Groundhog Day in Elkhart Part Two – Problems with Thor Motor Coach

Anyone in the market for the perfect RV to start weekend camping, vacation RVing, or full-time RV living–listen very carefully.  Buyer beware if the purchase is from Thor Motor Coach.  We can only speak and share from our personal experience, but our interaction with their customer service has been a disaster from the very beginning.

As per our last post, Groundhog Day in Elkhart Indiana, we were bumped from the Thor Motor Coach repair schedule after months of waiting in the area specifically to have our slide repaired at their facility.  We did try to escalate the issue for an explanation, and never got past low level customer service management to solve the fiasco.  We were referred to a locally owned repair facility, Charger Enterprises, for the needed repairs and Thor Motor Coach would provide the parts required.  The previous post has the details on how we waited six weeks living in a parking lot dealing with Thor’s inadequacy to get their crap together.

We were told from customer service at Thor Motor Coach our slide mechanism was “lost” in the warehouse at Lippert.  We had several calls with different reps who never returned our calls.  Finally, Mike refused to hang up with the customer service rep until she “found” our part.  Under pressure, the part was magically “found,”  but we would have to wait another two days for shipment (Grrrrrr!–we were 20 minutes away!).   Mike drove to Lippert to personally bring the slide workings to the repair facility early the next morning.  When the part was inspected, it was a duplicate of the old part–not a rebuild or working solution to the original engineering problem.  It was simply a replacement.  Thor is not providing a rebuild or correction to the original design flaw–they are simply replacing the defective mechanism with a replacement part.  While this solved the immediate problem, it will result in having to be back in the shop for another replacement when the new part fails–AGAIN.  I can’t even go there with that situation right now (I’m taking deep breaths for anger management control as I write this).

Tom, our repair man at Charger, was wonderful.  The slide mechanism was put in and he pushed the slide in an out several times before telling us it was done.  We were so excited.  Mike, like a little boy, played with the slide while I did a little happy dance and whoop-whooping and started getting things ready to hit to road–until another round of horrible crunching, grinding, screeching sounds as the slide ceased working.  My dancing turned to sobbing.  Mike silently left the motorhome and came back with Tom in tow.  Tom came inside the rig, looked at the inside slide gears–and his shoulders dropped as he cursed under his breath.

“I’m sorry, but we gotta pull it back in the bay,” he said.  “I really thought we had it fixed.”  It was quitting time, so we knew it meant another day, at the very least.

Early the next morning, Tom brought Mike back to the bay and showed him how the refrigerator wasn’t sitting on the bottom rollers of the slide mechanism.  The rollers were like brand new, which meant it was done incorrectly at the initial build.  The entire weight of the slide was dependent on the top gear mechanism and there was no way it was ever going to have a lasting repair.  He ended up having to shim the refrigerator so it slid on the bottom rollers and relieve the weight on the gears he replaced so it would work properly.  The slide now glides back and forth smoothly.  Tom was ecstatic–the repair worked and it was hopefully the last he would see of us in quite a while.  He’d worked diligently on a laundry-list of repairs for a full six weeks.  The man is a RV repair saint, and we are grateful for his patience, diligence, and hard work on our rig.

Now, Thor Motor Coach–on the other hand–I’m not quite finished with, yet.  I am not one of those whiny people who leave bad reviews for every small infraction of a business, etc.  However, we have repeatedly had issues with their customer service.  When they canceled our appointment, it was a big deal.  I actually think they never scheduled it and came up with an excuse when we escalated the issue, which they put back on us with a total untruth.  We never got an opportunity to discuss it with anyone over the customer service level.  Dealing with the disorganized mess that personally sent Mike all over Elkhart and South Bend to track down our own parts was infuriating, to say the least.  Actually getting anyone on the line to hear our issues and continue to help us was impossible.  Mike made several calls without a single return call.  I personally sent out e-mails to the website and through their page on facebook messenger.  I finally got a return message from customer service via Facebook two weeks after my original note to them.  They gave a specific e-mail to send our complaint to asking us to provide the VIN number (this had already been done repeatedly through their website).  I did as requested, and finally heard back (after a followup e-mail from me) ten days later simply saying they’d escalated the issue to higher management.  We’ve been dealing with this for months–and all we hear are crickets.  We haven’t heard from them to this day.

The whole ordeal of getting our repairs was not a fun experience.  With my work background, I could see poor management all the way around on several different levels and it was very frustrating.  It shouldn’t be this difficult to get stuff done.  There needs to be consistency, productivity changes, and adequate customer service.

