We tend to have a certain routine when it comes to packing up and leaving wherever we happen to be. I usually take care of things on the inside of the coach while Michael works outside. Then when it is time to hook the coach to the truck we work together. Michael backs up to the coach, while I move the jacks (automatic) up and down as needed until the pin and hitch are lined up. Michael ensures that the safety line is hooked up while I plug in the lights & close the tail gate. He gets back into the truck and slowly and gently backs up until the pin & hitch connect and the jaws of the hitch are closed. To be on the safe side we do a ‘pull test’. I raise the jacks just enough to clear the ground (about an inch or so) and then he pulls forward and applies the brake (not necessarily gently) and then backs up and applies the brakes again. This way if the hitch is not locked for some reason the trailer only has a very small space to fall rather than if the jacks were completely up and could fall unto the bed of the truck.
Back in June of 2011 we had taken the coach to Camping World in Dothan, Alabama to have a new air conditioner installed (under warranty). When the work was done the tech left the coach in the parking lot so we could hitch up and go. As Michael and I were working through our ‘routine’ a young guy that worked at Camping World came along and asked if we needed help and I told him that we were ok. He hung around anyway. Michael was having a little trouble backing straight up to the coach for some reason. Apparently this young guy thought that I couldn’t handle navigating Michael into the correct spot and pretty much took over. I got a bit pissed and decided to let him have at it. It was hot so I went inside for a few minutes. Michael and this guy finished hooking up; the young guy confirming that the hitch was locked, Michael not doing a pull test. Michael came in to get me when they had it hooked up. We got in the truck and started off for Montgomery. We drove about 300 ft through the parking lot, turned a corner, straightened out, and there was a HUGE WHAM! You guessed it! The coach dropped onto the back of the truck.
I went and got the guy that helped Michael and another guy that said he was management. They saw the damage and sympathized. The guy that helped said, ‘I thought it (the hitch) was locked’. Michael felt bad and just wanted to get out of there so we didn’t talk to anyone else. We called the insurance company on the way back to Montgomery and had no problems. The majority of the damage was to the truck and a little bit to the underside of the front cap and pin box cover or so we thought at first. On the way home we stopped for gas and I went inside the coach for something and found that the glass shower door was shattered…in a million and one pieces! (we still have glass in the heat vent!)
To make a long story short… We were leaving a week and a half later for close to 6 weeks and didn’t contact Camping World again until after we were back in Alabama in August. They refused to take any responsibility at all. (not that it was all their fault but we thought that they needed to share the blame). We even asked that they just absorb our $500 deductible – as they would be doing the repair work – they wouldn’t. (The coach and truck are with 2 different insurance companies so we had 2 $500 deductibles to meet). We have not been back to the Dothan Camping World since they made those repairs and don’t know that we will go back. Bad Karma.
We were able to drop the truck off at Joe Hudson’s Collision Center here in Montgomery before we went out-of-state and it was ready when we got back. Total damage to the truck was about $10,000. The truck was about 8 months old at the time…sad. Thankfully we can now laugh about it. We weren’t laughing then though.
The moral of this story: Never let anyone or anything break your routine.
When people offer to help now, we just politely tell them ‘Thank you, but we’d rather do it ourselves.’ If they’re offended, so be it…but we still have a truck and coach in tact.