Don't buy a Lance

Discussion in 'Towables' started by dmarzbarz, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. dmarzbarz

    dmarzbarz New Member

    July 12, 2010

    Lance Camper Manufacturing Corporation
    43120 Venture Street
    Lancaster, CA 93535-4510
    (661) 949-3322

    Attn: Jack Cole, President

    I am writing you this letter to inform you of our experience with buying a brand new Lance trailer and the poor customer service and complete incompetence of your service department to repair it.

    Unfortunately, this will be a long letter to detail our entire experience so that you, too, can fully feel our frustration and disappointment with this purchase.

    We purchased a Model 1685 travel trailer from Barber RV in Ventura on February 24th of this year. My wife and I fell in love with the floor plan, and because of the fact it was a Lance we stopped looking at other brands. We wanted to buy new over used because we did not want any unknown problems or a trailer in need of repairs. Having said that, from the first day we picked up our new trailer, we found problems with it and continue to have problems to this day. All of the problems are fairly small in nature and should have been easy to repair; however, the service departments at Barber RV and Lance both proved incompetent to do the repairs properly, if at all.

    It is the poor customer service, bad decisions, and outright lies made by your service manager, Mike Williams; his boss, Paul Harris; and the service department that have made this into a completely unpleasant experience. It has become apparent they know nothing about customer service and have never heard the expression that “the sales department sells the first one, and the service department sells the second and third.”

    Would it be fair to say that Lance is the “Honda” of campers? They have a good reputation for quality, reliability, and are long-lasting, right? So imagine if you bought a brand new Honda for around $23,000 and on the day you picked up the car you find it has a flat tire, a headlight is out, a rear running light is out, the exhaust is hanging down due to a broken bracket, and the dealer installed an option improperly.

    After you drive it off the lot you find that the radio has no reception and does not work; you find one of the coolant lines has a leak; you find the water pump does not work when you first start the engine and stops working properly intermittently; the dashboard is delaminating and coming apart; three of the door handles are bent; the windshield has scratches; the AC stops working about every two hours and you have to stop and reset a button; when you go to wash the car you find that two of the windows and the trunk all leak water.

    You take it to the dealer for repair, and they have it for 2 ½ weeks. Not only do they not fix it, but they made the dashboard problem worse. So the dealer suggests you send it back to the factory, and you agree because the dealer did a terrible job. The dealer tells you to call the factory, and then the factory says YOU have to bring it out to them. You say NO and raise hell; then they finally agree to have the dealer ship it out there, but it took you getting pissed and having to call the G.M. at the factory to get it done.

    Now that it’s at the factory, you call customer service to find out how the repairs are going but can’t get a hold of customer service or the service manager, and they don’t return your calls for days, and you have to keep calling back. (This goes on for 4 weeks.) When you finally can get them on the phone, they tell you things that you later find out are lies.

    After 4 weeks at being at the factory they ship the car back, and you go to the dealer to pick it up. When you get there you find out the dealer has lost the keys to your car and has the nerve to suggest that maybe you never gave them the keys, even though you tell them the person’s name you gave them to. Also while at the dealer you check the car out before taking it home. You discover that the trunk still leaks; the dashboard is still coming apart; they “fixed” the WRONG coolant line; and the coolant line that had the leak is still leaking!

    So you meet with the G.M. at the dealer to show him the problems; he opens the trunk, and the latch falls off and lands on the ground at his feet right in front of you, and he's not the least bit embarrassed. The G.M looks at the trunk and tells you that “all” trunks leak on “all” cars and “the leak is not that bad.” He then looks at the dashboard and says, “It's a bad design and will probably always be a problem.” He then turns to you and asks, “What do you want me to do?” (He could take a class in customer service for one.)

    At this point would you be a little upset? I would be. So you complain to the service manager at the factory and tell him you have no confidence in the factory or the dealer to fix your car. You tell him you will fix it yourself and you want an extended warranty and for him to correct the service report to say that they did not fix those three problems and then send you the new report for your records.

    He agrees to let you fix your brand new car yourself because after 4 weeks they couldn’t. He reluctantly agrees to a 2-month warranty extension, but tells you he will not correct the service report because he and his boss do not believe it is “necessary” for you to have an accurate service report. (Yes, he really said that.) Would you say, Okay, you are right; it’s not necessary for me to have an accurate service report on my car? Or would you be so pissed off at their stupid, stupid decision that you write a letter to the president of the company?

