THE ADVOCATE BoatU.S. CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU BY CAROLINE AJOOTIAN
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
When the frustration-scale needle creeps dangerously
upward, what’s a consumer to do?
IN THE COURSE OF BOATING, it sometimes happens that a boat owner is dissatisfied with his vessel, a manufacturer, or retailer. Most manu- facturers and retailers are honest and do their best to resolve any problems. But occasionally, misunderstandings arise, and it becomes necessary to enlist the aid of an outside party to resolve the dispute.
Tempers get too hot, irritation levels make it hard to think straight, or
there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Luckily, the BoatU.S. Consumer
Protection Bureau has a long history of providing members with a forum for
informal dispute resolution — the only such boat-related program in the U.S.
Mediation, negotiations by a neutral third party — in this case, the Consumer Protection
Bureau — puts the decision-making in the hands of the parties involved in the dispute.
Unlike arbitration, where the decision-making process is completely in the hands of an independent panel, here the two parties negotiate the terms of the settlement. Throughout the
process, the Consumer Protection Bureau advises the boat owner about realistic expectations
for a possible outcome. Sample settlements
reached as a result of the Bureau’s efforts
include replacement hulls, reductions in
repair costs that amount to as much as
$3,000 to $5,000, 25- to 50-percent discounts on replacement engines, and factory
repairs at no cost to the consumer. So, what
should you do if the bottom has literally
fallen out of your boat?
FIRST THINGS FIRST
1. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend filing a written complaint with
the company, outlining your concerns and
what steps have been taken to remedy the
situation. Be sure to let the company know
what you believe would be a fair resolution:
PHOTO: ONNE VAN DER WAL
JUNE | JULY 2012