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Old 05-31-2005, 05:33 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Help... Please!

Hello AS friends,

Please help me find a way to get some extra help from AS warranty service!

I just purchased our 2004 16 CCD last fall. We've only had it out a few times and pulled it maybe a total of 1000 miles (not counting the trip home).

First, last fall only weeks after we purchased the trailer I found the underside was extremely corroded and rusted directly under the axle. One of our local RV deals (we don't have an AS dealer close) could not believe the trailer was brand new. After battling the corporate world at AS I finally got them to get the problem fixed in town by a local dealer. Once the repair shop got underneith, they found even more corrosion and a bigger job than anticipated.

This spring I pulled the trailer 3 hours to a local service center and left it for a week of smaller repairs (water leak in the shower, stabilzer jacks that would not work, etc, etc) and drove back down to pick it up.

Now, after the first actual camping trip of the season my wife and I opened the AS on the way home to find that the back storage compartment had fallen from the ceiling directly to the bed. You can bet this was alarming! Not but a few hours before we had been sleeping where the 60-70 pound piece of furniture now sat. During the fall the cabinet also placed a 5-6" crease in the inner shell above the bed.

With only 2 weeks before a major trip is planned (one that involves work and I was really counting on the Airstream) I am told I must find a way to get the unit back to Omaha and leave it for repair. Jim in Customer Service would not even consider a local repair or helping provide for transport to Omaha. I just do not have a 2 free days to drive the camper to Omaha and I don't know what to do!

I can not tell you how frustrated or disillusioned I am with my new AS right now! It is costing me more $$$ and time to have it fixed than to actually enjoy camping. On top of this, I now wonder how safe we are when sleeping or eating under the hanging cabinets? After all this, AS seems to be unconcerned with the repeated defects and time it takes me to get everyone straight.

Do you have any hits for dealing with this situation or folks you talked to at Airstream that are helpful? My wife and I really went "out on a limb" for this expensive camper because we thought the build quality and life-long durability touted by Airstream would be worth it. I hate to say it, but at this point I feel a trailer half the price and purchased locally would have made for a less stressful and more rewarding way to spend time relaxing.

I appreciate any advice you can give.
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Old 05-31-2005, 06:21 PM   #2
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What dealer did you buy it from. Does the lemon law apply to trailers in the state you bought it? People who buy "broken in" units seem to have a better experience than some who buy new. Like your unit in 3 or 4 years after all the problems are worked out will be great for someone because you fixed them all. If you do a search for "quality" you will find others with problems and prehaps suggested tactic.
Of course they want their service center to fit it. You won't expect BWM to pay Joe at the gas station to make warranty repairs.
I'm getting the impression people don't really check out the units before accepting them.
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Old 06-01-2005, 05:01 AM   #3
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I'm sorry to hear of your problems. I couldn't agree with your statement more that "AS seems to be unconcerned with the repeated defects and time it takes me to get everyone straight".

You might wish to call Dave Schumann at Airstream and speak to him about your problems -he's the Warranty and Parts Director, and I believe may be the boss of the Jim that you spoke to. He may or may not be sympathetic and helpful.

In my experience, Airstream does not build a quality product, nor are they very customer service oriented, so good luck! I owned a couple of good quality trailers before I bought my Airstream last year, that had good customer service who would let you take your trailer to another dealer for repairs when you were out of their dealers' areas, but I'm not so sure about Airstream's willingness to do this. Plus, some of the Airstream dealers are pretty unreliable as far as quality service.

Last year when I bought my new Airstream - which had so many problems it should never have left the plant - they DEMANDED that I bring it back to Jackson Center, OH at MY OWN EXPENSE if I wanted the vinyl floor replaced, which had several punctures, burn marks, etc. in it when I bought it new. (Schumann said he would pay for one way transportation but I had to transport it the other way - about the same distance for me as you'd have to Omaha.)

Also, my experience with the service at 2 Airstream dealers last year showed that both of them were highly undesirable. So if you have to take it to Omaha, make sure they offer reliable service beforehand. The one dealer I took my trailer to in MT last summer for service (Bretz RV in Missoula) actually caused many more problems to my trailer than they repaired.

It is unfortunate that many Airstream owners seem to be quite content to buy crappy products from Airstream and then fix them afterward. This attitude only perpetuates Airstream's willingness to produce units like you and I bought.

One of the rear bedroom window valences in my trailer fell down before I took my new trailer off the dealer's lot when I bought it last year -- the dealer gave my a couple screws so I could fix it myself! Although that was not nearly as serious as your problem, I could readily see that my valence was hardly secured at all - a really poor, cheap and not very intelligent design by Airstream. That's not meant to imply that your storage compartment was poorly designed - you may have put too much weight in it. ?? I also know that SD roads compete with PA (my home state) for having some of the roughest roads in the US.