    Well, this is exactly what happened to my wife and I when we purchased a brand new Lance trailer. Sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? Well, it’s true, and this was the condensed version; there was so much more that happened with the phone calls and everything else. Customer service was anything but professional, with days of no returned calls. When I was lucky enough to get your service manager, Mike, on the phone, he would act like it was no big deal that he did not return my calls.

    Obviously none of this would be acceptable if you had bought the Honda; so why is it acceptable when you buy a new Lance trailer? Did we not spend enough money? If we had spent $30,000, $40,000, or $50,000, then would this be unacceptable? Where is the cutoff point for when this becomes unacceptable? If this was a Honda, this car would have qualified for the “California Lemon Law” just for the 30 days it spent at the factory.

    We thought buying a $23,000 Lance over a less expensive brand would mean we might encounter a couple of minor problems but get professional service. This has not been further from the truth with this experience. It has become the most disappointing purchase we’ve ever made. Instead of looking at our trailer with pride and excitement, I look at it every day feeling like a fool for trusting the Lance name instead of researching to find out the true story behind Lance workmanship and service.

    What is equally important that you should know is how your service department performs repairs and treats its customers on your behalf. (I can only assume this poor customer service culture comes from the top after I have read some RV forums and they mention the same thing I experienced. If this is not true, then why do you let it still happen?)

    We dropped off our trailer with Barber RV on April 25th to be shipped out to the factory. A week later, on the morning of Monday, May 3rd, I called Doug in customer service at the factory. He did not answer; so I left a message. I then sent an e-mail to Mike asking for a status on my trailer. I received no response from either of them. So on Wednesday, the 5th, I had to call back again; this time I was able to get Mike on the phone. I asked him if he had received my e-mail, and he said yes, but he is waiting for the production manager to get back to him with a status. Mike said he would contact me as soon as he hears from him. (It never crossed his mind to return my call and tell me this.)

    Friday, the 7th, I still have not heard from Mike; so I call him late in the afternoon. I was unable to get him on the phone, but a receptionist said she was able to get him on his cell phone and he would call me back in 10 minutes. The call never came.

    Monday, the 10th, at 1:00 Mike finally calls me back from Friday’s call. He said the trailer is finished, except the front window is out of stock and would be in Tuesday or Wednesday. I asked him if I could see the service report in the meanwhile so I can see if they did everything. Mike said no because the service report is not sent over to him until they complete the service. I asked him if he has been over to production to look at the trailer to make sure they did everything, and he said no, that he would check it out after it comes back from production. (Let’s waste time while the trailer is just sitting.)

    Friday, the 14th, I e-mailed Mike in the morning and left a message with Doug to find out if they installed the window or not. No response from either. So at 4:30 I called Mike; again, the receptionist had to track him down. Mike told me the window had “just came in a few minutes ago,” and it would be installed on Monday.

    Tuesday, the 18th, I received an e-mail from Mike at 6:00 pm. He said they installed the window and he just needed to inspect it before it ships back.

    Thursday, the 20th, I e-mailed Mike early in the morning; no response all day. So I call back at 4:00 and, again, no answer. So then I called Paul and left a nasty voicemail to see if maybe he could get Mike to call me and tell me when I’ll get my trailer back.

    Friday, the 21st, there’s no call from Mike. I called Mike at 1:15; no answer; I left a message. Then I called Paul and left a message. Finally, at 2:45, Mike calls me and tells me the trailer is done and will ship on Monday. Mike asks me why I had left a message with Paul the day before telling him I can’t get him to call me. He was truly miffed at why I was upset! He thought he was doing a good job communicating with me! (Gee, Mike, I don’t know why I was upset about your poor customer service skills and your lack of attention to me or my trailer! It’s only been 4 weeks!)

    Now, keep in mind that Mike told me that he would make sure the trailer was repaired correctly and that he would inspect it HIMSELF.

    On Monday, May 24th, I went to pick up the trailer, but before I took it home I wanted to make sure they had fixed everything. The first thing I did was have Barber hose down the trailer and check for leaks. The very first compartment we opened had leaked, and after I looked at it, I could tell nothing had been done to it. The service report states that they “tightened door latches to allow door to make contact with the seal” and tested it by washing. This was a lie. For one, the only way to “tighten” them to make more contact is to physically bend the latch arm (which they did not do.) Two, why did the latch arm fall off in front of Barber’s GM and I during our inspection? (Did they forget Righty-Tighty?) Three, the leak was actually coming from between the frame and wall, not from the door seal; so “tightening” the latch would not have fixed it anyway. Had they really checked this with water, they would have seen the leak and seen where it was coming from.

