From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Camper Corral too expensive?
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 14:53:35 -0500
On 28 Jan 2007 09:23:43 -0800, "Yukon" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>It was bolted down real well, so I thought I would
>let the professionals have a crack at it.
First misconception. Most RV shops (at least every one I've been in)
don't employ "professionals". They hire whomever comes in off the
street, seems to have some experience and who doesn't tear up too
>3 days later, while the rig was sitting in the shop all that time ,
>they called me with an estimate: $ 1,640. I told them to just go
>ahead and fix the shower leak only. They did at the cost of $ 155,
>they had to take the bottom of the shower out. That seemed
>I don't want to be unfair to them. But considering it sat 3 days in
>the garage after we told them it's our home and we need, it.....and we
>had an appointment....well I wasn't not happy and I will not go
>What do you guys and gals think? Was that normal or am I too
>cheap? In any case, I will fix it myself and save me 1,500
There you go. Fix it yourself.
Not defending the dealer or the shop foreman but that price seems
reasonable for the collection of niggling but labor intensive things
you wanted fixed. It takes a LOT of time to run down those kinds of
problems, especially vaguely defined water leaks. Would he have to
run the washer to cause the leak? Would the rig have to sit with
water pressure on for awhile for the leak to occur. The other
alternative is "exploratory surgery", start taking things apart until
the leak is found.
I ended up doing that approach on my mom's rig to find a small but
very persistent water leak. Over the period of a year I took things
apart no less than a dozen times before I finally lifted the shower
floor and found a sheetrock screw just barely pricking the cold water
line. A screw that the friggin' shop had run in when Mom had some
It costs a LOT of money to keep a shop open, just sitting there
waiting for customers to come in. You can blame it on the lawyers,
the regulators, politicians, insurance companies, land prices, labor
costs or all of the above. Regardless, from what I read in auto shop
trade magazines, it takes on the order of $80/hour labor rate to keep
a storefront shop open (not some guy working out of his back yard.)
You, the customer have to pay that rate when they're setting up your
rig in the shop, standing there trying to decide on an approach and
all other time spent on it.
The shop probably has a flat rate book that says how many hours to
charge for various jobs. The problem is, how to define these sorts of
jobs. The shop foreman has to figure that out ahead of time to give
you an estimate. He knows from experience that this estimate had
better be higher than he thinks to cover the unexpected because it's
very difficult to come back to a customer for more money.
You demonstrated your displeasure with the first quote, by saying that
it was too expensive and/or telling him to only do one thing. That
was a red flag to the foreman. You're a penny-pincher. PPs frequently
can't be satisfied, regardless of the quality of the job because of
their resentment of the price. He knew that it was better to steer
you away from additional work and he did.
I can't comment on the 3 day wait, as I wasn't there and don't know
the circumstances. I can tell you that in the trucking world where
the vehicle is not only my home but my source of income, that a day or
so's wait is not unusual when something has to be taken apart (as
opposed to just changing out parts) for repair. That's just the
nature of the beast.
The most important fact is one you didn't state - did they do good
work and get the problem fixed? If so then, IMHO, you shouldn't write
them off. You simply have to be more selective in what you take to
the shop. Things that you can piddle with such as these leaks are
much better fixed on your own time if you can. Take the major stuff
to the shop.
If you don't want to do this sort of stuff yourself then you need to
find a good shade tree mechanic. Someone, preferably retired, who
works out of his house or garage and has no overhead. I found such a
person for my mom's rig. He charges $15 an hour and does acceptable
work. He's retired, used to have a welding company on his rural
property and does the RV work in that old building.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Camper Corral too expensive?
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 16:43:27 -0500
On 28 Jan 2007 12:39:17 -0800, "Yukon" <email@example.com> wrote:
>I liked your comments. To the point and true. The thing is I have
>always been fixing my cars, even re-building an engine once. I just
>had something else that needed my attention at the time so I thought I
>will have this place to put my RV place into a tiptop shape, and
>then I will do my own maintenance. Never had an experience with
>these people before, but the message comes across loud and clear:
>Dont't take it to these places for a small stuff. Do it yourself or
>hire some handy man.
You're welcome. Having operated a car shop and having friends who
owned a Winnebago dealership and being a penny pincher (OK,
cheapskate), I've been on both sides. As a consumer, I suck wind when
I think of shop labor rates. As a businessman, I fully understand. I
don't like it but I understand.
I forget to mention before. A third option might be a mobile RV
repairman. These guys have lower overhead than a storefront shop so
their rates should be lower. And they come to you so you don't lose
the use of your home.
One last comment. Nobody will do it the way you would. Not that many
people are skilled at everything and if they are, they don't have time
to lavish loving care on things. I've had to learn to deal with that
as I've gotten older. Until recently nothing I owned EVER graced
anybody's shop but my own. I'm just not able to do the major stuff
anymore. It's been very painful to watch others do much inferior work
than I'd have done. Just had to (sorta) get used to it.
I'm still not used to getting the vehicle back and finding stuff not
working that was OK before. Simply meant that the guy didn't pay
attention to putting things back together correctly.
>Is it difficult to take the tank out.?
Boy, that's a loaded question. On my rig I undo two straps and the
tank drops down. On other rigs I've seen and read about here, they
dropped the tank(s) onto the frame and then built the RV around them.
Removing the tank requires cutting frame members and then welding them
back afterward. You'll just have to crawl under and look.