The good news is we are finally out of Elkhart, Indiana, and all of our repairs are currently in good working order with the full knowledge the slide will fail again in the future.

Thank you, Charger Enterprises–they have our business for the life of our full-time RV ownership.  Thank you, Good Sam Extended Warranty–although we had to request a second look after they initially refused to cover our repairs, they came through and paid everything they were contractually responsible to pay (that’s another long story).

As for Thor Motor Coach, we are still working on that leg of the repairs.  We want a viable slide solution that will last rather than a Band-Aid repair.  Our experience has taught us the importance of warning other RVers of bad customer service after the purchase.  We’ve learned the expectation of the manufacturer taking responsibility in correcting their own engineering problems is a pipe dream–because they do not care about the customer after a unit is sold.

We are sticking to small businesses, such as Charger.  Their clientele is word of mouth and they rely on their reputation to keep in business, which is pretty darn good considering they have excellent reviews and a full parking lot awaiting repairs.  They have no website or social media site.  They were STELLAR to work with all the way around.  After six plus weeks of seeing their faces daily, they are more like family.  They cared about our comforts while there and saw each repair all the way through to the end.

Thor Motor Coach could take some valuable lessons from Charger Enterprises, but, in the meantime, they are a horrible company for after-market.  There are also engineering and production line quality problems on their rigs.  While I love our coach, I am sick of dealing with its manufacturer.  If we had it to do over again, we definitely would not go with Thor Motor Coach.

Has anyone has similar experiences?

 

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15 comments

  1. Relieved to hear you are finally back on the road, and have at least found some reliable and honest people if you need repairs in the future. That Thor lot do sound as if the concept of customer care is alien to them, and since buying an rv is a life-changing decision it is good people are warned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. wow!! Hopefully, this will go viral. Thor needs a kick in the ‘knees’. And we thought we had issues. But, also like you, we found a great one of in Kerrville, TX: Meilleur Truck & Rv repair that I’ve mentioned to you before. Thank goodness there are honorable people out there in this industry. Friends who also full time RV have many similar issues with their Georgetown – bad to worse. And it’s always the slide, it seems. Go with God.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I “liked” but do not like the saga of your motor home. Good for you for letting everyone know about the potential issues. We have given up on getting a motor home to travel the country as my husband’s medical issues (and my issues about his driving) make it no longer feasible. Hopefully you will have a nice long period before the next problem arrises for you! Love hearing your stories, good and bad!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dawn, I feel for you guys and hope there is some way the slide does not break again.

    One big reason we are buying from the company we selected is factory support. I’ve been following them for about three years. They started off with one brand and two floor plans. Now are three brands and multiple floor plans. I’m seeing the same excellent customer service comments I was seeing back when they started off. In other words, they grew but kept the same factory service. So happy to have been warned by another full-timer to watch out for this problem.

    Some companies just keep stacking the workload on top of an already dysfunctional system.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m excited Karen and you have found exactly what you want and know they will be there for any problems after the sale. It has been a highly frustrating situation, but I’m trying to let it go. It is what it is. I’m just glad we have a reliable source for any additional repairs (other than emergent ones if we aren’t in the Elkhart area). It’s a go-with-the-flow lifestyle because of extenuating circumstances, but I hiccuped at the reality of the inconvenience of service. Now that we are back on the road and not so discombobulated, it’s more in perspective. I felt it important to share our experience with Thor, even though I really hate to write negative reviews on a company–but we gave them many, many chances to make some sort of contact. You guys don’t have much longer, do you? I’m so excited for you.

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    1. Aww, Anne, thank you. I love you, too! It’s all good–my rant did help with some of the frustration. We are back on the road and starting our family rounds for the holidays, so things are much, much, much better. I’m looking forward to your posts as the holidays near from beautiful North Carolina!

      Like

  5. It amazes me a company will sell you a big dollar product then once they have your money, they kick you to the curb. I’m glad to hear you found an honest shop to finally get you going. Enjoy your family time! Fingers crossed it was a Gorilla Glue bandaid. I hope everyone who reads your post sends it to 100 of their friends and word gets back to Thor!! Hugs and safe travels!

    Like

  6. Sorry about the issues you’re having. We have an RVing friend who bought a Thor Tuscany, and on the first trip the bedroom TV fell off the wall, having not been attached to anything substantial. Your experience certainly underscores my low opinion of the outfit. I hope things go more smoothly in the future. http://mills-travels.blogspot.com

    Like

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