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Old 05-02-2004, 08:02 PM   #1
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The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Airstream Ownership - 2004 Classic

This past Friday, my wife and I went to Turner's Airstream in Jeannette, PA (near Pittsburgh) to purchase our first Airstream, a 2004 30' Classic Limited that I had ordered back in mid-February from the owner, Jim Turner. This culminated 5 years of dreaming and planning for an Airstream ownership (and hanging around this forum almost daily for the past couple years). You can imagine our anticipation and excitement!

The Airstream had arrived at the dealership from Jackson Center last Monday, and we drove the 240 miles from our home in eastern PA to Turner's in western PA to pick it up. I had arranged to sell my used SOB to a fellow from near Indianapolis, Indiana, who was also driving with his wife to Turner's on Friday (a trip of over 400 miles for them). Jim Turner had graciously allowed us to process its sale at the same time as I purchased the Airstream as a convenience and tax savings for us.

The plan was for my wife and I to arrive at Turner's around noon so we could get a new hitch for my Ford F250 and to get a walk through of the Airstream before the guy who was buying my unit, and his wife, were to arrive around 4:00pm. The 4 of us then planned to spend the night in our trailers on Turner's lot that night, and then head out sometime Saturday.

My wife and I got up about 5:00am, hitched up our SOB and headed across the infamous Pennsylvania Turnpike (white knuckles, groan!). Everything was going like clockwork when we pulled into the dealership shortly before noon. My prior contacts with Turner Airstream had all been via telephone, so that was our maiden voyage to the dealership.

Jim Turner was right there to greet us as soon as we walked through the front door (an especially nice gesture for first time expectant parents -- I mean purchasers!) He told me pull my truck around to the service bays, which are on the backside of the dealership, so his service guys could get my hitch ready, and when I drove around our Classic Ltd was in one of the bays, apparently ready and waiting!

Right away, the service guys busied themselves getting my hitch set up, and my wife soon came back to the shop area. She said that after I left to take the truck back, Jim Turner told her that sometime after the Airstream was delivered from the factory on Monday and before our arrival, he had discovered cuts in the vinyl flooring in 2 different areas. Since he hadn't come to the service area with my wife, we decided to see them for ourselves.

As soon as we walked in the door, the first thing we saw was that the Airstream hadn't been cleaned at all on the inside, which my wife said Jim had told her they hadn't yet done. Actually, based on what I've read here recently about improvements in Airstream's quality control, I don't think that anyone looking at the inside of this unit for the first time would have expected that it could have left Airstream assembly line, much less been shipped from Jackson Center to the dealership in the condition we saw it in.

I rubbed my hand across the vinyl flooring in the bath area in front of the shower, and my hand was COMPLETEY covered with some white powdery stuff. It appeared to be what you'd expect to find on the floor of a new home during construction, right after the dry wall installers finished sanding. (Of course that could be days or weeks before the home is painted, carpeted, and the appliances are installed, as I'm sure you guys know!) The floor also contained an assortment of aluminum shrapnel as well -- not exactly compatible with Good Housekeeping's Seal of Approval!

We found very obvious cuts and gouges to the vinyl in 3 separate areas, the 2 Jim Turner had told my wife about, plus more in another area. One of these cuts was a circular sized puncture hole about 3/8" diameter that appeared to be punched almost completely through the vinyl in front of the wardrobe. Then, there were two slightly larger indentations beside the commode (the aisle side where they are most visible) that could have been caused by someone dropping a heavy object on the floor. (This must have been either something heavier than anything my wife and 3 rambunctious boys ever dropped on the Armstrong vinyl in our home in over 20 years, or else the quality of the vinyl looks good but is extremely poor.) In addition, there were 2 cuts about 3/16" long in the middle of the doorway as you enter the back bedroom. These latter cuts were in addition to those that Jim had apparently seen, and both of them were black, rather than a light color that I'd expect to see right after the vinyl was cut. I can't imagine that someone else wouldn't have also seen them when walking through the trailer, but I guess that can happen.

It was about that time that I saw the several small grease spots on the carpet in the living area...so much for our dreams and high expectations of Airstream ownership!

As a little more background to what was going through my mind at the time, my wife leaves on Tuesday for a month in Germany with several of her friends. I was planning to use the new Airstream on some short trips while she was gone. Then we were planning to take the new Airstream on an extended trip west when she returned in early June, something we do every summer. As I previously mentioned, my SOB was already sold (I had gotten a written sales agreement with a cash down payment on it) and its new owners were going to arrive shortly to pay me to balance owing and take it home with them.

What would you have done under similar circumstances? I'd appreciate hearing your candid thoughts. After getting your input I'll let you know what my wife and I did, after discussing this at length with the Jim Turner, and after I believe he made a couple calls to the factory.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?


