Saturday, Lee and I left Alum Creek State Park very early because we wanted to get to his parents and go to Amish country for the day. As he was pulling into the dump station though, he hit some debris in the road and got a flat tire. My reaction was pretty much “this was bound to happen sooner or later” and since we have an extended tire warranty on the rig and Good Sam’s roadside assistance I was not worried. Lee went ahead and dumped the tanks and I called Good Sam’s. We have had the roadside assistance through Sam’s the entire time we have been camping and I was feeling very confident when I made that phone call. After all, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, we got a flat tire and we were in about the safest place we could be. Plus it was early in the morning, so I thought I would have no problem. Unfortunately that is not the way things unfolded. I will walk you through my experience and please keep in mind I took notes as I went so the information is extremely accurate.
The initial call was placed at 7:10am. The dispatcher verified my card number and location and stated he would find someone in the area. I received a text from Good Sam’s (as promised) at 7:18am stating that Alum Creek Towing had been dispatched with an eta of 10:27. What??? This seemed very long to me, especially considering we were just outside a major city. So Lee called the number provided to speak directly to the towing company. They notified him that they were not equipped to handle tire changes on a trailer and would be unable to help. I called Good Sam back and talked to a second dispatcher, pretty annoyed that a company that specializes in RV assistance would have a provider in their database that was not equipped to handle trailers, but still willing to chalk it up to an anomaly. I was assured that they would verify on the phone with the next provider that we had a fifth wheel trailer tire and was sent a text at 9:02am stating the towing company had been dispatched and would arrive at 10:12am. Well at least the ETA was shorter, but just to be sure, Lee called the company. Their dispatcher stated he wasn’t sure the tech could work on a trailer, and would verify it and call back in 10 minutes. 25 minutes later Lee called back and was told they were still trying to find a tech. By this point it was 9:25am and I was very frustrated. I called Good Sam’s and asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told one was not available, but they were trying to find a third provider as the second provider had just cancelled the call. When I heard that I had had enough. I again asked (or demanded, as I was pretty hot) to speak to a supervisor and was connected to Monica. I have to say Monica did a nice job calming me down. She assured me she had two agents working on it, but held firm she could not stay on the phone with me until it was resolved because she was the only supervisor on the floor. She also stated the regional account managers were responsible for making sure the vendors could change a trailer tire and was as upset as I was that two providers had been unable to handle the service, but she could only escalate on Monday.
While all this was going on there was a dog that barked consistently the entire time. I love dogs but there is a special place in hell for people that tether their dogs outside at a campground, leave them for hours and hours, and allow them to bark that way. Plus it was getting hot and the downside of our safe place was that it was next to the dump station. So as people started to leave they stopped to dump and we were the recipients of at least 5 different poop smells that morning. And of course every single man that pulled up offered us his jack to change the flat. We had a spare and the truck jack, but Lee was not comfortable with changing the tire himself. He did start calling companies himself and talked to three semi-truck companies and none of them would touch an RV. Not a good sign for when we get out west. I will say that about 10 that jack was looking pretty good, but I received the third text stating that Wells & Son Tire Service would be coming at 10:53. Here’s where the story gets better as the tech not only showed up at 10:29am but fixed the flat in about 10 minutes. He gave us very good advice on where to get another spare and did a very nice job. He also shared with us that he almost hadn’t come because Good Sam had dispatched him in March and after 52 minutes of driving they had cancelled the call when he was 5 minutes out. He didn’t mind that the customer had found other assistance, but wanted paid for his drive time but Good Sam refused. He said the only reason he accepted this call was because it was only 20 minutes from his house and he agreed before he knew it was Good Sam calling. So there you have it. My recommendation on Good Sam Roadside Assistance is: Proceed with caution and have another solution.
Speaking of another solution, in one of Lee’s calls to get the spare replaced he was told about a product called Rapid Jack. This product allows you to roll one wheel onto it lifting slightly the second one. It will work on dual axle trailer tires or the outside dually tires and after watching this video Lee went and bought one on the spot. So if it ever happens again we are all set. It only cost $60 which is a small price to pay for never being in that situation again. Update: Absolutely do NOT buy this product. When we got our second flat tire and tried to use it on the side of the road it sunk into the gravel and would not lift the tire enough for Lee to remove it himself, so we had to call a professional. Their videos show it working on solid pavement, which may work, but since when is the side of the road payment? So we made it to DeDe and Denny’s with enough time left to go to Amish country. We had a terrific day, and here are the pictures to prove it.
After a fantastic reasonably priced lunch at Mrs. Yoders (some of the best fried chicken I have ever had), we went to Lehman’s a large mercantile store that caters specifically to the Amish. If you weren’t aware, the Amish do not use electricity, so Lehman’s carries products you would not usually find in a store. If you think about it, the Amish are the original Boondockers and have found many creative ways over the years to do without electricity. We had a terrific time wandering around, and found some neat little stuff in the clearance store for an additional 25% off!! Cori and Kelly I now have a chip and dip bowl; it’s very exciting!!! Plus as a bonus they had a small exhibit right when we walked in the door of diarama’s carved from one block of wood. They were beautiful.
Compost toilets for my RV friends
What I really wanted to look at was a propane residential fridge I had seen in the catalog. It was really awesome, but before I got too excited Lee said it was probably too deep to fit into our slide out. Bummer. I thought I had discovered something cool.
I do want to mention that if you are traveling through Amish country (especially with an RV) you need to be extremely careful. Horse and buggies ALWAYS have the right of way and you should be particularly careful of curves and rainy days. Remember this is the only mode of transportation they have and generally must use the main roads to get from place to place. There was an effort though to build a special roadway ( The Mohican Valley Trail) and Denny stopped so I could take some pictures of the Dreamers Bridge. You can bike on this trail, but watch our for the horse poop as the Amish use it frequently.
We also got to see the horse stables at the local Walmart…yes Walmart, and I have to say how impressed I was that Walmart accommodated the needs of the Amish in this area. Lehman’s is nice, but the prices are on the high side and the Amish are Americans too and share the right to shop at Walmart just like anyone else.
It was a truly lovely day planned by my in-laws and perfect for our new life. We are really going to miss them as we travel on the road and I hope they come visit us as we are traveling…they have a standing invitation!! Just to cap off the day we saw a beautiful rainbow on the way home and Denny was nice enough to pull over so I could take another pic. Gene, I have been trying to add more pictures as you requested so I hope this post has plenty for you 🙂
- Have a flat tire plan before getting one and don’t rely on your roadside assistance as the only solution.
- Don’t buy a Rapid Jack