Nearly quit caravanning.

May 24, 2014
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Hi all
back after an absence of a few months having come very close to quitting for good, thanks to the way this industry operates.

As you will be aware, we bought a Sterling Continental 530 at the back end of the year, used but under manufacturers warranty and highly delighted we were with it, being a big step up in the quality we normally buy. Similar age but top of the range stuff. Not long after getting it I finished up in hospital and so our first trip was cancelled, meaning we didnt get away until October, a couple of months after purchase. In this interim period a friend of mine asked If we were one affected by the roof issues, suffered by a lot of the Swift Smart HT constructed vans, and I have to confess I had no idea what he was talking about. Subsequent investigation shed some sketchy light (no pun intended) on the issue which was apparently a degree of translucency in the roof on bright mornings with the blinds shut. I contacted Swifts customer service and received an email categorically stating that my caravan was not subject to a recall and there was nothing on the system, ergo my caravan was clearly not one of those affected.

Being October, bright mornings were in scarce supply and we were unable to find a problem, and so of to Hawes. For three days, all went well, the van behaved perfectly, no minor niggles beyond a loose light fitting. On the fourth day, I awoke to think the world was on fire. The sun was not only streaming through the roof, but making the whole thing look as ugly as sin. Not only did the whole roof glow bright orange, all the reinforcement blocks and fixing points could be seen through it. This was what I awoke to;

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And the reason for my anger is thus:

All later Swift caravans are on a computer system for recalls, warranty work, support and much more. It would have been plain to see for any customer service operator to see that there was an issue had it been reported, but according to Swift, nothing had been reported. A later email from Swift stated that the original owner had found the problem, been offered a repair which he refused. It was returned to the dealer because of the problem, whom i also suspect were fully aware of it. As usual, both sides blamed each other and denied all knowledge of the problem, even though they had admitted this in writing.

And so onto a remedy. Had they been honest at Swift, whenI first queried this, I would have returned the caravan as not fit for purpose. However, this coupled with my illness meant we had had the van for three months prior to use, and all I was offered by both sides was a repair. There only solution on the table was to wrap the roof in an opaque sticky backed plastic, similar to that used in Logos on liveried HGVs. I was told this work would be carried out by a caravan specialist. Not so, this was a signage company that did the work. Now to be honest, the work looks at first inspection to be tidy and supposedley has a 10 year warranty. It has been tested according to them to ALL customers satisfaction, but my argument is that this is too new, it cant have had a test over time, so again, I smell complete B/S. More, a 10 year warranty is all very well, but dragging the caravan back repeatedly if it fails is not acceptable to me. We can only wait and see.

All in all, I feel totally cheated by this, Im furious at the dishonesty and it has put a sour taste for us on what was a very agreeable hobby. Please excuse any typos, I make a lot when I type in anger.

I have since been made aware that this issue also affects some motorhomes.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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Thingy,
This is absolutely shocking. Firstly, what was the original owner thinking? and what would have been the resolution if they had agreed to have it 'fixed'? Would the vinyl wrap been the solution there too?

I've dealt with Swift directly and they are crap, so absolutely sympathise with you.
Paul.
 
May 24, 2014
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Yes, the solution for the original owner would have been the same.

Our problem is that we are very limited as to vans that will fit where we keep it, and nowadays there seem to be less and less 4 berth side dinette vans available. This did seem like an ideal solution for us and in fairness, nobody with any sense would want to have their roof replaced hence us reluctantly accepting this repair. What does become apparent in looking at this is that this was obviously not tested thoroughly from prototype to production. Yet another case of forget quality control, the customer will do it for us.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Thingy said:
Yes, the solution for the original owner would have been the same.

Our problem is that we are very limited as to vans that will fit where we keep it, and nowadays there seem to be less and less 4 berth side dinette vans available. This did seem like an ideal solution for us and in fairness, nobody with any sense would want to have their roof replaced hence us reluctantly accepting this repair. What does become apparent in looking at this is that this was obviously not tested thoroughly from prototype to production. Yet another case of forget quality control, the customer will do it for us.

Not a good experience and very poor product design probably trying to save too much weight.

