Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

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Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

Postby baconqurlyq » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:23 pm

We rented an RV for our first time out, and we really didn't know what we needed to check on the vehicle before taking it. We also figured since Cruise America was listed on the page of burner-friendly businesses, we could trust them. Big mistake.

I could understand if the company has a bunch of vehicles that they keep aside specifically for people going to burning man. If it had playa in it from previous years, that would be fine. But this RV had obviously seen a lot of action and had not been maintained properly. There were a lot of obviously shoddy mickey mouse fixes on the vehicle, but here's some of the more egregious broken things:

* Solar panel was dead, so we had to run the generator a lot more just so we could turn on the lights or the water pump for the bathroom, and that's time we have to pay for.
* Lighter outlet was busted, so no go on charging anything.
* We knew we could say good-bye to the $500 damage deposit for cleaning the thing, but there were, and I kid you not, an onion and a potato hidden in a kitchen compartment. We didn't find it until we were cleaning out the RV. We didn't buy an onion or a potato.
* Level lights were broken. Thirty minutes after getting grey/black water removed on the playa, they were showing 2/3rds full. We never had any idea how well we were stocked with water, or how much black or grey water was in the RV.
* Refrigerator was flat-out broken. It kept stuff cold maybe for two days and then it was warm. We had plenty of propane too.

My campmate called up corporate, and they were shocked by how much was wrong with the RV. They said the vehicle didn't represent their fleet, and that they would write up a report to send to the Los Angeles office so they could handle the case properly. However, when we returned the vehicle, they said they couldn't do anything for us, that we'd have to email customer relations. My campmate did that, but then got an automatic form email back that it'll take 30 days for a response.

To top it off, they supposedly have a policy regarding vehicles going to Burning Man - they can't issue refunds at pick-up/drop-off locations for people taking vehicles to Burning Man. So we get this messed up vehicle that they didn't even bother to clean out entirely, and maybe we'll hear from corporate about a refund in 30 days. Sounds like easy money considering all the Cruise America RVs we saw this year. Just issue something that doesn't work, rake in the dough from extra hours on the genny.

We'll be staying away from Cruise America next year. I hear El Monte is much much better.
Popped the playa cherry!
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Postby robrob » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:27 pm

if i rented out RV's, i'd send my "most special" units to the playa too :)


if you've only been out the once in an RV, i'll go ahead and suggest you consider trying it without an RV next year. It really wasn't that bad "roughing" it, and the loot saved could buy a fucking art car or something else awesome.
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Postby baconqurlyq » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:28 pm

I'll miss having an RV when the line starts in Gerlach again and there's nary a bathroom in sight.
Popped the playa cherry!
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Re: Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

Postby Homiesinheaven » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:56 pm

baconqurlyq wrote:and I kid you not, an onion and a potato hidden in a kitchen compartment. We didn't find it until we were cleaning out the RV. We didn't buy an onion or a potato.


hilarious!
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Re: Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

Postby Elorrum » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:38 pm

Homiesinheaven wrote:
baconqurlyq wrote:and I kid you not, an onion and a potato hidden in a kitchen compartment. We didn't find it until we were cleaning out the RV. We didn't buy an onion or a potato.


hilarious!


If you had eaten them... they probably would have charged you for the "soup starter kit"
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Postby Kinetik V » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:41 pm

baconqurlyq, I have a request. Please post any updates you get here and share them with us and others. There's a lot of people who use Cruise America for events beyond BRC....and this is not the typical Cruise America experience.

I wish you the very best of luck in getting this situation fixed.
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Postby ibdave » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:52 pm

Bummer, but come on, you rent a RV and not ask the right questions. ever hear about this little invention called the INTERNET? All kind of pre-rental question lists to use. Your taking a $30-60k unit out to the desert for your primary living and not ask the right questions...
The solar panel is not for your living space, it's more for keeping the battery that starts the engine up to charge.
Yes we have bad rental experience show up here each year but we also have people renting them that should not rent them and this in-turns gives the "burner" a bad name.(not saying your this person)

The company has it's job and you have your job to do, in most cases this works right. 8) 8) 8)
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Postby bluesbob » Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:41 am

I have a half dozen friends who've decided to make next year their first. We had decided to go together. I thought that meant we all car pool and follow each other up. We were all talking about 2011 and they were asking me about my experiences from this year. I related some stories, they all laughed, and then one said to the others that they should start pricing RV's. The others agreed. They turned to me and before they could say a thing I said I guess I would have to meet them up there because I'm not renting an RV. I won't ever take an RV. One thing I noticed while I was there is how many people use the RV's to shut themselves off from everyone. I walked down streets that were just a solid wall of RV's, people camped on the other side. No thanks. I think they wreck BM.
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Postby Bling » Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:37 am

We must have seen hundreds of Cruise America RVs at BRC, and for the most part, I was impressed at how shiny and new they all looked! Obviously some of them must age out, but when you put your company's name all over something and it's a rolling billboard for you, you want it to look good, and all of the ones we saw did.

