Here's What We've Done For You Lately

By Charles Fort

BoatUS Consumer Protection provides an alternative for those times when your frustration meter is going off the scale.

Building a bridge illustrationBuilding bridges between members and the industry can lead to solutions when things don't go as expected. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Most companies do their very best to keep customers happy; doing so is smart business. But sometimes communications break down or expectations aren't met. Consumer Protection can help by bringing both parties to the table, opening the lines of communication and searching for solutions together. Over the years, we've helped resolve thousands of issues. Sometimes it's as simple as cutting through red tape; sometimes it's just finding the right person to talk to. Not all disputes can be solved through the resolution process, but in many cases, we help both parties to find common ground. These successes may not always be big-dollar resolutions, but every single one of them matters to our members.

Recalling A Recall

Last July, BoatUS member Bruce Dunn purchased a 1998 Mako 252. Over the Labor Day weekend, the boat got swamped. While cleaning it up, he found water getting into the boat at the hull/deck joint at the bow and that the foam in the port cabin locker was cracked. While researching the problem, Dunn found what appeared to be a recall of the boat way back in 1998, but he didn't know how to go about getting Mako to help.

The Resolution:

Mako began making boats in 1972, and like many boat manufacturers, it experienced changes of ownership over the years. In 1998, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a recall involving the swamping of Mako boats, Dunn's problem exactly. The company that purchased Mako, Tracker Marine, was unable to find any information about the recall. Fortunately, our Consumer Protection records go back nearly 40 years, and we were able to find the recall documents. The good news for Dunn is that there's no expiration on U.S. Coast Guard recalls. We helped get the documentation to the company, and it picked Dunn's boat up and took it to its Florida factory for recall repairs. “I just want to say that the person I've been dealing with at Mako, Sandy Hanby, has been awesome,” says Dunn.

Fridge On The Fritz

In early 2014, member Peter Radionoff bought a new Norcold refrigerator for his boat. One thing he liked about the unit was that the documentation said it would continue to work until the battery voltage dropped below 10.9 volts, the same as his old refrigerator. Like many BoatUS members, Radionoff uses his boat a lot, and during his first weeklong cruise, he found that the refrigerator cut off at 12.5 volts, which is the voltage for a nearly fully charged battery. He contacted a rep for the company, who advised him that the cutoff for that model was actually 12.5 volts and that the brochure must be wrong.

The Solution:

The member contacted us for help, asking for a refund if indeed the cutoff voltage was 12.5, something that made the unit unworkable for him. We found the right person at the company, and we sent that person a copy of the two-year warranty that showed the published cutoff voltage for that unit was actually 10.9, and therefore the unit was faulty. By late summer, Norcold had sent the member a new refrigerator that worked correctly.

A Ripped-Off Fishfinder

Over the summer, member Kaab Salama bought a Humminbird fishfinder and installed the transducer himself, following the written instructions. During his first trip out on the boat, the transducer mount broke into two pieces, causing the transducer to be ripped completely off the boat. Salama contacted Humminbird and was told he'd have to purchase a new transducer and mount because the company's warranty didn't cover installation. Salama thought Humminbird should replace the mount and transducer.

The Solution:

We wrote to Humminbird for help. Within a week, a company representative left Salama a voicemail telling him that the company would replace the transducer and mount at no charge.

GPS Software Dilemma

When Jack Boender sent his 2009 Raymarine E-120 unit back to the factory after bent pins in the compact flash port were found, Raymarine did a software update, which it said is standard procedure if there's a recommended update. But when the upgraded unit was reinstalled, Boender said the GPS speed display would lock up at random points. Raymarine made a valiant effort to fix the problem, sending a technician out to Boender's boat several times, although Boender was charged for the visits. Unfortunately, nothing worked; the company said it had never had this particular problem before. Boender felt that the software upgrade caused the problem and that he shouldn't be charged to troubleshoot an issue he didn't have before the software upgrade. Raymarine responded by saying that it doesn't warranty software-related problems.

The Solution:

We sent a letter to Raymarine asking for help in getting Boender's unit to work properly. Raymarine promptly responded that it would refund Boender the cost of trying to repair the unit. He was then able to find a work-around to the problem by using an additional sensor.

Rough Sea-Doo

In April 2012, member Irwin Sindebond bought a 2011 BRP Sea-Doo. Last spring, the Sea-Doo's engine started running poorly, so he brought it in to his dealer. The techs indeed found the engine was running rough, and they also found debris in the front cylinder. The dealer believed that a fuel problem or an unauthorized modification may have caused the issue; the member said that he hadn't modified his unit. He asked us to help.

The Solution:

We wrote to BRP, asking the company to review its warranty policy; we believed that Sindebond's problem didn't meet any of the exclusions. By late summer, BRP agreed to a compromise, even though the company wasn't convinced that the problem should be a warranty issue; BRP agreed to pay $6,000 for parts and labor, after Sindebond paid $500. 

— Published: June/July 2015

While BoatUS Consumer Protection is always here to help solve our members' complaints, many times companies step up, and we never need to get involved. We received this great letter from member David Charles:

Dear Friends at BoatUS,

Photo of a sailboat

I purchased a Hawkeye depth finder from Norcross Marine in 2010 and installed it on my Catalina Capri 22 in the spring. The first season I had it, it developed a glitch. Norcross replaced it under warranty. At the end of the 2012 season, it started malfunctioning, and I thought it might be because it was covered with slime. After pulling the boat, I noticed that it wasn't really that dirty, but I cleaned what was there. In the 2013 season, the unit worked intermittently. Then it quit completely, so I stopped using it. After pulling the boat this year, I removed the unit, contacted Norcross Marine, and received an RA number to return the unit. The company replaced the unit for me and only charged me its cost for the transducer, plus shipping. Needless to say, that made me very pleased. Kudos to everyone at Norcross Marine.



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