If its any consolation I have friend who has had the whole front end of his car wrapped and its has been absolutely problem free, and whats more it's not noticeable unless you look very carefully. Given that trucks plough our roads for hours on end 24/7, in all weathers and at up to 56mph (?) I cannot imagine Eddie Stobart, Tesco or M&S etc being too pleased if the wrap gives problems. Good luck
 
Apr 22, 2006
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If it is of any help to you I sometimes have 40ft fridge trailers wrapped on their roofs if we have a leak problem. Some I have kept for 8 years and the wrap has always stayed water tight. The only slight issue is that the ageing process is slightly different to the sides.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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Thingy said:
Yes, the solution for the original owner would have been the same.

Our problem is that we are very limited as to vans that will fit where we keep it, and nowadays there seem to be less and less 4 berth side dinette vans available. This did seem like an ideal solution for us and in fairness, nobody with any sense would want to have their roof replaced hence us reluctantly accepting this repair. What does become apparent in looking at this is that this was obviously not tested thoroughly from prototype to production. Yet another case of forget quality control, the customer will do it for us.

That forms the basis of my interaction with Swift. I felt that some of the fixtures in the 2018 Sprites were not fit for purpose; these were radically changed in the 2019 Sprites, in my opinion after real-world testing. I was fobbed off by Swift engineers at the NEC and by their customer services who appear to never have seen a caravan before.

is yours about 7 meters? Mine is 7.5meters hitch to tail, so am quite lucky my drive accommodates it without it getting in the way; any longer, i.e twin axle, and I would be scuppered for home storage, so completely understand. your limitations on choice.

I loved the Sterling Continental 580/645 (A neighbour has/had one so would covet it when it was on their drive as I walked past it!) so would have been gutted to have a translucent roof. Have they changed the roofing on newer vans with Smart HT?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I feel it is prudent at this point to remind the OP that your contract for the caravan rests with the seller not the manufacturer, and whilst it is undeniable that this fault is a manufacturing fault legally you should be pressing your claim against the seller who if the goods are faulty is legally responsible to you for selling faulty goods in direct contravention of the Consumer Rights Act or Sale of Goods act which went before.

If the goods are faulty, then regardless of the manufacturers view on the subject the seller must remedy the situation in accordance with the provisions of the act. This applies to second hand goods as well as brand new.

The previous owners actions are open to speculation, but it makes you wonder why he/she sold the caravan back to the dealer, perhaps they did not want a repaired caravan, and so rejected the offer of the repair preferring to have their money back to spend on an undamaged caravan.

I suspect that provided the circumstances are as described by the OP, that a small claims court would find in your favour, as the the dealer has lied about the history of the caravan, a point the manufacturer now agrees.
 
May 24, 2014
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Prof
I agree with your point that the goods were not only faulty at purchase, but faulty at manufacture. Our problem lies within the fact there are very few caravans that would be of sufficient size, yet still fit with our storgae limitations and we are really talking in inches here. Coupled with the fact that we really like the caravan, we are then left with the coice of repair or return, and then of course what constitutes an acceptable repair. As I see it, they only two solutions for repair are a) replace the roof, or b) the wrap. I think most would agree that replacing the roof, especially considering the construction of this van could lead to many more problems than simply being unsightly. If the wrap works, I think I have to accept it or rethink altogether our caravanning. Further, replacing the roof was never on offer. So given the fact that I have to give them the opportunity to repair it, I am not sure what else we could have done.

I cannot blame the previous owner, had i bought that van from new, it would have been returned as faulty. I suspect he said nothing and simply px'd it. I also suspect thats the angle the vendor is using to deny knowledge of it. Considering the info simply must be on the system, confirmed by Swifts second response, I fail to see how their service department didnt pick this up as the van had to have some warranty work done before we collected it. I think they knew and said nothing.

I totally agree re the small claims, but the problem comes full circle, what remedy would suit me. I do believe I could have got my money back without too much problem, but we would have been in the situation of what to replace it with. As we truly love the van, as long as the wrap works, we will live with it.
What burns most is that yet again, we have fallen foul of what the caravan industry deems to be acceptable, and what I find very hard to swallow is the B/S. (Edited by request).
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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'Thingy', I fully appreciate and understand your frustration and hopefully an acceptable solution that is to your liking will be found.
There's no doubt that an opaque caravan roof is not acceptable and the caravan industry as a whole would do well to raise standards of design, build quality and customer service because the ever increasing cost of buying and owning a caravan will soon put many loyal customers off forever.
As a forum moderator however, I have to call a halt to accusations of 'dishonesty' in connection to a named caravan manufacturer on these message boards.
Personally I have no reason to doubt your word, but as a public internet resource there are no means of verifying the facts of the matter.
Please desist from including any further accusations of any sort in future comments.
 