If you pick up an RV that obviously looks old and poorly maintained, why wouldn't you refuse it on site? Didn't they have another you could take? If not, like a rental car, it's important to document everything that's wrong up front so they can't charge you later, AND document everything you find wrong.

We rented a minivan for a trip earlier this year that had no working door locks. The remote would beep--but it didn't lock the doors, and we were not given a door key to do it manually. We ended up with a refund for part of the rental. It did take a few weeks to get it--that's pretty normal.
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Re: Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

Postby MistressSybs » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:25 am

baconqurlyq wrote:We rented an RV for our first time out, and we really didn't know what we needed to check on the vehicle before taking it. We also figured since Cruise America was listed on the page of burner-friendly businesses, we could trust them. Big mistake.

I could understand if the company has a bunch of vehicles that they keep aside specifically for people going to burning man. If it had playa in it from previous years, that would be fine. But this RV had obviously seen a lot of action and had not been maintained properly. There were a lot of obviously shoddy mickey mouse fixes on the vehicle, but here's some of the more egregious broken things:

* Solar panel was dead, so we had to run the generator a lot more just so we could turn on the lights or the water pump for the bathroom, and that's time we have to pay for.
* Lighter outlet was busted, so no go on charging anything.
* We knew we could say good-bye to the $500 damage deposit for cleaning the thing, but there were, and I kid you not, an onion and a potato hidden in a kitchen compartment. We didn't find it until we were cleaning out the RV. We didn't buy an onion or a potato.
* Level lights were broken. Thirty minutes after getting grey/black water removed on the playa, they were showing 2/3rds full. We never had any idea how well we were stocked with water, or how much black or grey water was in the RV.
* Refrigerator was flat-out broken. It kept stuff cold maybe for two days and then it was warm. We had plenty of propane too.

My campmate called up corporate, and they were shocked by how much was wrong with the RV. They said the vehicle didn't represent their fleet, and that they would write up a report to send to the Los Angeles office so they could handle the case properly. However, when we returned the vehicle, they said they couldn't do anything for us, that we'd have to email customer relations. My campmate did that, but then got an automatic form email back that it'll take 30 days for a response.

To top it off, they supposedly have a policy regarding vehicles going to Burning Man - they can't issue refunds at pick-up/drop-off locations for people taking vehicles to Burning Man. So we get this messed up vehicle that they didn't even bother to clean out entirely, and maybe we'll hear from corporate about a refund in 30 days. Sounds like easy money considering all the Cruise America RVs we saw this year. Just issue something that doesn't work, rake in the dough from extra hours on the genny.

We'll be staying away from Cruise America next year. I hear El Monte is much much better.


We had the exact same problems - dirty dirty RV I mean on the surface it seemed clean... bathroom shower but the moment you walked around barefoot you could tell the filth on the floor and the hidden things in cabinets... I think it's a scam, they don't really clean em much before burning man because they know we're gonna work our tails off cleaning em better than they got them OR they get 500 to go to a 200 cleaning place and they've profited 300 (if my theories aren't completely off base); they fudged the generator hours it was at 419 when we picked it up but he wrote 406 but we didn't notice it - just like a lot of things our first time out with an rv - live and learn; ours didn't have solar but it's not like yours worked - that's why they don't have inverters either... genny charges.

Our levels were jacked as well... caused us to have to use the sucker trucks quicker because we couldn't trust that they weren't at 2/3s even though they shouldn't have been...we found this out at the desert rose when we were dumping and actually ran a hose into the toilet to see if something was clogging it up... there wasn't anything coming through but clear water.