Thanks, John

Ps. My SOB had been voted by over 500 dealers as being one of the top quality brands for the past several years running, and my past experiences were nothing like this Airstream encounter.
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:13 PM   #2
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i hate that kick in the gut feeling, you would think that paying that amount of money it should be beyond perfect! i would like to go to a bmw dealer and pay 50,000 + and get in my new car only to find tools, greasegun and duck tape on the leather
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:25 PM   #3
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If you are borrowing the funds to pay for the new one I would not take delivery.

You want a coach to use. If you own it then it is your responsibility to get it fixed. Either at Turners or the factory.

It sounds like Mr. Turner was doing his best as a dealership owner. He told you there were issues right up front before you saw the unit, and allowed you to see it on your own without feeling rushed.

I would see if there is a comparable or better unit on the lot as a new one and see if you can get a "free" upgrade. I can see a unit leaving the factory with some construction dust, a bit of leavings, but cuts and grease in the carpet. The carpet should have been covered by plastic form the factory???
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:42 PM   #4
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Sitting here after reading this, I cannot imagine what you have chosen to do. All I can say is that Airstream and dealer Jim Turner should consider themselves lucky in this situation in having a purchaser as reasonable in temperament as you seem to be with this outrageous finding. A question: why did this dealer leave you and your wife alone to tour the coach in this unacceptable condition without him leading you through to preface and explain? Why had he not immediately called you to make you aware of the looming disappointment? This seems like a extremely shortsighted if not cowardly neglect of you as purchasers who had done your part of the deal in good faith. What I hope they are doing for you after such an upset is: to profusely apologize and vow to make everything as right as it can be made after such initial errors; immediately to get on their computer network and find you an available NEW, PERFECTLY DETAILED 30' Classic; and put it on the road to you with NO delay. You should also be awarded whatever perks they can make available from pairs of camping chairs to jackets and hats, Honda generators, whatever you might like! Your choice of what is supposed to be one of "America's best" has to end up better than the story so far, please! We can only hope that somehow you get past this blunder on the part of AS and receive that new baby of your dreams. Best wishes. You know you have the heart and support of this whole forum behind you. This alone should be meaningful to AS-knowing that so many AStreamers are watching and listening to see what is done to make this right. I should think that someone somewhere in Jackson Center is going to be made fully aware of what a quality product must be when it leaves the line! And a dealer will be much more sensitive in the future to the expectations of a new owner.
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:43 PM   #5
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Wow

That's a hard decission. The hardest thing I can imagine would be watching your 'sold' trailer go, while you are deciding what to do with your predicament. I can't imagine accepting something with that price tag, in any other than perfect condition.

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Old 05-02-2004, 09:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxandgeorgia
A question: why did this dealer leave you and your wife alone to tour the coach in this unacceptable condition without him leading you through to preface and explain? Why had he not immediately called you to make you aware of the looming disappointment?
I'm not sure why we weren't told about these problems before our arrival at the dealership. Jim Turner left me a voice mail mesage on Monday to let me know the new Airstream had just arrived at his dealership, and his message stated in part "It looks good." He told us later in the day on Friday that he had stayed awake all night on Thursday worrying about what to tell us. I don't know why he left my wife and I alone to tour the coach, except that the dealership is pretty informal, in a family/familiar sort of way -- you'd have to go there to understand. There only seemed to be about a half dozen or so employees, most of whom have worked there forever, and I believe they may be one of Airstream's oldest dealerships -- I kind of like that type of informal atmosphere -- Jim Turner is registered on this forum. Perhaps he'll read this and answer your questions.

John
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Old 05-02-2004, 10:09 PM   #7
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I must be missing something ....

... nothing happened to resolve the situation between a MONDAY and a FRIDAY??? With even one sleepless night, not to mention four possible sleepless nights, I could have made a difference in that coach, and I don't even have employees, just a bunch of useless cats.

Even if the flooring is a large problem & requires serious removal of cabinetry, the dust could have been cleaned, the carpet could have been cleaned & the dealer could have made calls & had a plan to present to you for fixing the problems. FOUR DAYS?

Fly, I hesitate to sound rude because clearly you feel an affinity for Mr. Turner, and he evidently did not slice up the floor himself.

Did special-order bits preclude you from just demanding the next pristine model that the dealer & Airstream could find for you?
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Old 05-02-2004, 10:12 PM   #8
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That is reassuring to read, that the dealership is family friendly, and felt concern even before you arrived. That improves the initial reading about this. Because they are concerned for you, they'll work to find a way to make your AS match your dreams and have you on the road as you had planned. This surely will work out for you, but oh, such a disappointment you must have felt. Please let us know the outcome!
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Old 05-02-2004, 11:07 PM   #9
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I appreciate everyones' thoughts on this. I won't keep you wondering what we did to resolve the issue.

Yes, we really felt like we were between a rock and a hard place only learning about these issues after arriving at the dealership to pick up our unit and to deliver my SOB to the guy who was buying it from me.

I fully agree that, at minimum, the unit should have been cleaned up as much as possible, the carpet grease spots removed, and a remediation plan set out for us upon our arrival.

