Mandalay coaches

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Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
Steve asked me to elaborate on my negative findings on the Mandalay, a coach that was on our short list and then crossed off after we started driving them.

I will paste two of my messages here from two threads I began on another forum and then provide links for those who want to read both threads.

First thread:?

Despite meeting some VERY nice Mandalay drivers like Titanium, I feel I must realate my own experiences with this lovely but frail motorhome.

I feel I need to warn everyone of our experiences with the new Thor Mandalay. Maybe our experieinces were just a rare string of coincidental oddities. But I don't see how I could spend any more time trying to evaluate this new entry into the Class A motorhome market.

We first ran across the Mandalay at the Chantilly Virginia show in January. It came out of left field at us by surprise.

We had settled down to the Beaver Santiam and the Newmar Kountry Star as our final choices. Our purpose at the show was to give a last look at the brands we had crossed off our list. We were looking at the See Ya Gold, one that almost made our list when the See Ya dealer said, ?I have one other brand you really ought to look at, given what remains on your list.?

We were swept over by the initial look at the new Thor Mandalay, in its third year of production. It has independent front suspension, Cat 350 engine, Freightliner chassis, 7.5 kw Onan, even 2 bathrooms in one of its 40 foot floorplans. All kinds of wonderful amenities.

Our first sign of trouble occurred when after waiting for 30 minutes to talk to a Mandalay manufacturer rep, he sat down, spent 5 minutes with us, then got up and announced he had to go to lunch. Hmmm.

This did not dissuade us as the dealer salesman was very nice and helpful. We also met Titanium who spent a lot of time with us as a satisfied owner and vice president of the Mandalay owner's club.

We then arranged to visit the dealer in Richmond VA and test drive the Mandalay. Ut oh.

We did not go more than 2 miles and heard a terrible racket in the back of the bus. I pulled over to the side. I looked back and the salesman was standing by the bathroom door in dismay. Not only the door, but the door frame itself pulled out from the bulkhead. I could see two screws stocking out of the side of the frame and 6 inches of space between the frame and the bulkhead.

The dealer suggested I come back another day.

Instead I went to another Mandalay dealer in northern Maryland. The first Mandalay we tried did not even start. The second one had a mirror fall off, but it ran great. When we got back I asked to see the storage under the bed. The bed got stuck in the up position when the dealer raised it and he could not get it back down.

We went back and got another Mandalay. This time we did not even get out of the dealership and another mirror fell off the wall.

We went and looked at a fourth Mandalay, and two mirrors were lying on the bed and you could see where the paste was still on the wall and no screws were visible. Pasted on mirrors?

Then the dealer suggested I try a 2004 Mandalay that had never been sold. He should have quit while he was ahead.

That one fired right up, nothing fell off, but in spite of IFS it shook like a Banshee. He mumbled something about getting the wheels aligned while I hastily ran away from the place.

The crowning blow came this week. I actually called Mandalay hoping someone at the factory could convince me that these were all just unfortunate coincidences and not reflective of Mandalay quality. A lady answered the phone and told me no one could speak with me because they were all away at a show in Georgia. I explained this did not reflect well on the company that no one was at the factory. She said she would have someone call me within 24 hours.

I called again this morning to explain she had missed her commitment. She was very rude and asked what I expected of a company that was growing faster than they could staff it. I told her I expected I would cross them off my list as I was NOT going to spend better than $200k on a manufacturer who was growing too fast to support me.


Second thread:

This is a follow up to the thread I initiated called "Mandalay? No thank you!"

The topic here shifts from build quality concerns to concerns about the Mandalay employees and corporate culture.

I believe I touched on this in the initial thread. But I had contact again yesterday with three more Mandalay employees and I am compelled once again to report some negative findings.

My day began with a lot of chaos. Last week I sold some valuable land SE of Washington DC in Southern Maryland. Settlement is scheduled for May 17. This is providing the funds for our motor home and the expense fund for our plans to fulltime over the next ten years.

Yesterday morning my real estate agent was back to draw up the contract for our upcoming house sale. Now that the land is sold, we want to move ahead quickly with the house sale so that we can qualify for Montana residency by the time we purchase our new motorhome (for obvious tax reasons). We are not setting up an LLC, but actually moving to Montana. My wife's sister has built a concrete pad for our Motorhome beside her house and that will be declared as our permanent residence, though we will be on the road most of the year. Our mail will be delivered there and we will reside there in July and August of each year.

I also had issues going on at work (I temporarily manage a Radio Shack for an owner friend though I would still call myself semi-retired). In addition I had someone coming over to see the house.