And on the deposit - I already have mine... they gave me a refund slip on the way out the door and after maybe a week, I emailed them and asked about my refund. Denise, our travel assistant, who's always been stellar made sure it got handled within a day of my email... we got all of our money less generator charges but we worked hard for that cleaning deposit including letting them know on site just how dirty it was when we picked it up.
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Postby Tin Halo » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:46 am

Video cameras are pretty cheap these days. Seems a taped walk-through with a representative of any RV rental place would be a pretty simple thing to do that would pay off greatly.
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Postby moonpup » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:57 am

It was my first year and I reckon Rvs are a rip off... we hired from hertz or something like that....... Among the standard fee we had to pay a burning man fee which i would have thought would have covered everything, wrong!! it covered cleaning the brakes and stuff (person who booked it should not have even told them we were going to festival).. so that cost us 500 dollars at start.... Then we took the Rv back and got conned 500 dollars cleaning, we were told 300 dollars max on phone! But i could have swore the guy said yeah something on the level, yeah it would have been that price but we saw on form that you been to burning man and will have to be cleaned twice.....

Thing that really narked me were seperate costs that we found out about at end... stuff like extra miliage costs.. if you travel over 1000 miles you have to pay more money!! WTF, its a RV to go driving in.. Also stuff like one way fee, because we hired from one place and dropped off at another we had to pay extra for that....

whole thing big con..... Rv was great though... but I would hire a mini van in future...... :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Postby MistressSybs » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:12 am

Tin Halo wrote:Video cameras are pretty cheap these days. Seems a taped walk-through with a representative of any RV rental place would be a pretty simple thing to do that would pay off greatly.


yep well that's what we learned this year, video the crap outta any rv we rent.
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Postby kman » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:32 am

Tin Halo wrote:Video cameras are pretty cheap these days. Seems a taped walk-through with a representative of any RV rental place would be a pretty simple thing to do that would pay off greatly.


Video tape won't show that the cigarette lighter outlets don't work, or that the grey/black tank level gauges aren't accurate, or that the fridge was dodgy.

Video is an excellent idea in general, but it wouldn't show most (if any) of the things mentioned in the OP.

OP: Thanks for the new checklist!
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Postby peachandpapa » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:51 am

We rented from CruiseAmerica four years ago and never made it BM. We were stuck on the 5 freeway near Bakerfield, Ca for over 14 hours before anyone from CruiseAmerica showed-up. Then they wouldn't replace the vehicle. The CruiseAmerica garage in Bakersfield put a minor fix on the problem and said get it back to Los Angeles ASAP.

To top it all off...they would not reimburse us a penny until we had a lawyer friend send off a letter saying we were going to sue the shit out of them. After 5 months we were reimbursed everything but not one cent of compensation for expenses.

Since that trip, we have used wall tents and our BM experience has been much better. STAY AWAY FROM CRUISEAMERICA!!!!!
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Postby kman » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:17 pm

Repeat after me: HEXAYURT.
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Postby FaeTora » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:27 pm

hexyurts do work well and are easy to make but they are expensive and you have to hall them out there. And well mine's still in Nevada (long ass story). Next year I think I will bring my little tent and have someone with sewing skills get it ready for me and I will take it from there. I honestly slept in my hexayurt a little but not that often and I was never at my campsite for long anyways. But thats just me.
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Postby Supergroover » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:51 pm

I guess it pays off to check your camper before you leave as much as possible. that way you can have them fix the first issues. Then drive around in the area and have the other problems fixed if you run into any. We rented a few campers and were pretty happy with the whole deal. Got back all the deposits we had to do. And they were pretty helpful with any minor issues we had. Like any rental company you really have to check what you are getting before you leave the company...

I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but I dont think that is common practice.
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Postby Pink Daddy » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:52 pm

I camped in an original design hut this year and it was surprising comfortable. It's a step between a tent and a hexayurt, in many aspects. The cost is a little over $100, it's not designed to be dust-proof (but you can tape it like a hexayurt to make it dust-proof, it's taller than a hexayurt (I was able to dress standing up, which is always a plus), and I was able to go to sleep from sunrise to 3pm without the sun roasting me out.

Captain Chuck from Sacramento, with Camp Inspiratum, designed them (I think. If he snaked the design, I don't know where he got it from). They basically consist of plywood walls and an insulated roof. It's 8-sided, so it's called an Octahut.

I'll be camping with this for years to come...
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Re: Avoid Cruise America RV Rental!

Postby Lord Of Ruin » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:57 pm

baconqurlyq wrote:We rented an RV for our first time out.....

* Solar panel was dead, so we had to run the generator a lot more just so we could turn on the lights or the water pump for the bathroom, and that's time we have to pay for.
* Lighter outlet was busted, so no go on charging anything.