Also, many of us have showers that leak - again, at least in my case, my shower door is very poorly designed by Airstream and is intended to insure that the shower will leak into perpetuity. The shower door on my unit was also incorrectly assembled at the factory, as well as not being caulked properly.

Let us know how you make out - good luck!

John
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Old 06-01-2005, 06:00 AM   #4
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Wink Make Sweet Lemonade

My condolences.
Sounds like rotten luck. But if you are dilligent all you should lose is some of your valuable time. And you likely will still have a whale of a fine trailer.
It appears you bought the unit in Nebraska. I guess you'd have to check that state's Lemon Laws and I would do so just for leverage or a fallback if all else fails.

My advice would be to not panic. You are not alone if what I have often read is the truth. But it is going to take some patience. I doubt that you'll be made really happy in the 2 weeks period before scheduled trip.
IMHO these (new) things are highly overated in craftsmanship. But they still are superb in design and appeal (to include resale values). Once you get the bugs out the AS things are often a dream to own and pull.
Obviously there are many of us devotees to them. But I don't think anything about RVing (any brand) is near "Plug & Play" simplicity yet, nor will ever be.

I would ask a moderator to change the name of this thread for you to Sour New Airstream Lemons. And I would be politely relentless in posting details of your progress (or lack thereof) in seeking relief. I would also join and do the same on the other 4 Airstream forums (including the VAL vintage Forum if they'd allow) and especially the factory forum.
The under-rust could easily be results of road salting, I cant imagine any ocean front xposure on way from Ohio to Nebraska .

What did you have in that storage locker anyway?

We all have our own tolerance levels for snafus, I think anyone with low to medium level should probably stay away from RVing all together, but I know that if you don't get the bad taste out of your mind early you'll never be content. So relax (easy for me to say, I know) and concentrate on the positive. It can be fixed, I think it Will be fixed, and worst case, there is a strong resale market for it.

Flicka
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Old 06-01-2005, 06:13 AM   #5
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Though I'd agree that there are all kinds of dealers, some bad, some good, the type of issue you are having I'd only feel comfortable with a good Airstream trained dealer to fix. I feel your pain when it comes to the issues you are having, but on the other side of the coin, my exp with Jim and the rest of the folks at Airstream has been positive. Not sure what the answer is for you in your case, but given that you have inside sheet metal damage and a downed roof locker, I'm not sure if it were my unit, I want any service person dealing with those types of issues....and if a dealer is not really good, then I'd also have reservations about bringing the coach to that dealer as well.

In addition, I know there are some build issues with Airstream. I know that things have gotten better (I've watched the QC issues for the past 3 model years and owned a 2003 and now a 2004), though there are some units that do have more issues than others, it's hard to say that some (not all) of these things don't happen in transit from the factory to the final point of sale. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make excuses for Airstream, but in an industry that currently is plagued with issues, Airstream typically has been above the curve. We looked at hundreds of units before buying our Airstreams and although I don't have any direct exp with another brand recently, given what I saw in some of the new units we looked at before getting an Airstream, I wouldn't be shocked to find similar or worse than what's being seen in a handful of Airstreams.

My suggestion, though not the most conv solution is to find a good dealer within 5 hours of you and plan it into a trip of some sort and get it taken care of. I know Iowa has Ace Fogdall whom several folks say is a top notch dealership, and they have a new facility. Folks here may know of others closer to you that are also good, but I totally agree, an Airstream Service Center needs to repair this issue. I also agree that once you get some of the issues fixed, you're gonna be in great shape.
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Old 06-01-2005, 08:52 AM   #6
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Generally, RVs are not covered by state lemon laws. They are covered, however, by federal law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act). However, if they are willing to provide "reasonable" reparation, it may not be covered. Part of this would include if you had to return the item multiple times for the same repair. It does sound like they are correctly addressing your problems as they are identified, although not at your convenience (I don't believe they have to make it convenient, but I'm not sure). Also, I have read that Magnuson-Moss can be invalidated if you have purchased an extended warrantee.

You would have to hire an attorney to really work out if this would be actionable. However, that's going to cost you a couple of $ thousands. I suspect that Airstream has (like probably all businesses in this field) worked out what the minimum they have to provide in follow up support and provide it in the least accomodating way legal, in order to keep down costs. It may not be what we'd like, but its reflective of the legal environment we've established for them.

Keep at them for every problem. It's your right, though it may require sacrifice on your part. As they say, squeaky wheels get the grease.

Mary
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Old 06-01-2005, 09:33 AM   #7
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Thanks to all who have responded. I agree, it seems Airstream is producing a product that does not stand up to their name or heritage. I suppose my AS will be a wonderful camper for decades once I get the bugs worked out. I guess though, this has really changed the "image" of AS in my mind. Although I'm not planning to sell my unit yet, I certainly will NOT be recommending Airstream to those who I talk with. At one point I thought it'd be a good idea to keep some brochures in my camper for the times when people stop by wanting to check the AS out. We don't have too many in this part of the country, especially the newer models. Now I'm more apt to tell folks NOT to buy as mine has been a royal pain in the you know what!

