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Old 07-22-2007, 05:19 PM   #1
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We're looking for our first AS, and would hope to avoid bad experiences with dealers. We live in St. Pete, FL, and can travel as far as necessary to be sure to have the very best experience. What are the Forum's recommendations as to the VERY BEST AS dealers. Southeastern US is preferred and of course FL would be best; but we'll travel is there is a real consensus telling us to hit the road for a distant dealer. Thanks, Tom
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Old 07-22-2007, 05:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrichards
We're looking for our first AS, and would hope to avoid bad experiences with dealers. We live in St. Pete, FL, and can travel as far as necessary to be sure to have the very best experience. What are the Forum's recommendations as to the VERY BEST AS dealers. Southeastern US is preferred and of course FL would be best; but we'll travel is there is a real consensus telling us to hit the road for a distant dealer. Thanks, Tom
I and others here have had great experience with Airstream of Arkansas.

The sales manager (Airhog1) is a frequent poster.

Did everything by email and telephone.
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Old 07-22-2007, 06:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrichards
We're looking for our first AS, and would hope to avoid bad experiences with dealers. We live in St. Pete, FL, and can travel as far as necessary to be sure to have the very best experience. What are the Forum's recommendations as to the VERY BEST AS dealers. Southeastern US is preferred and of course FL would be best; but we'll travel is there is a real consensus telling us to hit the road for a distant dealer. Thanks, Tom
Tom, Bates RV just East of Tampa on I-4 has a very large selection of Airstreams, and has the advantage of being very close to you. Airstream of Arkansas is very good, with many forums members being counted as his customers. If you don't want to go West of the Mississippi, Colonial Airstream in New Jersey has a group of loyal followers here on the forums, as well.
I am splitting your question off from this thread, so someone skimming through the thread doesn't think because these dealers are mentioned in this thread, they are bad. Good luck in your hunt.
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Old 07-22-2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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Tgrichards –-

The "best dealership" may not necessarily have the best service department.

Factory warranty service can be done at any qualified Airstream Service place.

Your first decision is to find the "best dealer" who you can feel comfortable with and who will sell you exactly what you want at the best price AND provide the best prep (at a reasonable price). You should research this along with finding out which dealer has a record of being trustworthy, friendly, easy to work with, and delivering trailers in the best condition, well-prepped AND undamaged (by them!)

Once you have bought and accepted your Airstream, you can than research, which qualified Airstream place of service, will provide you with the best and most trustworthy service at a reasonable price and be responsive to your needs.

A good place to start is by communicating with others (including those on this forum) who live in your area. The forum search engine here is a useful tool for your research.

Good Luck… Research thoroughly to save yourself heartache down the line!

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Old 07-22-2007, 08:02 PM   #5
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Colonial Airstream probably has the best website of any dealerout there including the mother ship, Airstream Inc. I have zeo experience with their sevice but the sales staff is excellent. Also I've heard very good things about Airstream of Arkansas.
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Old 07-22-2007, 10:22 PM   #6
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I can tell my experience with Bates And Sanders RV in Florida. I stopped at Bates un-announced with a problem with my stereo. They told me it would be a few minutes and that was fine since I did not call ahead. Tech came out looked at my trailer. It took him 10 minutes to reposition the sub-woofer and my annoying problem was gone. Sanders did not want to touch it. Since it was electronics. They did not even try.
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:05 AM   #7
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Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

We bought our new 2005 25' Safari FB in June, 2006, at Sanders Airstream in Alachua, Florida, which is near Gainesville. We would highly recommend Sanders. We got the best price that we could find on the new Airstream that we wanted. We have found their service department to be competent and cooperative. We have had a number of warranty items handled there, and also had our hubs servred there. We were satisfied on each visit.

Sanders is a family operation, and are very nice to deal with.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:10 AM   #8
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One thing I have found travelling and using many different dealers. I have hit the "you didn't buy it hear we really don't want to help you" attitude. Not very service oriented in my opinion. There a a few exceptions. I did not get that with Bates. I have a feeling that was happening to some degree with Sanders.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:57 AM   #9
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The Very Best

Tom---Congratulations on your decision to buy an AS.

In addition to the responses you already have, there are a couple of things you can do to maximize you satisifaction with the transaction. Define for yourself what are your expectations that are important for you in this process. Both what you want to see, feel, experience and what you want to avoid. Is this just the purchase part or the overall ownership experience? Some responses have already alluded to the connection of the two. Are you handy and able to fix and adjust warranty issues or will it be a trip to a dealer everytime? Then think about good enough vs THE WORLDS BEST. Convenience and proximity to home may be a factor for you. Do your homework on what you want to buy in the AS product line and what a reasonable price is. This is the same homework you would do in buying a car or truck.