May 24, 2014
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Apologies.
Actually though there is written evidence, but I shall as requested refrain. It is enough for me that the public can see the photographic evidence of the problem afflicting some of these caravans and motorhomes. I will leave the readers to form their own opinions of the workmanship.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Thingy said:
Apologies.
Actually though there is written evidence, but I shall as requested refrain. It is enough for me that the public can see the photographic evidence of the problem afflicting some of these caravans and motorhomes. I will leave the readers to form their own opinions of the workmanship.

In this case it is not necessarily poor workmanship ( though when it comes to caravans its hard to find really good workmanship) the problem is the design and material specification, both of which are subject to the CRA and SoGA requirements and it is still the sellers responsibility becasue they should not pass on faulty goods.
 
May 24, 2014
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Thanks for that.
All this is something I will keep in my webbing :)
We will be using the van again soon and they have been left in doubt that is this wrap is not 100% and the roof still translucent to any degree, they will be having the caravan back, regardless of how brutal a legal battle it becomes. Over the years I have had so many disappointments with this industry that I am in no mood now to take prisoners.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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It seems that the previous owner quite rightly rejected the caravan due to an inherent fault being the roof. Although at 3 months this does NOT stop you rejecting the caravan as you have an inherent fault under CRA 2015. If you are able to contact the previous owner ask them if they rejected the caravan.
 
May 24, 2014
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I know for sure that caravan went back on P/X and also that the original owner was offered the repair and refused it. This I have from Swift themselves. Am unable to locate the previous owner as he took the trouble to cut out his name and address from the handbook details page.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Thingy said:
I know for sure that caravan went back on P/X and also that the original owner was offered the repair and refused it. This I have from Swift themselves. Am unable to locate the previous owner as he took the trouble to cut out his name and address from the handbook details page.

It’s a bit academic as to whether the previous owner rejected the caravan. Your contract is with the company that you bought it from. The CRA 2015 would not recognise the previous owners likes or dislikes. But given caravans are made in production batches I can only wonder at how many caravans were made with the translucent roof and as to how many owners have complained about them or in fact rejected them.
 
Aug 30, 2018
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I apologise in advance, but I am going to play Devils advocate here.
In what way does a translucent roof make a caravan not fit for purpose? Did the manufacturer or the retailer make any claim that the roof was opaque? Is it a good situation no it’s a carp situation but legally have you a claim if the other side chose to fight it? I’m not sure. But I would advise getting some legal advice before taking any irrevocable and expensive steps.
 
May 24, 2014
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No need to apologise. All points are valid. However Swift sent out a bulletin in 2016 regarding the matter and the wording of it clearly shows that Swift themselves consider it to be a fault.
 
Aug 30, 2018
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S
Thingy said:
No need to apologise. All points are valid. However Swift sent out a bulletin in 2016 regarding the matter and the wording of it clearly shows that Swift themselves consider it to be a fault.

Good to hear that.
 
May 7, 2012
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The problem is one I have seen reported on forums before and I cannot see how the dealer who sold it would not have known about the problem. I see the point about claiming against the dealer and agree that is where any remedy lies.
If you did you would have two options, the small claims court for damages for the problem if you retain the caravan or a full blown court case if you reject it as I would assume the price you paid was above the small claims limit.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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It would of course be interesting to know if the dealer was aware of the problem with this caravan before he sold it to Thingy. But if it had been PXed so early in its life I'm sure the dealer would have asked why?

We also don know if it was PXed with the dealer that sold it originally, and if it was they would most certainly have known.

It could also have been part of the original remedy, the where the customer may have bought another caravan from the same dealership with a higher price tag.

This is all pure speculation, and frankly not entirely relevant to Thing's position. Also to comment on Bof's devils advocacy point, Both the Sale of Goods and later CRA have an element that requires goods to be of adequate quality and fit for purpose. These terms are both potentially rather subjective, but the courts take the view of what a reasonable person would expect or accept, and in this case, no reasonable person would expect a wall or ceiling/roof on a caravan would pass perceivable light.

The problem of translucency is not one that might have occurred to the designers of the product during development, but it should surely have been detected during testing, so it is a failure on the part of the designers and developers at the manufacturer.

But even so the CRA is very clear on the sellers responsibility, they must supply goods free from design, material and workmanship defects of merchantable quality, fit for purpose, and of sufficient durability to survive a reasonable life of normal wear and tear. A transucent roof on a caravan is a very clear defect and one that must have been present at the point of sale, so the dealer is right in line for civil action.