    The service report also states that they had fixed the leak on the low point drain. Again, another lie. The leak was on the “blue” low point line, but they worked on the “red” low point line. Now, if they had really found the leak and really fixed the leak, it would have been the “BLUE” line, like I told them. The blue line still leaks as it did when I sent it in.

    The counter edging that was delaminating was not fixed either. The service report states that they re-glued and re-sealed the edge. The edging was delaminating just as badly as when I dropped it off, actually worse. They apparently used heat on it; now it’s warped and delaminating.

    I called Mike while I was at Barber RV and asked him if he had inspected the trailer before it shipped; he said yes. Then I asked him if he actually checked the compartment doors for leaks. He said no, that the compartment doors are the only thing he did not check. I told him that they still leak and asked him if he thought it might have been a good idea to check them, considering he had it a month and has an irate customer on his hands! He said “in hindsight, yes,” he should have. Now, I know you’re not paying Mike for his hindsight abilities, as I’m sure they are as good as yours and mine. I assume you're paying him to make sure repairs are done and done correctly.

    If Mike actually checked this trailer out like he promised and said he did, then why did he not catch the fact that they repaired the wrong line and it still had a leak? Why was the edging still loose? Why did he not check the compartment doors? And, lastly, if he did not check the compartment doors with water, I can only assume he did not check the windows with water either. So....what did he check? and how? Did he just look at them and say, Nope, they don’t leak? (He must be very talented; maybe that’s why he’s the service manager.)

    I don’t believe Mike checked anything; I think he just took the word of the production people that they had repaired it correctly. Sounds a little like the fox guarding the hen house, doesn’t it? I mean, the production people did not assemble the trailer right the first time, “But this time we will; trust us, Mike.”

    After 6 ½ weeks in for repairs and still having the same problems, this is when I decided to do the repairs myself. I tell Mike I do not want to pay for any materials to fix the trailer, and he agrees to ship me anything I need.

    On Thursday, May 27th, I call Mike and tell him I need sealant to repair the compartment doors. I had removed the compartment door frame and found that the factory did not seal completely around the frame and that this is where the leak was coming from. (I sent him a picture of the 2-inch gap in the sealant.) He said he would send me the materials and they would ship out that day, May 27th, at 4:00 pm. On Wednesday, June 2nd, I sent Mike an e-mail asking where the materials are. Finally on Friday, June 4th, Mike sent an e-mail saying the shipping department had been overwhelmed and did not ship it until that day; another lie. He dropped the ball again. Because on Monday, June 7th, when I received the package, the packing slip said the order was RECEIVED on the 3rd and shipped on the 4th.

    I was not without fault in all of this; I can be quite the A-hole when pushed too far, and I was pushed too far several times throughout this ordeal. Had this been treated more professionally, I would not be writing this letter. I'm sure if or when you ask about my trailer, you will be told I was just an unreasonable A-hole. But look at what I had to put up with, then ask yourself, Why is it okay to sell a trailer with so many problems, but it's not okay for the customer to be upset when he can’t get anyone to repair it?

    After dealing with both the dealer and the factory, not one person offered anything in return for all the hassle and disappointment. All we got was “sorry.” Had this been a Honda, the service department would have offered a free oil change, detail the car, anything to please the customer. (This is the service department trying to sell the second and third car, not just to you, but the people you tell also). I don’t know what could have been offered to make up for all these problems, maybe a Honda generator in case the fridge pilot light stops working again.

    I know you don’t get involved in day-to-day issues, and I don’t expect you to; I merely want you to be aware of how your service department treats customers on your behalf before I post my experience with Lance on every RV forum I can find. But before I do, I really would like to know, do you think my trailer is up to your reliability standards? Do you think the service was performed up to your standards? And, lastly, do you think that Mike and Paul’s flat-out refusal to send me a correct and accurate service report is right or wrong? If you think it is wrong, will you please send me an accurate service report?

    In closing, your letter dated March 10, 2010, to us says, “We couldn't be happier that you selected a Lance.” Well, Jack, we're glad you're happy, but what are you going to do to make us happy??

    p.s. We do own a $23,000 Honda that we are very proud of and happy with.
  2. dbgman

    dbgman New Member

    RE: Don't buy a Lance

    I know Lance usually goes out of its way to help customers. Maybe your case is one of those that fell through the cracks.

    I am a Lance camper owner and have used it on many camping trips with my family. It just works.

    Even Honda's have have problems. You can read about it all over the web. Everything has a failure rate.

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