The Sad Saga of the 1-2 week RV repair that took 9 weeks

We bought an RV in January. We took 3 short trips before taking our first two week trip, an Adventure in Montana. While cleaning the RV after our return, my wife discovered a crack in the toilet. Taken from her notes, lightly edited, with my comments in italic, here is the story of those 9 weeks

TL;DNR: The service representative stalled, failed to return calls, made several erroneous claims about status. There were inexplicable delays.  The wrong color toilet was installed. It took a call to the service manager to finally get the work done. Because the delays were so long, we were unable to use the RV for almost the entire summer season and had to cancel a two week trip we had planned for late September. I recommend that you NEVER deal with Manteca Trailer and RV’s service department.

15 June

Called Manteca Trailer and RV, the dealer we bought the RV from, for an appointment to bring the RV in for work on the cracked toilet, leaky sewer valves and other minor things. Nothing was available until July 5. One of the points the sales person had stressed was that people who had purchased their RVs at the dealership would be given preferential scheduling.

Day 1, 5 July

Brought RV to the dealer. This is a three hour round trip, requiring one person to drive the RV to the dealership while the other drove a car so that the first person would have a way to get back to Mountain View. I was directed to[redacted]’s desk. (name obscured to protect the incompetent) I gave them the list of things that we’d like to have done while it is there. This included toilet, sewer valve, cabinet door adjustment and blind near sink adjustment. [redacted] said that it would take 1-2 weeks.

Day 16, 20 July

Two weeks passed without hearing anything from [redacted]. Called [redacted]. They said that they looked at the RV and repaired the cabinet door as well as the blind near the sink. They claimed that they would call the manufacturer by 2 pm that day to get authorization for the toilet and the sewer valve replacement. He said that they wanted to replace both sewer valves as they couldn’t tell where the leakage was coming from. He said that once authorized it would take 10-12 days for parts to arrive and 4-5 days for the installation. That’s right folks, they had the RV for two weeks and hadn’t bothered to call the manufacturer to authorize the warranty work.  Also, note that 12+5 = 17, which means that [redacted] should have known that “1-2 weeks” was a bullshit first estimate.

Day 30, 3 August

I called and left a message for [redacted] to call me back. At 3:50 pm I called again and left a message with [different redacted] to have [redacted] call back with the status of the work.

Day 35, 8 August

I called at 9 am and talked to [different redacted]. They took my name and number and told me that she would have [redacted] call.

Day 36, 9 August

[Redacted] called and said that they would have the RV ready next week. They said that the service department had given him the wrong part number for the toilet. They had the toilet off now and had the right number. They would order the part on a three day rush. They would need to flush out the tanks and that would take time. If they had known that they needed to flush the tanks, why did they wait? It takes about 15 minutes to flush the gray and black water tanks. When the RV was returned, the black water tank was more than 3/4 full.

Day 44, 17 August

I called at 1 pm and left a message for the service department to call me back. [Garbled] called me back as my name was garbled on the message. They would look up the RV in their records and forward the message to [redacted].

Day 45, 18 August

At 10:30 am I left a message on [redacted]’s voice mail asking them to call back. At 2:30 pm [redacted] called back. The parts were not yet ordered. That would be the 3 day rush order that they claimed they would three day rush on the 9th. The manufacturer would not warrant the crack. Manteca Trailer and RV would pay for it. This is, as far as I can tell, the only thing they had done right to this point. They did have authorization from Forest River for both the toilet and the valve replacement repairs. I’m confused.  The manufacture authorized the toiled repair but wouldn’t pay for it? At 3:40 pm he called back and said that NTP, their regular supplier, had the toilet in stock and they should have it onsite Monday, 21 August. [Redacted] would call Monday when the toilet arrived. They would start on the valve for the black water tank. It should the work would be done Thursday. A week had gone by and they hadn’t started the work. They would wash the RV as it had been sitting there for so long. We could have it back on Friday, 25 August.

Day 49, 22 August

[redacted] hadn’t called on the 21st, so I called and talked to [garbled]. Would the RV be ready on Friday? [garbled] would tell [redacted].

[redacted] called back at 2 pm. They had a UPS tracking number. The toilet was due on Friday, 25 August. They would start the work on Friday. The 3 day delivery for the 12th, that would come on the 21st, was not going to arrive until the day we were supposed to get the RV back.

Day 52, 25 August

I left a message for [redacted]. Had the toilet arrived?

Day 55, 28 August

I talked to [different redacted]. [redacted] had said that the toilet had arrived. He would find out if they had started on the sewer valve. That would be the one they were going to start work on on the 18th.

