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5 Ways the RV Salesman Is Ripping You Off

One of the biggest fears most people when it’s time to buy an RV is paying too much for an RV. RV salesmen have tricks and strategies to get you excited about your purchase, show your hand on the max you’re willing to spend, and then tack on a few extra bucks once they know you won’t walk away.

But if you know how to spot their tricks before they happen, you can prevent them from ripping you off. So, before you hit the dealership and shake hands with an RV salesman, make sure you’ve done some research so you’re not throwing yourself to the lions.

RV salesman

What Should I Not Tell My RV Salesman? 

When shopping for a new RV, it’s important to listen closely to what the salesperson is telling you (and not telling you). But it’s just as important to know what you should and shouldn’t say.

  1. Never tell an RV salesperson that you’re new to RVing and are buying your first rig. This may lead the salesperson to try to get you to buy something you don’t need. You’ll be spending more money than necessary.
  2. You also don’t want to tell the salesperson that you’re paying in cash, or you have a trade-in—at least not in the beginning. Save that information for later when you’re negotiating a deal.
  3. This is true for your credit score as well. Don’t talk about your credit until you go to financing. The RV salesman doesn’t need to know this information. It won’t help you to talk about cash, trade-in value, or credit until after you’ve solidified the very best price.
  4. Finally, don’t act like you’re in a hurry to buy an RV. Don’t say things like, “I’m leaving today with an RV,” or “I really need an RV today.” Why would the salesperson negotiate with someone who will purchase an RV that day? You want to make it look like you’re shopping around, looking for the best deal, and not in a hurry to close.

Pro Tip: Before you buy, make sure you know the Pros, the Cons, and the Truth About RV Dealerships.

RV Salesman Comic
Like this RV comic? Check out our full comic library!

How Much Can I Negotiate on a New RV? 

The MSRP has gone up and down so much over the last couple of years that it may look like you’re getting a great deal when you see that sticker slashed. But you’re still paying a lot more than what someone else paid for that same RV three or four years ago.

So, to get the best deal possible, you always want to negotiate. Don’t just pay what looks like a heavily discounted price. Usually, you can aim for 20%+ less than the listing price.

5 Ways the RV Salesman Is Ripping You Off

Not all RV salesmen are evil and looking to take advantage of potential buyers. But there are those trying to make their bonus and nothing else. When discussing a unit’s price, salespeople will do a few things to make sure the sale goes through and you don’t back out.

1. Not Calculating Taxes in the Price Until Closing

If you negotiate down to $35,000 and are planning to pay that amount when you sign the papers, some misleading was involved. Taxes are a huge chunk of an RV purchase. If the salesperson you’re working with doesn’t give you that information before you walk to closing, then they are trying to hide it from you so you don’t walk away from the deal.

Taxes will likely cost you thousands of dollars. For example, a $35,000 price at a 7% tax rate will add $2,450 to the price. A $70,000 price at a 7% tax rate will add $4,900. So the more expensive your new rig, the more taxes you’ll pay. And that’s not included in the sticker price.

cait with rv
Keep in mind the sticker price on an RV does not include taxes and administration fees.

2. Leaving Out Administration Fees Until Closing

Just like taxes, RV salespeople don’t want to tell you the administration fees until the very end. There may be a $250 processing fee here and a $500 administrative fee there. These fees tacked on at closing are not included in the sticker price. So even if you’ve done an excellent job of negotiating the price, you might want to do even more work knowing that taxes and fees will still apply at closing.

Pro Tip: Make sure to keep an eye out for these Top 10 Easily Missed Things to Look for When Buying an RV.

3. Having An In-house RV Tech Do Your Inspection

If an RV salesman won’t let you hire an unaffiliated RV inspector to conduct a thorough inspection of the RV, you might need to walk away. Don’t let the salesperson tell you they already did one in-house. This could be a flat-out lie, or it could be the truth.

Sometimes, an in-house RV inspector will lean towards helping the dealership and not the buyer. This means glossing over potential problems or not conducting as thorough an inspection as possible. You always want to hire someone unaffiliated with the dealership. It could save you thousands in repairs once the RV is officially yours. That $500 upfront is well worth it.

RV inspection
It’s always best to hire your own RV inspector.

4. You’re Shopping During High Demand

RV salespeople know when camping season is. They understand the demand. Most have been in the business for years. They know when they need to actually give potential buyers a deal and when they can just hold off for the next buyer.

If you’re shopping during camping season, don’t expect to be able to negotiate as much as if you shopped during December. RV salespeople can afford to skip over a deal because they know another buyer will just come along willing to pay the higher price.

