Retracing MotorHome’s September issues over the years
“No problem is too small.” So declared the inaugural edition of MHL Hotline, this magazine’s consumer advocacy column that has since streamlined its name to Hot Line. When the column debuted in the September 1981 issue, it was the first of its kind for motorized RVs. The topics included two consumer complaints that are still among the most popular nearly 40 years later: racing the clock to beat a warranty expiration and securing a refund for a campground reservation. Both cases ended with positive results, which is something we continue to strive for to this day.
It’s this type of assistance upon which MotorHome prides itself; helping our readers (and others) in their time of need, regardless of how big or small the situation may seem.
The September 1976 issue included a story detailing the new consumer laws that give owners additional clout when a dealer fails to perform a service warranty. Tips include contacting the company directly and hiring an attorney. Those may seem like obvious choices nowadays but, as the article stated, “Consumer protection and power … is such a new realm for most people that the problem is sometimes one of knowing where to find the protection and how to exercise it.” That’s where MotorHome comes in, acting as a conduit between reader and manufacturer.
A 1983 feature titled “How to Complain Effectively” blew the whistle on the government’s increasingly shrinking involvement in consumer advocacy, and recommended contacting a variety of outlets for assistance, from the Better Business Bureau to media organizations to small claims court.
A 1985 interview with Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole saw MotorHome championing causes including recreation, seat belts and highway funding, further cementing the magazine’s legacy as the voice of the people.
And that advocacy and support would continue. In 1988, “Coping in Campgrounds” presented a forum of motorhome owners versus campground owners in which each side presented their ideas on how to make the most of the RV experience.
An advertisement in the 1995 issue trumpeted that “Life on the Road Is About to get More Entertaining!” as satellite-service provider DirecTV would soon join the ranks of mobile programming for RVers, filling a need for a fast-growing segment of tech-savvy RVers.
All of this may seem trivial considering the tragedy that would occur on September 11, 2001. Thousands would lose their lives in the horrific attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. In a tribute to the strength of our nation, MotorHome would offer a message of support: “Indeed, united we must stand to protect our great country,” wrote Bill Estes, then VP Publisher/RV Consumer & Trade Publications. Due to publishing lead time, that message would be delivered in the December issue.
In 2015, we revisited the tragedy, not with fear but with pride. We had succeeded in remaining united, and a poignant visit to the 9/11 memorials reminded us of the resilience of our great nation. “’We all remember the events of September 11, 2001,’ our museum tour guide said. ‘But 20 years from now, what will younger people understand about that day?’” To us, the answer is clear: United We Stand.