* Level lights were broken. Thirty minutes after getting grey/black water removed on the playa, they were showing 2/3rds full. We never had any idea how well we were stocked with water, or how much black or grey water was in the RV.
* Refrigerator was flat-out broken. It kept stuff cold maybe for two days and then it was warm. We had plenty of propane too.



Sorry you had such a sucky time. Sounds like you ran the coach batteries dry.

So, there are batteries that start the RV, and generally a couple batteries that run the lights and such on the rig when it's genny isn't running. Both driving the vehicle and running the genny usually charges these batteries.

Multiple things IN the rig will use battery power, even when you don't have anything "turned on."

So, if you run the coach batteries dry, the refrig will no longer work (its sensors and ignitors work off the coach batteries...ours does this too), nor will the "lighter adapter outlets" which are fed from that bank.

Not sure how you determined the "solar panel was dead" but I'd be shocked if a CA RV had a big enough bank permanently installed to charge the coach batteries. More normally would be a small panel installed to keep the batteries topped when it's sitting idle.

I'm curious...did you ask anyone around BRC for any help? Virtually all of your problems could have easily been addressed with a little help out there...they aren't big deals enough to ruin your burn over...

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Postby baconqurlyq » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:37 pm

The solar panel is meant to make it so little things like internal lights and the water pump can run. It didn't work at all, so we had to run the genny. We didn't find this out until the second night and the CO2 detector kept beeping and waking us up. I found out from reading the manual that it was beeping because the battery was nearly dead. The manual even stated this should have been charged off the solar.

The refrigerator runs off propane, and we had plenty of that.

We were camping with a fairly large camp, a lot of the people had done BM for many years, including one couple who borrowed their RV from their dad. They confirmed that things were not working properly in the RV. Additionally, my campmate who headed up the RV rental had worked with RVs in the past. He just didn't think to test out every little thing on it since we thought we could trust Cruise America. Additionally, things like whether or not the solar panel worked, we would not have found that out until using the thing on the Playa for a day or two.

We barely spent any time in the RV. Sleeping, making food, occasionally using the bathroom (mostly in the middle of the night). We didn't drive 15 hours to Reno, then 8 hours to the Playa to hide in a hot RV.

Again, I would not have cared about it being a bit dirty. It was clean enough, and the outside of it was spotless. But really if you're going to rent something out, everything should be in working order.

Egads, people, I didn't shit on the Playa. I rented an RV and just want to be sure anyone else who makes that decision (again, not the decision to shit on the Playa) knows that Cruise America is a bit shady.
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Postby MistressSybs » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:10 pm

baconqurlyq wrote:Egads, people, I didn't shit on the Playa. I rented an RV and just want to be sure anyone else who makes that decision (again, not the decision to shit on the Playa) knows that Cruise America is a bit shady.


oh baconqurlyq... the way it works here is you post your negative experience hoping to share with others and everyone spends their time picking it apart with a fine toothed comb.

That's certainly all I got when I shared mine about a shipment that didn't make it - nothing but snark, second guessing, judgmental comments and apathetic suggestions that I a) I just give up and I was wasting my time and b) my $80 wasn't worth all the drama 'they' created by responding the way they did to my post.

After that it degraded into 'why aren't you crying for the dying 30k children'... seriously WTF??? I wonder where those people were when those kids were dying??? WhatEVA! It seems to be the eplaya way. Someone shares their experience and gets shit on for it. It's very sad.

Funny story, I did the right thing and got my money back.... HA! Most of the posters on my thread would have just walked away taking it up the tailpipe rather than standing their ground with their money... waste not want not I always say.

So don't let their negativity spoil what you're trying to do. After all that's what a forum is for right? The sharing of information. ;-)
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Postby dragonpilot » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:11 pm

Lord of Ruin has it mostly right. I've been taking RV's to the Burn for 6 years and had similar problems the first year or two. It's a learning experience.

Altho the frig runs off of propane, it won't work if the house batteries run dry as it takes battery power to run the ignitors and sensors...lesson #1 my first year.

Most RV rental don't have solar panels...you must run the generator 2-3 hours daily to recharge the house batteries (or run the engine which uses more gas). So, nothing unusual there except your expectations.

The electrical outlets will recharge electronics but only when the gennie is running..you don't need to use the power ports or cig lighter. We all plug in our electronics and get them recharged when we run the gennie.

Sensor level panels are notoriously unreliable for determining water levels, etc. For this reason we do not wash dishes (paper plates/bowls), or use the showers or toilets at Burning Man. We use the shower stall for garden sprayer baths and all take hot showers on our last day. Learned the hard way that to use the toilet all the time resulted in floating turds...ewwww!

