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Old 06-25-2012, 12:55 PM   #351
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What makes you think I am happy? I just think the whining and complaining continually is negative and leads to unhappy campers. My trailer leaks too and I have other problems with it also, but I bought it and can sell it if I please. Whipping a dead horse will not make it come back to life or keep your trailer from leaking. Sorry, jim
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:20 PM   #352
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But then think about what happened at Earthbound.
Dan, what ultimately did happen at Earthbound? Last I checked they were still in business, but they moved to a build-to-order model with very expensive pricing.

Folks here have mentioned other vehicles that are nearly perfect. Those products are also built by corporations who want to maximize profit. But they benefit heavily from a more direct corporate structure (BMW decides how to build BMWs, rather than Airstream having to justify product investments to Thor) and highly automated assembly. They also have external pressures (JD Powers, Consumer Reports) pushing them to make the product better to avoid being at the bottom of some ranking.

Finally, I like that this is a forum where people can post negative things; others can choose to ignore them at a click of a button. True, a potential purchaser needs to wade through the information to make a reasoned choice - but at least they are indeed making an informed decision.

Tom
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:22 PM   #353
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I'm still here, sorta, I guess, but have been out camping in my Airstream for a week and a half. So I guess I missed the moment. Anyway...

The thing that I think is getting lost here is that it is very, very, difficult to get major repairs authorized and performed under warranty.

The Mother Ship will routinely authorize all kinds of minor warranty work, even things that they probably aren't really obligated to fix, and without much in the way of investigation or paperwork from the dealer. And dealers of all stripe, Airstream or not, are all quite capable of getting minor warranty work authorized and performed on appliances by dealing directly with Dometic, Atwood, Amana, etc.

The overwhelming majority of warranty repairs are simple replacements of failed assemblies involving at most a few hundred dollars worth of readily available parts and a few hours of labor. Most forum members' warranty repairs fall into this category and therefore most people's perception of the warranty system is a positive one.

The system falls apart with major repairs. In my experience Airstream does not approve major repairs on the first request. There are delays and they ask for more information, for photos. By this time any dealer/repair station is going to have the trailer back outside because they need the service bay for other work. The factory does not follow up with the dealer (again in my experience) and expects the dealer or customer to take the initiative to get things done.

From a dealer's point of view, they are put in the situation of constantly bringing the trailer into the service bay for unbillable/unpaid diagnostic work that falls halfway in between the usual responsibilities of the RV tech and the customer service rep.

Once repairs are authorized the actual scope of the problem may prove larger than originally thought and so the process starts over again with more photos and more time on the lot while the mother ship dithers and reviews.

And finally once truly major repairs are authorized parts availability becomes a problem insofar as expensive, bulky components with poor availability may be required. In my case it took weeks to get a rarely needed window and frame assembly. While my local dealer was able to complete the repairs (competently, I might add), that isn't always true.

The upshot of this is that it falls to the trailer owner to constantly call and nag the dealer and the mother ship and make sure that they're talking to each other, doing their jobs, and being reasonable. Not every trailer owner has the skills, demeanor, and wherewithal to make dozens of calls over the course of several months.

This isn't about initial quality or about the handling of routine warranty repairs.

It is a specific problem that Airstream has in dealing with major, costly, difficult repairs that occur under warranty. And make no mistake, it is an Airstream problem, borne of an attempt to control warranty costs by reducing waste and fraud. Unfortunately, because the absolute numbers of owners who go through this rigamarole is small, Airstream management treats these situations as isolated incidents.

They're not. They're routine, among people who need major warranty work, except those who take their trailer to Jackson Center or one of the two or three highest volume Airstream dealers who understand the system and get on the customer's side from the beginning.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:35 PM   #354
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Jim, I know some people love to complain, but that doesn't make their complaints untruthful. Some are trying to explain the way corporate America acts and that information is useful in understanding the issues. Whining is different from complaining and indicates a personality issue, but as much I am irritated by whiners, sometimes they are right even if the delivery is hard to listen to. Some people resent any critique of Airstreams and don't listen to others' truths. They could be called names too, but no one has, so far.

To me, the fact that some people have no or few problems and some have many needs some understanding. Does it mean QC is really bad at Airstream and some workers do a good job and others do a bad job? Maybe the QC effort is spotty, or the QC engineer is not doing his job, or the QC engineer is overwhelmed and can't watch everyone? This indicates poor management in the factory and/or insufficient resources dedicated to QC.

I started another thread to focus on suggestions (Airstream Suggestion Box) and minimize repetitious complaints. I did it because it seemed an approach more likely to be listened to by the company and possibly improve the quality of new trailers. It was made clear that once an issue was identified, the posts should emphasize suggestions to solve the issue. I get nothing from that except if my suggestion to extend the factory warranty is adopted. I have no need to buy a new trailer, however improved, but at least I get to offer suggestions that have been on my mind. If they were adopted, Airstreams would hold value better and I suppose that would eventually benefit me (or my widow). I think that thread is going well and I know it is being listened to at Airstream. Jim, your posts were one reason I started the thread.

I hope your leaks are solved and the tarp holds up. We could use some of that rain in the southwest and I would be willing to have a leak just to get some moisture here. You must be aware of the many forest fires here, so if your trailer fills up with water, just tow it to Colorado and empty it here. And I hope Debby doesn't cause any more flooding, tornadoes or wind damage. Good luck in Gainesville.

