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Old 11-25-2015, 03:59 PM   #1
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Getting warranty service (or any service) at an Airstream dealer

Question. We are getting ready to purchase our Airstream (25FB twin), and I was wondering if it matters where you bought it when it comes to getting warranty repairs in particular, but also any kind of service.

Can you take it to any dealer for service? Is it common for them to prioritize customers that purchased from them ahead of anyone else?

What has been everyone's experience with this? Thanks.
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Old 11-25-2015, 04:06 PM   #2
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Can you take it to any dealer for service? Is it common for them to prioritize customers that purchased from them ahead of anyone else?
This is a "can't have it both ways" issue. If you were taking your trailer back to where you bought it, you'd want them to be loyal to their customers and put you before another dealer's customers, right? But if you're taking your trailer to a different dealer, you'd want them to treat all Airstream owners the same no matter where the trailer was purchased. Either way, someone's not going to be happy.

The best way is call for an appointment, and have your trailer there on time for the appointment. Because whether they put their own customers ahead of another dealer's customers or not, most dealers will put appointments ahead of walk-ins who show up without an appointment.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:45 PM   #3
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Some folks buy at a great price from dealer #1 and find out dealer #2 has the better service department.

I would go to dealer #2 rather than have a greater problem created by an inept service department at dealer #1.

The dealer contract with the manufacturer usually requires them to service any of their brand within the warranty period regardless of where it was purchased. After all, they get paid to do the work, not as much as an out of warranty customer pays, but still it is work.

If the repairs are done properly and on time and a relationship is developed based upon honesty, the customer will still come back when the warranty has elapsed. Repeat business is based upon those three points.
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
This is a "can't have it both ways" issue. If you were taking your trailer back to where you bought it, you'd want them to be loyal to their customers and put you before another dealer's customers, right? But if you're taking your trailer to a different dealer, you'd want them to treat all Airstream owners the same no matter where the trailer was purchased. Either way, someone's not going to be happy.

The best way is call for an appointment, and have your trailer there on time for the appointment. Because whether they put their own customers ahead of another dealer's customers or not, most dealers will put appointments ahead of walk-ins who show up without an appointment.
Absolutely correct, that is the way it is and should be.
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:19 PM   #5
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Short answer based on my experience is, yes, it matters.

I bought at Colonial because they are great, but far away. I have tried to get service in Stoughton, MA but they won't pick up the phone or call me back.

Oddly, I would have considered buying there if they had called me back.
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Old 11-25-2015, 07:20 PM   #6
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Interesting reading today. I spent some going over the original warrenty paperwork that came with my trailer. Not one mention that warrenty service was required to be carried out at the dealership the trailer was purchased thru. Just like automobile service departments the service departments get compensated at the same rate. Does not matter if the trailer was purchased thru them or not. I do not think the Mother Ship would look kindly on dealerships that refused to service any Airstream brought to them that was still under warrenty.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:47 AM   #7
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Agree, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't put you at the end of the line behind their buying customers.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:45 AM   #8
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Many dealers sell SOB's as well. Their service department also does all the PDI's. So they prioritize - PDI's are top priority; people who bought from them are 2nd, and the rest 3rd. One dealer, who serviced my '94 LY motor-home (at the time) told me that because I bought the LY before he was a dealer he would service me, but that if I had bought if from a competing dealer after he had become a dealer I'd be waiting for the cows to come home.

I plan my regular service (maintenance) to be enroute from Ontario to Arizona and have it done (by appointment) at JC. For emergency work, most dealers will accommodate you - for example:

On my trip south this year, while passing through Memphis TN on I-40, there had been a wind advisory. The wind (40-57 mph) blew open my longer window awning on the road side (there were no travel latches installed on my '87 Excella). I stopped at the Flying J in West Memphis AR and removed the awning (which had some tears in it). I called Zip Dee, my insurance and then Lazy Days in Tucson AZ to arrange for the replacement. Fortunately, there is absolutely no damage to the skin.
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:58 AM   #9
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It's important to remember that all dealerships are in the business of making money. Refusing service work is some new kind of stupid! Yes, they may be more inclined to prioritize existing customers over a non customer but when it comes to warranty work they get paid by Airstream for all warranty repairs so if you come across a dealer that treats your like a second class customer move on to someone who is eager for your business. A smart dealer knows that you may well be a future customer and is going to take this opportunity to start building a relationship.
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Old 11-26-2015, 10:55 AM   #10
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We are long time avid Airstreamers. We have been at it for ten years now and have spent almost 1,800 nights out camping. We have towed our Airstreams over 140,000 miles all over the country. We have had three Airstreams, two were purchased new and one at a year old.