I read a question about what I stored in the rear cabinet... we had mostly clothing and a couple of books. REally nothing heavy at all.

I am supposed to get a call from the Omaha dealer today regarding repairs. I'll let you know what happens. The sad thing about this entire ordeal... Airstream now has a new "member of the family" so frustrated I'm telling others not to buy an AS! To me, word of mouth from one's own customers is the best or worst kind of advertisng a company can ask for. In this case, AS is getting some bad reviews and I can't help but think down the road they will suffer unless: A) they starting buiding a better product and B) they take care of unsatisfied customers better.
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Old 06-01-2005, 09:46 AM   #8
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I guess it all boils down to this. They are working with you. Though Airstream uses the same water heaters, furnaces, water pumps, etc, it is a specialty product. Now I am not saying that because it's a specialty product that it should not be held to the fire on issues found, but what I am saying is that I agree that there is some level of discomfort with the fact that in most cases service is not on every corner like a typical Ford (that needs it too ). Fact is that you and I bought the Ferrari of RVs. Even Ferrari has QC issues and heavy maint that only a handful of folks should ever try to do and service is NOT on every corner like Ford or some of the others. So we buy these knowing that we either can get support from the company directly, we get support via the dealer network or we bite the bullet and go to Jackson Center. I did the 3rd option and was very satisfied that they took care of all issues and in most cases exceeded my expectations.

I would work with them first and start talking lawyers last. I think in most cases you'll find the satisfaction you want, it just might take some time and some extra effort on your part to get the Ferrari running on all 12. I know some might not agree, I'm just sharing my direct exp after having gone through the whole process.

In regard to thinking that some of the older builds were better, let me tell you, that is only half true in my book. I mean there was rear end seperation in the 70s, exterior finish issues on pre-1999 units, and several other things. Bottom line, I understand how you feel, but I think once you have the bugs worked out (and I will admit your issue is a bit more than most) you'll be very happy with the unit. It might be a bit premature to take the public view at this early stage of the game.

My only other suggestion would be to be careful on the dealer that does the actual service. Make sure folks get you some input on their service dept.
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Old 06-01-2005, 10:07 AM   #9
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sdairstream.

Bummer about the cabinet. The first thing you should do is GO on that trip you were planning. Put the cabinet in the house until you get back. It does not hold all that much, so you probably could put the things elsewhere in the trailer until a fix is agreed upon.

This may not be what you want to hear, but the point is to get yourself out, and when you come back home and have the time to let the unit sit at the service place for a week(s), it won't be missed (as much).

I'm not sure if this is a work/work trip, or a personal time out.

Either way, look at the cabinet thing as small potatoes in the grand scheme of things that could be be in the bigger picture.

Obviously the oxidation issue is a whole other ball of yarn. I'm thinking if their is anyway to get the trailer to Jackson Center, that would be your best bet. Maybe AS can negotiate transfer of the unit to and from the factory, given the magnitude of your delema. I've heard alot more good service stories about AS Service than bad.

I think new AS's have a two year warranty and you are well within that time frame.

If you have not done so already, prepare a punch list. I am sure that AS problem is that someone other than their own service dept. might make matters worse.

Good luck, and again, go on that trip, relax, and I don't think I'm alone when I say that you will fall more in love with your trailer the more you use it, (temporary) warts and all.

Good luck.

Jonathan
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Old 06-01-2005, 10:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdairstream
Hello AS friends,


First, last fall only weeks after we purchased the trailer I found the underside was extremely corroded and rusted directly under the axle. One of our local RV deals (we don't have an AS dealer close) could not believe the trailer was brand new. After battling the corporate world at AS I finally got them to get the problem fixed in town by a local dealer. Once the repair shop got underneith, they found even more corrosion and a bigger job than anticipated.
Well I think you have received a lot of advice and at this point I can't add much other than to say work with the folks from Airstream on this either at a dealership reasonably close or take it back to Jackson Center. There are lots of us who have good dealers within reasonable driving distance. My dealer is Bill Thomas Camper Sales here in the metro St. Louis area.

The falling or loose cabinet issue is one that I have heard before on this forum and am wondering what the issue is here. I don't believe it seemed to be an issue on the Classics or Safari's, so maybe those who have had problems can shed some light on this.

As far as the corrosion issue, it sounds like your trailer may have been towed during some winter road conditions. My original delivery date for my Classic was January of '04, and as the time got closer I winced at what might have been a winter delivery. I've seen what the chemicals do to those trailer undercarriages and its pretty brutal. As it ends up, an almost twin to my ordered trailer showed up on the dealer's lot in November. It didn't take us long to take it, rather wait for the January delivery. Since camping season was over for us, our biggest reason for taking the trailer right away was to avoid taking delivery on a unit that might have to be delivered through winter road conditions.