Gene
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:39 PM   #355
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Tom, last I heard Earthbound was reorganizing and focusing only on high end custom coaches. I feel bad for them. They hit the recession at just the right time to fail. They had design problems that they were trying to work through but it didn't look good. I believe they got some local money either in the form of substantial tax breaks or outright capital to locate the plant where they did. I think this arrangement went south as well. Last I heard they were scrambling for money and had lost their dealer network. CanAm was selling them at one point.

I admire their inginuity and courage and if they had started the business about five years earlier than they had I believe they would have had more of a chance. I wish them luck. There was a similiar coach being built by a company called Evergreen. Has anyone heard anything about them. I always thought Earthbound was a bad choice for a product badge, especially when you compare it with Airstream.

Dan
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:54 PM   #356
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Jammer, good post.

Our dealer would not fight for us. Despite the fact a dealer's best shop customer is the manufacturer paying for warranty work, they would not take action on our behalf. I wrote the president of Thor and soon got a call from Airstream authorizing the work. I had to do the dealer's job and that wasted several people's time (including mine). There has to be a better way to do this.

I understand manufacturers worry about dealers ripping them off by doing unnecessary repairs. I believe every warranty repair has to be authorized. I have noticed some people have the problems Jammer outlined on major repairs. With a small dealer network spread out across N. America, Airstream does not appear to have local reps who know the dealers well and can quickly authorize major repairs and make sure the dealers know what they are doing. For ex., our local Toyota dealer has a factory rep who comes to the dealer frequently and knows them well. It rarely takes more than a week to get an answer. That's not all that great when your car is dead, but it is a lot faster than people in Ohio trying to figure out long distance what is going on. So, I understand the limits on a small company, but the reputation of the small company suffers when things drag on and on, or they tolerate bad dealers because they don't seem to be able to recruit better ones.

Gene
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:09 PM   #357
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Looks like they are still producing?


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Quote:
Originally Posted by danlehosky View Post
Tom, last I heard Earthbound was reorganizing and focusing only on high end custom coaches. I feel bad for them. They hit the recession at just the right time to fail. They had design problems that they were trying to work through but it didn't look good. I believe they got some local money either in the form of substantial tax breaks or outright capital to locate the plant where they did. I think this arrangement went south as well. Last I heard they were scrambling for money and had lost their dealer network. CanAm was selling them at one point.

I admire their inginuity and courage and if they had started the business about five years earlier than they had I believe they would have had more of a chance. I wish them luck. There was a similiar coach being built by a company called Evergreen. Has anyone heard anything about them. I always thought Earthbound was a bad choice for a product badge, especially when you compare it with Airstream.

Dan
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:26 PM   #358
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Does anyone know the annual revenue for AS? My guess is $74M. I would guess maybe $4M or so profit.

if the latter is accurate, the company value may be as low as $20M. In that range. I bet it would be easy to sell private stock in that range from dedicated owners and fans. Add another $10 M in working capital and you have a sweet SMALL business.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:01 PM   #359
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I was not too impressed with Earthbound trailers. Inside looked like a 70s Country Cottage. They were close to my FC in price and half as nice.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:36 PM   #360
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If your bank statement every month showed the bank was making errors in their favor would it be negative and bad to whine and complain, or should one simply accept it as the way life is? I really got a laugh out of the many comments that "whining and complaining" is negative, and that somehow equates to bad and undesirable behavior. From what I have learned about AS service, I am rather surprised they aren't yet fighting a class action lawsuit, if not many individual ones.

Why is corporate bad behavior tolerated and condoned by anyone? Of course I know the answer, but I am wondering if it is as obvious to many others? "Shut up, keep quite, don't complain, don't be negative, be happy with whatever the heck you get," is the clear message here. Really?

Sure, I get the idea of fanboys and all that, but this is big money at stake here for many people. "Shut up and take it", just doesn't cut it my book. I think people in this thread have been the model of restraint while offering their negative experiences. I've seen no nasty or untoward remarks at all.

I think the whole point of collective complaining (righteously) is that it can build a swell that can no longer be ignored by the company. Why wouldn't all you fans want to see them be honest and forthright in their warranty claims?

As an example - - let's say someone here volunteered to write a detailed, honest, hard as nails complaint to the AS CEO and it was signed by 20 owners. Wait - now let's say it could be signed by 100 owners? Better yet, this is the Internet - why not 500 owners? Wait, better yet why not include a statement that the undersigned aren't going to buy a new trailer UNTIL some changes are made? With an annual production of just 1400 units, I would say that will have some impact. Who wouldn't want an improved warranty?
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:14 PM   #361
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Gene........??? Our Laureate.......

Good idea RWG.

Dan
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:17 PM   #362
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1,400 times a mean price of $50,000 = 72M annually?

That should have some impact!
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:20 PM   #363
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Fly, does that mean you're in? I have a bank account setup for deposits.

Dan
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:33 PM   #364
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1,400 times a mean price of $50,000 = 72M annually?

That should have some impact!
That's how I came to my $74M annual revenue figure, yes. I'd be delighted to have better information. I am not sure where I heard the 1400 figure.
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