All sellers even of second hand goods must describe any known faults to a potential purchaser before they purchase is agreed. A seller cannot hide behind a shield of ignorance if it is abundantly clear the fault was present at the point of sale.

It is the sellers job to ensure the products they sell are fit for sale, that is what we pay them to do, and if they fail in that regard they must expect the consequences.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Boff said:
I apologise in advance, but I am going to play Devils advocate here.
In what way does a translucent roof make a caravan not fit for purpose? Did the manufacturer or the retailer make any claim that the roof was opaque? Is it a good situation no it’s a carp situation but legally have you a claim if the other side chose to fight it? I’m not sure. But I would advise getting some legal advice before taking any irrevocable and expensive steps.

It is a defect and known to Swift due to the number of complaints received. As you are woken up early in the morning due to the red glow I would think that the caravan may not be fit for purpose as you cannot get a good nights sleep in it? If it was fit for purpose then why have Swift got a fix for the problem?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Swift have stated that the caravan roof was fabricated in grp to give better hail resistance. Following realisation that there was an issue with light transmission subsequent manufacure required the supplier of the roof panel to incorporate additional filler to increase the opaqueness of the roof to light transmission. They also gave details of the remedial options for existing caravans.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Swift Caravans issued the following statement regarding the problem with roofing material used on some models:

2016 Conqueror, Elegance, Elite and Continental
2016 Bolero

At the start of the 2016 season we introduced a hail resistant external GRP to the roof panel of the 2016 Conqueror, Elite, Elegance, Continental and Bolero ranges.

We have been informed through our dealer network and our Swift talk forum that on certain of the above mentioned models when it is very dark on the inside and bright on the outside it is possible to get some light transferring the laminated roof panel. The structural and thermal performance of the roof is not affected by the levels of translucency in the roof panels. This issue is due to pigmentation levels in the GRP material. Our supplier of the hail resistant GRP has now increased the levels of blackout pigmentation in the roofs from mid-February 2016.

On the early season (pre mid-February 2016) models we are seeing varying degrees of translucency in the panel from van to van and as such not all vans are affected by this issue. The simple way to check for the issue is to close all the doors and blinds inside of the van whilst inside and view the roof panel from the inside.

Any customer who believes their van is affected is requested to contact their supplying dealer who will assess the van and notify us, we can then begin to make arrangements with your dealer.

Once notified we will organise for an external graphic firm who specialise in wrapping vehicles to come to your dealer’s premises and apply a unique white coloured blackout decal to the external roof surface, the contractors will not disturb any of the seals of the vehicle. The material provides complete blackout and is covered by a 10 year warranty. We have now proved the process on a number of customers vans with complete customer satisfaction. We have consulted with a number of dealers regarding any negative effects on re-sale values and it is not viewed as an issue that will effect resale valuations.

Unfortunately, we are not able to come to your home to do this work as it needs a workshop environment.

Our dealer network have been made aware of the issue and will be able to advise you on this matter along with our Customer Services Team on 01482 875740.

We apologise to any customers affected and hope that this does not affect your use or enjoyment of the product in the meantime.
 
Aug 30, 2018
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Buckman said:
Boff said:
I apologise in advance, but I am going to play Devils advocate here.
In what way does a translucent roof make a caravan not fit for purpose? Did the manufacturer or the retailer make any claim that the roof was opaque? Is it a good situation no it’s a carp situation but legally have you a claim if the other side chose to fight it? I’m not sure. But I would advise getting some legal advice before taking any irrevocable and expensive steps.

It is a defect and known to Swift due to the number of complaints received. As you are woken up early in the morning due to the red glow I would think that the caravan may not be fit for purpose as you cannot get a good nights sleep in it? If it was fit for purpose then why have Swift got a fix for the problem?

You will notice that I openned my post with the statement that I was playing Devils advocate and I closed it by saying, get advice. I am not in anyway claiming that a translucent roof is a desirable attribute, I wouldn’t want one. But it might not constitute not fit for purpose legally. If the picture posted by thingy that was deleted :( also showed light leaking arround the blinds covering the skylights so people accept that roof isn’t neccesarily light tight .

It is good to hear that the manufacturer and the dealer are willing to take remmedial action. Less good that the problem was allowed to occur in the first place but unfortunately not surprising.
 

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