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RV company that claimed BBB 'harassment' has crowd of unhappy customers

Craig Medred

When an Anchorage company that rents motor homes came under attack from the Better Business Bureau, it charged harassment. Now B&B RV Rental LLC clients from Nome to Wasilla to Falls Creek, Ore., are popping up to say some harassment might be a good thing.

Ardyth Potter from Nome said she's been trying for a year to get back the $1,298 deposit she paid on a motor home that turned out to be unavailable at AKMotorhomes, a B&B RV Rental entity. The company, she said, politely offered to "refund the money, not a problem."

Potter was later mailed a check. It was no good. She emailed the company to report that.

"They sent me a second check," she said. "That one was no good."

Potter emailed again and asked for a cashier's check. She never heard back.

"I've gone to Anchorage several times," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "The original place of business is up for sale. They keep changing names."

Just finding the business is difficult, she said.

Jana Harkovitch, who manages the company owned by her husband, Peter, told Alaska Dispatch News she doesn't talk to the BBB because she prefers to deal directly with unhappy clients. That does not appear to be working out so well.

"Jana is giving you a line of bull," said Potter, who is now in small claims court trying to get her money from B&B. Other AKMotorhomes clients tell stories about charges for replacement of cracked windshields mysteriously appearing on their credit card statements after their Alaska adventures.

Oregonian James Langan said that more unsettling than a charge, about which AKMotorhomes never warned him, was the fact the windshield for which he was being billed wasn't cracked. Luckily, he said, he'd decided to return his motor home halfway through his Alaska trip, but before doing so consulted his credit card company. They advised him to take the vehicle to an independent inspector for a review before returning it.

Langan thus had evidence of the condition of the vehicle and was able to get the credit card company to intervene to fight the charge for the windshield repair.

"More or less, the RV that Pete rented us was a derelict," Langan said. "It was just a piece of junk. The shower ran out on the ground. The refrigerator didn't work. The pipes under the sink weren't connected. It was one thing after another."

He should have never stepped aboard in Anchorage, he admitted, but by the time he arrived in Alaska's largest city he'd already booked the RV online and paid for it. It was then the height of the Alaska tourism season, he added, and he was afraid that if he backed out his family might be unable to find another RV.

One thing AKMotorhomes does have going for it is rock-bottom pricing, said Jennifer Kolb of Wasilla. The price point attracted her when she went looking for an RV in which to take family from Florida on a tour of the 49th state.

"If my in-laws hadn't been such good sports about it, their trip to Alaska would have been ruined," she added. "The RV was falling apart, to say the least. We'd drive down the road, and the cabinet doors would fly open and dishes would come flying out."

Luckily, however, the vehicle was equipped with a working carbon monoxide detector. It woke everyone in the middle of the night to alert them the generator was exhausting deadly gas into the motor home.

"You get what you pay for," Kolb said.

In a phone interview, BBB Alaska regional manager Michelle Tabler flatly rejected Jankovitch's accusation that the BBB's dispute with the company is only about the organization trying to blackmail B&B into becoming a BBB member. Tabler said the BBB has had to deal with more than 20 complaints about B&B over the past three years.

"We have not spoken to them about accreditation," Tabler added in a follow-up email. "BBB has contacted the company only to resolve unanswered complaints from angry consumers. We have attached an example of a letter we have sent to the business stating we wish to work with them and their consumers to resolve disputes."

In the letter, the BBB makes an offer to mediate disputes between the company and customers. B&B RV Rental rejected that idea, which is what eventually led to it being given an "F" rating on the BBB website.

Harkovitch said she planned to contact her company's lawyer to see if B&B could sue the BBB over that rating.