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Old 11-25-2015, 02:59 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, 03:06 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SeaLevel View Post
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, 04:45 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, 05:12 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, 05:19 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, 06:20 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.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:47 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, 07:45 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, 08:58 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, 09:55 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.

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Old 11-26-2015, 10:40 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, 10:52 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, 10:59 AM   #13
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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, 12:12 PM   #14
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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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Old 11-26-2015, 12:55 PM   #15
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My service experience

I purchased my AS from a dealer 500 miles from where I lived. Did not plan on using them for service. AS has a certified service center in Reno (where I live) that works on "ANYTHING" last time I went to them they set an apt. 8 weeks out. It was summer and things have been a lot busier this last 18 months. But 8 weeks? Then I found my self back in Boise in Sept. And needed service. I called the dealer and they got me in the next day, excellent!

While I did buy it from the Boise dealer they would not state that had any influence on a quick appt. time. Honestly I think it had more to do with the fact they ONLY service Airstreams.

Having your dealer close by could be a huge benefit as, at least in my experience they need a fair amount of tinkering.
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Old 11-26-2015, 02:16 PM   #16
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I just called a dealer. They were booked for a month. Most systems in the unit do not come under the Airstream warranty, rather the component warranty and there many service centers approved.
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Old 11-26-2015, 03:24 PM   #17
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Airstream Dealers and Mobile RV Service Technicians

Originally Posted by PecanMan5 View Post
I just called a dealer. They were booked for a month. ...
We tow about 12,000 miles per year, on mostly a one trip per year basis. Over the past five years, I have had only two problems that I could not handle on my own. In both cases, different local Airstream dealers (who also sold SOB's) would give us no consideration for service under emergency conditions on our Airstream. The answer was always get in line and wait your turn.

We found that by asking around for recommendations for a mobile RV service technician, we could get service within one or two days (and sometimes the same day). The quality of the service was excellent in each of the two cases that we had.

No matter where the service comes from, the problem is always one of finding a qualified service technician when you are away from home.

I wish that the Forum would set up a help line that one could call when traveling to assist in locating assistance. This could take the form of a list of Forum members, with locations and phone numbers, that would allow us to take advantage of the collective knowledge of the membership. The Trawler World List had such a setup, and it worked very well.
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:48 PM   #18
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Bought our AS at Colonial in NJ. Took it home to Montana. Bretze RV in Missoula wouldn't do any warranty work without a CC number. (BAD) Airstream of Spokane - no problem, no cost, nowaiting, good work, no CC.. Did make an appointment tho.
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Old 11-26-2015, 10:25 PM   #19
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Always make an appointment. A five minute time investment could save you hours, days, or weeks.

Here in SoCal, we purchased new in 2010 from Southwest Coaches and worked right away with their service department to install solar. We found them friendly and knowledgeable--not about everything, but quick to let us know when something was out of their comfort zone. Due to our initial purchase and then large use of service department, they made us a sweet storage deal, which was great for them and great for us--they would do any service work right before our departure date, and wash for free for a short trip or wash and wax (pricey, but we negotiated a fair price) when wax was a good idea. High hourly rate, but often would discount hours worked without being asked to--great service manager, allowed you owner to run his own shop.

Over the years, they were forced to relocate the shop twice, farther and farther away from us, and during the last relocate, gave up their storage yard. Airstream granted another local dealership, and this hurt our guys. Last year, the service crew scattered.

So we started working with Ron and Darlene at C&G in Bell, CA. Ron has been servicing Airstreams exclusively (and no sales) forever. He is the AS recommended shop for aluminum repair, and has the only axle straightening rig in the area. I was very impressed with their speed, promise of delivery being met, and honesty--Rod talked me out of several service items that he said I didn't need yet. He seemed particularly appreciative of the business. Only shortcoming is that the shop's storage is a bit iffy--but he swears they've never had a theft in all these decades. And his asking price for a wax was lower than anybody else's negotiated price locally. (Cheaper in Texas!)

But then I found out that all my Southwest guys ended up together at the new AS dealer, AS of LA. So this spring, I will give them a try--they've already pre-ordered and holding done esoteric parts fir a custom weather station I designed and they custom installed.

The service manager has already hinted that management there is not as nice as Southwest Coaches, who pretty much let him discount or waive charges as he saw fit. So I may go back to Ron & Darlene if the experience is not a good one--he's strongly hinting that he won't have as much control.

For anything new solar or electric, it's Lew Farber (Lewster) all the way now that we know him. Fortunately for us, we are summer neighbors in White Salmon, WA which is his summer workshop, and where we met. Lew is a fellow windsurfer., and a great guy as well as talented.

We have found great independents for other specialized services around our route, which stretches from Corpus Christi through LA and all the way up the coast of CA and OR to WA state.

As mentioned, most RV components are the same, and we have been fortunate to find non AS RV folks who are honest, talented and even sometimes reasonably priced!

While on warranty, all of our work was done by the very good Southwest Coaches crew. I would guess that any smart dealer would be happy to provide warranty service. Of course, we always try to do our work out of season--late fall or through the winter--when most shops are less busy. Protagonist has it just right here for the balance. I'm surprised at the stories of people who turned some of you away. How nice for them that they're so busy that they can turn away paying customers. Hard to believe that they'll make it with that kind of attitude.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:33 AM   #20
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Glad to hear the Southwest Coach service crew is still together. Had used them when they were in Corona, CA with great results. And they never grumped about the ProPride hitch, either. I'll go see them in LA if I need something I can't handle.

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