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Old 01-14-2013, 03:06 PM   #1
2014 23' Flying Cloud
Beavercreek , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 22
Experiences--Airstream Factory Service--Price

Hi Forum --

My husband and I are relatively new Airstream owners. Fortunately, (or so we thought) we live in Ohio near the Airstream Service facility. We took our newly purchased 2007 Bambi to Airstream Factory Service center for some minor repairs and to fix some leaks we are having. We dropped our Airstream off December 19th. We just today received our very inflated (at least in our minds) estimate. Now we are left feeling uneasy about having our unit up there. I hate to immediately jump to questioning Airstream's business practices, but after reading their estimate, it immediately felt like price gouging. For example, the second line item on our estimate was replacing the little rubber bumper on the arm of our rear window awning, and the charge estimate was a little over 30 do something that make take 5 seconds (literally), and the part costs only 4 dollars? That is just the start. We had a lot of little stuff needing tending to, and I realize that we are at a Service department, but the total was over 4k when in my head I had estimated no more than 2k and I was already thinking high in my estimate. They noted that lots of areas need resealing, but the unit is only 5 years old, and for the price they are charging, every square inch should be resealed in my mind. To reseal roof area, they are charging 500 dollars not including material. To reseal around the panoramic window (where they THINK the leak is happening) is 450 dollars? Does this seam right? The joy of being an Airstream owner is quickly dissipating. Either we were really ignorant with our purchase, or owning an Airstream is only for the very they go camping? Anyway, very frustrated and hoping for some feedback from folks who have had service at Airstream on their unit.

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Old 01-14-2013, 03:27 PM   #2
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While no dealer service is cheap, I've always been pleased with the work at JC. While $450 sounds like a lot to reseal a window, did they explain exactly what they are doing? Maybe they are pulling it out, cleaning off the old sealant and then re-sealing and installing the window. That's a lot of labor to drill out all the rivets and re-rivet it. When I had a pano window replaced, I think the labor was about that much.

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Old 01-14-2013, 03:36 PM   #3
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I've no direct experience with the factory so I can't speak to that as a general idea, but let's talk about your first item.

I'm not sure what the "little rubber bumper" to be replace is, but let's say it requires the awning arm to be held away from the body of the trailer far enough to get a screwdriver or other tool between them to remove the original one and install the new one. Then appropriately discard the old part, put away tools, possibly clean the trailer where a handprint was left in the process, etc. When you consider setup and cleanup, a "5 second" job that involves replacing a part is usually more like 15-30 minutes. The part has to come from somewhere as well.

It's usually worth your own time to do those "5 second" jobs yourself... not because you can do it faster, but because it's worth your investment of time in your own trailer, where a shop has to pay their employees and keep the lights on, etc.

I have no feel for whether or not $4k is a reasonable estimate because "a lot of little stuff" and at least 2 areas of resealing (the pano you mentioned, and "the roof"... the whole roof?) could be a lot of work.

I understand your frustration regarding the age of the trailer... mine's 30 years older than yours, so it didn't hurt my feelings too much to spend a couple grand on leak detection and correction this year. I think I got a good deal in terms of the hours that went into it, but my own hourly is pretty high so it's worth it to me to pay someone who knows what he's doing and have the trailer ready to go when I want to use it.
— David

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He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:42 PM   #4
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
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You are fortunate to live near the Service Center, because at the least, they know what they are doing when it comes to Airstream repairs and have the parts at hand. Their work is regarded by most as excellent, and probably the best there is.

We were there for minor work last fall after the local Minnesota Airstream dealer were not only jerks, but had no parts or didn't even know what I was talking about (door adjustment, clearance light gaskets, bicycle rack).

As for prices I don't know what you had done, but other repeat customers there at the time were satisfied with their Airstream service and prices.

I suspect they are on a par with any service facility who has any idea what they are doing, except that they actually do know Airstream inside and out.