However, we had ordered that Airstream from the factory just as my wife and I wanted it, and I'm pretty sure there would not have been another one already sitting alreay built somewhere that would make us happy campers. (I wouldn't have picked the monkey fabric selection if it was MY CHOICE, but I agreed to get it for my wife to keep peace in the family AT ANY PRICE!) Hey, now that I've seen that fabric, it ain't half bad!

My first thought was to request a refund of the $5,000 down payment we'd made when we ordered the new unit, complete the sale of our SOB, go home and buy a quality product made by another manufacturer.

The options I was offered included: 1. leaving the unit at the dealership for them to return it to the factory for repair, 2. taking the unit home and later returning it to either the dealership or factory at my expense for repair, 3.
a possibility (not certainty) that Airstream would agree to return the unit after it's repair to either my home or the dealership, thereby saving me a portion of my additional travel expense.

Then, there was the issue of just how the vinyl could be repaired. I've had vinyl replaced in 2 trailers previously and know the type of job it is. It probably won't end up the same as a new unit no matter how it is done.

Someone at the factory apparently suggested not removing all the cabinetry, cutting the vinyl around it and covering the edges with additional moulding -- a fix that Jim Turner seemed to prefer.

After some discussion, I agreed to take the new Airstream, but pay something less than the full amount until it was satisfactorily repaired at some unspecified later date. Jim suggested an amount of $1,000, and I agreed to it.

So, we paid for the Airstream, minus $1,000, my wife and I spent several hours Friday night cleaning the inside as best we could, and I have it sitting in my driveway at home right now, with the rain coming down hard (while I'm contemplating a rather long list of additional quality problems with this Airstream as it rains cats and dogs outside, and I'm hoping it's roof doesn't leak as well!)

John

Ps. And, did I mention our long time family roots in Pitttsburgh, including close ties with one of the east coast's most prominent law firms that is headquartered there? I could grow to like that monkey fabric. (Just don't tell my wife.)
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Old 05-02-2004, 11:30 PM   #10
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Fly ...

... I think you did well, considering the circumstances. You have it to use, and you have recourse to fix it when you're ready.

If there is ANY way any of us could help (rip up vinyl, whatever)... you'd ask, right?
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Old 05-03-2004, 12:34 AM   #11
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Unhappy

We can sure empathize with you! We have problems with our flooring as well. Scratches and areas where it looks like a tool or cabinet were dropped. Jim P. at Airstream has talked with us about it, and promises to get it right. I haven't gotten back to him for awhile, as the marks are difficult to photographwith my camera.
When we picked up our little trailer, I didn't look under the floor mat placed at the door and missed finding many of the marks. One of the marks looks like someone tried to patch it by smearing a little wood putty into the hole. Our unit was also dirty and not fully prepared. Many problems take a while to surface, and the dealer wants to complete the transaction.
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Old 05-03-2004, 04:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaShep
We can sure empathize with you! We have problems with our flooring as well. Scratches and areas where it looks like a tool or cabinet were dropped. Jim P. at Airstream has talked with us about it, and promises to get it right. I haven't gotten back to him for awhile, as the marks are difficult to photographwith my camera.
When we picked up our little trailer, I didn't look under the floor mat placed at the door and missed finding many of the marks. One of the marks looks like someone tried to patch it by smearing a little wood putty into the hole. Our unit was also dirty and not fully prepared. Many problems take a while to surface, and the dealer wants to complete the transaction.
Linda-

Well, if misery loves company, we should get together!

Jim Turner also contacted a local repair outfit while we were at his dealership on Friday, thinking that they might have a solution -- something similar to your putty in the holes perhaps. They must have told him they couldn't repair it.

At one time in the past I also had a ding in vinyl in my SOB that someone tried to repair with a hard cement-like substance, and that attempt at repairing didn't look very good either.

John
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:25 AM   #13
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John,

Please see the comments I posted in the help track the quality thread. They are rather large and I don't think I should repost the novel here too.

As for your star trek to the dealer...we did a very similar thing in December.

Eric
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:55 AM   #14
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John... while I agree that these coaches, for their cost, should come absolutely pristine the reality seems to be that some of them have issues. I guess that the bottom line is that as long as Airstream is willing to correct them as a warranty issue, and the rest of the trailer and systems are sound, I think you made a good decision. In the meantime, use the trailer, enjoy it, and run it back for repairs in the late fall, or whenever you can afford some downtime with it.

FWIW in comparison... my folks bought a 2001 Dutch Star diesel pusher that carried a new pricetag of $208,000 in 2001. It's still under warranty. So far, they've had the stove, commode, refrigerator-freezer, rear air conditioning, satellite TV system, the TV itself, and just about every other system and appliance repaired or replaced. Almost every appliance and system in the motorhome, including the diesel pusher engine control systems have had warranty repairs done. It's just amazing. Fortunately, they have an excellent dealer who treat them like royalty, and Newmar has been very professional in dealing with the repairs. The down side is that they live in the MH all summer long, so they've spent literally weeks now living at the RV dealer, three days at a time...

Roger
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