ok, y’all…for those of you who know me or have been following our blog, this will come as no surprise.
In a previous post, I mentioned I was working on improving my abilities when it comes to patience. Evidently, more practice was deemed necessary so were sent to a place where there is no choice. Welcome to Red Bay, Alabama. Home of the Tiffin Motorhome Company, the manufacturer of Our Way.
Back in September, 2016, we purchased Our Way from North Trail RV in Fort Myers, FL. Since then we’ve been uncovering warranty items that needed to be fixed and the dealer did what they could. Two issues remained, however, that North Trail wanted the factory to address. Some of the cabinet wood work had to be replaced and most of the floor tiles too. The only problem was how to get the MH to the factory located 850 miles away. North Trail did offer to bring it there and return it to us, however, we were concerned about the timing. We didn’t want that warranty work to delay our departure so we agreed to make the trip ourselves since it was a detour of less than two hundred miles for us.
We rationalized it this way, buying a MH is like building a new house. There is always a “punch list” to be addressed once the construction is complete. The builder views the end product as done, the buyer notices all the imperfections. The builder tells the buyer to create a list of the things they want resolved, they discuss that list and agree on what will and will not get taken care of by the builder. Same idea for the purchase of a new home on wheels.
On Monday (4/10/2017) we set out from the Big Easy bound for Red Bay, AL to complete the warranty work. We expected the work would be of higher quality at the factory service center and we had an appointment at the Tiffin cabinet shop for Tuesday. Their reps told us to expect two or three days of work so we figured, worst case, we would be back on the road by Thursday (so naive). This trip must have been divinely engineered to teach me patience.
When we arrived on Monday afternoon we were shocked at the size of the campground (ahh, parking lot) and disappointed to hear that it was already full of RVs awaiting warranty work at the Service Center! Really, all 100 sites were occupied. And there are 50 service bays. (Yeah that math wasn’t looking good for us to get outta there within the three days we “planned” for our stay in Red Bay.). Luckily, I guess, there were still a few spots available at the other locations around town. We scored one just a few streets away and headed there with a smile, no worries. Anyway, no big deal, we thought. We are only gonna be here for a couple of days, three at the most. We got this…patience, remember….
The cabinet shop work went really well. Everything we requested was done by the end of the day on Wednesday. We were very happy with the quality of the work and the craftsmen were extremely friendly and excellent at there trade. Everything was looking good! Right?
Hey, not so fast there, bucko! Then came the wake-up call. You see, once the “appointment” in the cabinet shop was completed, we went into line for the next available service bay. No appointments here, no sir re, Bob. Just first come, first served – hurry up and wait! And don’t even think about going anywhere (not that there is really anywhere else to go in this small town) since if you miss the phone call informing you that your number is up or don’t make it to the assigned service bay within 30 minutes, you lose your place in line. Training, clearly, was not yet complete. More patience, please…
We got into a service bay for the non-cabinet-related warranty work late Thursday afternoon and the two guys assigned to our MH finished up on Monday afternoon. That’s right, Monday! Yeah, you guessed it. We had the pleasure of an exciting weekend in Red Bay!
Tiffin’s point of view is that since nobody knows exactly what service is needed on each coach until it gets into a service bay, there can be no commitment on when you will get into a service bay and therefore there is certainly no way to know when you will be out.
The lesson here is this – if you had plans, forget them! What nobody mentioned to us when we agreed to make this trip was that the cabinet shop was the only part of the service center that actually takes appointments. So, we were in for a big surprise…patience, remember!
We talked to a neighboring RVer when we arrived. He said he was leaving the next day after more than 4 weeks here. Had a leaky roof and it took some time to track down the problem. We thought, tough break, too bad. Must be an anomaly. The more people we talked to, though, the more we began to realize that we would be here far longer than we thought.
It’s ok, though. We made the best of it. We talked to many other Tiffin owners, most of whom were very happy with the work done here (even though they also wished it got done more efficiently) and grateful that the warranty covers most anything that an owner requests be addressed. We got to visit the freshly remodeled 13-room Red Bay Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, just two days prior to its grand re-opening after more than ten years being dormant. We also had lunch at the Mason Jar on Main, an old brick and tin spot directly across the street. Super people and great food, cheap. We even took a 30 minute excursion in the Jeep to Russellville to shop for supplies at the closest WalMart. (Not too much to do here…).
Our exciting weekend included washing Our Way for the first time, a three-hour experience and then the Jeep, too. Sunday was spent traveling to the Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi for a nice, easy hike in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The suspension bridge was pretty cool.
Finally, we spent some time re-planning our route since we lost four nights here in Red Bay. Seems like it’s all gonna work out just fine. We’ve both become much more flexible and significantly more patient. It was actually bittersweet leaving as our “parking lot neighbors” and Tiffin staff started feeling a bit like family…