A well-maintained Airstream would probably be cost-effective compared to any other RV because it can last a lifetime and look as good as a new one all the while.

doug k
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:16 PM   #5
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2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
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Not to get into the specifics of the repair / estimates you have mentioned. So far in our AS ownership I have been willing and able to do the repairs that have come up. The little things I just think ahead and try to have the part on hand and the next time I have the awning open I would simply replace that rubber bumper. Like mentioned above if they have to move the trailer to an appropriate space, deploy the awning for the " 5 sec" repair, fold up the awning and move the trailer then maybe the $30 may not sound so bad.

Bye the way, welcome to AS ownership. This forum is a gold mine of information for a person interested in DIY repairs. Don't let this sour your plans. I submit that it is usually far less expensive to do the repairs right the first time rather than need to re-do shoddy work. Whether you do it or have it done by a technician.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #6
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Summerville , South Carolina
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My experience with the Factory Service Center is they do good work, but they are expensive.

If you plant to own an Airstream you need to learn how to do your own maintenance or find a reputable repair center. Airstreams are not maintenance free.

The Air Forums has lots of information that can help you with repairs if you do them yourself.

Good look, I hope to see you down the road.

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:46 PM   #7
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Tub City , British Columbia
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You took your tailer to JC.
You talked to someone for probably 1/2 hour explaining the problems.
You got free parking for the winter.
You wanted an estimate before work was done.(chances are that involved two techs after pulling your trailer inside and returning it to the lot to await approval)
The girl types you up the estimate.
Someone answers your phone call scrutinizing the estimate.
The trailer has to be moved more than once for repair and testing.
Heat, light, taxes, benefits and Etc, Etc.
All this has to be paid for by someone and that is you the customer.
Chances are they have a set rate for all these tasks that they use for estimating purpose. Some jobs take longer than others so the rates try to allow for this.
Shop rates are expensive every place you go.

You can keep most expenses under control by doing it yourself. It does not take a master mechanic to clean and apply caulk, see where water is dripping, or replace bolt on items. In fact, I don't think there is anything on an Airstream trailer that is not field replaceable by any backyard mechanic. Quality of the job will vary with experience of the help.

Get used to paying the bill or gain the satisfaction of doing it yourself and enjoying your unit at home and on the road.

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
Merkel , Texas
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Airstream estimate

While I have never had any repair work done at JC and don't know the validity of their estimate, I am reminded of my friend who, as an electrical contractor, went to an estimating school. The first session the lecturer pointed to an electrical receptacle in the wall that had the cover missing. He asked how long it would take to put a plate on the receptacle and the the estimates ranged from 30 seconds on up. He pointed at the one who said 30 seconds and said do it, as he checked the time. The electrician said, "Wait, I don't have the plate and where are some tools I can use". Point made.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
Get used to paying the bill or gain the satisfaction of doing it yourself and enjoying your unit at home and on the road.
Unless you're all thumbs, of course. In that case, you may have no option but to hire it done and pay the bill. However, you may find that an Airstream dealer's service department charges cheaper rates than Jackson Center. Your dealer doesn't have to pull someone off the assembly line and take them away from building new trailers to fix your trailer; Jackson Center probably does.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Unless you're all thumbs, of course. In that case, you may have no option but to hire it done and pay the bill. However, you may find that an Airstream dealer's service department charges cheaper rates than Jackson Center. Your dealer doesn't have to pull someone off the assembly line and take them away from building new trailers to fix your trailer; Jackson Center probably does.
Jackson Center has a full time repair shop that is separated from the factory, with full time employees. Not your ordinary assembly plant. Can't take your truck back to the factory for repairs.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:41 PM   #11
2014 23' Flying Cloud
Beavercreek , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 22
Thanks everyone for your replies! Myself and my husband are very much do it ourself-ers! And really good at it! We have completely gutted and renovated the home we live in! We are both mechanically inclined, and will be happy to do a lot of work ourselves, but we have twin 4 year olds, we were already taking the Airstream up because of the leaks, so we said what the hay, surely the professionals can do some of this, so come spring, we can just hit the ground running and not worry with repairs. Of course, no reasonable person would ever pay someone what they quoted me for a 5 second job, and not to toot my own horn, but you’re talking to a pretty smart cookie here, so when I say a 5 second job....I mean it! They are not storing our Airstream for us, we don't need them to, we have a place on our property. They haven't had to move it around, it is inside because it is LEAKING, so they promised us (I hope they are doing the right thing) that they would keep it inside until the leak is repaired. As far as the rubber thing goes, it is truly a little rubber cap, that goes on the arm of the small rear awning of our 19' trailer. You don't have pull the awning down, nothing....5 seconds. I was planning to call Zip Dee and get the part myself, but being I was going to Airstream country, I thought something that small, would be at most a 5 dollar job and surely they have the part on hand! After all, we are getting a leak repaired, that may cost upwards 1k. We are paying them (not begrudgingly I might add) $400 for a wash and wax (they don't even really clean the awnings for this), but all in the spirit of, they will certainly do a better job than us, and we want to hit the ground running in the spring There are just too many things like the little rubber protector on the estimate that make it feel fishy. And Dave (masseyfarm), what you talk about is the price of doing business. There is no reason to gouge over a little rubber cap....I mean, they are in fact charging $109 per hour for labor! I am in marketing for a huge company with an MBA, and I'm not making $109 per hour....I think that's a pretty good hourly wage, and it should certainly include writing my estimate....for pete's sake!

