Anyone who knows me, knows I have been a Winnebago View cheerleader since it was “love at first sight” back in 2012 when I finally found “The One.” My 2008 J-model Winnebago View had been “garage kept” by the previous owner, alongside the little Tracker with complete Blue Ox towing package included. I have loved her ever since…praised lavishly, babied with regular service intervals, gleamed with pride when others asked, “Is it new?” So yesterday, during my final plea to Winnebago Customer Relations to please not forsake me, it was quite a slap in the face to hear “Well, maybe if it wasn’t so old…”
Rewind to the night before I left for my Channel Islands Adventure, when I thought I had a small gray tank leak. I called the mobile tech Adolfo to fix the leak, who diagnosed a much bigger problem. My “leak” was as a result of my hitch having broken loose and now resting on the pipe. Turns out, I almost left my Tracker on Highway 101. “What about the safety chains?” one might ask? Well, seems they don’t do much good if they are attached to the hitch and the hitch breaks off!
Back in ’08, Winnebago increased the View towing capacity from 3,500lbs to 5,000lbs. Around the same time, they increased the length of the coaches from 23 ft to 24 ft, and added a Class III towing hitch instead of a Class II. But they didn’t do anything to beef up the frame extensions (supplemental rails beneath the coach where the hitch and holding tanks are bolted.) The following year, Winnebago added some “beefier” frame extensions.
I have now found examples of three people on the Yahoo View/Navion Forum alone with ’08 Views who have had their frame extensions sheer off. I have exchanged emails personally with two out of three, both for whom Winnebago picked up the tab for the repairs, even though they were out of warranty. Ergo my reasoning for phoning Winnebago Customer Relations.
See, this should not have happened. I only tow a GEO Tracker, which is well below the towing limits at 2,800 lbs. In my attempts to find help for repair, a welding fabrication and hitch specialist told me he would not repair them via welding, because “the overall metal is crap! Way too flimsy to support the hitch they have got on there.”
I wouldn’t have expected Winnebago to bear any responsibility on this, if it were not for the fact that it is a “known issue” on the View Forum. And, I had examples where they had helped others out of warranty. “If only it wasn’t so old….”
My initial call to “Mitch,” WGO Customer Service Representative, left me hopeful. He told me to get to a WGO dealer, have them take photos, and submit the work order, which I did immediately. But my follow-up with Mitch resulted in an unreturned voice mail. I sent an impassioned email on 5/18 which has yet to be acknowledged. So I called yesterday to escalate, downright pleading for help. I even asked, “Well, what if I come there? To Forest City?” The guy responded “Sure! We’ll fix it!…at retail cost.”
The Catch 22 has been finding someone to fix it. The welding shops don’t want to deal with the holding tanks (bolted to these same extensions) and the RV Repair places don’t have the capability to weld. I pleaded with “Steve” at Winnebago Customer Relations to …”please help me find a solution. I am stranded. A single woman traveling alone. In my only home. In a city where I know no one. I can’t leave here. No one will help me. “ His solution? “Go on the website and plug in your zip code.” Seriously!
So could it be worse? Always! Nobody died. Nobody is even bleeding….well, maybe my wallet. And I have a 50 lb hitch in my living room. But I am in a safe place, the Tracker is still mobile, and I have two healthy feet. And I am not being sued for dropping a hitch in someone’s lane on the freeway. So yes, it could be worse!
In the end, the local RV Repair shop has agreed to fix it, but only after they learned that it will not involve any welding. The new, “beefier” frame extensions can be bolted on. But Winnegago is not helping with the parts. Winnebago is not helping with the shipping. Winnebago is not helping…
Today, I am thinking back to the day I learned American Express was laying me off in 2001 on the heels of 9/11. I had felt such loyalty to them for 20 years that I even joked about “bleeding Amex Blue.” I loved that company like family. But receiving the pink slip was a turning point for me where I realized the naivety of my misplaced loyalty. Sure, they hired me back, but from that point on, it was “just another job at another big, uncaring, corporation.” That’s how I now feel about Winnebago….