You learn something new everyday. It’s a saying you hear all the time, but when you live in an RV it’s an understatement. I’m constantly stumbling upon new things to try, discovering better ways to get stuff done, and picking up tips from people who have been doing this far longer than us. One of my most recent learning experiences is definitely going to change our lives for the better.
You know what it’s like to take your car in for service, or wait around for a plumber or electrician to fix a problem in your home … but when your vehicle is your home, and your home is your vehicle, things get slightly more complicated. At any given point in time, there are usually a half-dozen picky little things in our motorhome that could be addressed. The challenge is that not all service centers are created equal. Sometimes you’ll get a technician who is trained on all the latest gizmos and gadgets and does a great job. Other times … well, let’s just say that we’ve left feeling worse off than when we arrived. Many times. Add to that the long wait (sometimes several weeks) for a service appointment, and it can be an all-round frustrating experience.
Taking the RV back to the Winnebago factory to have our service work is a great option – especially when we’re already in the neighborhood! The technicians know EVERYTHING there is to know about Winnebago RVs, and they have EVERY PART you’ll ever need right in the warehouse. But it’s a popular option, and getting an appointment during busy times of the year can sometimes take a couple months.
We’re loath to make plans months in advance, but we discovered a few weeks ago that Winnebago also makes accommodations at the service center for people who drop in!
Since we bought the new RV in November, we’ve been making note of some things we wanted to have resolved before the warranty expired, but we hadn’t gotten around to setting an appointment and taking it in. Thank goodness for procrastination, because we got the chance to experience Winnebago’s customer service!
What we learned is that Winnebago staffs a certain number of service technicians each day to work on people’s RVs who stop in without appointments. When you arrive at the service center, just ask to have your name added to a list, and as soon as a technician becomes available, you’re called in on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re there during a particularly popular time, it can take a day or two for your name to be called. But we arrived late one afternoon and were able to get in the following morning!
Your can request seven minor repairs to your RV when your number is called. We got all seven of our items taken care of, plus the technician threw in a few extras, like inspecting the seals on the roof (which is great, because I don’t really want to go up there!). If you have more than seven things that need attention, you can get back on the list the next morning and go through the process again.
To keep everyone comfortable while they wait, Winnebago has RV parking with water and electric hook-ups in the parking lot and in a little park right next door to the service center. They also have a nice waiting area that is pet friendly, where people and pooches were lounging while their coaches were in the shop.
And the very best part … we made some new friends! It seems everywhere RVers are gathered, it’s an opportunity to meet some fantastic new people.
To entertain myself the day our motorhome was in the shop, I had the boys drop me off at the Winnebago Visitors’ Center on their way to a park. There are some interesting exhibits on the company’s history and some old and new RVs to check out.
After learning all about the history of Winnebago, I figured it was time to see how they build them, so I jumped on the next factory tour.
We spent two hours exploring the complex and visiting the different production areas. It was fascinating to see everything from the curtains, to the wiring, to the floors, to the windows being produced and installed – what an operation!
Overall, this was the best service experience we’ve ever had. From now on, we’re going to keep a list and plan to visit the folks at Winnebago Customer Service once a year for all our repair and service work! The factory in Forest City, Iowa is about a 3-hour drive from where I grew up, so it will be easy to wrap it into a visit with my family.
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