Platt v. Winnebago

Pure joy. Legendary construction standards. You can read all about the amazing features of the 2016 Class B Winnebago Era in this brochure.

However, as most buyers of new RVs quickly find out, pure joy is fleeting and legendary construction standards are legendary for a reason.

The Platts, a couple from Colorado, purchased a Winnebago Era in 2016. The Era is a Class B motorhome built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. Back in 2016, it looked like this:

Not surprisingly, the Era had a number of annoying defects which included screens falling off the windows, inoperable furnace, inoperable GPS and a number of other issues. Pretty standard fare for most of us that own and operate RVs.

This was our initial warranty list of issues that we had to resolve after we picked up our coach back in 2016:

  • Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
  • Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
  • Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
  • MCD Day/Night Shades: MCD Day/Night Shades over dining area appear to require reprogramming. Day shade inoperative over main dining area window and night shades over main dining area window and small dining area window out of synch.
  • Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
  • Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
  • Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
  • Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
  • Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat
  • Engine fault light triggered by outdated engine firmware
  • Driver side tire bulge

So many more items were added to our issues list over the following years. It comes with the experience of pure joy and legendary construction standards in the RV industry. The issues get resolved and we take them in stride. For some people, issues become pure agony. And others go to court.

The Platts brought their Winnebago to Camping World for service seven times to deal with warranty repairs. Apparently Camping World was unable to resolve all of the repair issues and the Platts scheduled an appointment with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa.

For whatever reason, they decided that they would cancel the factory appointment and sue Winnebago under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. Winnebago had told the couple that they would fix all of the outstanding defects at no cost. The Platts claimed that Winnebago had sufficient opportunity to correct the problems and had failed to do so. They lost faith in Winnebago.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit did not rule in favour of the Platts:

The Platts purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV on January 18, 2016. This purchase was subject to Winnebago’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which required the Platts to bring the RV for repairs to an authorized dealer and then, if those repairs were insufficient, to Winnebago itself before they could bring an action against Winnebago.

The RV suffered from a litany of defects and the Platts took it in for warranty repairs to Camping World of Golden, Colorado (Camping World), an authorized Winnebago dealership, on numerous occasions for numerous separate defects within the first seven and a half months of their ownership. When the Camping World repairs did not resolve the Platts’ issues with the RV, they scheduled an appointment for repairs with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, but they subsequently cancelled the appointment. Instead, they sued Winnebago for breach of express and implied warranties under both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301–2312, and Colorado state law, and also for deceptive trade practices in violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), Colo. Rev. Stat. § 6-1-105.

Winnebago filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted, dismissing all of the Platts’ claims. The Platts appeal, and we affirm.

Winnebago did not violate consumer protection laws through its warranty with the Platts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled yesterday. You can read the full case here.

“Winnebago did not breach the warranty because the Platts failed to provide it with an opportunity to perform repairs,” wrote Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour for the circuit panel.

Losing faith in a manufacturer is insufficient grounds to sue a company for failing to comply with a warranty.

The Platts did contend that the brochures describing the Era as “pure joy” with “legendary construction standards” were a deceptive marketing practice. Although the legendary bit is likely accurate. It all depends on how you interpret the word legendary.

Buyer’s remorse is a tough thing. However, even a little bit of online research will quickly help a buyer to understand the quality issues that impact the RV industry. If you know that you will experience issues, that it is normal to experience issues, that it is normal to take the RV back to the manufacturer to resolve warranty issues, then you will experience pure joy from time to time.

After the initial shakedown, which might take a few years, things are not so bad. You get used to the idea that something is always going wrong in an RV. You inevitably get pretty handy at fixing things. Or you pay someone else to fix them. And you move on.

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