Beyond the Price

It’s an undeniable factor, that price is a key factor in the RV purchase dynamic. After all, most buyers will have an initial budget, or a target spend to guide their research. And that may determine the country of origin, the quality of build, and the bundled inclusions.

Good operators will demonstrate their product knowledge and show the options that add value rather than just cost

Budget can also be a fluid variable. In the early stages of research, you may have little idea on what campers cost, but that changes the more research you do. Many customers choose to extend their budget to buy a better quality product.

Beyond the price, there are many variables that buyers overlook. Aspects that may affect the quality of build, the product’s ability to fulfill the required task,  and after sales support. Things like, how long has the manufacturer been around for, have the products satisfied the test of time, what happens if something goes wrong, what is their reputation for customer service, and where can I go to get things fixed – do I need to return it to the factory in another state?

Only buy from local dealers with a consistent reputation for service excellence

Blindsided by marketing hype and the excitement of a new camper, performing the required due diligence on the manufacturer and local dealer is often overlooked. They need to do a lot more than appear in glossy magazines, online videos, and at the caravan and camping shows.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life, that the actions of a few can tarnish the reputation of the industry. We hear it from customers on a regular basis, reciting their disappointment at pick-up from a competing business. They arrive to pick up their new pride and joy, and the handover is all too brief. A few fast facts, a hook up and a wave goodbye if you’re lucky.

Make sure you get a demo of setup and pack-up

One customer described the four-hour ordeal at handover, where two sales reps wrestled with the owner’s manual to try and work out how to open and close a popular hybrid camper: one of their biggest sellers. It’s appalling, yet it happens.

Considering this, we’ve come up with some due diligence questions to help with your buying decision.

Q: Is it made in Australia or just assembled here with imported components?

The Dirt Off Road Campers proudly supports Australian manufacturing and in particular the Track and Lifestyle Camper brands, both with over 20 years manufacturing experience in Australia.

Local manufacturing promotes economic prosperity, creates apprenticeships for the young, other trades/employment, and a sustainable local industry of part suppliers and manufacturers.

Q: Is the country of origin clearly stated?

Anything that says ‘designed in Australia for our conditions’ without clearly stating where it’s made, is made offshore. RV’s made in Australia will unequivocally state that as a point of difference and there will be a price and quality deviation from similar imported products.

If they can’t unequivocally state the country of origin, what other things are they misrepresenting.

Q: Does the product have its own identity or is it just a copy of a generic product?

How many imported RV’s look the same, like they came out of the same factory? Sure, it’s cheaper to buy from a volume retailer that offers some minor variation, than another company that’s had to design, build, and test its products. It doesn’t endow you with any great confidence in ownership, knowing you’ve purchased a vanilla RV, manufactured largely just to minimise cost.

It’s going to be an interesting ride over the next 12+ months with the transitional provisions of the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 coming into play, which will make it exceedingly difficult for these imported products to survive without significant resources. There will be highly regulated compliance requirements and frequent auditing. Be very wary where you invest your RV money this year.

Q: Is there a National Dealer Network?

If anything goes wrong, you want to be able to turn to a local dealer for speedy rectification. When researching the RV to buy, look beyond the manufacturer’s review; look also at the reputation of the local dealer. How do they treat customers?

Some manufacturers avoid the cost of setting up a national dealer network, and instead use local repairers. It’s not the same thing! Local repairers aren’t working for you, they’re working for the manufacturer and they don’t have your best interests at heart.

When you buy from a Dealer, you become their customer. They have a much greater interest in maintaining the relationship. In addition to gaining additional business such as servicing and other camping gear, there’s also the possibility of a future upgrade and referral business. So you’ll always be a high priority. Not so a local repairer.

Q: Check out customer Reviews on an independent site?

Reviews can be a little deceptive at times. If you type the manufacturer or dealer name into a generic google search you will find reviews on Google. This is an independent site.

Dig deep and look for reviews from actual purchasers rather than from people who just visited the store, particularly if they are tagged as a social influencer.

Ask friends who’ve purchased the same product. They’re more likely to give a direct review. A lot of reviewers will give a positive comment on delivery, but the experience sours with use and lack of real customer service when things go wrong.

Multi award-winning local business, The Dirt Off Road Campers in Mount Barker SA specialise in Australian manufacturing, with only high reputation products on offer

Q: How do they deal with Warranty?

Warranty is a good thing, but it doesn’t compensate you for the inconvenience of having to take it back to the manufacturer or local dealer for repair. The difference comes down to how the company responds and treats you and how quickly they can turn it around. Are you a valued customer or an inconvenience?

If it’s an imported product there could be issues with parts availability. COVID has made it difficult for imported parts, with difficulty getting them out of China and then again off the docks in Australia.

Awards from peak representative bodies such as the Caravan & Camping Industry Association are a true reflection of a market leading company. In comparison, be cautious about other awards, such as those in the media. It’s not really an industry award or impartial if the competition is limited to companies that advertise in that medium. That’s just marketing!

Due diligence in your camper purchase is a key step to ensure you’re getting the best camper and back up service available. Deal only with companies with a consistent service excellence as a guide to future expectations.

You get what you pay for in this world and you’ll get more enjoyment and use by investing in a proven product with a dependable service backup.

To view a specialist range of quality manufactured campers – click here