Purchased our motorhome – Pogo

In August 2016 we saw a motor-home advert on eBay, that seemed to fit our wish list and preferences, so we arranged to go and see it in a few days’ time, we live in Bolton and the motorhome was in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

In the meantime, we did some research on this model – Dethleffs GlobeTrotter,Premium Class i5836, we trawled the UK & European adverts looking for information such as layouts, model numbers, dimensions including length, width and weights. Searched old adverts as well and we don’t think there are many of these motorhomes in the UK.

Drove to visit the motorhome and we really liked what we saw, we checked everything as thoroughly as possible, including the reason for sale, the history, condition, the bodywork including the roof, potential damp areas, sniff test, under the motorhome, service receipts, tyre condition, engine bay, vehicle plating, furnishings, upholstery, drop down bed, in the outside storage lockers, the walls inside and around the windows. We have previously owned caravans so we had a reasonable idea of what to look for. Cathy and I discussed the potential purchase privately and next we chatted with the owner and agreed a price but subject to specific conditions, a) full habitation check, b) full damp check, c) new 12 months MOT. We left a returnable deposit in case the reports threw up anything that might be of concern and therefore we might change our minds.

We wanted a damp and habitation report done by an Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) member before progressing any further.

In the meantime, the Government MOT website provided the last 10 years results and advisories; this enables a full check of the historical dates and mileages between tests. There were no major failures and we had no concerns.

We contacted Dethleffs in Germany via email and using google translate & the V5 VIN number to ask 1) the MRO (Mass Running Order) or the ex-factory weight, the Germans call this the Dead Weight and it was confirmed at 3005kgs, not a typo error – happy days. 2) the year of manufacture and 3) the exact model number or what it’s known as. We needed this model name as two insurance companies couldn’t find this van on their database and therefore were unable to quote when I used the model name that is on the outside of the van, bear in mind we are doing this before buying the vehicle and we hadn’t got access to any of the paperwork. The seller was very helpful though and gave me the info without a problem when asked but I do  like to do my own research. The good news was that everything seemed to be in order; fortunately there was no information that caused any concern or suspicion .

Obtaining insurance quotes after confirming the model reference, what an ordeal that is, quotes ranging from £1273 to £900 from Comfort, Caravan Guard and two others, we wanted unlimited mileage & European breakdown recovery on an unrestricted basis i.e. weight 3850kgs, length 6m, height 3.20m and width 2.40m. Safeguard came out the cheapest at £587 with everything included.

We joined the Dethleffs Owners Club for just £15 per annum in advance of buying the van and we called Safeguard again ,quoted our Dethleffs membership and it was reduced by a further £76! Now it was £511

The motorhome private seller provided information when we requested and kept us informed of when the motorhome was going for the MOT and to the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) company for a habitation and damp test check/report.

A little while later we recieved the reports and the results were;

  1. The damp report shows reading between 12% and 15%, this apparently is in the normal range after checking this on the internet, with AWS and Motorhome forums.
  2. Habitation check states everything works as it should with no recorded faults or concerns.
  3. Passed the MOT without advisories.

The purchase price was about £4,000 to £5,000 more than our budget but the layout was perfect for us, it had smart fresh looking interior for its age and genuine low mileage. We also thought that paying more might save us money in the long run in terms of wear and tear, repairs, reliability, etc.

We arranged a date to go and buy the motorhome, we spoke to the banks in advance about making large payment transfers and if there were any financial transaction limits (most banks it is £10,000 per current account by the way).

Both of us wanted to share the excitement of driving the motorhome back, so we bought a one way train ticket to Kettering. we can always buy another ticket home if we didn’t buy the van.

We went for a test drive and we were satisfied, we made the purchase and we drove home albeit slowly and cautiously!

There was an air of excitement as we drove home in the rain, when we got home we cracked open a bottle of chilled prosecco!

We are so excited and so very happy, this is a big step towards starting the process of taking a year off and travelling in Europe in a motorhome.

Can’t wait until tomorrow and find out how things work in the van, have a little play with it, sit down with a cup of tea, get a feeling for how things work, you know what I mean don’t you? gotta to get in there and imagine living a different life in a motorhome.

Didn’t sleep so well last night due to the excitement, our imagination running wild at the thought of exploring Europe together.

Got up early on Sunday morning and we couldn’t wait to climb inside, once inside we started looking and checking things out.

