Finding Our New Home, Part 1 The Search

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Despite the mess, nicks, and scratches, we instantly knew this was 'the one' for us! It just felt like HOME.
Southern Idaho

On January 30, 2018, we headed to Southern Idaho from Western Montana to begin the search for our 5h wheel so we could start our new adventure come March 15th.  The unit we were traveling over 6 hours 1-way to look at, was at the top of our short-list.

When we got there, the salesperson was over eager to show us the unit, always trying to pry more information out of us and would gloss over issues we pointed out.  We had a weird vibe with the Gateway 3200RS 5th wheel, like there was something wrong, but could not put our finger on it. As always the dealership wanted to work the numbers.  We went along with it, submitted our low-average purchase price (we had research), and they came back way over the high purchase range. Even though it was our first to look at seriously,  the 6-hour drive was well worth being able to walk-through the Gateway in person. We were not heartbroken to keep searching since we had more on our short list to view.

To make the most of our time, we compared nearby dealership inventory to our list.  At the top of the list was a Bayhill 320RS which we spotted on a website, but it would be an 8-hour drive to get there.  So we called Camping World to see if they had it available to look at, they did. The salesman knew how far we were driving and said their office would be closing in just a few hours.  An appointment was set for that next morning to view the Bayhill with him. He said it would be ready for us when we got there so we would have ample time for our 10-hour drive home. At closing time he called to verify we were on our way, said the Bayhill was ready and asked if we would be at the appointment.  We confirmed that we were on the road to his location and would be there when Camping World opened for our meeting. At this point, his follow up was remarkable, unlike other salespeople we had in the past, and we were looking forward to working with him.

Along the way, we looked at a beautiful Grand Design.  Sadly, it wasn’t the right fit for us and was a little heavy for our towing comfort.  We weren’t worried since this was only the beginning of our adventure in finding our new home.  Besides, after the Bayhill appointment at Camping World, we wanted to check out a Heritage Glen at another dealership in that same town before heading home.

It was getting late, so we stopped at a hotel for the night. Before heading to bed, we analyzed our short list of 5th wheels, reviewed the purchase price ranges and talking over our floor plan needs.

Camping World – Day 1

Morning came, we got some much-needed coffee for the cold morning and sat in our truck anxiously waiting for Camping World to open so we could meet the Salesman that would have the Bayhill ready for us.  Thoughts of the impending snow didn’t help the urge to head home right away!

As our luck would have it, our salesperson was not there at the start of our appointment.  Instead, we were passed off to two different salespeople, one being a manager of some type.  Neither knew where the Bayhill was and guessed it sold the day before, based on the high inquiries it had.  Our hearts sank, but we again stated our set appointment, our long drive there and needed answers. They began looking over sales sheets and ‘believed’ it may be on the lot somewhere.  At this point, we were getting very upset! So we ended up going out in the cold, walked the entire lot, twice, looking for the 5th wheel.

We noticed it in between two other 5th wheels by the service bays as we were walking back to the showroom.  It was parked where it could have been hooked up to power but had not. The lights were not on; the furnace had not been running to get it warm, there were clothes on the bed, and it was apparent the Bayhill was not ready for viewing.  Not having the 5th wheel in comfortable viewing condition, was not expect and certainly not ideal.  

The salesperson who was trying to show us the unit kept fumblingly around, not knowing how some of the features worked.   All we thought was WOW – just wow! The majority of RV’s have the same equipment and operate similarly. We did not understand how it could be so challenging, especially for a salesman.  Also, we had given them a good 12 hours to get this ready, they knew we were coming, called to confirm with us, yet setting the appointment did nothing to help speed this along.

While we were shivering in the 5th wheel, our salesman finally showed up and apologized that his medical appointment took longer than expected.  We were just relieved to have gotten rid of the other guy who knew nothing about the Bayhill! The delay also enabled us to thoroughly inspect the unit for any hidden issues by opening everything and testing all we could.  We even moved furniture to see the walls under the windows.

The 5th wheel was a mess inside!  Dirty oven, bra and a dress on the unmade bed as well as cleaning supplies in the bathroom.  Ironically, several salespeople informed us that the Bayhill had been the most looked at RV on their lot.  We wondered if this was the most viewed and in this condition, how much worse were the other units?

We LOVE it – But Can We Buy It

Despite the mess, nicks, and scratches, we instantly knew this was ‘the one’ for us!  It just felt like HOME. We loved the colors, the space, the rolling island, but not the price (as always).  We already knew where it needed to be for a fair purchase price. As always he asked to ‘run numbers,’ and we played it cool by saying we needed to get on the road and had more to see later.  Finally, we decided to come in from the cold and see what they could do at Camping World for us.

Their first step in ‘running numbers’ is accessing your creditworthiness by seeing your credit score.  Our first mistake (probably) was telling them we had obtained financing of our own.  Silence filled the air, and you could see his face drop.   He stammered to say that our best bet in a good deal would be to have them do the financing.  It didn’t seem like that long ago when having your funding was the best option. But now the stores make more money if they do the financing.  So we said we were open to what they could offer. If you have read our truck purchase ordeal, this will sound similar!

