Thursday, March 8, 2012

Red Bay, Alabama


2012-03-07 Red Bay Alabama 084Red Bay Alabama is way off the beaten path but it is however, by reputation, the best place for servicing our Tiffin Allegro Bay motorhome. We have a few faulty windows and minor repairs and felt it worthwhile to make the pilgrimage to the premier repair site. It was a long haul from The Parks at Chehaw in Albany, Ga but we figured the long push all in one day would ensure a better likelihood that we would be seen sooner than later at the Tiffin Express Bay first-come-first serve queue. (Scheduled appointments at this time are fully booked 12 months out). Eager to get r done, we left Georgia at nine and planned to be in Red Bay at 3 pm (accounting for the time change).

Traveling through Birmingham turned out to be much like our Atlanta experience. Many freeway changes, lots of congestion and many, many lights into and out of town made for stressful delays. Adding to the stress was the fact that we witnessed an accident at one intersection where a lady in the lane next to us completely ran a red light because she was on her cell phone. She was broad sided thereby causing us further delay dealing with gridlock. Everyone seemed okay so we navigated past the wreckage. Later we2012-03-07 Red Bay Alabama 088 were taking the last loop-d-loo out of Birmingham and we noticed a smell and an indicator light that our brakes were overheated. We stopped to let them cool off now realizing that our to-do list in Red Bay would be extended since now we would be having our brakes checked.

We rolled in an hour and a half later than planned (around 4:30 pm) after passing the not-so-evident signage to the campground, making two u turns (with car in tow) before finally entering into the Allegro Campground. The office was very hectic and crowded and after standing in line for 40 minutes, we discovered we just missed the last full hookup site and would have to dry camp for the night (sigh). We settled in and decided to check out town for a quick dinner. There are not too many choices in Red Bay and we found out the hard way that the county is completely dry. We grabbed some fast food but as we found out much later, the office “forgot” to give us the list restaurants and stores in the area. Although customer service is highly touted with regard to the Red Bay Tiffin Service Camp, our experience so far has been less than 2012-03-07 Red Bay Alabama 087satisfying. As you’ll read further it goes from bad to worse for us.

With no electricity or water, we again ran to town early the next morning for breakfast. Upon our return I walked over to the office (which opens at 7am and closes at 8pm) to check about openings for a full hookup site and to inquire about the Tiffin factory tour as we heard it is a highlighted activity while in Red Bay. The staff reacted to my request with horror because apparently you are NOT to leave the campground for any reason until you have a full hookup campsite. I also discovered you are not even assigned a service number until you are in a full site. Did the office personnel tell us this upon arrival? No! Well, gee whiz, how were we to know? An hour and a half later (9:30 am) we were assigned a campsite, given a service number and told to be ready at any time for a call or drive by visit from the service guy. We waited at the CAMPGROUND slides in and ready to roll……waited and waited….until finally at 3pm I wandered back to the office to inquire if it was “normal” not to hear any word at all from our service guy. I was told that there is no way to tell when exactly we would hear from him but “our guy” comes in at 6:30 am and leaves at 2:30pm sharp. Well, again, why not tell us this service timeline so that we don’t wait and wonder all day……sigh.

So here’s the thing…if you plan to come to Red Bay Express Service:

  • come earlier in the day rather than later
  • be aware the entrance signage is very easy to miss
  • be prepared for possible dry camping on a back lot
  • be prepared for a lack of communication as to a time-line for a full hookup camp site or for service (they call this Tiffin time)
  • you may have to ask for restaurant and store information
  • know that this is a dry county and a very small town (nearest wine/beer about 25 miles away)
  • know that the day starts at 7am at Tiffin Service and ends at 2:30 or 3.
  • Stay by your phone at all time
  • Do NOT GO anywhere until you hear from your service guy (or until after he/she leaves)

Hopefully this “bad service” will be behind us and all the “great service” we heard about Tiffin is ahead of us. Until then the saga will continue…


  1. I got a chuckle from your post as it brought back memories of last year :) Apparently, to experience the "true" Tiffin service, you have to learn these things yourself so your next trip will be better :) We learned the hard way too. Our actual service work was excellent though. One caution: when your service is done, leave immediately. If you stay, something else will surely break before you have time to get out of town! Trust me.

  2. Oh no....a DRY county. couldn't help but chuckle...sorry.

    Hope things get better soon.

  3. I cannot figure out why talking on a cell phone while driving is not flat out illegal everywhere. I hope she wasn't hurt since she was broadsided but a part of me thinks it would serve her right.

    TWO U turns while towing. You are a master driver.

    Sorry to hear about your experience at Red Bay. Sounds VERY frustrating. Hope it gets better today.


  4. now that was an interesting day. Hope now that you are in the que it will go better. Hopefully the service will be as good as it is billed, making the frustrations less rememberable.

  5. Our recommendation is to go personally and talk with Bob Tiffin. He is always there and anyone can walk in and talk to him. But, while you are waiting, you two may enjoy visiting the Helen Keller Museum. It is great. Also, Rattle Snake Salon is awesome.
    Be sure to take the tour of the factory AND don't miss the paint shop. You can just walk through paint shop on your own. It is really fascinating how they paint everything decals. Hope your stay is short. ~wheresweaver

  6. OK - so now we know the little tricks about Red Bay from your post. We're planning to be one of the 1:00a ET callers to get our appointment for next February.

  7. Sorry to hear about the not-so-good start. We've been postponing a trip to Red Bay for a lot of small stuff. We're just going to have to bite the bullet and get it over with when we leave Florida. Hope the rest of the visit goes better! Gonna make sure I have lots of knitting and projects waiting to get finished while we wait for a service call! I always wonder about what's going to happen when Bob Tiffin is no longer around. Thanks for the info, guys!

  8. Good luck with the rest of your stay there. We are always stocked up in case of the dry counties that we have run into over the years.