Some things never change. Still, during my long life I have found only a few things that haven’t changed; and the method of offering auto and RV “deals” is one of them. Way back before I saw the “light” and became a consumer advocate, I was in that “deal-making” business just long enough to get a belly full of arm-twisting tactics. For me, the problem with the business strategy was that it was rarely up-front. The facts constantly changed to a point where the products and prices were never real.
The RV shows this year have been a good indication that the past is still with us. One would think that with the “Big Two” (Thor and Forest River) in full charge, we would see less “deal-making” at the shows and more selling of features. But we found deal-making still prominent in both print and voice. It was as if the salespeople were still waiting for that one “sucker” to plop down in the RV to see where the TV and coffee pot were mounted (there is a story behind this and I will share it with you in the near future). What has changed is the subject matter. Where in the 80’s and 90’s the selling was primarily on features such as roofing, plumbing, engines, and slide-outs, today the sales pitch is on prices and financing.
Notice that if you buy the Bounder shown in Photo 1, “TODAY” you can save $22,620 from a list price of $162,273 (not shown and not necessarily the MSRP - Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) and get a discount of approximately 14%—which may be considered a fair deal but not necessarily the best deal you can get. Also, notice that the sign says you can buy the motor home for only $847 a month on conditions stated in the fine print.
Photo #1 "Today"
We all know that what is shown in Photo 1 is only to get your interest. From that point on, it is between you, the salesperson, and the F&I (finance and insurance) specialist—who is a big profit maker for the company. We also all know that what matters most is what ends up in the contract. That is where your smarts come into play.
But now notice that in Photo 2 the Winnebago dealer is offering you a discount of $39,419 at a list price (again, not MSRP) of $116,494 – a discount of almost 34%. Now, knowing that industry “norms” for discounts rarely get anywhere near that, you automatically have a red flag. Of course, this could be the deal of a lifetime—but I would bet it’s not. I would expect that there’s something smelly in the deal, and it’s not the local skunk.
Photo #2 "Deal of a Lifetime?"
Photo 3 of the Jayco Greyhawk is also interesting. With a list price of $112,000 (not necessarily the MSRP!) and a selling price of $78,995—which is about the dealer’s cost. I would bet that either the dealer really wants to get rid of this unit or the dealer’s list price is inflated.
Photo #3: Needs to Go or Inflated List Price?
I like photo 4 because the numbers for this Winnebago Travato look right. If the VIN # is checked for the MSRP and there’s no fudging, you can see that there’s a bit of negotiation that can still be done. And if you read my book on buying, you should be able to get a few more percentage points and end up with a good deal.
Photo #4: A bit of negotiation might be available
Show buying can be an adventure or it can be disaster in the long run. There are “deals”—then there are “DEALS.” If you do decide to buy at a show, remember the basic rules of good buying techniques and you’ll probably do just fine:
But then, it may be best to leave your checkbook at home and enjoy looking.
Until next time.
PS: If you haven’t done so, don’t forget to send us a satisfaction poll for your current unit at least every 2 years.