them pressure you into an immediate decision. Shop around and never buy the first time you go in.You have the right to know exactly what you are paying and exactly what the interest is in writing. Any RV dealer who keeps you from that does not get your money. The last thing in the world the salesman wants is for you to go elsewhere for a quote.
You must negotiate on all the options as well, and use the N.A.D.A. Consumer Recreational Vehicle Appraisal Guide to poke holes in their story when they try to tell you that your RV will hold its value. If any salesman ever tells you that an RV is a good investment, run, don't walk out of that dealership. Don't ever go back. Every vehicle loses value, usually 20% or more the first year. When negotiating for your they'll say "This one is the hottest one, it's in demand, everyone is paying full price." If there is even one in stock, then there is no demand.
If you're trying to negotiate buying a used one, here's a great tip. Be sure you have the N.A.D.A. Consumer Recreational Vehicle Appraisal Guide to lookup the market value of the one you are considering. Be sure to deduct for excess mileage and condition, as specified by the guide. Also ask the dealer for the maintenance records of the RV, you want to be sure the previous owner took good care of it. Be sure to run an AutoCheck Report your most powerful tool. It will can you thousands of dollars in losses and safety issues, and lots of emotional misery. .
There's a Lot More Options on RVs Than on Cars
You can add roof A/C's, generators, microwave ovens, refrigerator, water heater, TV satellite dish, levelers for keeping your RV level when parked, Slide outs to give extra room. There's also televisions and upgraded couches and chairs. You'll need a captain seat upfront, and eating area furniture. Twin beds, and queen beds. With all these options, and without your ability to verify dealer pricing they can pretty much charge what they like.
Tips For Buying Or Selling a Used RV & Avoiding Scams
People who decide they don't want their RV any more have a hard time selling it. Forget about getting a good offer for it from your local dealer. You'll get far less from them than it's worth. One salesman told us the dealer they worked for gave desperate sellers $30,000 to $40,000 less than they were worth. You'll always get much more money by selling it yourself. Many used car concepts apply to RVs as well. For further tips on selling used vehicles, we have an entire chapter devoted to it. Be sure to read our chapters How To Sell Your Used Vehicle, and also How To Buy A Used Vehicle.
You need to know if there are any problems with the vehicle. You must invest wisely and have an experienced RV mechanic perform an inspection or you could be buying a money trap that you'll lose even more on trying to dump later on.
Watch Out for the Rebate Scam!
Make sure any rebates are applied by subtracting off the purchase price. Never rely on a mail-in rebate of any type.
Don't Give them Your Drivers License or Social Security number!
You'll need it to break off negotiations and leave. Many dealers photocopy your license before a test drive. Tell them there is no reason for them to. They'll say insurance regulations require it. The attorney general says never let anyone copy your license. Some dealers copy your license "in case you rob the salesman and take off with the RV." If you put up enough resistance, they'll let it slide. If not, I have the perfect solution:
Make legible copies of your license and when they ask for it, hand them the copy, get it back when you leave. Write on the copy that the dealer may not run a credit check. Bottom line: Don't give up ANY personal info until you have a signed the buyer's order and are ready to pursue financing. Show them you have a valid license, and insurance, and that is sufficient.
RV Salesman Tricks Revealed: A Story from the Trenches
From the back office, our contact in the RV industry tells us a few stories from his RV dealership below that are very common. Salespeople were told to get the prospective buyer off the lot and into the sales manager's office using whatever "phrase" would work. A buyer is looking at a $60,000 recreational vehicle. There's no way he'll pay $60,000. The salesman says "What would you say if I could get it for you for $40,000? I know we're trying to clear some inventory and I heard the sales manager say he's willing to discount models to make room for new ones. What have you got to lose? You only want to spend $40,000 - if he doesn't come down to your price, you walk!" The sales manager leads the salesman in with a pre-arranged skit. "So Tom - what can we help these folks with?" he asks. "Well Mr. Manager, the customer only wants to spend $40,000. He wants the Winnebago but not for $60,000. I heard you say the other day that you'd like to move some of the models." An amused chuckle gurgles up from the sales manager's throat. "Oh, dear. You know Tom, in a few years you're going to make a good salesman but you should know better by now. You know we can't discount a vehicle like that by one third. We'd be out of business in a month!" (This routine, of course, has been previously worked out) "You know," grins the sales manager toward the customer, "We only keep Tom around because he's nice guy."" the buyer nods, feeling a little sorry for the salesman who is looking sheepish. "Well, I figured a discount of $20,000 would be too much," says the prospective buyer. The sales manager says, "To tell you the truth Jim, (he's learned the buyer's first name by now) I'm not sure how much we've got in that RV."
"So, let me look it up for you." He reaches behind him for the sales ledger and quickly locates the Winnebago page. "Uhuh, here it is. Let me see. We bought this in on a trade for $48,000 - oh, yeah. Now I remember this one. We took it in on a trade for a new Beaver and discounted the Beaver, hoping to make it up on the Winnebago." He shakes his head and continues, "Man plans and God laughs, right? Well, we can't win 'em all!" Leaning across the table and smiling like the wonderful, honest, genuine fellow he is, he offers the buyer a privileged look at the "company books." "Obviously, we don't let everyone look at our books but you can see for yourself in black and white." The buyer studies the ledger. Everything Mr. Manager said is true. The salespeople are told in sales meetings to keep quiet after being verbally "chastised" and let the sales manager work his magic.
As the buyer studies the figures, Mr. Manager says "However, Tom was right about one thing. I sure would like to move some inventory to make room for other models." He rechecks the ledger and tries to find a way of helping these good folks, "You're looking to pay $40,000 - I've bought this in at $48,000. Look, I'm going out on a limb here but if I can swing this with my boss for $50,000 - how does that sound? It's a little more than you wanted to pay but it'll help me out and save you a chunk of money. After all, what would you rather have? Something you love for a little extra or something you might be unhappy with? Y'know, that's a lot of coach for $50,000." Mr. Manager goes to see the boss. A few minutes later he returns with him. Smiling, the boss says to the buyer, "I don't know what you said to Mr. Manager, but you owe him a nice dinner!" Now having committed the buyer to the sale (how can he say 'no deal' now that Mr. Manager has gone to bat for him?) the boss makes a quick exit, saying to the salesman "Tom, I want to talk to you before you put me into bankruptcy." He takes Tom's arm and drags him outside. Of course, once outside Tom gets the fist in the air "Boy did we shaft them!" salute.
Common Sales Pitches To Look Out For
- "What's it going to take for me to get you into this vehicle today?"
- "Can I ask you folks something? My boss will want to know. I know you're not buying so where did I go wrong? I gave you a great deal and it's the vehicle you want so I must have done something wrong."
- Sales people always answer a negative with a positive. They never answer a negative with a negative. Customer: It's only a four cylinder. Salesman: Think of the gas savings!
Read our list of the Top 10 Car Dealer Scams for more of the common sales tactics used at car dealers.
We want to hear from you!
We want to hear all your comments good or bad, and tell us what you find when shopping for your RV. Please don't email me asking how much your's is worth or if you got a good deal on it. Remember the N.A.D.A. Consumer Recreational Vehicle Appraisal Guide where you can look up RV prices. If your's is not in the book, don't ask me, I sure as heck don't know. If you do buy an RV, Road Trip America is a useful site for RV owners.