They sweeten the deal by offering us a 2.99% rate with zero down on the 2014 Bayhill, which was for the new models (2018+).  The rate was lower than our Credit Union, so we said yes. Then they informed us they would have to verify it on Monday with a different department.  However, we started some of the initial paperwork with this low-interest rate. In the back of our minds, we knew our Credit Union would match it anyway, so we had nothing to lose.

At this point we were excited (trying not to show it) -a beautiful 5th wheel that felt like home – an even lower interest rate than we expected – having five weeks to load our belongings into it.  Things could only get better if we could agree on a fair price.

It’s time for a deal

Game faces on!  We told them a number (a little lower – expecting them to always be above that), along with the handful of problem items to justify our price, he went to go find out.  The long wait happened for them to do whatever it is behind closed doors. After a little back and forth the price came down, closer to what we were asking for (acceptable in our eyes).  

We got the final paperwork, and upon a closer look, they added FEES which weren’t part of the negotiation!  They never informed us of any additional fees. It was a slap in the face! The price was now back to almost where we started.  The salesman was apologetic, asking what he could do to make the sale. Our response was “remove the fees.” Of course, that was a ‘no’ along with some lame reason that Camping World can’t omit the sales fees.  So we asked that they deduct the amount of the fees from the negotiated price, again they said ‘no.’

We were done!  We were tired of the one-sided negotiation and put our coats on.  We needed to start our long drive home, without a deal, no matter how perfect the Bayhill was.  Sometimes you have to walk away. With our coats on, we walked past the fancy gooseneck hitch system that several salespeople were trying to get us to buy, earlier.  We paused for a moment and said in a joking manner: “if you toss in this for free, you’ll have a deal.” He told us to stay there and ran back to that mysterious room and closed the door.  We continued walking to the exit door, waiting a moment to see if he would have an answer, quickly. Of course, he came back saying the ‘higher up’ refused the deal since the hitch is a ‘parts department’ item.  In this kid-friendly blog, we can not write what words went through our minds.

However, they would “meet us halfway” by deducting 50% of the hitch cost from the negotiation price.  We went outside to run some numbers and think it over. The purchase price was a little higher than our ideal target, but it was enough ‘savings’ for a different hitch we were going to get at another place.  Plus, the Bayhill just felt like ‘home’ making it the right fit for our new full-time adventure in it.

Either our best or worst decision

In our heads, we knew the price was a little over where it should be for the Bayhill; we were tired, we would need our new home in 6 weeks and just wanted to start our 10-hour drive home in the snow.  We said YES!

Now, we needed to stay a little longer to do some minor paperwork. Camping World also required a $500 holding deposit that we would get back the day we pick up the Bayhill, so we put it on our credit card.  We asked why we needed a holding deposit. Because they would not be able to confirm the 2.99% interest rate until Monday, in their eyes, we hadn’t put any ‘investment’ into it.

Before we left, we set a date of February 17th to pick up the Bayhill 5th wheel which gave Camping World time to clean and do their final inspection.  Now, several hours later than we wanted, we were on the road home with mixed emotions.

Camping World goes back on their rate

Monday came and went with no word on that interest rate.  Four days later (Feb 5th) Camping World called to tell us that they could NOT do the 2.99%.  The finance person didn’t even know why they would suggest that on a 4-year-old 5th wheel.  

I told her that was fine; we will have our Credit Union send them the funding we’ve secured. She stated that she needed to email us some other ‘options’ we had available before they could send out the invoice request.   It took another full day before we received that email. When we did, it was an extended warranty and roadside assistance services. However, the salesman said we would have roadside assistance included free for 1 year with the purchase of the Bayhill.  Again, we pushed back on the difference. That’s when it was spun we do have 1 year FREE but that these services would extend the time frame (at a cost). Another thing to look out for with Camping World!

Before the 8th all the paperwork was signed, and the Credit Union was ready to wire funds or mail a check.  They kept leaving messages at Camping World for their preference, and we did too. Finally, on the 11th they responded by wanting a check mailed AND to have it there by the 16th.  In no manner was Camping World quick at anything!

Getting ready to pick it up

During all of this, we needed to get insurance on the 5th wheel, which we found and set our coverage date for the 17th (our pick-up date).   We were all set to finally go pick it up, bring it home and get it packed before our Estate Sale (March 2nd). Plus getting the nightmare behind us would be a blessing!  

How do you think it went? As you have read so far, it has not been a pleasant walk in the park, working with Camping World. Read PART 2 for an even bigger adventure and see if we picked it up!

Melissa McElfresh

Melissa McElfresh

In 2012 I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis), which made me realize life is too short and not to take simple things for granted. As an avid indoor-girl with allergies, I did not go on hikes of any sort. But, one day my Marine husband, Don, asked if I would go on a 'nature walk' with him. It was on the paved Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. I went and was hooked, eager for our next adventure! The desire to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, has aided me to share with you my new adventure.

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About Us

We are sharing our adventures to not only document our full-time living in a 5th wheel but to provide others with information.  Our extensive research involved searching for answers to these questions: how to begin this lifestyle, what RV is best to live in full-time and what jobs could we do to support our dream.  However, we did not find a lot of answers out there that pertained to our quest.  Quickly we realized people choose this lifestyle and their RV for many different reasons.  There is no right or wrong answer.  We are here to provide you with another perspective.

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