As we examined the van a bit closer we both became very upset, extremely disappointed and annoyed, we discovered what we think might be 3 damp areas, we were absolutely gutted, we became very disheartened. We kept looking at each other in disbelief and we had no words for each other. How can this happen? We did everything correctly or so we thought when purchasing, a full HPI check, a habitation report & damp report undertaken by a professional registered with Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS), the MOT history, checked the VIN No. and checked the same number with the Dethleffs factory. It had rained heavily overnight and we think the weather in Kettering had been very dry for about 6 weeks prior to us looking at the van.

We can’t believe it, our new van has turned us from anticipation and excitement to huge disappointment, we checked the AWS report and we think that the areas that we have found damp in have either a) not been tested or b) missed completely or c) if they have been tested then not recorded on the report. This turned out to be a sad and miserable day for us.

Monday 29th August 16 – we needed a plan of action to see if it this can be resolved somehow, I contacted the AWS (Approved Workshop Scheme) chap who did the reports and when I challenged him about his findings he got angry with me saying there wasn’t damp in the van, etc. My next call was to the AWS head office, their advice to me before raising a claim against the AWS chap was to arrange for two more habitation and damp reports to be conducted by local AWS members. Once this was done and dependent upon their findings I was advised to contact the AWS head office once again to formally raise a complaint and to obtain a resolution.

The further two additional habitation and damp check reports were undertaken in September 2016 after we came back from Toronto. The motorhome had been kept undercover whilst we were in Canada at our son’s wedding. Both the reports confirmed there was damp readings of 95% to 99% in the areas of concern. The  additional reports also identified;

  1. that the 240v sockets are faulty and potentially dangerous, not wired correctly.
  2. only one of the three gas hob burners is working.
  3. one windows mechanism is faulty and doesn’t operate properly.

How did the first AWS company miss those three key things? We checked back against the original first report and find that the electrics, gas hob and windows were tested by them and everything is okay and in full working condition with no reported faults!

We were distraught now and we became really angry at the AWS member.

When we crossed checked the three reports, it became obvious that the first report hadn’t been done correctly at all, how can one report record a reading of 12% to 15% and the both the other reports record readings at 95% to 99% –  something just isn’t right here!

Again I rang the AWS member who did the first report to complain in the strongest of terms that his company did not do their job properly regarding the habitation/damp report check. Once again, he got angry, he wouldn’t admit to fault or anything else, despite me sending him copies of the 2nd and 3rd reports in my complaint letter, and he then said don’t ever ring me again, you have to go through the AWS head office!

You would hope that an Approved Workshop Member member who is bound by the rules of the scheme would, compile an accurate habitation/damp check report and provide a professional service to the minimum industry level and also more importantly be held accountable if they failed to achieve that standard or if there was a dispute over the quality of their work problem……..it seems not.

I posted this article on a Motorhome Fun forum when a member asked about purchasing a motorhome privately.

Anybody who is considering buying privately please consider this;

Our advice is that you, and only you, the prospective purchaser pays for the habitation and damp test, if you then purchase the vehicle and a fault is discovered later on then you have got a legal redress position against the service provider that completed the damp/hab check. This is because you paid for a service directly to the person or company that did the hab/damp report and not the seller. Please see my link to this on Motorhome Fun https://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/advice-please-what-will-%C2%A315000-get-me.160246/page-2#post-2498702

If the seller has the report done for you and the seller pays for the report (as happened in our case) and even if you gave the money to the seller for the hab/damp report afterwards then you have got absolutely no come back position or redress against the person/company who did the hab/damp report or against the seller because you didn’t pay for it you do not have a contract with the service provider that did the report, the seller did and the seller no longer owns it so he also has no redress.

Oh, how I wished we knew this beforehand and that we had paid for the report ourselves, we bought the van “sold as seen” and we knew we couldn’t get far with the seller regarding returning the van or refunding the purchase.

Our only hope is to somehow prove that the original test reports were not done correctly, and they failed to check the van over thoroughly.

Both of us have gone back to work, really unhappy feeling sorry for ourselves at the moment, will our dream adventure ever start at all or will it be a costly repair that prevents us from setting off on our adventure.

The financial situation is very difficult at the moment, I only have 4 pay days left before becoming redundant, we have another wedding to contribute to and no capital left after purchasing the van.