It has been our service and repair experience that many of the Airstream dealers are semi-competent at best. We have had our Airstreams to about seven or eight dealers over the years, and only two were competent. They were Sanders in Gainesville, Florida and Sutton in Eugene, Oregon. Some of the others did more damage than they did good. If at all possible, we try to have all service and repairs done at the Factory Service Center in Jackson Center, Ohio.

We have purchased all of our Airstreams based upon price and availability of the model that were were looking for. The dealer's service department was not even a minor consideration.

We are somewhat handy and have learned how to handle most minor issues on the road. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it's not launching rockets. Many times, minor issues can be handled yourself at minimal, if any, expense. We have taken care of many minor issues that were under warranty, and the expense was less than the gas to tow the Airstream to the dealer. Plus, if you can do it yourself, you are guaranteed a better job than you will get from the dealer. We repaired our electric water heater on our 23FB while on the road with the aid of a You Tube video.

We have Airstream friends that are so hung up on getting a dealer to handle warranty issues that they end up spending more time and money getting it done by the dealer that they would have spent just doing it themselves.

To directly answer the the OP's question, yes you can take your Aistream to any authorized dealer for warranty service. We have found that when you are on the road with your Aistream, dealers will generally take you in right away. Only once did an Airstream dealer refuse us service because we didn't buy our Airstream there. This was actually a lucky break for us. We took our Airstream to another RV dealer up the road. They were able to fix our water heater right away. We were back on the road within an hour. Keep in mind that most of the mechanical systems on your Airstream are common to all RV's and are warranted by their manufacturer. So, you don't always have to go to an Airstream dealer to get warranty work.

My advice would be to shop price without the slightest consideration to a particular dealer's service reputation. If you can save a couple of thousand dollars, you can more than make up any differences in dealer service departments. My main consideration has always been getting the best deal and going camping.

Brian
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:40 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the responses. It makes sense to me that they would want either warranty or non-warranty service business, and that sometimes you may need an appointment to get something done. I would always try to repair something myself first, just like I do with my home.

We did shop based on price after we knew what we wanted, and we plan to pick it up late next week.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:52 AM   #12
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Sales of all RV's has significantly increased over the last several years. Most manufacturers have expanded facilities/headcount to increase production. AS nearly doubled the size of the plant in Jackson Center.

But on the service side I don't think any of us has seen the same type of increase. Fewer folks want to do mechanical work as a career. So now the already large problem of getting an appointment is increased. Sales keeps selling them, manufacturer keeps building them and there is not even a smidgen of increase in those that can work on them.

Based on following several forums there is nothing in the agreement between a dealer and AS or really any other dealer/manufacturer in the RV industry that 'makes' them provide service to any and all that call them. Sometimes it is very blatant. "Did you buy from us. No? Sorry we won't do warranty service for you." They might do non warranty but you may still be at the end of the line. Again, not unique to AS. I've seen the same type of reported treatment on forums for $500K and up motor homes.

The best place to go is back to Jackson Center. Take a road trip. I do it from Colorado when needed. If you are in Florida you are closer. You will get expert service from folks that know the product.

Don't be discouraged by any of this. It's just the nature of the RV industry. And don't try to compare it to the auto industry. The RV industry just isn't that big...

Enjoy your new trailer. Nice choice.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:59 AM   #13
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Service

We just got back from a 3 night Rally and when we got home we were having a complete power shut down, could not get anything going. We have travel over 9,000 miles this year with no problems.

I just took it to our Airstream dealer in Mesa AZ, when I drove up a guy came out and once I told him the problems he said could be a long time before they could look at it. He took down my info. and put it into the computer and then said you bought it here, right. I said yes, it will be next week if that works for you, which was fine.

I believe it does matter were you buy it.
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:12 PM   #14
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Service

I would try to buy where you will get it serviced. Checkout service reputation of dealers you are considering. What I can tell you is that if you take it to the dealer in Tampa, FL and it was not purchased there...they will not work on it, warranty or not!
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