Friday, November 8, 2019

Motorhome Regret

While you may be able to initially afford the payments on a big bus motorhome, you might not be able to afford the overall cost.  Intentionally ramming your motorhome into the RV dealer isn't the answer, however.

In my posting, the $300,000 mistake, I noted how older people can be lured into buying motorhomes with the promises of a carefree lifestyle and endless vacation.  The problem is, these rigs depreciate far faster than the loan balance, and eventually there comes a time where the piper must be paid. For my friend, it was when her husband died and she wanted to sell the motor home, realizing that she owed $50,000 more on the coach that it would yield in sale.

It is sad, but older people are sold this "lifestyle" through magazines and online forums.  Sell your house and buy a motorhome and see America!   But no one talks about what happens next. Even younger people are exhorted to convert an old schoolbus or live in a van - there are forums galore about it - and it is all pretty dumb.

Another friend of mine decided to go "full time" in a motorhome, and then, after a few years, traded the paid-for motorhome as a down-payment on a fancy diesel coach they couldn't afford.  The repo man came for that, and they ended up living in an apartment, trying to scrape by on social security.   But back in the day, man, they lived large!  Kind of hard to feel sorry for someone who complains about being broke, when in the same breath they talk about all the Cadillacs they used to lease.

In our travels we meet people with luxurious motorcoaches, often laughing at our tiny little trailer. They're nice people, but in over their heads. They make fun of our tiny trailer because they know, deep down, they've made a serious financial mistake, but would rather shout it down than confront it.

One was telling us they were driving back to the factory to have their motor coach repaired, and they'd accumulated a three page list of items to be fixed. The more the repairs became drawn-out, the more items were added to the list. Some were as trivial as replacing a cracked lens on an outdoor light - a $3 part that snaps into place.   But they were going to have that "fixed" at the factory.

It's not that the motor coach was a piece of crap. Far from it - it was luxury coach.  And there was really nothing all that "wrong" with it.  But they were starting to realize exactly what they signed themselves up for, and also realized there was no way to get out from underneath the onerous loan payments, as they couldn't sell the coach for what they owed on it.  So they have buyer's remorse and pick at imagined flaws in the vehicle and get upset when it isn't "perfect" but rather just a thing made by human beings - and often not made very well.

A humorous piece in the news recently illustrates the problem. A couple took their motor coach back to the factory for repairs and after waiting several days, the coach was returned to them. They noted that one of the repairs wasn't done correctly so they returned to the factory and asked to have it fixed again. The service manager told them that since they had left the premises, they would have to wait in line behind everybody else in order to get the repair attended to.

Apparently this didn't sit well with them. According to some sources, they sat in the campground stewing over the issue and drinking heavily. At some point the wife decided to drive the motor coach right up to the service bay so the next morning they would have to work on the coach. Unfortunately, she failed to disconnect the sewer, water, and electric lines and also left the awning out as she careened through the RV Park.  She also failed to stop in time.

Witness reports state that Mongiello, upset over something, pulled her RV out of its stall at the campground with the awning out and while it was still connected to campground utilities. She proceeded to drive around, picking up speed until she slammed into the building. Her husband, Joseph Mongiello, was behind her in the couple’s Jeep. Conflicting statements said the Jeep struck the RV, but law enforcement said that was not the case. It is alleged both Mongiellos were intoxicated at the time of the incident.  Damage estimates from Tiffin Motorhomes representatives were not available on Friday. 
When Mongiello drove her RV, an Allegro RED model, into the closed bay door not only did she damage the building, but her RV slammed into a 2019 Allegro Phaeton that had just had its work orders completed that day and was to be returned to its owners the next morning. Both RVs received substantial damage from the collision. The impact was so severe to the Phaeton that the transmission was dropped to the ground. It is believed the Phaeton was a total loss, as could be the Mongiello’s RED.
Needless  to say she was arrested.

I suppose that's one way to get out from underneath an onerous RV loan. But now they're on the hook for the repairs to the RV they totaled, which far exceeded the cost of their own RV, and I doubt their insurance will cover all of that.  Plus there's that whole messy going to court thing as well.

We've seen this with a lot of big ticket purchase items, whether they are motorhomes or boats or cars or whatever.  And to some extent we all do this - have buyer's remorse.  We buy something expensive and find out that it isn't made of gold or unobtainium.  It doesn't fly through the air or levitate or travel through space and time.  It's just an ordinary thing, made by human beings who are prone to failure.  And if it's a very expensive luxury item, chances are it's more prone to failure than more plebeian things. This is why luxury cars are often a bad bet, because they make so few of them and they are more prone to esoteric repair problems than, say, a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.

Rather than admit we made a mistake in buying something expensive, the tendency is for us to pick upon the item for imagined flaws and then complain to the dealership.  This is why people end up painting their car with lemons and putting it in front of the dealer and posting signs and protesting.  It's not that the car is a "lemon" or defective, but they are unhappy with the purchase decision they made and hope the dealer will pay them off and take the car back to avoid bad publicity.

Sadly, this isn't very good strategy. It is possible to have a car brought back through the lemon laws in various States, but you have to show that the car is indeed defective and not just that you are unsatisfied with the purchase.  And if you do try to do a lemon law buyback, probably the worst thing you could do is waste your time parking the car in front of the dealer and painting lemons on it.  Take legal steps, not emotional ones.

Or just suck it up and realize you made a bad choice and live with it.

And needless to say, driving your motorhome through the service bay while drunk is probably the least effective way to get out from underneath an onerous RV loan.   But this sort of thing does happen all the time, which is one reason why boat insurance can be so expensive.   People "upside-down" on a boat will let it sink - often at the dock - and then claim insurance proceedsThis is called insurance fraud and is a bad idea on a number of levels.  For starters, the insurance company might not pay out more than the book value of the boat, which is less than the balance on the loan.  Oh, yea, also that whole jail thing - you'd be surprised how many fraudsters the insurance companies sniff out - they are not idiots.

Of course the best way to get out of one of these deals is not to get into one in the first place.  Buying a boat at the boat show, an RV at the RV show, or some other big-ticket item and not thinking about the overall cost to your net worth and how this will play out over time, is really a bad idea. Long-term loan agreements can become lifetime commitments, and you should think carefully before signing the documents on a 7-, 10-, 15-, or 20-year vehicle loan.