Risks of Buying RV Online

2017 an image of @ in front of a tree with RV behind this in Hiawatha, Iowa

One thing that someone looking to purchase an RV does not lack for these days is choice. There are RVs for every terrain, lifestyle and budget. Not only that, but there are more dealerships than ever and many people are now experimenting with scouring the nation online in search of the lowest priced RV they can find. Many national chains are trying to accommodate this trend by listing RVs for sale from dealerships all over the country. Consumers can purchase units online and have them delivered to their home, just like a sweater from Amazon.

Doing your RV research online, comparing prices, and getting advice from other RV enthusiasts makes sense when you are beginning the buying process. Buying online may even make sense for an RV veteran with all the experience and street smarts to know what to ask for to protect their investment.

Sound simple, right? In theory, it is. Is this wise? That’s debatable. While you may be able to achieve some savings off the ticket price by buying online, the risk of not getting exactly what you thought you were getting is pretty high. For instance, just look at this disclaimer that appears at the bottom of a national chain’s online sales page about the RV online buying process.

“We have made every effort to ensure accuracy in the information provided. Specifications, equipment, technical data, photographs and illustrations are based on information available at time of posting and are subject to change without notice. To receive or verify current product information, please contact the dealership. Any prices listed on this site do not include tax, title, license fees and may not include any applicable freight or PDI (pre-delivery inspection) feesDelivery charges vary by location and state. All units are subject to prior sale. … not responsible for typographical errors in price or errors in description of condition of a vehicle’s listed equipment, accessories, price or warranties. Any and all differences must be addressed prior to the sale of this vehicle. Decision to sell an RV regardless of price is solely determined by the selling dealer.

Government fees, state taxes and dealer fees as applicable will be added to comply with state vehicle codes. Freight and prep costs vary by state (Not applicable in CA, OH, TX, TN, GA or UT). Inventory and floor plans vary by location, not all advertised manufacturers available at participating dealers. New units will be delivered from the nearest authorized dealer. Contact your area dealer for availability. Advertised inventory available at time of production. New unit photography for illustration purposes only. May not be combined with any other offer and not applicable to prior sales…”

That’s a lot of small print and potential extras. Can you just hear the cash register?…ka-ching…Ka-Ching…KA-CHING.

In addition to all the add-ons described above, there are other disadvantages to buying online as opposed to buying directly from a dealer. For instance, when reputable dealers take delivery of a unit, they inspect it on arrival and absorb the cost of fixing any defects or damage caused in transit before the unit is sold. But, if you buy an RV online and have it delivered, you lose out on the opportunity have it inspected by an expert who knows what to look for.

This delivery inspection checklist from changingears.com illustrates how extensive the inspection process should be. If you sign for delivery agreeing that everything was delivered in good order, your warranty probably won’t cover any problems that may have been caused in transit but not discovered until later.

Particularly for newer RVers or for those upgrading to a more elaborate unit, a proper walk-through is critical. There’s much more to operating an RV than just learning to drive it. You need to learn all the features and proper operations from how to hook up the electrical to how to empty the toilet. A good walk-through could take hours.

Another problem many people run into is that many dealers won’t do service on a unit that they didn’t sell, even if they happen to sell that manufacturer’s line. That could mean long trips to find a service department that can help you after the sale or even additional shipping charges to get it there.

At Ketelsen RV we offer comprehensive RV education for every unit we sell and we offer service after the sale. In fact, we have one of the largest service departments for RVs in the Midwest, servicing all makes and models. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to take an RV for a test drive, call or stop by today and one of our RV experts will be happy to answer all your questions.

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