How to Avoid RV Dealer Hidden Fees and Scams

Picture this: you’ve been scouring the internet for the perfect RV, and finally, you find it. The price is amazing, the floor plan is perfect, and you can’t wait to start planning your next adventure.

You eagerly call the dealership, set up an appointment to see the RV, and arrive ready to sign on the dotted line. But then, as you go through the purchase process, the price starts to creep up.

Suddenly, you’re being hit with hidden fees left and right, and what was supposed to be an incredible deal is now costing you a lot more than you were told.

Learn to Avoid RV Dealer Hidden Fees!

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common when it comes to purchasing an RV. Hidden fees can be a major headache, and they can quickly turn a dream purchase into a nightmare. But there’s good news: with a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can avoid hidden fees and make sure that the price you see is the price you pay.

For over 30 years, Bish’s RV has been helping people find their dream RV without all the unseen fees and charges. We believe that transparency is key when it comes to RV sales.

We understand purchasing an RV is a big investment. If you’re considering buying a new or used camper, we want you to feel confident knowing exactly what you’re paying for.

So, let’s dive into the world of hidden fees, and learn how to protect ourselves from them.

Josh the RV Nerd gives his expert advice on avoiding hidden fees when buying a RV.

What Are All Those Extra Fees and Charges?

Let me give you a real-world example. I once had a customer who was interested in purchasing an RV for $16,000 at a big-name dealership. It seemed like a steal, and they were ready to sign on the dotted line. However, after they were presented with the final price, it ended up being over $30,000!

How is that possible, you ask? Well, the dealership had added in a $5,000 prep fee, a $1,000 doc fee, a $2,000 delivery fee, and several “non-negotiable extended service plans” that totaled more than $6,000. That’s not even counting the state taxes they had to pay on the camper. It was outrageous! Needless to say, my customer did not end up purchasing that RV from that dealer.

But enough horror stories, let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s talk about the kinds of fees RV dealers are tacking onto their RVs to milk you for more money, so you can know what to avoid:

4 Types of Hidden Fees and Charges

1. Destination or Delivery Fees

Destination fees are extra charges added to the cost of an RV to cover the cost of delivering the RV from the manufacturer to the dealership. The fee can vary depending on the distance between the manufacturer and the dealership and the size of the RV.

Some not-so-honest dealers have been known to charge you more for the delivery than it actually cost them.

Many RV dealers, like Bish’s RV, do not charge an additional destination fee to their listed sales prices. Instead, they work with their manufacturers to get the best possible pricing so they can pass the savings on to their customers.

2. Prep Fees

These hidden fees and charges cover the cost of prepping the RV for the buyer. This can include cleaning, installing accessories, and making any necessary repairs.

While some RV dealers make you pay extra if you want to buy a clean RV, reputable dealers do not charge a prep fee. Instead, they make sure every RV on their lot is clean and ready for their customers to take home.

3. Advertising Fees

Some dealerships may charge a fee to cover the cost of advertising their RVs. This fee can vary depending on the dealership and the specific RV in question.

You may not realize an advertising fee has been added to your final cost, so it’s best to ask the dealer for a breakdown of all costs associated with your RV purchase.

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4. Admin Fees

Dealers justify these fees by saying they are charging you to cover administrative costs associated with the sale of the RV. Some examples of admin fees dealers may charge you include processing fees for handling paperwork, booking fees for making reservations, registration fees for enrolling in courses or programs, application fees for submitting loan applications, and service fees for providing maintenance or repair services.

Many buyers feel that admin fees are simply a way for the dealership to increase the overall price of the RV without providing any real value in return.

Not all dealers charge admin fees and we suggest you find dealers who do not charge you unnecessary additional fees for doing business with them.

2 Legitimate RV Dealer Fees

When you purchase a new camper, there are 2 after-purchase fees you most likely will not be able to avoid paying — documentation fees and sales tax.

Knowing why most RV dealers choose to add these fees to your final cost will better prepare you for when you go to sign on the dotted line and see that you’re being charged extra.

Documentation Fees

Documentation fees, also known as “Doc fees”, cover the cost of processing paperwork related to the sale of an RV, such as title transfers, registration, and other necessary documents.

