OVER THE YEARS, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to resolving complaints. Following these guidelines makes it more likely you’ll get satisfaction
when there is a problem.
Get it in writing. A dealer or repair facility might tell you they’ll
“take care of you,” but without a written description of what that
means, you may end up spinning your wheels when a problem
crops up. A friendly handshake can quickly turn into finger-pointing, so if a boatyard tells you they’ll warranty the work for six
months, make sure it’s in writing.
Read your paperwork. If you’re buying a used boat and see “as
is” in the contract, there will be little recourse if something goes
wrong. New boats come with factory warranties, but they’re not all
the same. Read the paperwork to find out how the manufacturer
handles things like blisters, leaks, and non-functioning equipment. Who handles the engine warranty? What if the refrigerator
breaks? If you buy an extended service contract, what’s excluded?
What are your responsibilities as an owner? If you take your boat
to a shop, what’s their warranty on parts and labor? Will they contact you before they proceed on further work? What’s included in
winterizing? Read and save all paperwork.
Keep a maintenance log. Owners who can provide complete
records of all service performed and all problems uncovered have
a much better chance of resolving disputes related to maintenance. A manufacturer is more likely to help if they see written
documentation of breakdowns, as well as service and repairs.
Use a professional. Before you buy a used boat or high-value
TIPS ON HOW TO RESOLVE OR AVOID DISPUTES
new boat, hire a qualified marine surveyor to inspect it. Not only
will they point out problem areas, the report can be a basis for
price negotiation. An engine surveyor can uncover issues on
expensive gas and diesel engines. The money you spend on their
services can save headaches and money later.
Don’t delay. If there’s a problem with your boat that may be
covered under warranty, let the dealer or shop know immediately.
In many places, boats are not used over the winter, but the clock
doesn’t stop on warranties. Also, don’t wait until the end of the
season and present your dealer with a laundry list of things that
need repair; most warranties require you to inform the dealer right
away when there’s a problem.
Be realistic. Don’t expect a replacement boat because your
refrigerator won’t work, or a new engine on one that is years out
of warranty. Manufacturers are more likely to respond favorably to
Be patient. Many manufacturers have scaled back warranty and
customer-service departments lately due to poor economic condi-
tions. Harried employees may need more time to address your
complaints now than when business was booming.
Don’t bash the manufacturer to the world. The Internet is a
great place to vent your frustrations, but use it judiciously if you
have a complaint against a manufacturer. Nothing will sever lines
of communication faster than filling up the Internet with rants
about a product or how you’ve been treated.
Contact Consumer Protection. If all else fails, let us know. Our
relationships with manufacturers, forged over years, often result in
a more favorable resolution.
CONTACT THE BOATU.S. CONSUMER PROTECTION
AT (703) 461-2856 OR EMAIL
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