Every time I've picked up a rental RV they've never been clean. We always find stuff left from a previous trip. We ALWAYS turn it in cleaner then we found it...inside and out!...even the engine compartment.

Altho it may look to outsiders that folks sequester themselves in their RV's the truth is, for us at least, that we are out and about as much as anyone. AAMOF, most of us set up tents and shade outside the RV and always invite passersby to come sit a spell and have a cold drink. An RV is just a big tent on wheels with built in appliances. I've known folks in tents who hardly ever came out of their tents...so there!

If your RV breaks down it's always gonna be a crap shoot if anyone can get to you in a timely manner to fix a serious problem. The same thing happens to folks in cars and SUVs. Read your contract.

This year for first time we got charges for a big dent we know we didn't cause...but another lesson learned...digital camera or video during the pre-inspection! Coulda saved $110...not the company's fault...but mine for not being more thorough during the inspection.

So go tent, hexayurt, SUV, or ride with friends...for me, it's always gonna be a rental RV! YMMV!
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Postby MistressSybs » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:02 pm

dragonpilot wrote:Sensor level panels are notoriously unreliable for determining water levels, etc. For this reason we do not wash dishes (paper plates/bowls), or use the showers or toilets at Burning Man. We use the shower stall for garden sprayer baths and all take hot showers on our last day. Learned the hard way that to use the toilet all the time resulted in floating turds...ewwww!

Every time I've picked up a rental RV they've never been clean. We always find stuff left from a previous trip. We ALWAYS turn it in cleaner then we found it...inside and out!...even the engine compartment.


We were avoiding the floating turd thing by using the JOTS for that crap... pee only in the RV please. LOL We took every second day showers (4 of us), mostly had paper plates and cups, etc., I think we could have done two dumps instead of three but the stupid levels kept fouling up. Oh well live and learn right?

What just gets me is the audacity to charge $500 and then deliver a dirty RV to renters... That said we got all of our deposits back less generator hours which means yes it was returned cleaner than when we got it. However, we learned. We conquered. We had a great fucking time and will be back in 2012 so watch out for us biznitches!!! LOL ;-)
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Postby FaeTora » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:05 pm

Wait, your skipping Rites of Passage.

so many puns, so little time!
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Postby MistressSybs » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:20 pm

FaeTora wrote:Wait, your skipping Rites of Passage.

so many puns, so little time!


I think I got my rites of passage right here on this board. LOL It's not cheap traveling from Houston to Burning man - at least not the way we did it... need to financially re-group. I'm thinking next time we'll probably do things a little differently. =)
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Postby baconqurlyq » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:25 pm

I'll keep that in mind about the refrigerator. We definitely weren't trying to charge anything without the gennie running, we knew that much!

We didn't try to wash dishes either, we had paper plates and plasticware. We took one shower each during the week, used bottled water for brushing our teeth, and only used the toilet either during the night or when "The Fear" was upon us and there was a line to the portos. I think that maybe happened 3 times. I had the RV emptied of black and grey water twice on the Playa.

I like the idea of using a video camera during pre-inspection. I will definitely keep that in mind. Thank you!
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Postby neon tetra » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:51 pm

[quote="baconqurlyq"]The solar panel is meant to make it so little things like internal lights and the water pump can run. [/quote]

Did Cruise America tell you this? Because, as far as I know, it isn't the case.
They told me it does pretty much nothing. It's a very small trickle charge, but not enough to actually power anything.
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Postby ibdave » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:42 pm

neon tetra wrote:
baconqurlyq wrote:The solar panel is meant to make it so little things like internal lights and the water pump can run.


Did Cruise America tell you this? Because, as far as I know, it isn't the case.
They told me it does pretty much nothing. It's a very small trickle charge, but not enough to actually power anything.


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Postby happydragon » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:28 pm

Guessing it depends on which outlet you rented from. Except for the level light issue (which the rental counter guy warned me about when I picked up the RV) ours was fine. They even threw in a coffee pot and toaster for free when I asked about appliances.
What's more, one one of my camp mates actually wrecked it on the way home (turned too tight and hit a gas station pylon). We figured we may as well not clean the RV because we weren't getting the deposit back anyway, but the guy at the office when we turned it in actually gave me back the cleaning deposit since they were going to have to clean it anyway after the repairs.
So I have to disagree and give props to cruise america. Apparently YMMV applied to rental RVs.
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happydragon
 
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Location: San Diego / New Orleans
Burning Since: 2010

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