It’s harder to negotiate a good deal during camping season.

5. The RV Salesman Is More Interested in Another Customer

Sometimes an RV salesman will say something like, “Well, we had a couple looking at this rig just this morning, and they were very interested. They even mentioned coming back later today to see if it’s still here.” Or, “A family walked through this trailer yesterday and loved it. They said they’d be returning this weekend to purchase it if it’s still here.”

If the salesperson seems more interested in another customer, they may be trying to get you to move quicker than you’d like or pay more than you’d like. Comparing you to another customer or putting pressure on you because that particular rig might get sold soon is a selling tactic. Don’t crack under the pressure.

Even if it’s true and that RV sells the next day, there are other options and dealerships. You don’t want to buy something because you feel like you’re going to miss out, which could lead you to pay too much for it or lead you to not hire an RV inspector so you can just close the deal quickly.

Pro Tip: Want to buy a used RV? Find out the 10 Things We Looked for When Buying Our Used Class A Motorhome.

Travel trailers for sale at dealership
Stay on alert when shopping around for RVs to not get swindled by a shady RV salesman.

Can You Back Out of an RV Deal? 

If you signed a purchase contract, it’s binding. It’s a legal document. The dealership can pursue damages for a breach of contract. However, some people write in addendums to a contract. That ensures that when they leave the dealership that day, they have a few days to change their minds (before the pick-up or delivery of the RV). Some people call this a three-day window. But this isn’t always accepted. If you want protection, you must ensure it’s in the contract.

Another popular addendum concerns the RV inspection. If you plan on hiring an RV inspector to conduct a thorough walk-through, you want to include that in the contract. If the RV inspector comes back with a long list of things to fix, the dealership either honors those repairs or you can walk away from the deal.

Is Buying an RV From a Dealership Salesman Worth It?

Many people have horror stories about being taken advantage of or wishing they had known certain things before spending so much money on an RV. As soon as you take a new RV off the lot, it’s worth much less than what you paid. RVs depreciate, so you want to make sure you choose the right one.


However, other people have wonderful stories of genuine hospitality and excellent customer service when buying from a dealership. The warranties and financing are usually much better when buying new versus used. There are certainly advantages to purchasing a new rig from a dealership.

But this is also why it’s important to shop around. Don’t just stick to the dealership in your hometown because it’s more convenient. Branch out to find the dealership that will give you the proper attention you deserve during the buying process and take good care of you once the RV is in your hands.

Thinking you may want to buy a used RV from a private seller instead? Here are our top tips: How to Buy a Used RV From a Private Party

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Thursday 13th of July 2023

I am an experienced RV'er and my problem is that a lot of dealers will not allow you to walk around their lot and see the rigs without a sales person being with you. I had that experience recently and although, I told the sales guy (who was very nice btw) that I was not ready to buy and just wanted to look and get the feel for the layout etc., he told me that the dealer required for someone to be with the clients at all times. This was a problem because I could not think with him constantly pointing out features and asking me if I liked this or that. I wanted just to sit alone to think if it would work for me or if I needed to look at something else. And I actually did my homework and knew exactly what they had in their lot and which ones I wanted to see but I had to walked out because I could not accomplish what I wanted.

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 15th of July 2023

Ugh that is infuriating. I am the same as you, leave me alone and let me think.


Saturday 15th of April 2023

Georgia RV outlet, Grassdale Rd, Cartersville, Ga wanted a deposit of $500.00, to test drive an RV. Anybody ever heard of such an outrageous lie.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 16th of April 2023

Just to test drive! No, only to hold it.

Not So Free

Monday 20th of June 2022

Once you are satisfied that this is the rig for you, demand an OTD price. (Out the door,, all taxes, fees, title, tags, *unless financing, of course* etc.) I've done this for cars and trucks before. If they won't do it, might be time to take a walk.

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Thanks for the tip! :)


Monday 20th of June 2022

Great article. I only wish I had seen it 10 years ago when we purchased our first (and only) travel trailer. Man, did they ever see us coming. Without going into details, our first purchase turned into a nightmare. That piece of crap leaked more than a screen door on a submarine. The dealer was of no help what so ever. We still own it but it's now worthless. Lesson learned (for us anyway) is that all RV's are crap and that all RV dealers are crooked. Nuf said.


Monday 20th of June 2022

typo 4. You’re Shopping During High Demand RV salespeople know when campaign season is ...should say camping

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Thank you! We've corrected the typo. :)