Best of luck to you and enjoy the new AS.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:26 AM   #10
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I second Dennis' vote for Airstream of Arkansas. Good folks!
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:40 AM   #11
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The folks at Colonial changed our opinion of TT dealers. We had been under-whelmed by SOB dealers. The Colonial folks were fair and easy to work with.
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Old 07-23-2007, 01:44 PM   #12
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Bill Thomas - St. Louis

We've had really great experiences with Bill Thomas Camper Sales in St. Louis, both parts and service for our vintage units and discussing buying a new one. Their prices are good, the service is outstanding, and they have one of the best prep guys in the business. They've been around a long time - I think they advertise being the oldest Airstream dealer still in business - and they really know their stuff. While they don't advertise as extensively as some of the others, they do a large number of out-of-state sales. Call Thomas and ask for Glenn. We've been up at the dealership a great deal lately for different things and have enjoyed it every time.
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Old 08-03-2007, 11:33 PM   #13
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The Best vs. The Bad (remember that thread?)

One more word of advice before you select a dealer:

Check their Reliability Report with the Better Business Bureau!
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Old 08-04-2007, 06:48 AM   #14
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I've had very good experiences with Out of Doors Mart in Colfax NC and not so good with my local DonMar RV right off I-95.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:36 AM   #15
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I bought my trailer from out-of-doors mart. Nice folks and reasonble service dept.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:01 AM   #16
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Dealers

I bought my 2004 International from Bates. 2 big issues.
1-the thing caught on fire on the way out of the dealer. I am being a little dramatic, since the fire was really just insulation burning inside the rear wall and fixed easily. Heres what happened. When changing the license plate mount the sales associate screwed the mount into the positive wire for the light. Could have happened to anyone and they did fix it (and fixed it correctly) the next day. But the real issue was the chrome license mount was rusted and they weren't planning on changing it out, which leads us to the second issue.
2-Our trailer frame and various fixtures were rusting leaving the dealer and got a lot worse over the next year. It was not a failure concern, but a $45,000 trailer should not even have cosmetic rust in the first 2 years. AIRSTREAM DOES NOT WARRANTY RUST! So don't buy a trailer with even a hint of the stuff because no one will take responsibility for it.

I have had my Airstreams serviced at Colonial and Out of Doors Mart. Out of Doors Mart is one the old line dealers and is truly excellent. Colonial has a great selection, website and management and continues to improve with age. I had some initial issues with their service department, but then they made a wholesale change in the department and things went really well. At the end of the day, I would recommend them because they seem like they really care and are going to be in business for the long run.

On a deeper level, by far the best RV dealer I have worked with is Three Way in Atlanta. Of course they dropped Airstream a few years ago and have never looked back. But remember, the old airstream dealers still do a great job with after warranty service. For your information Lazy Days in Tampa has done a great job over the years for my parents' SOBs.
Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:35 AM   #17
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Hi: We are snowbirds living in Largo Fl. and have had good experiences with both Sanders and Bates. Bates has the larger inventory but we really prefer Sanders even though they are further away from us. Sanders has always seemed more flexible in getting us into their service schedule. Another reason for choosing Sanders is that it is a convient jump off point for us to camp at Cedar Key!! Good luck.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:44 AM   #18
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I'll second Molly's recommendation of BT Camper Sales here in the STL area. I've purchased 2 Airstreams from them. They've got a great service department and a dynamite prep guy. They have full hookup facilities at the dealership and they will have you overnight to make sure your trailer is ready to go before you leave for home. As a matter of fact they don't even get into the paperwork and payment until the following day. That let's you get your orientation and a night under your belt.

They also have a large stock of trailers in inventory so you would get a good idea of what the different models are like. Nothing like walking through them rather than looking at pictures.

Jack
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Old 08-04-2007, 01:09 PM   #19
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I bought our Bambi from R & R RV sales in Gilman, IL. Not a bad deal, but the dealer at the time didn't know the product they were selling. In addition, they took all day to get a hitch put on my car and the owner at 5pm on the nose, flew out the door and the tech guy was pretty close to stopping too even though he wasn't done.

When it came time to upgrade to the Safari, I shopped the web and made calls, including R & R RV, and they actually got upset that I would actually shop them....so I wound up buying from Paul Sherry RV in Piqua, about 15 miles from the factory. From time to time I look around and I found one at Sherry again, and they were very take it or leave it, so I left it.

I took the advice of Jack and called Bill Thomas and talked to "Mac". Nice guy, seemed honest and frankly, if I were to buy one, I may make the trip to STL to do it given how comfortable the conversation went, and how many folks liked their exp with the dealership. They actually have a few 31 footers out there, but I may wait until after the season and if they are there.......
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Old 08-04-2007, 01:35 PM   #20
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We traded our 22' International in for our current 30' Classic at Camper Clinic II in Buda (right outside of Austin). Good deal, nice staff and the service dept. has been really good. When we were in the process of moving, they let us store our A/S there for close to a year... didn't charge us a nickle! We like the folks and browsing the lot (chock full 'o Airstreams!), is a real blast!
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