We found the Mellott Bros. website and looked around, then drove six hours to look at some used Holiday Ramblers on their lot. I include the website, not because you should go there, but so you can see the allure. We liked one especially, and asked to drive it. No problem.
The salesman (a Mellott family member) went out with us, and first warned us that the brakes would go almost to the floor before they engaged because "these are "power assist" brakes, and that's how they work." Power assist is a real thing. When the brakes go to the floor before engaging, it means the power assist is broken.
The rig rolled after being put in park because "the older transmissions weren't as tight as new ones." Older transmissions that loose are having end-of-life issues. I suggested we drive another rig of the same year and make to compare how they drove. He refused, because "you just can't compare two units - they're going to drive differently." I asked "oh, isn't this the 454, too?" Yeah, he said, but they're going to be different.
We wanted to flip on mechanicals to see how things turned over. "Oh, we'll make sure everything works." We suggested that, since we were six hours away, we'd like to hear the generator run while we were there (a new generator costs $3000 - $5000), but he said that wasn't possible because the tank was below 1/4 (these big generators have a safety cut-off so someone couldn't run the unit until they were stranded) and no one could put more gas in. People on an RV lot have real things to do, little lady!
We asked if there was an inverter, so he called another guy from the shop out to check. They talked between themselves to clarify the difference between an inverter and a converter, then the electrical guy says "no, no inverter." Annie asked why there would be an automatic transfer switch if there was no inverter, then one of them suggested it's so you don't have to get out and plug in the generator. Plug in the generator? What? Then the salesman talked about what an electrical genius the guy is. To be honest, between the two of them, they did possess the IQ points to be a genius.
We talked further, and he explained that we could either pay close to their sticker (50% above NADA's low retail estimate) or pay 25% more than NADA's lower estimate and buy it like a pig in a poke. For reference, most used motorhomes go for about 33% below NADA low retail. What that meant was, we could not turn on the water pump, generator, air conditioners, water heater, or furnace.
He wanted $3500 to do these things FOR US and to give us an unbiased report, because "we have to pay our mechanics $92/hour to do this." He also explained that the mechanics are part of the same company, but they use accounting techniques to charge themselves $92 an hour for mechanical work. I told him he didn't have to pay us, and we wanted to at least hear the motors kick.
It was a valuable lesson, and we did a lot of research when we got home. We also sought the opinions of some MH vets on RV.net, and they all confirmed our fears. I do wonder if they would have told us the same ridiculous things if one of us had been a burly guy.
I'm not even going into the smarm factor, which was high and deep.