Day 57, 30 August

I called. [garbled] would have [redacted] call back as soon as they were done with a customer.

Day 58, 31 August

I left voice mail with Service Manager, Tom Sperry. Name not withheld, since you can look it up. I asked for his email so that I could send him my notes of the transactions so far. He called me back and said that he would check to see where the RV was in the system. He wanted me to send the file with the notes to him as well. He said that he would have [redacted] give me a call before he left for the day.

At 6:24 [redacted] called. The parts were there, waiting for someone to install them. If the dispatcher could free someone else, the work would be done tomorrow. They would call tomorrow with status.

Day 59, 1 September

[Redacted] called. The work was done, but the RV hadn’t been washed yet.

Day 63, 5 September

I called at 2:30 pm. Would [redacted] call back. When could be pick up the RV.

[Redacted] called at 5:41. It was ready. we could pick it up tomorrow. Except we had other things scheduled. We would pick it up on the 7th

Day 65, 7 September

We drove to Manteca, arriving at 10:00 am. [redacted] apologized. Everything they had told us had really happened.  It wasn’t his fault. The shop got the wrong part, et cetera.

The walk through took 45 minutes. The trivial repairs had been done. We would not be able to test the sewer valves until we had water in the grey and black water tanks. We could have, had we known that the supposedly flushed tanks were not empty. They had ordered the wrong color toilet. It was white, but the original had been cream, matching the sink.

We found minor damage. There’s a nick in the exterior paint that wasn’t there before and a part has been bent.

Update, 20 September

During the walk-through I checked the black water tank and the indicator said it was 2/3 full.  We tried to dump the black water a few days ago and it was empty. The tank indicator is broken. The only place we can take it to, of course, is the place that broke it.  Is Poetic Injustice a thing?  It should be.

“In my opinion”

I pointed out in my essay “Everything You Know is Wrong”there are no facts.  If there are no facts, then there can only be interpretations; as per the quote of Nietzsche that I started that article with. There is an important corollary to this: Interpretations are opinions, because they express subjective ideas of the speaker. Therefor, if there are only interpretations, then there are only opinions.

This is why you will rarely see me assert “it is my opinion that” or similar sentiment, because anything I say is merely my opinion, just as anything you say is merely your opinion and I know this without you having to tell me so.

Of course, very few people accept the  epistemology of interpretations, so most people will, at least occasionally, state that something is their opinion or assert that what they are saying is a matter of fact.  When stating that something is a fact, rather than an opinion, they may also use signals to indicate the degree to which they believe the statement to be a statement of fact, using such phrases as “I believe” or “I think” to express a degree of uncertainty, but simply stating the assertion when they are more certain, for instance “The sky is blue.”

I can always overcome the ambiguity in my own writing by the expediency of always using the qualifying signals so that every statement is obviously stated as an opinion. This would drive me crazy because of the massive redundancy that it would introduce and it would become tedious for the reader to wade through all of the extra verbiage just to get at what my opinion actually is.

I chose not to add the redundancy, but rather, to rely on my reader to know that every assertion I make is a matter of opinion.

Are you an engineer?

Software Engineer is a very common title in the software industry. The practice of sticking Engineer after a title is becoming common in. The problem is that convincing a manager to hire you for a job that has “Engineer” in the title does not make you an engineer.

Software development and test, nor the disciplines of user interface and experience design that go with development, are not engineering disciplines. As a mathematician who graduated from an engineering school, I dislike my job title including the word. I was a computer programmer when I started in this field 40 years ago. I am a computer programmer now. As is everyone who programs computers, no matter what job title they give themselves.

Disciplines, such as civil engineering or mechanical engineering, in which engineer is a proper title have strict requirements for a person to become an engineer. None of these requirements exist in the field of computer software. In general terms they are:

  • A standard curriculum that is the basis of accreditation by an outside agency.
  • A degree earned based on that curriculum at an accredited school.
  • An uniform examination, often called a practical engineering examination, that must be passed after completing such a degree, in order to earn a license to practice in the field.
  • Passing such an examination.
  • An agency which licenses engineers who have graduated from an accredited school and passed the examination. Usually, in the United States, an agency of the state.
  • A license from such an agency.
  • Defined standards and practices for the discipline.
  • An organization that maintains the standards and practices for the discipline. It may also monitor license holders to determine that they are following the standards and practices. Although the licensing agency may also do this. In addition, this organization often publishes journals and proceedings related to the discipline.
  • A requirement for continuing education in the discipline.

In other words,  if you program computers, or test programs, or design user interfaces or experiences, or do any of a myriad of other jobs related to programming computers, despite what words may be in your job title, you are not an engineer.