Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: NEVER Rent an RV from Cruise America


 June 24th
If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm all about positive ideas, news, and information. I never bash businesses or books or anything else here. That's not how I operate.

This was a tough decision, but today I'm making an exception because I hope to save others from our horrible experience.

We rented an RV from Cruise America for a 5 week cross country trip with our farthest location being the Grand Canyon. This is the trip of a lifetime that required a significant amount of saving to make it happen. We've had nothing but escalating difficulties since we left just 8 days ago.

We started out on June 23. On June 24th, the RV made a terrifying, loud sound while we were on I-90 west of Syracuse. Horrible sounds continued as we barely managed to get off the highway to a truck stop. We called their "24 hour customer service" line and were told to expect a call back. After 1 hour, there was no call so we called back. We were told someone would call us "some time today." Luckily, my husband was able to locate a campground nearby so we "limped" into that campground for the night.

The next day we spent hours at a truck repair shop waiting for information. They wouldn't return our calls or the calls from the repair place. They wouldn't escalate our calls to a Manager. FINALLY they got us a replacement RV and comped us 1 day, even though we lost 30 hours of irreplaceable time.

June 28
So, back on the road we went. On June 28th the "new" RV overheated and shut down on a bridge over the Mississippi River. There was only one lane and no shoulder because of construction and miles and miles of traffic behind us. After multiple starts and stops, we barely got enough power to crest the bridge and coast down the other side without power steering.

Same deal with customer service except this time the representative argued when we told him that, no, we couldn't just try to drive it 7 miles to a repair shop. When pressed, my husband told the agent that a police officer told us we could not try to drive anywhere else. Agent's response? "Is the cop a mechanic?" No. He's just the guy who's in charge of road safety who forbid us to try driving anywhere else because it was a safety hazard. (Seriously... we blocked multiple intersections, etc. just trying to get safely off the road). What did they do for us? Paid for a hotel up to $120 and comped us 2 days. We were stranded with no vehicle or food so we had to pay for meals even though we had food in the RV.

And finally to today. Yes, a third breakdown. This time on a busy, dangerous highway with massive
July 1
tractor trailers passing inches from our RV. And the RV wouldn't restart, so we couldn't get off the highway.

Cruise America always answers the phone with "Are you in a safe location."  No! Yet, we sat on the highway for more than an hour WITH NO CALLBACK from Cruise America.  The police called a tow. When Arrow Towing arrived, I called Cruise America back and they ARGUED about letting the company tow us. So even though the tow guy had us hooked up, we couldn't leave the unsafe highway.

Luckily, Arrow is a good company and our driver Adam (Thank you, Adam.) agreed to take us to safety and deal with money later. (After he towed the RV, he waited while we gathered enough belongings for the night and then he drove us to a hotel.  Everyone we've interacted with EXCEPT Cruise America has been so helpful to us. Even the lady at the front desk apologized for our misfortune.  Cruise America? Not so much).

So here we are, stranded in a hotel in Omaha, with no vehicle and most of our stuff still in the RV. We told Cruise America we do not want the RV back. We're done. They just need to get us home. Their response... they threatened us with breach of contract. Seriously.

Oh, and did I mention our young kids have been with us through all of this? Cruise America does not care that our children's lives were at risk.

Thank you for reading my rant. I promise you all of this is true. I hope you tell everyone you know to never do business with Cruise America.

As you know, we've traveled pretty widely in the developing world- the Philippines, Niger, India, Ecuador, Morocco, Peru, etc. and also in England and Italy. We have NEVER had this kind of experience. We had a flat tire on a crowded bush taxi in Niger for crying out loud and all we got was good cheer, camaraderie, and combined problem solving. With Cruise America, all we've gotten is people hiding behind a script. It's completely unacceptable.

And now, I have a favor to ask... I know most of my readers don't comment or share my posts (but Google Analytics tells me you're reading...). Will you please share this post via all of your social media networks? I hope to prevent anyone else from our misfortune. BUT... I also hope some pressure will help us.

23 comments:

  1. What a horrible way to NOT see America!

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  2. Cruise America should get their act in gear! At the very least they should understand that they have screwed up twice and should send you home. ---Lisa

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  3. Holy Schmoley!

    This is testament to the fact that cooperate America does not care about the people they are selling their products/business to--disgraceful.

    I hope your family makes it home safely.

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    1. Thank you. We rented an SUV to get us and our gear home. We're making the best of it. Spent 2 nights in Kansas City, 2 nights in St. Louis for 4th of July celebrations and went spelunking in Kentucky. Not bad, I'd say!

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  4. Sorry about the horrible experience. :-(

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  5. You should send this entry to the Consumerist blog, and definitely to the Better Business Bureau

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear that! I agree about the BBB comment... report them for sure! I hope you manage to salvage some of your vacation.

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  7. Michelle, I'm a campground owner and I'm horrified at your experience with Cruise America! Hugs to you and your family. Please be safe and rest assured I will pass along your story.

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  8. I am sorry to hear about your misfortune, but it just another example of take the money and run!!!!
    We were going to take a road trip last year, but began to hear terrible things and deceided against it.
    I hope you are well compensated, unfortunatly the time you lost is gone!
    Glad you are safe and I will spread the word, may happier times come your way!!

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    1. We've been having fun on our way back (See comment above). Tomorrow we'll arrive at our dear friends' house in the DC area and stay a few nights. And perhaps we'll stop in NYC on our way home. We're taking it day by day. But we've made our own fun since ditching the terrible Cruise America RV (Yes, we had to pay to rent and SUV to get home).

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  9. Very sorry to hear about your experience. Travel time is so precious. There is so much to be prepare for when traveling in an RV, I would not be comfortable that any rental company would take the same precautions I take in preparing an RV for travel.

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    1. So true, Robert. We lost many precious days holed up in hotels because the RV broke down and we had no transportation. At one hotel, we couldn't even really walk to anything. At least in Omaha we could walk to a few good restaurants and a park. But that isn't how we wanted to spend our time. That is not a vacation.

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  10. Wow, Michelle, I'm so sorry to hear about your terrible experience. What could have been, should have been a great family trip is down the tubes because of one lousy company. Terrible!

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. We've made the best of it. It hasn't been what we planned but we've made memories anyway. (See comments above :). Spelunking is pretty cool, right?!

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  11. Completely awful! I am so very sorry, what a nightmare experiance. :(
    You have saved one family from going through this type of experience already, we had been planning a similar trip for next summer through them. No longer!

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    1. I'm so glad we saved you from this possibility. If you plan to rent, I'd suggest a local company. Perhaps the personal connection will make a difference. Unfortunately, we tried our local place and they don't rent for long trips like we planned, which is why we went with a big company. We learned the hard way.

      One other option.. since ditching the RV we've been driving a rented SUV and staying in KOA Kabins. I didn't know this option existed until this trip. Delux cabins have bathrooms, fridges, microwaves and some have cook tops. They're cheaper than hotels and you still get a bit of the "camping" experience with campfires, etc. I especially like that we've been able to cook our own food. Otherwise, it's hard to eat healthy when you're on the road.

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  12. I am a colleague of your Sister-in-law Kristen. She shared your post with us here at Microsoft when someone was looking into renting a camper. I am so sorry to hear of your problems. I am sharing your post on my Facebook account so others can see.

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