27 September 2015

Clementine: The Gory Story

You may recall from my last post, we were headed to South Dakota and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to meet out little sponsoree Lakna's Liberty. We got as far as Deer Lodge when Clementine went kaput!

Lakna's Liberty with her cousin Running Road

Clementine was towed to Don K's in Whitefish, 210 miles. We arrived after closing on Thursday night. We didn't hear back until the following Monday afternoon. The repair estimate was just under $800. Ouch! A couple of sensors needed replacing as did the house batteries and air filter, labor was $470. The air filter needing to be replaced was interesting as Clem had just been in for serving three weeks before departure. Anybody ever hear of an air filter not being check with an oil change?

Now the house batteries being defunct well that was just plain dumb on Kinsey's part. They were the original batteries and Clem is now eight years old!!!!! I mean duhhhhh! We like never dry camp so she just thought the batteries were fine because they always worked as we went down the road. Kinsey knew she would pay more to have the dealer replace them but I guess she was feeling pooped so she decided to pay to let someone else handle it. We were told Clem would be ready on Friday.

On Friday we showed up to claim our Clem. The first thing we noticed was that she was filthy inside and out. They hadn't put down paper on the floorboard nor had they even washed the windshield. On the drivers side someone had sat in the drivers seat with a ball point pen in their back pocket and left ink marks all over the seat. Clem has the most beautiful leather seats we have ever seen. Soft as doe skin. Kinsey was incensed.

Clementine & Shadow at Lake Hebgen 2014

She got the service guy to come take a look and while they were trying to get the ink off the seat Kinsey was looking under the hood. Turned out things had not been put back the way they were supposed to be and things had to be put right there. Meanwhile the seat cleaning guy said he was taking the color out of the seat. An outside professional had to be called in. The seat cleaners came to the house and the seat was taken care of and you can't really see where it happened.

By now Kinsey has absolutely no confidence in what has been done to Clementine. She starts to wonder if the batteries were the right kind for an RV. Once back at home she checks the batteries and notes they were bot from Napa. On the Napa website she finds the batteries and, will wonders never cease, they are the right kind for the job. But, what she also finds is that the batteries sell for $82 at Napa but Don K charged me $130!!!!! A nearly 60% mark up! She could of lived with 20% for the convenience but 60%? That's plain highway robbery!

Now somewhere well north of incensed Kinsey calls the service manager, Greg. She told Greg, as calmly as she could, the whole gory story. To his credit Greg was contrite and completely diffused Kinsey's anger. Clementine went back on Monday for a good front end cleaning and the cost of the batteries was adjusted back to $85.

Now you may wonder why we were at a Dodge dealership. It's because our RV sits on a Dodge 3500 chassis and is powered by a Mercedes diesel. In 2007, when we bot Clem, there was exactly one authorized service location in the whole of Montana, and it was in Livingston over 400 miles away. Now there are maybe four of which Don K is one. We love the Mercedes diesel. It's a hard worker, pulling Shadow up and down steep mountain grades with ease and it gets great mileage. But, it is a pain in the neck to get serviced.

By now it is twelve days past our South Dakota departure date. The bloom is off the lily. We've lost our reservations, it's 900 miles to the Black Hill Wild Horse Sanctuary and they days grow short. Much to everyone's chagrin Kinsey officially aborts our trip. Hopefully, we can try again in the spring.

I'm really disappointed too. I was looking forward to meeting Liberty. I kind of think of her as my little sister. I was also disappointed because I really like these road trips. We have so much fun meeting new people and learning new things. Kinsey can't bear not to go somewhere either so she decided we will go down to the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley for a few days. It will also give us an opportunity to check out all systems

Ciao for now,
Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

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