My suggestion, don't even think it.
Our daughter Allie had her wedding March 31st two years ago in Florida. We live in Lansing, Michigan. My husband Mark and I decided to take the two grandchildren, our son, his wife, her sister, our oldest daughter and myself and pack us all into an RV rental. The Cruise America website shows nice, sparkling clean RVs. At the time they had posted all manner of promises related to their outstanding customer service and super clean vehicles. I notice I can no longer find this statement anywhere on their website because trust me there is no such thing as customer service with this company and their vehicles are so far from clean it's criminal.
After work, late on the day of the rental, my son and husband drove to one of our local Cruise America pick-up places, which was over a 40-minute drive one way. When they got there, they had a choice of only one vehicle. We had to leave early the next morning so they were forced to take a filthy, and I mean mucky, filthy, dirty RV that seemed like it had been sitting on the lot for years without even having been started until the day they picked it up. This despite the fact we rented (with a deposit) two months in advance. On the way home the engine sounded horrible at any speeds above 45.
I called Cruise America immediately when my husband and son arrived home and said they had to get me a replacement ASAP. The rude customer service rep told me it wasn’t their policy to replace any vehicle for “dirt.” So, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. There were layers and layers of grime and filth all over every surface of this RV. I probably dropped at least a cool $100 in paper towels alone. That was because every time I wiped a surface, blackness came off onto the paper towel. And I mean sooty, coal-black muck. We paid an extra $100.00 for dishes they supplied that had so much grease and grime on them we never used them at all. I just left them in our garage.
Hours later I had cleaned all the hard surfaces to the best of my ability and covered every upholstered surface with numerous blankets, sheets etc. It was midnight before I felt it was suitable to load our personal belongings inside, no less our dresses and my son and husband's Army uniforms for my daughter’s wedding.
But thanks to Cruise America that was not to be.
We hadn’t gone an hour and ½ when the engine sound became so disturbing my husband had to pull over near Indiana to get the engine whine checked out. Then it wouldn't start again.
After several calls to Cruise America they directed us to one of their authorized dealers. We got it to start up again somehow, and drove to the first place they told us to drive to. The first one didn’t do RV repairs. The second one, same answer. We’re now almost two hours off of our driving schedule with no repair place in sight because Cruise America doesn't know where to send customers with their broken down RV's. We finally just pulled over to the first one we came to and the mechanic hearing our plight was kind enough to just give us an assessment of what was wrong.
He came into the cabin where the center console was and where there was access to the engine. When he opened up that inside hood we were stunned. He said, “Well there’s your trouble right there.” Inside the engine were several animal nests and dead animal body parts – it looked like several generations of squirrels had been living inside that engine for a very, very long time.
Cruise America sent us to yet another place, this place was where we were directed to pick up a replacement RV. I immediately noticed our “replacement” while much cleaner, was infested with spiders. They had a can of Raid and went inside to remove the infestation – theoretically speaking – but we were so pressed for time we had to load the replacement RV and get back on the road even though the smell of Raid was very thick inside the cabin. We opened windows to air it out and continued on our way.
We weren’t on the road long when spiders began to crawl out of numerous places. It was like some terrible horror movie. I was a nervous wreck that my grandchildren were going to get bitten in their car seats.
Not long after that I tried to use the on-board bathroom and when I flushed the toilet, the contents of the sewage tank began to spew up from behind the toilet and onto the floor. We immediately shut the pump and called Cruise America. They could give us a replacement at our destination.
We of course had to stop to use restrooms and after all the delays no one was capable of driving through the night so without a proper bathroom we were forced to stay in a hotel.
This set the trip back another day for us and we missed some planned family events.
When we finally arrived in Florida after our nightmare of a trip my husband and I were distraught, exhausted and deeply upset we had missed some planned family events. With the family rehearsal dinner that night, the wedding the next day, Cruise America wanted us to find a Cruise America RV dealer in St. Petersburg and bring the vehicle there ourselves to get our replacement to take home. This was impossible. I was the mother of the bride. I had already missed some key events, every other moment of my time was planned as was the case for my husband and son the only other authorized people allowed to drive the vehicle.
The customer service reps were rude, vague about where we were even to take the vehicle had we even wanted to try to hunt for a place.
I thought we were covered. American Express promises they’ll back up their customers and take on those evil retailers who rip us off. I called them when we got off the phone with Cruise America, expecting that my stop payment for the rental would be honored.
First of all, what I found out far too late was, Cruise America charges your credit card the moment you drive that RV out of their lot. I disputed the claim confident that American Express would see it our way.
Well, somebody’s pants were on fire with that claim too. American Express reps were useless and only managed to get $200 shaved off the cost of our very expensive nightmare.
The rest of our weekend went beautifully, the wedding was amazing and we’re thrilled our daughter married such a wonderful young man, Erik, a Captain in the Army.
The trip back was uneventful except we again had to stay in hotel rooms due to the fact we were unable to use the bathroom on the RV.
We returned the RV to the local affiliate right on time but I refused to sign the release and asked to speak to a Cruise America manager about a partial refund.
The local guy played it as if he had no idea we were dissatisfied. I snuck a peak on his desk with a stack of Cruise America rental print-outs and not only were my recorded numerous complaint phone calls there in black and white, but there was a stack of others with similar complaints. The local dealer was busy with customers so I grabbed our sheets and took them with me. So the guy lied to us. Not the first time we were lied to by this lying, cheating scum bag of a company.
The jerk from Cruise America in customer service who took my call started out the conversation like this, “Listen, you’re going to get one and only one offer from me so I suggest you better take it.” He proceeded to take a mere $100.00 off of our cost and I refused. We ended the call. I thought that by not signing the release saying we were satisfied I would be in a very strong position to receive a partial refund.
Boy was I wrong.
American Express only managed to refund about $200.00 not our $500.00 deposit as I originally asked and I found out when you drive away, you have signed a contract that states you are perfectly satisfied with every aspect of your rental. Then they immediately charge your card so if you’re not satisfied, and we most definitely were not – you’re sunk.
We were so harried, so rushed prior to the wedding, it was one of the few times in our life my husband didn’t carefully read the contract. He merely skimmed it.
They are not nationally a member of the Better Business Bureau. No shock here. However, upon further investigation (way too late for us) we found out there were over 75 complaints on the Michigan Better Business Bureau website.
Our lesson – to the tune of 2 grand (not including the additional cost of staying in hotels there and back), was a very expensive one. I have never in my life, and as a former Army wife I have traveled to many, many places – had worse treatment by any business EVER.
The Lansing State Journal did an article about our experience:
Unhappy Campers: RV Rental Nightmare Mars Wedding Trip
Stay away from Cruise America if you plan on renting an RV. Don’t get burned like we did.
And that's my piece for today.