We packed up early and left Squaw Lake campground making the 45 minute drive to Hilltop RV in Ishpeming for our troubleshooting appointment at Hilltop RV. We went through our list with Elizabeth, the maintenance adviser, and she helped narrow it down to the things that our easy care policy might cover based on her experience with various third party warranty programs. They got to work diagnosing our problems and had answers within 90 minutes: Refrigerator has multiple component failures and (as we suspected) would need replacing, microwave is not serviceable and also needs replacing, and a couple of minor things wrong with our awning would need parts and adjustment. There were other items they diagnosed, but these are the only three that EasyCare would consider covering once Elizabeth gave them a call.
Great, right? That’s still worth the trouble, so lets get them parts ordered! Not so fast, said the EasyCare agent, first they needed to send an inspector to certify the diagnosis and requirements. Since it was Friday before Labor Day weekend, we could not expect him out until Tuesday. They were inflexible on this, so we locked in a spot at the somewhat overpriced ($36 a night after 10% military discount) but incredibly convenient RV campground right behind the repair shop, Country Village RV Park, and tried to take care of business while we waited.
This included setting up our tent and table at the Saturday Downtown Marquette Farmers Market, an event we did twice last year during our month in the UP. We had mixed results then: one fantastic weekend and one terrible one, but only because of an at times torrential rainstorm that lasted the majority of the event. Once we had decided to return to the UP this year, we contacted the market manager, Myra, who remembered us and approved our application as drop in vendors.
As we set up our stuff we were pretty concerned; the weather looked a bit ugly, but it didn’t do more than lightly drizzle sporadically through the morning. We did have to fight the wind all day, and ended up bungy cording down several of our stands. Despite the wind and water, we had a solid day of sales. Since we had to remain in Marquette anyway, we were happy for such a successful local market. Once we got to Grand Marais, we would have a nearly two hour drive to get to this event each weekend.
We spent the long holiday weekend in our partial hook up spot at Country Village, part of the time second guessing our decision to come this far north since we had to actually turn on our furnace part of each night to combat the 50 degree lows. By Tuesday early afternoon we were antsy to move on, and having heard nothing from Hilltop RV, we started adding some pressure. We called the repair shop and then EasyCare demanding some answers about when to expect the inspector. It took a bit, but eventually EasyCare got the man to call Hilltop and “clarify” the plan: He was never going to show up on Tuesday, they blamed the repair shop for misunderstanding that he was simply going to call on Tuesday to schedule his visit, which would not be until Thursday or Friday. I complained to an agent and his supervisor to no avail: we would lose a full week before we could order parts.
Grumpily we packed up and departed Country Village, moving 30 minutes down the road to the Ojibwa Casino. Our good luck there helped salve our irritated souls since they were running a nice set of promos for RVers. We got the usual sign up and email opt in free play money, but for staying overnight in our rig we each got an additional $5 free play money, a free well drink, and $10 in blackjack “match” money, and we got all this every day we stayed. By the end of the week we had turned that free stuff into $199, largely because we got very lucky at the blackjack table, winning 11 out of 12 hands.
As for Ojibwa’s RV accommodations: They no longer have an actual RV lot in the nearby wooded acre: that’s been bulldozed in preparation for their new hotel. What they have done in the interim is wire three of the light poles in their parking lot with a standard 20 amp, 110V outlet, effectively allowing up to six RVs to stay overnight with enough power to run the basics, though not an AC. Unfortunately, they did not mark those spots as RV only, and since two of the poles are up relatively close to the casino entrance, they almost always have cars next to them, and the distant option is very unlevel.
We were fortunate: upon our arrival the pole not blocked by cars didn’t have an RV around it, so we were able to hook up our shore power with our 20 amp adapter, level out as best we could, and once we were done in the casino we settled in for a relatively quite night. The place is isolated, lacking any through traffic from non-casino people, and the lot was well lit and secure.
The morning of our second day we got a call from Hilltop RV informing us that the inspector was on the way and should arrive in less than an hour. We broke camp immediately and headed back into town, arriving just before EasyCare’s contracted man. What followed was the most perfunctory and unnecessary “inspection” I have ever seen. He took pictures of the outside of the motorhome, our tag, the VIN sticker, and the mileage. As for the actual damaged parts, he had no interest in looking at the components of the fridge, verifying the microwave didn’t work, or inspecting the awning damage. The entire event was just, as the post title indicates, Kabuki Theater, supposedly keeping us all honest with the threat of an inspection that turned out to be pretty pointless.
The good news is that an hour or so after the, ahem, inspection, EasyCare confirmed that they would cover the full replacement cost of the fridge and microwave, the parts for the awning, and all labor. We would only be responsible for our $250 deductible and any shipping/freight charges. Those would probably be a couple of hundred, but the amount the warranty covered is considerable, so we were happy. It would be a couple of weeks before all the parts would arrive, so we headed back to the casino for two more nights, where we prepped for another market and a follow on move to Grand Marais.