We raised a formal complaint against the AWS member that did the first hab/damp report in the Kettering area (we can’t tell you who these bad people are because it might be slander or libel) through the head office of the AWS. Now we must wait and see what happens to our complaint and whilst we are waiting the motorhome is sat on the drive. Realistically we can’t do anything to it, we can’t drive it or fit anything to it until this is resolved. we can’t use it, it’s hurting us as we look at it every day.

Two weeks pass, nothing from AWS despite us contacting them regularly for progress…. ping! At last an email from the AWS head office (by the way the AWS do not like you telephoning them or sending emails to them, they get very upset and annoyed with you, it’s like a closed shop!)

The AWS managers’ email informed us that we have no claim against the first AWS company because…… here’s the reason “the original contract for the service provided is held with the original owner” really, what is the purpose or point of this AWS scheme, is it not supposed to raise standards to an acceptable level, to protect the industry and its customers, it’s a bloody farce. We have absolutely no faith in the AWS whatsoever, it’s a body designed to sell an inadequate service and to protect their own members from being brought to account for shoddy workmanship. It is a not a legal body and nothing is binding, it’s an industry scheme run by itself for itself and to benefit it’s members.

It takes weeks waiting for letters and communication to get through and everything seems to move along at a snail’s pace.

Next, we took legal advice because the pursuit of any resolution or redress via the AWS scheme has been now closed off to us.

We were advised to send a “letter before action” recorded delivery to the private seller, fortunately we had kept copies of the advert. We received a letter from the seller’s solicitors in response that we passed on to our legal guys. It’s possible that we might be able to make a case of misrepresentation of the motorhome advertisement. Let’s wait and see.

Three weeks pass and its bad news from the solicitor today, they will only take on cases where they think there is a 51% chance or more of a successful outcome, apparently we fell short of the 51% and we don’t have a case against the seller or the AWS company.

It’s December now & during the evening we are both thinking the same things and as we chatted we realise that we will have to pay for the repairs ourselves somehow, it’s difficult to accept but it’s eating away at us, neither of us are sleeping, when we wake we are thinking about the problem, trying to think of answers or ways around it, looking for possible solutions it is becoming all-consuming and we have to stop this. By accepting that we will have to pay for the expensive repairs we began to feel as if the pressure of the last 5 months had been lifted and strangely we felt a bit more peaceful.

So we hit the PC again googling for damp repair specialists, we also contacted Lowdhams who are a Dethleffs Dealership, I couldn’t believe their response when I enquired about repairing our van, after quickly explaining our situation and asking them for an appointment for an assessment they said “we are not taking on any more work we are really busy, we can’t even accommodate our own customers, have you bought from us before? No, I said but you are an approved Dethleffs dealership etc, their response was “sorry we can’t help you!” Unbelievable!

Spent the rest of the day looking at motorhome and caravan repairer’s websites, chatting on Motorhome forums trying to find recommendations.

What’s going to happen in 2017?

I am unemployed now and Cathy is working hard, unfortunately the dates when Cathys employment ends keep changing.

We found a motorhome and caravan repair company that will take the job on, we take Pogo up to them in Preston for an assessment and to get an idea of a price.

They quoted £7,200 for the repairs.

We need to find the money now to get Pogo fixed up.

It’s April 2017 now and the repairers call Cathy once again, they had a chat and said they will start on our van next week, so that’s great news but we have been let down by them as promised dates since October 2016 have come and gone.

All our touring and house rental plans have gone out of the window, but we are so pleased that the repair work is starting soon, but we have to roll with it.

We know we will get on the road sometime in the future!

Our state of limbo carries on for a few more months, me not working, Cathy working as hard as ever with no end date in sight, our adventure delayed, we can’t rent the house out yet .

The repair company informs us we need to buy a whole new window due to the faulty mechanism, we sourced a new one through the Dethleffs Owners Club, another worthwhile £15 per annum. Cost £555 after a 10% membership discount.

Towards the end of July 2017 and we get the call at last to say the motorhome is ready for collection, hooray! They also told us that they had done a comprehensive water tightness test and all is ok, no water getting in………great news. We arrange a date to pick up Pogo and pay the bill.

We can start planning a few days away very soon…

We get the motorhome on to our drive in early August and we are feeling a whole lot better.

Now it’s August 2017, we have owned the motorhome for 12 months and we are off to Lincoln, this will be our first time away in Pogo! Please see here for our first trip away after owning a motorhome for 12 months!

Dave & Cathy