While doc fees are not mandatory fees, the state does recognize the extra work and expenses it takes for dealers to fill-out and mail-in title transfers to their state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The state allows RV dealers to charge fees to cover their documentation expenses. However, most states set a maximum limit on how much a dealer can charge for doc fees.

Other Expenses Included in Doc Fees

In addition to state-required paperwork and titling fees, dealers have 2 other main expenses related to transferring ownership of an RV to you.

  1. Temporary Drive Out Tags
    Temporary drive out tags are permits that allow you to drive on public roads without a license plate so you can legally transport your newly purchased camper home.

  2. Title Clerks
    Most dealers have to hire a person whose sole job is filling out the title transfers and mailing them to the state. Depending on the size of the dealership, they may even have to employ 2 dedicated title clerks. Doc fees help RV dealers cover the costs of paying these titling employees.

A reputable dealer will clearly disclose the amount of their documentation fee upfront so there are no surprises when it comes time to finalize the sale.

Most of our Bish’s RV Stores have a doc fee of approximately $400, but the actual amount each Bish’s RV store charges for their doc fee varies depending on their state regulations.

State Taxes

Similarly, state taxes are mandatory fees that must be paid on any purchase of an RV. The amount of state tax charged can also vary depending on the state where the RV is being sold.

It’s important to note that while we have to charge taxes and choose to charge doc fees, Bish’s RV does not add any additional hidden fees or charges to our customers’ purchases.

We believe in being upfront and transparent with our customers, and we understand the frustration that comes with unexpected fees and charges.

Don’t sign until you know all the fees associated with your purchase!

7 Tips to Avoid Hidden Fees and Charges

1. Do your research

Before stepping foot in an RV dealership, do your research. Look up the RV you are interested in and find out what the average price is. This will give you an idea of what to expect and will help you identify any added fees.

2. Find out the “out the door price” as opposed to “sticker price”

Before you commit to buying an RV, ask the dealership what the out the door price of the camper will be. They should be able to tell you what additional fees, if any, will be added to the cost of your camper. If they are not able to tell you a near-exact final cost for your purchase, then they most likely have hidden fees they are not telling you about.

3. Ask for a breakdown

When presented with the final price, ask for a breakdown of all the fees and charges. You deserve to know what you’re paying for, so be sure to question any charges that seem unreasonable or unnecessary.

4. Negotiate

Everything is negotiable, including fees and charges. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a lower price or to ask for certain fees to be waived.

5. Walk away

If the dealership is not willing to budge on the fees and charges, be prepared to walk away. There are plenty of other RV dealerships out there that will be more than happy to sell you an RV without all the added fees.

6. Read the fine print

Before signing any documents, make sure to read the fine print. Be sure to ask questions or you can even have a lawyer review the documents for added piece of mind.

7. Buy from a reputable dealership

As I mentioned earlier, Bish’s RV has been selling RVs for over 30 years. We have built our reputation on honesty and transparency. Make sure to buy from a dealership with a good reputation and a track record of satisfied customers.

Don’t Be Scammed When Buying an RV!

Hidden fees are a major problem in the RV industry, and can turn what seems like a great deal into a financial nightmare. Fortunately, you can follow the steps outlined above so you can avoid being scammed and you can buy with confidence.

It’s important to remember that not all RV dealerships are created equal. Bish’s RV has been in business for 30 years, and we believe the best way to earn your business is by being upfront and transparent about all costs and fees associated with your RV purchase.

At Bish’s RV our Price is THE price. We have a no hidden fee guarantee.

Find Your Dream RV!

Take your time, do your research, and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and walk away if you don’t feel comfortable with the terms of a deal.

Buying an RV should be an exciting and enjoyable experience. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can make sure that hidden fees don’t ruin the fun.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out to the experts at Bish’s RV. We are always happy to help and look forward to helping you find the perfect RV for your needs and budget.

Greg Long Bish's RV

Greg Long

Bish’s RV Content Manager

Amateur adventurer; professional dreamer.
aka: The Bish-Blog-Guy