Order placed for our motor home
Mar 21, 2006
|Today after many hours,over several months,researching the Internet, going to RV shows, dealers and talking to many people we decided on the Tiffin Phaeton 40 QDH model in Titanium Pearl with the natural maple cabinets and Spa interior. We went with the free standing dinette, HWH auto leveling hydraulic jacks, automatic door awning, window awning package, Aluminum wheels, two sliding storage trays in the basement, Hadley air horns, in-motion satellite dish, cell phone antenna, power sun visors, driver & passenger side sun shades, 26" LCD TV over the dash, Ultra leather hide-a-bed and washer/dryer plumbing.
We found out the top ten dealers in the country for Tiffin plus a small dealer near the factory that was recommended to us by a Tiffin owner we met on the road and sent them a request to bid on this unit. We had the list price sheet from the factory and by adding the accessories we wanted to the base price, included this in the bid, we wanted to be sure all the dealers were quoting on the same model.
After receiving eight responses and waiting a reasonable time I picked the four lowest bids and requested another bid offer. After a couple of days I had new lower bids and several phone calls from these dealers trying to convince me that they were the best to deal with.
I was not to concerned about that as they were all reputable dealers and I had planned to have most of the service done at the factory if possible. As we were going to be full timers and traveling around the country all the time they would probably not be the dealer to fix a problem I might have.
After all was said and done the small dealer near the factory came in at the lowest price. I called them (Sherman RV in Sherman, MS) and said they won the bid and asked how they wanted to handle the purchase. I was connected to Karen Cornelius who was very helpful and a joy to deal with. They had just started dealing over the Internet and I think I was one of their first customers to purchase this way. She asked for a deposit and requested a wire transfer which I arranged through my bank and a signed contract was faxed back and forth.
We had some special requests we asked for on the motor home that we wanted to see if they could handle for us. We didn't like the full length mirrors in the dining area, the tile floor in the kitchen and the round Tiffin seal on the entrance door. We asked if these items could be left off. We did not expect any refund for them by not including these standard items in the unit and just hoped that they could be left off during production. Companies usually do not like to make any changes on production models as it requires extra effort for someone to follow the progress of the unit and to be there or inform assemblers of the change. However, Karen said they had a very good working relationship with Tiffin and their Service Manager, Benny Johnson, was a long time employee of Tiffin before he came to work there and knew who to talk to. While they couldn't guarantee that the changes would be made they would make every effort to comply with our requests.
Karen was frequently in touch with us as the time passed between the order being placed and the expected delivery date of 6-8 weeks. Around 5-14 we received a telephone call from Karen advising that the unit was on their lot and they were doing their (PDI) pre delivery inspection. We had heard that it was a good idea to have the unit air out for a week before picking it up so we asked if that would be all right. She said the units from Tiffin usually don't need that much time, but that would be fine with them and we set up Monday 5-22-06 to drive over there from our home to pick it up.
We had purchased a 2005 Chevrolet Avalanche 4x4 last year in anticipation of towing it behind our motor home on a tow bar. After researching tow bars and axillary breaking systems I had decided on the Blue Ox Alexus tow bar. It was a new model brought out recently and rated at 10,000 pounds. The Avalanche at close to 7,000 pounds fell well above the 5,000 pound rating usually used to tow most of the vehicles people chose for this purpose. I knew we would be loading it up as well with items we felt we needed, but couldn't fit into the coach.
I had selected the M & G braking system to use on the Avalanche (TOAD) as it was a system that is permanently mounted on the toad and only requires an air line connection between the coach and the toad to operate the brakes. With that much weight pushing me down the road and hills I wanted help in slowing and stopping the coach as well as legally required in some parts of the country and Canada. I also opted for the optional break-away switch as another safety factor.
I talked with Benny at Sherman RV about installing the tow bar and braking system and he agreed to do both and would order them for me before we came. We were hoping to be able to tow the car back home instead of Judy having to drive it back alone following me in the coach.
We left home with the toad loaded with stuff to put in the coach to carry us over for the few days we would be at Sherman checking it out with our own PDI. On 5-26-06 we pulled into Sherman late in the afternoon and met Karen in person and she took us to our coach. We were so impressed with the coach it took our breath away. It was beautiful and all our special requests were complied with. They were about to close for the day and had parked the coach under a metal roof next to their service bays. The water and electric were hooked up and we unloaded the toad to spend our first night in it.
