Summer of Red Bay – Our Experience
Lee and I knew we were going to having to come to Red Bay to get our RV repainted, but nothing could have prepared us for our 10.5 week stay here. Since we are full time, and had the time to kill, we just made the best of it and will forever refer to this summer as the summer of Red Bay. The service center does not take appointments and works on a first come first service basis. Because of this we had no idea how long we would be, we estimated 3-5 weeks. Clearly our estimation was off. We had a bunch of minor issues, but over 170 paint issues, which included runs, debris, dents, defects and other fiberglass issues. We both agree that if we had noticed the horrible paint job, we would not have bought the RV, but we sadly made the assumption that our Tiffin would have as good of paint job as our Grand Design had. The good news is the RV we are leaving with looks better than the RV we came with.
We arrived on August 3 and were assigned #728 and had 3,333 miles on our RV. When we left we had driven 24 miles around the parking lot going from our site to the bays and 1,093 RVs had come in after us. Half way through our stay when I realized we would be here a long time, I made a game out of it. Each RV that comes in is assigned a number, so I had fun with the office staff and asked them how often do people’s number get lapped. They said very infrequently, so I wanted to be one of those people. As weeks went on, I would check in at the office to see if we had been lapped (the number start over when they reach 1,000.) A few days before we left it happened. Someone came in and was assigned #729. I wish I could have met them and told them congratulations your number 1000, but I never got the chance.
We arrived on Saturday August 3rd and got our first call on Wednesday morning to head to General Bay 48. There we met Jeff and Greg who were great. We spent 4 days with them initially. We then waited one day before getting a call to head over to the Mechanical Bay 42. We spent 2 days there. The following Monday we got called into Cabinetry. Because they were behind schedule they had us park outside behind another rig, so no Bay was assigned, but we worked with techs Zach and Cody. We spent 4 days here. It would have been shorter but they had to problem solve an issue we had with our theater seats hitting the radiator behind them, their first solution didn’t work so they had to redo everything and that takes time. We waited one day to get into paint, but that was our choice since the day they wanted us to go to paint was the same day I had to drive Lee to the airport for VMworld – a work conference. While I was in Red Bay dealing with the dogs, Lee was cheating on the dogs with adorable puppies they had at the conference. We were in Paint Bay 21 with Thomas from August 26 – October 9th. It amazed me they only had one guy working on our rig with the amount of paint issues we had. I was also amazed we weren’t sent back to the paint factory in Belmont. While we were in paint a few minor things broke, so we had to go back to General and Mechanical before we left. In the end we spent 48 days in various Bays. We left Red Bay 10.5 weeks later on October 17.
We did have Zach do some afterhours work for us, I wanted the valances in the bedroom cut so that I would no longer roll over and hit them in the middle of the night. I think he did a great job. We also have Trevor Nichols custom fit a dash cover and a floor mat for us. And I had towels made with the Tiffin slogan and our RV on it at a local store.
The best part about coming to Red Bay to get work done at the factory is that you get to stay in your RV because they have full hook up at their sites. You go into a bay during the day and back to your site at night. Night is a time to sit outside and socialize with other Tiffin owners. When we got there, a potluck was being held on Thursday nights, when the Tiffin owner who was organizing them left, I decided to take over and host these. I found the weekly potluck broke up the monotony of the each week, plus gave people a chance to meet each other and learn from one another. At night people would often comment on how they loved seeing Scarlet drive the RV because she loved sitting in the Captain’s Chair looking out the window.
The hardest part about being in Red Bay is the waiting. We had to go to 4 bays (General, Mechanical, Cabinetry and Paint). When you finish with one bay, you wait to be called into the next. Sometimes you get called the same day, the next day or wait a few days. You never know because it depends on how busy they are. We were lucky, we didn’t have to wait that long if at all between bays. Waiting to be called into a Bay is tiring and stressful, you feel as if you can’t go too far away in case you get the call. It was fun watching people answer the phone while walking their dogs, and than run back to their RVs, you knew those people had gotten the call.
While the RV is being worked on, you have a few options, stay in your RV or leave. Lee typically stayed mainly because he was working but also so he could see what the techs were doing and answer any questions they had. I mainly was on dog duty. Since we have guardian breeds and the pet lounge would have stressed them out. I asked if we would be allowed to use trailers that were on site. For the first 3 weeks, I would take the dogs there in the morning and hang out with them. Once we got to paint, I stayed in the RV with the dogs (paint fumes were not an issue). Each day I would also take a walk down to the pet lounge to say hi to all the other dogs and people. I needed to get away and move. It was during this time I got to know other Tiffin employees, who towards the end of our stay would joke with me about setting up my own personal mailbox.
The Service Center went through a bit of a change while we were here. When we arrived there was 91 sites which included pull thru and back in sites. Any tiffin could stay there as it was a first come first serve. There was 2 travel trailers on site (the ones I brought the dogs too) were removed and auctioned off to the employees. By the time we left a fence was put up around the service building, and they are down to 54 sites, all pull thru and only RV’s under the one year warranty can stay there. The guard shack was being framed and the lounges hours were about to be changed. The lounges hours were going to change to match the service center – meaning no more access to it in the evening and on the weekends.
There was a bit of lack of communication as the fence went up. Each day the way we drove to the bays changed without notice. It go to the point that when I walked the dogs, I would scout the route for the morning. Then I hit my breaking point and decided to talk to the person in charge and inform him that we were tired of the lack of communication and I wanted to know what the plan was. The next day a flow chart was created. I tried to do my best to keep the other RVers as informed as possible and this earned me the nickname “The Mayor” or “Mayor Kiddo” because I was the youngest RV Owner. I laughed when I found out this was my nickname because Lee and I are usually younger then most RVers we meet.
At the end of our stay, Lee surprised me by asking our painter to paint the flag on the back grill. We had seen it on someone else’s RV and had talked about doing it in the future, but to my surprise Lee had it done this trip and I couldn’t be happier. I love it and love have the flag where ever we go.
What I have learned from being here so long:
I recommend staying with your coach while it is in the bays, this way not only can you learn how to fix little things yourself, but you are available to answer any questions they techs have. If they can’t get a hold of you, that may delay things.
Focus on the positive. All RV’s have issues but be grateful for the fact that Tiffin does what they can to fix them. It might take some time, but in the end they do stand by their product.
You don’t need to call Bob for everything. So many people asked us, why we haven’t called Bob. Why would we? We didn’t have issues that warranted a call to Bob. The service center is taking care of things. Do I wish they did things at a faster pace yes, but everyday progress was being made, and the RV I brought to the service center left a better RV.
Be patient. The techs are doing their best to care for you and your RV.
Don’t come during the busy time, if you only have a few days. I saw so many people come with only 2 weeks to get things done, they would get frustrated when they would have to wait. If you are in a hurry, you have an option of leaving your RV there until the work is done.
Finally, Attitude is everything. You have to wake up every day with a positive attitude knowing things are moving forward and progressing. You have to find something to laugh at when you hit a wall and are tired and no matter what there are always worse places to be.