I would recommend that anyone who buys to get on their hands and knees and look at that undercarriage. It will save you a lot of heartache later on.

Jack
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Old 06-01-2005, 10:42 AM   #11
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These were probelms you posted about last September, What did you do about them then?? There were several strings in which your probelms were discussed, and you should have checked out these potential problems based on the feedback and recommendations you received. At some point, we as owners have some responsibility not to let these potential problems linger. That said, these issues, especially the overhead cabinets, come up often. If you were to somehow poll the many dealerships who may have caught this during prep, or found the cabinets dangling upon delivery, the probelm is great enough that AS should AT LEAST put out a written advisory on the problem, and how to inspect/correct. Better still, a recall may be in order. I would work with AS directly, rather than your dealer. Good luck.
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:34 PM   #12
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Hello Frozen... thanks for the feedback. Yes, some of the problems I wrote about did come up last fall. I guess I was just trying to emphasize the point that at lot of things went wrong for a brand new trailer and a couple of the problems were major.

I did get the rust/corrosion problem fixed in October at a local/non-AS RV service center. At that time the Omaha A/S dealer was not open and the nearest dealer was 4 hours away. Anyway, it was determined that basic scraping/preping/painting was needed, not something only a trained A/S service center could do. I also had help from the dealer where I purchased the unit. They "went to bat" for me w/ A/S. The main point with the rust problem is that everyone felt (incl. A/S) that I needed to get the issue addressed before winter and snow. It was a serious problem and required over $1000.00 of work.

The other, more minor issues were tackled just a few weeks ago in Omaha at an authorized A/S service center. I was happy with the repair to the shower leak, faulty leveling jacks, etc, etc. All of these problems I considered minor and didn't feel they were above normal "new vehicle bugs." And I was more than happy to schedule 2 weekends before the summer camping season to get this stuff taken care of.... no complaints on that!

But, the overhead cabinet is a MAJOR and UNSAFE design flaw and as you pointed out, something that has happened to others. A/S should be more willing to help me with extra time/expense I incurr to have that issue repaired. That doesn't even bring up the point that a recall or some method of informing owners of a potential problem was never issued. To me, when one 70 pound cabinet falls onto the sleeping area of one of their trailers A/S should have at least been requesting service centers to check out the potential problem when they see trailers for service, if not actually issue a recall and have all units retro-fitted with a new mounting system. Such a failure is a safety issue. I'm not sure who out on the forum have experienced this incident, but I can tell you, had my wife or I been sleeping on the bed at the time (and no matter what you say about the motion of the trailer, etc.. there is still a design flaw that could have malfunctioned at any time) one or both of us would be seriouly injured! I wish I had the pictures on this computer to show you, because when I first saw the self (and took photos) one corner had come to rest directly on the pillow where my WIFE'S HEAD lays!

Anyway, I'm going on and on and can only tell you the severity and safety concerns of this failure is the most important point here. I wouldn't for a minute suggest that new A/S tailers should leave the factory w/o out any warranty issues, that is a certainty for nearly all new products of this complexity, but an issue of this magnitude should never have made it to the public! Those cabinets should be designed and tested to take more weight and road punishment than is possible to meet in the real world or at least the average world. I can tell you my cabinet has not been weighted down anymore than would be common in other trailer and I've not driven off the pavement or more than 1500 miles since I brought the unit home. To me, those are less than real world coniditions and the legedary design and build quality of A/S didn't make it.

I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm really upset with the entire situation right now and maybe down the road (pun intended!... and not the road to the warranty service!) I'll be actually proud to tell people I own an Airstream.
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Old 06-01-2005, 02:22 PM   #13
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If you are hell bent on this you can report this to http://www.nhtsa.gov/ These are the folks who investigate and track problems with vehicles. I assume a travel trailer may fit into their jurisdiction.

Jack
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:40 PM   #14
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Thank you, everyone, for the feedback.

My trailer is mostly fixed up (an interiour skin will need replacing due to damage from the cabinet fall... but that will come in later in the season) and ready to go. The Council Bluffs, IA dealer (Outdoor Recreation Center) is wonderful! I can not say enougth good things about their service department. Mike in service has reinstalled my rear cabinet with heavier brackets and also modified the front cabinet so it hopefully will not fail.

I will pick up the camper on Friday and hopefully we'll have better luck over the next couple weeks. We have several trips and extended stays planned.

It is my opinion that A/S will need to make some changes in the future if they want to retain the positive and high quality image set in place over the last several decades. I really want them to succeed, but right now they are not delivering. In my opinion, the price I paid for my CCD was too much considering the many problems and frustrations.

Thanks again!
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