We were pleasantly surprised the next morning when we woke up with the comfort of the beds and would have had a restful night except for the trains that came through Sherman during the night and had to blow their horns. The tracks were only a couple of blocks away and after several days we could tell the difference between the engineers by their horn blowing. It was really very annoying, but no fault of Sherman RV.
Sherman RV was very patient with me as I went through my PDI process. I had found several suggested forms to use to do this on the Internet and went through the coach very thoroughly. They answered all my questions and took care of any items I felt needed attention.
The tow bar had arrived, but alas the mounting place to go on the toad was the wrong one and had to be reordered. The Memorial day weekend was coming up and this delayed the receipt of the plate and caused us to spend the weekend waiting as we did not want to return home and return later. Sherman was very kind and allowed us to remain in our protected area until finished. It very hot during this time and being under cover helped keep us cool. We took this time to do some sight seeing in the area.
Benny had asked us if we had the opportunity to take the factory tour at Tiffin and since we hadn't we took his advise and went there as it was only about 50 miles away. We took the tour which was very enlightening and were surprised at their offer to let us talk to any employee and go anywhere in the plant. We saw the complete building process except for the painting as this had recently been transferred to their new state of the art painting facility in Mississippi. We saw them drive in the bare chassis and drive out the finished coach sans paint. The employees we talked with were friendly and answered all questions they could. Our tour guide stated that Bob Tiffin, President of Tiffin Motor Homes, had an open door policy and anyone could stop by his office for a visit.
We decided to take Bob up on this offer and went to the corporate office there on the factory grounds and asked to see him. We were told that he had a customer with him, but as soon as he was free he would see us. They didn't even ask who we were or what we wanted.
While waiting we perused the many awards Tiffin and Bob had won over the years from various RV industry organizations. Many were top awards won year after year. About 10 minutes later we were told that he was now available and we taken into his office. He is a very gracious man and we explained that we were at Sherman RV picking up our Phaeton motor home and told him that his companies reputation was the main reason we had purchased his brand. After a few minutes of conversation we started to leave when he took out his business card and told us to call him personally if we had any problems with the coach. He even told us that if we had a problem that couldn't be fixed no matter where we were he would have the coach brought back to the factory and fixed and returned to us at no cost. His reputation for outstanding customer service is well deserved.
Another issue that popped up at Sherman was the M & G braking system. This was the first time that Benny had worked with this product. He was concerned about cutting into the air line on the coach that was necessary to operate the system. He had called Freightliner as that was the chassis on my unit and they didn't recommend doing that. As a matter of fact they, as well as any manufacturer, do not recommend altering their product. However, this product has been used for years on thousands of units and if properly installed and maintained has worked fine without any adverse problems to my knowledge. I had read of some serious problems with some of the other types of braking systems and didn't want to have to remove and install a device every time we moved and have to store it while using the toad. While the problems seemed to be operator error I didn't want to deal with that. The cost is about the same so there is no advantage there. The main advantage of the other types is that it may be easier to move from vehicle to vehicle. To me that was of minor importance as I usually keep vehicles for 10 or more years anyway.
While we were there at Sherman a couple of coaches came in with major electrical problems caused by improperly wired shore power connections. Both were caused when family had electrical outlets installed at their homes for the convience of the RVers to park there. It seems that the electrician was not aware of the proper wiring of the plug or someone not experienced in this area installed the plug. In both cases 220 volts were sent into the units when they plugged in. In one unit it did major damage to the entire electrical system and associated products plugged into the system at the time. In the other unit the owner had installed an Hughes Autoformer in the power cord prior to the electricity entering his unit. This unit is designed to boost the voltage when it drops below the required amount which may happen in RV parks that have heavy loads put on older designed installations. It also is a surge protector which in this case did exactly that. Unfortunately it was destroyed in the process, but it saved the coach extensive damage and was worth its cost. I filed this information away for future reference.
After the tow bar was installed, the braking system hooked up and all the items I found on my PDI were taken care of we prepared to leave for home. Sherman had the coach washed the morning we left and it felt like leaving family. Gail and Shannon who had worked with us on the PDI as well as Benny and Karen who came out to wish us well and gave us their personal cell phone numbers if we ever needed help. With the Avalanche in tow we headed out and had an uneventful trip home. About a mile from home we pulled over and disconnected the toad. We then dove to our home and backed the coach down our driveway to sit until we sell the house.