In the midst of all this "Heather" called from the Mandalay factory, and sounded very cheery and apologetic on the telephone. She left a number for me to call and apologized about the poor treatment I had received the previous week from the receptionist when I had called in and been told that no one was at the factory but her because every other employee had been sent to a show in Georgia.

I called her back and the receptionist told me that Heather was out of the office for the morning. I asked to be connected to her voice mail and left a message that I had returned her call and would interrupt myself to speak with her. (I could not believe my mindset, but once again my lust for a trustworthy Mandalay had risen and I was hoping I would find someone who could put some sense on everything.)

I never heard back from Heather, so I once again called and asked for her. By this time I had the feeling that they have caller ID at Mandalay and the receptionist knew full well who I was. She informed me that Heather was out for the day. Huh?

Again I asked for voice mail and left another message. I am sure my voice by this time showed same slight irritation.

Within 2 minutes I got a call from a gentleman. He informed me that he was the manufacturer rep that I spoke with at the Chantilly show. This actually angered me as I had waited with my wife for 30 minutes to speak with this man. When we finally got a chance to sit down at the table (inside a Mandalay) and ask a question ... he gave us a quick answer and then stood up and walked away saying he had to go to lunch and would be back later. We had only begun our questions, but he was gone. Now he was on the phone? It was childish of me but I pulled the same stunt on him and told him I was too busy to talk to a salesman and hung up.

A half hour later the phone rings and a Mr. Yoder is on the line. Turns out he is the president or whatever they call the top employee. At first I thought I was getting somewhere at last. But he was on autopilot, with his transmitter turned on and his receiver in the permanently off position. All he wanted to do was tell me how fast they are growing, how shorthanded they are, and how all the initial production problems had now been all fixed.

Incidentally I could hear a lot of chaos in the background throughout the conversation. At one point someone tried to interrupt him and he snapped at them.

Finally he paused long enough to ask me if there was anything he could do for me.

I answered that I had tried to return Heather's call but she was out for the day. He said no she was right there in the office. I was speechless.

I answered that I didn't think there was much he could do and I had crossed Mandalay off my list.

He simply said, "Good day then." and began to hang up.

I jumped back in and said this is exactly the problem I am talking about. It starts at the top, and no one really sits back and listens. I told him that.

This slowed him down and for the first time I could sense he was trying to be a good listener. He asked me then to describe the test drive experiences I had. I went through my litany of the many Mandalays I had driven. He suggested that I check out the Endless Summer dealer in Maryland. I had to remind him that was where most of the Mandalays had been driven. Richmond Virginia was where the door frame fell off, but all the other problems had occurred at
Endless Summer. I told him that was also where the 2004 Mandalay was (still new) that handled so poorly. He said ah yes, I drove that one at our show down in Georgia. We found it had blown an air bag.

They drove from Maryland all the way to Georgia to make that diagnosis?

It was all I could do not to be rude and laugh at him on the phone. I covered the mouthpiece and winced and said GEEEEEZE. I finally once and for all lost my lust for a solidly built Mandalay right there.

Like the forum members here, he tried to put most of the blame on the dealers, using this air bag as an example. One can always find an example for any point.

Then he returned to the corporate mantra about being so new and growing so fast. I related to him that I agreed. They were growing too fast.

It was very obvious to me that Mr. Yoder casts a strong shadow in his corporation. If he is going to be arrogant and curt, and also disorganized, then everyone under him is going to emulate his style. I call that "Shadow of the Leader."

All I can say is that there is a total difference in ambiance and response whenever I call Beaver or Newmar. People leap to the phone and turn their receivers on and their transmitters off.

I have to call Newmar at 10 am this morning with four questions and I can hardly wait. I am really looking forward to the phone call!

This will be my final thread on Mandalay. I hope those neutral here understand I am trying to do a service and report my own experience.

Since I don't own a Mandalay, nor any other brand of motorhome yet, I don't think I am just a basher. I am hard at work trying to make the best $250k decision I can make.

It is for the reader to judge. I hope others do the same for me. I will respond to comments in existing threads, but will report no more new findings about Mandalay. My research on that company is completed. If nothing else, and you are shopping for a home on wheels, at least take the time to look beneath the veneer on Mandalay and talk to the factory, not just the dealers.



Wow.  I don't blame you from crossing them off your list.  If that is the response they give a prospective buyer just think how hard they would be to deal with when the door frame falls off or other problems that might become apparent after a ourchase.
That's quite a story Smoky. Thanks for sharing.
Probably just as well that you decided against the rig from what i have read on owner's web site. There is apparently a serious windshield install problem resulting in multiple failures and no relief.

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