Choosing a Dealer

1. Ask the dealer tough serious questions about any boat you’re considering. Do your homework before you do any serious shopping.

2. If a dealer can’t answer your reasonable questions, go somewhere else.

3. A popular and useful tool is found on the BoatUS website. Click on “Boat Buying Services” in the menu on the top of the home page. You’ll find many sources of information. The Consumer Protection Database on the left hand menu of the “Boat Buyer Services (or at ) opens the door to much information.

4. Look for chat rooms about particular boats. You’ll find one under “Boater to Boater” on the BoatUS home page. Click on “Boat Groups.” Remember that you must weed the wheat from the chaff on chat rooms.

5. If a sales person skips over or makes light of safety features or issues, go elsewhere.

6. Remember that sales people must identify the tire kickers who aren’t really interested in buying but who are out for a Sunday afternoon of diversion. They have to make a living with their time, just like anyone else. Make your intentions known to the dealer.

7. Even if you feel you’re an experienced boater, ask whether the dealer has an education program for new buyers, whether it includes on the water training in the boat, and how much time they spend with you. Starting the motor and taking a 5 minute “spin” doesn’t cut it. The training should include handling in various conditions and training as to operation and maintenance of the various systems.

8. Ask the sales staff if they can give you one or more references to happy customers. Sometimes they cannot because of privacy concerns, but sometimes there will be customers who are happy to be called. Ask friends about the dealer’s reputation. Look for repeat customers.

9. Insist on a thorough sea trial in realistic conditions, even if the boat is only a small boat. This may be even more important if a boat is a new model and there isn’t a lot of previous user experience available. Sea trials take time and money and so the dealer is often justified in asking for a deposit or more and other commitment from a buyer, but you should have a written document letting you out of the deal if the boat doesn’t perform properly.

10. Ask about the dealer’s position on a buyer’s survey, depending on the circumstances. Some boats, obviously, are not typically surveyed. An example of such may be a 12 foot brand new aluminum skiff of which thousands have been made. But a survey would be much more appropriate, for example with an express cruiser.

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Boating and water sports involve risk. Any comments herein should be followed at your own risk. You assume all responsibility for risk or injury to yourself or others. Any person or entity that uses this information in any way, as a condition of that use, agrees to waive and does waive and also hold authors harmless from any and all claims which may arise from or be related to that use.

Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale

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