I am attaching the excel file they sent me, so you can see for yourself. I'm not sure it will help looking, as I would have to explain some of the stuff to you, but their hourly rate is 109, so you can ballpark how much they are charging by looking at how long they put in the hours column. Things like replacing the lens cover on the step light, 40 minutes....please, my 4 year old can do it. We will definitely be doing those "repairs" ourselves, but why in the world they would charge so high, when they are already making so much money, is beyond me. I really want a good relationship with this company, and they could have plenty of my money for service over time. I just don't want to be insulted so badly while they are taking it.
Attached Files
File Type: xls Leah_Estimate of Work.xls (57.5 KB, 183 views)
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:48 PM   #12
2014 23' Flying Cloud
Beavercreek , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 22
Very good point Wayne&Sam about are they taking out the window....with the way they quoted my "small" tasks, I can make an educated guess that NO, they are not going to go through those efforts, but it certainly will make me look smart to ask that question....becuase after all, with the way the thing is leaking, that would probably be the "right" way to fix the issue. Like in my response on this thread, when I asked them if the wash and wax that costs $400 includes cleaning the awnings, the answer was "no, awnings don't really get that dirty"....umm, then why do they sell awning cleaner? In hindsight, that should have been my first clue, but I am seriously trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:11 PM   #13
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Mooresville , Indiana
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I don't know if this helps, but your also getting 10% off because it's the slow season, during Jan and Feb.

We had a emergency brake job done this year at the factory, we where driving through and lost the brakes when a spring broke and pulled the wires on the magnet loose. They got us in that morning and by 2pm we where on our way. They also had to turn the drums, which was a trip to the local NAPA store. While the bill was around $475, we knew it was done right. Again your lucky your so close to where your repairs will be done right.

Have you taken your car or truck to a dealer lately? I bet their rates are way more then $109 an hour.

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Old 01-14-2013, 08:12 PM   #14
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There are tasks I feel qualified to complete and tasks that are well outside of my comfort zone. Before i start a job I try to ask myself what could happen if I start a repair but then find I don't have the necessary skills to complete the repair. If the answer is anything from a minor irritation or a trip to the service center (i.e., the trailer is still drivable) I will give it a shot. Do I have the time, tools, and space to do the job? If so, I will give it a shot . If the answer is that I just don't know what I am doing, or I could cause catastrophic damage to the trailer, myself, my family, my neighbors or the general public, I will usually take it to the service department and let the pros do the job. For me, it's all about knowing my limitations and/or time constraints.

Work at the 'mother ship' or a service center isn't cheep but in many cases it is well worth the cost.

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