“So when are you going to buy me an Airstream?” It’s funny that my wife thinks that a) this is hers, and b)this is hers. I hint that maybe we should save the money and buy one of the vinyl box trailers, she responds with, “I’m not sleeping in one of those!” Just like a Sockeye she is hooked! So how do I get one, where do I get one, and which one do I get? Best to figure out which model/length with suit our needs and budget, then we’ll start at our local Airstream dealer.
Budget: Flexible to a point. (I’m not a bank, but may need to visit one.)
Criteria: Something that won’t be a beast to tow (we are new to this), and something I can keep forever. (I really don’t want to be doing this every couple years. I gotta try to get this right the first time.) Oh, and need windows. (No sport model with the little window, I need light.)
After much consideration, we decided on a 19 foot Bambi SE. We figured that for the the next few years, our girls could sleep on the fold down dinette, and graduate to a tent when they are older, if they felt like it and they were no boys around. :-) It would be easy to tow and would fit us nicely when the kids are out of the house, and it would be less money than larger models. The bonus is it will fit in our driveway. (I found out shortly into the camping season I might need a second try at “getting this right the first time.”)
Ok, off to the local dealership to begin the process...
Like I mentioned in a previous post, our local dealer does not have much selection when it comes to Airstreams. (They have hundreds of “SOB’s”.) We pay them a visit and I tell them I’m serious about buying an Airstream, and I’m thinking the negotiating will begin. (I had found a website explaining what to expect when haggling for an AS.) Apparently the dealership is not really into selling Airstreams, or so it seems by their lack of willingness to negotiate. A couple grand off of a sell price of $59,000+ is not what I consider an deal closer. “Is that your best offer?” “Yes.” I proceeded to tell them that I was expecting at least a little more movement on price, and that I of course would prefer to support my local Canadian dealership rather than be forced to purchase in the States, but I work very hard for my money and I have to feel comfortable that I’m getting a fair price. The salesman got a bit snippy and retorted, “If you buy in the States we’ll never work on your trailer if there are any warranty issues!” “Really?”, I reply. “How do you think Airstream would feel if they heard that your company does not support them?” His reply was simply, “Ok, we would work on it, but we’d make you wait at least six months for an appointment.” Nice. This exchange made me briefly question the Airstream purchase. If this was the way I was to be treated by Airstream reps, I’m thinking maybe the “SOB” reps will at least have a bit more professionalism.
I get where they’re coming from, though. They are similar to the Dodge dealership. While they have a Viper in the showroom that brings ooh’s and ah’s, they make all their money on Neon’s and Mini-van’s. Same with these guys. The Airstreams bring people in, but they make all their money on the vinyl boxes. They know that eventually Airstream will offer to “help” them sell these in order to ship them new models, which again will sit on their lot for another year. As an Airstream dealer, I would think they would want to promote these trailers, but I guess, for whatever reason, they just aren’t that interested. Case and point: This dealer brought many trailers to the largest RV show in our province, but not a single Airstream. Why? Wouldn’t you want to showcase these awesome trailers at a show like this? Thousands of people attend this show annually, and they don’t support Airstream by showcasing their product. If I was the owner of Airstream, I’d be choked and consider removing them as a dealer and find someone who is actually trying to sell the product.
(It should be noted that after purchasing my Airstream, I found I was not alone in my assessment of the local guys. I found many AS owners that travelled south to purchase rather than deal locally, a few that wish they had gone Stateside. Quite sad really. One theory suggested to me was by being the exclusive Airstream dealer, this company had effectively prevented healthy competition, or to put it differently, monopolized the market. It’s too bad they aren’t interested in actually selling them, though. I wonder if they realize just how many sales they have lost. Probably not, as most folks I talk to won’t even let them touch their Airstreams.They'd rather drive to the States than let these guys work on them.)
After calling a few Airstream owners that I recently met, they all suggested I look to the States. Sure, the Canadian dollar was a factor as the Loonie was close to parity with the Greenback, but it was more about the dealer’s willingness to make it work for me, the customer. (Something of which my local dealership failed to understand.) After a couple phone calls and a few emails, it was done. I had a signed agreement to purchase a 19 ft Bambi SE. It was a relatively painless experience, and truthfully I should been able to have the same experience here, but so be it. I was happy as I saved a bunch of money, was treated well, and I get to go on an adventure to pick it up.
So who should I bring.....