So much for the lure of the open road.
Bill and Jennie Mangan (pictured above) say their dream of spending the first 10 years of joint retirement traveling the country in their luxury motor coach quickly faded beneath a cloud of diesel fumes pouring into their bedroom at night as leaking hydraulic fluid seeped into a basement drawer, reports the Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer.
Then there was the sewage, which they say pooled daily in their bedroom and geysered from their shower drain like an off-color Old Faithful each time they flushed the toilet. The combination, the couple told the Observer, left their new Thor Motor Coach Tuscany 44MT smelling like a $270,000, rolling outhouse.
Once upon a time, the Mangans hoped to join more than the 1 million estimated American retirees who have discarded their brick-and-mortar home for golden years of adventure made possible by spacious tricked-out recreational vehicles.
No longer. The couple recently sued Thor Industries, the Elkhart, Indiana-based company that built their diesel pusher, seeking a full refund of the sale price plus $100,000 in damages for the 160 separate defects that the couple says have crippled the vehicle during the short time they’ve owned it.
Today, the Mangan’s would-be home-on-wheels sits in a Lincoln County campground, not far from the conventional home they have under construction in nearby Denver (North Carolina; 25 miles northwest of Charlotte)
“We bought the RV for fun, and all it’s been is work, headaches, expense, and horrible experiences,” Jennie told the Observer.
“We don’t believe in this vehicle. There’s no trust that it is going to stay put together for the next 10 years. I don’t want it anymore. I’m done.”
The lawsuit says the couple’s highly anticipated life on wheels instead bogged down into hours lost on the phone or laptop debating warranties and service claims. When they actually drove their 45-foot-long motor coach anywhere, they say, it was usually a two- to three-day trip to some RV service center in a distant state.
In fact, with the numerous 1,000-mile drives from their former New Hampshire home to North Carolina-based RV service centers, the Mangans found they actually loved the state. They hope to move into their new Lincoln County house by July.
Thor is a major name in the RV industry, with the Tuscany its premium model. Thor Industries is the parent company of Thor Motor Coach, which built and assembled the Mangans’ model.
On the Better Business Bureau website, Thor receives 3.2 stars out of five. Several of the customer reviews posted closely track what the Mangans say has been their experience—multiple problems surfacing in the motor coach soon after purchase. BBB says 36 complaints, most for problems with Thor’s products or service, have been closed in the last three years.
T. Michael Pangburn, the attorney for Thor Industries, said in an email to the Observer that the company has a limited one-year warranty along with a backup service plan to handle most problems that arise with its vehicles.
“While Thor Motor Coach, Inc. has legal defenses to the lawsuit, it wishes to seek an amicable resolution of the dispute if at all possible,” Pangburn wrote.
“It is disappointing to learn that an owner of a Thor Motor Coach product is dissatisfied.”
The Mangans started searching for an RV in anticipation of Jennie’s planned March 2017 retirement from her job as a software engineer. She says they hunted the country online for the best model and price, and believed they found it at a dealership outside Raleigh.
When she climbed aboard the Thor in the store’s parking lot in June 2016, Jennie says she was overwhelmed by the vehicle’s sophistication and beauty.
Still, the RV needed several days of final repairs before the Mangans could drive it off the lot, the lawsuit says. The first night they had it, a water line broke. Jennie says she and Bill parked by an all-night Wal-Mart so she could use the store’s bathroom.
By the time, they made it back to New England, the “big stuff,” as Jennie calls it, began cropping up. On a trip to Florida, she says, sewage from a leaking bathroom pipe puddled on the ground beneath the RV. When the pipe was fixed and the overall water pressure increased, she says, so did the size of the excremental plumes firing out of the shower drain.
According to the complaint, the Mangans’ RV has spent a combined six months at various shops and still has problems. A month and a half into ownership, the couple began asking for a full rebate, first from the dealership and eventually Thor; the company has never responded, the lawsuit says.
Without the help of an attorney, the couple has sued under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a 1975 law designed to protect consumers against misleading warranty claims.
The Mangans say Thor and its products “have ruined our dreams of ever traveling with any form of RV, now and in the future,” the lawsuit says.
“This … without a doubt has been the most horrible experience of our lives so far.”
Vogel Talks RVing has previously posted a series of articles on Tips For Purchasing a New RV.
Follow the suggestions outlined in these articles BEFORE purchasing an RV, and you may avoid a disastrous experience not unlike the Mangans.
Remember, not all manufacturers are created equal and not all RV dealers are created equal.
Never forget your dreams.