I scheduled an RV trip for my family to Lake George, NY this past August. In anticipation, I rented an RV from Cruise America. On August 11, 2011 I went to the Cruise America Dealer in Bloomfield, CT to pick up the reserved RV. Upon seeing the RV in question, I immediately noticed numerous dents and extensive exterior damage to the unit. The employee apologized assured me that the damage was merely aesthetic and the dealer simply did not have time to perform the required repairs prior to my reservation date. I requested a different RV, but was told another would not be available for at least a day. Because the vacation was already scheduled (including park reservations, time off from work, etc.), I agreed to use the RV available.
During the three hour drive to Lake George, I noticed the RV sputtered, handled erratically, and appeared to display engine issues. We stopped at a local gas station, and upon checking the oil discovered the engine was deficient by three quarts. I added the required oil and continued the trip. For the remainder of the drive (and after numerous exits from the highway to check on the engine), the RV performed equally poorly.
Upon arrival at the RV camp, I checked the waste disposal tank. Previously, while at the dealer, I was informed that should I neglect to drain said tank I would be charged a significant sum; the tank was drained prior to each new reservation. Due to the expressed importance of the task, I decided to familiarize myself with the process while the tank was still empty. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that the unit was not in fact empty (as was repeatedly stated by the dealer), but instead contained approximately a gallon and a half of raw sewage that proceeded to rapidly spew onto my pants and shoes.
As I naturally found this revelation disconcerting, I decided to more closely examine the remainder of the RV for any further issues. I soon discovered that the screen door to the unit did not function properly, and a hole in the screen was haphazardly patched up with electrical tape (see photo). Additionally, the water-supply hose (connecting the water provision faucet to the RV), had a significant leak (and yet another haphazard attempt at repair with electrical tape) (see photo). There were also functional issues with the microwave oven. The bathroom facilities were filthy and had to be cleaned.
I immediately called Cruise America (on 8/11/11 11:24AM) and spoke to Lukas, detailing the issues with the RV and my dissatisfaction (while all the above issues were explained to Lukas, he failed to note the complete list in his comments. Fortunately, they were reiterated to a subsequent representative and properly recorded).
The next day we also discovered that the hot water did not work. We showered anyway, only to find that the water failed to drain from the shower. I again called Cruise America (8/12/11 11:20AM) and spoke to Heather. I explained the issues experienced on 8/11 and expressed the new issues discovered on 8/12. I explained to her that an inability to shower (either with warm water or without flooding the unit) was unacceptable and the engine issues needed to be addressed before my family set off on the three-hour drive home. Heather offered a free days rental, however I stated that I wasnt interested, and that I simply wanted the product and service I paid for. She recorded my location and stated that she would investigate nearby establishments offering RV repair and get back to me. After the first night (8/11/11) we ceased using the RV in toto.
I called Cruise America on 8/12/11 at 11:49AM and spoke to Donna. After again listing the issues I experienced she recommended that I drive the RV home and receive a full refund. I told her that I was concerned with regard to the safety of driving the RV another 3 hours home and inquired as to whether there was any way repairs could be performed locally. She then stated that the only other course of action was to have the RV towed to Connecticut, a service she would have to charge me for. As the originating problem concerned their subpar productnot an issue attributable to meit was unfair that I be charged to have the unit towed (and consequently be forced to arrange for alternate transportation home, also at my expense). Donna stated that she would attempt to locate someone who could examine the vehicle and call me back.
On 8/12/11 at 12:38PM Donna called to inform me that the handyman of the RV park would stop by to examine the reported issues. Although my family and I had plans for the day, I sent my wife and her child off while I remained with the RV waiting for the handyman. At 4:02PM I called Cruise America and informed Donna that the handyman has still not arrived. The handyman stated that he had visited however there was no one present. This, we later learned, was due to the fact that Cruise America representative Heather incorrectly recorded the location of the RV park and contacted the wrong camp site.
Cruise America called on 08/13/11 at 5:05AM and 7:30AM to again attempt to ascertain my location, but had to leave messages because I was (understandably) asleep. I returned their call at 8:19AM and provided the required information to Cruise America representative Cody. I again explained the issues I was experiencing and expressed my dissatisfaction with their service, especially after spending the previous afternoon waiting for a handyman that never arrived. My primary concern was that the unit be repaired PRIOR to subjecting my family to a potentially unsafe drive home, however Cody simply stated that I would have to pursue a customer service resolution once the unit was returned. I even offered to drive the unit to a local repair station myself if they would just fix the problems. Cruise Americas response was to suggest I drive the RV home anyway, and should I refuse, prosecution for grand larceny would be instituted. Cody informed me that nothing else could be done, and I could not speak to a supervisor or manager due to Cruise Americas policy of refusing escalation of calls past a representative.
At that point I gave up hope of reaching any sort of resolution prior to my return home.
Against my better judgment I drove the RV home, stopping frequently to check on the sputtering, rattling engine which was by now exhibiting an extremely high idle. When I arrived at the Cruise America dealer, I walked up to the desk and explained that I was returning an RV. The gentleman behind the counter stated that he would be right with me, then he poured himself a bowl of cereal and commenced eating his breakfast. He also answered a few phone calls and made a trip to the restroom, all the while acknowledging my presence with a just +another minute expression. After exactly forty seven minutes of this, I placed the keys on the counter and stated that I was leaving.
Since returning the RV, Cruise America has refused to resolve the issue. I have called and numerous times to no avail. I have left two messages for both Robert Smalley, Jr. (the president of the company), and Randall Smalley (CEO of the company), and requested that a representative of Cruise America forward my email to each of them as well. To this date I have received no response.
Also of note is the fact that during each of my calls to Cruise America, I faced exorbitantly long hold times. In fact, on one occasion, hold time exceeded one hour twenty four minutes (see accompanying photo). This, far more purposeful and nefarious than mere incompetency or the inability to accommodate an unexpected influx of call volume, represents a calculated attempt to avoid resolution of issues and dissuade customers from complaining.
Subsequently, Cruise America has charged me $1647.35 (for a bill that was only supposed to total $1064.50 including a $300.00 deposit according to the enclosed receipt). They issued a random refund (without consulting me) of $358.16 and knowingly misinformed American Express that the matter had been resolved (as for the alleged gift card, I have yet to see that, and wouldnt accept it anyway after the way Ive been treated). Furthermore, they have fallaciously claimed (and for which have charged me a $1000.00 deductable) that the RV sustained exterior damage while in my possessionan allegation that they have been unable or unwilling to substantiate with any sort of evidence that the alleged damages occurred after I took possession of the vehicle. I am currently in possession of photos I took upon receipt of the vehicle (due to the poor condition the vehicle was in, I wanted to make sure I was protected in the face of any claims of damages). I have requested photos of the contested damages to compare with the photos I possess; as of yet I have received no response.
This matter is far from resolved. I was provided with a far-from-satisfactory product, and when I objected, the service I received was at best repugnant to the concept of good faith and fair dealing.
I have instituted an attempt to dispute the charge with American Express, filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and drafted a letter to the Connecticut State Attorney General in hopes Cruise America learns that dishonest business practices and sham customer service protocol are unacceptable.