Boater Problems Solved

By Charles Fort

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

A lot of companies out there want your boating business. Whether it's to repair your boat, sell you a new gadget, or keep your boat safe in a slip, consumers have lots of choices, and companies know it. Most of the time, they do a good job of keeping their customers happy. After all, they want repeat business. Once in a while, though, expectations aren't met, a product fails, or there's a problem with a service. When communication between company and customer breaks down, we try to assist in finding a solution. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing who to talk to. We've been helping our members resolve disputes for 27 years, and we can often find ways to cut through red tape and help both sides come to an agreement.

Cat Problems

Carl Rochelle Sr. of Loxley, Alabama, loved his Catamaran Cruisers houseboat so much, his next boat was also a Catamaran Cruisers ... and his next ... and the one after that ... and the one after that! The last one though, his fifth, eventually had a problem with the starboard hull, which began leaking after six years — long after the warranty expired. Rochelle tried repairing it himself but couldn't. He also couldn't logistically bring his boat 400 miles back to the manufacturer in Columbia, Tennessee. The company said it wasn't able to help him without having the boat in the factory. Frustrated, Rochelle sought our help. We asked both parties to brainstorm a resolution. Rochelle knew his boat was well out of warranty but said if Catamaran Cruisers would sell him a new hull at a discount, he'd pay to have it installed. They offered to sell it for a deep discount and deliver the hull at no charge.

Where's My Rebate?

One reason Bill Stefan bought his FLIR M-324XP Thermal Imager was the juicy $1,000 rebate offered by the manufacturer. Stefan had the unit professionally installed, then filed for the rebate. He had all the necessary paperwork, except for the barcode on the box that the installer had inadvertently tossed. His rebate was denied. He wrote asking for our help. We wrote to the rebate-processing center and got no response. However, a letter we sent to FLIR got the company's attention. Within a few days, FLIR apologized to Stefan and promised that he'd receive his rebate within four to six weeks. Stefan was so happy when he got his check that he donated part of it to the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water — a win-win-win situation.

Seeing Pink

Peter Procopio bought a new Triton 225 Sea Hunt in 2011. By 2012, the cushions were developing pink spots. He contacted his dealer, who said that the cushion material was defective and that he could get Sea Hunt to replace them. It wasn't a big priority for Procopio, but he kept reminding the dealer in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Finally, at a boat show in 2015, a Sea Hunt rep told Procopio he'd get the cushions expedited. Not long after, Sea Hunt told him to contact Carolina Cushions, the manufacturer, directly. Still no cushions. Procopio asked us to get involved. We wrote to Sea Hunt and Carolina Cushions, and within two weeks, new cushions were shipped.

Moving Backward

After his transmission failed, Julius Ballew bought a new ZF Hurth 15 MA for his boat from Transmission Marine and had it professionally installed. After 60 hours, the transmission no longer worked in forward gear. Ballew initiated a warranty claim for the failed transmission after confirming with a third party that the installation was correct. Ballew also sent a diver to check the prop and shaft, who reported no problems. The transmission was returned to Transmission Marine. The company found that a thrust washer was worn and the gears were damaged from overheating and denied the claim. We wrote to both Transmission Marine and ZF Hurth and forwarded Ballew's documentation that the unit was properly installed and that no outside forces had damaged it. Even though the company believed the transmission wasn't faulty, ZF Hurst agreed to replace it as a goodwill gesture.

An Autopilot That Wasn't

When Roupen Baker bought a used Cape Dory 28 from Lyman-Morse, the boat was erroneously advertised as having an autopilot. After the sale, he agreed to purchase an autopilot if Lyman-Morse would install it. It did. After he got the boat home, he discovered that the autopilot wasn't working, possibly due to some incorrect cables that Lyman-Morse used in the installation. After spending an additional $1,300 to get it to work, he asked the company to reimburse him. After getting no response, Baker asked us to help. We wrote to the company, it apologized, and, within a few weeks, agreed to send Baker a reimbursement check for the installation.

Monitor Defender

Member Matthew Sears bought a US Marine Products holding-tank monitoring system from Defender Marine. After a few months, it stopped working, so Sears contacted US Marine Products for help. The company asked him to return the system, and after evaluating it, found that it worked OK but said it needed additional parts. However, US Marine Products said it was unable to assist, and Sears said the company wasn't clear about what the problem really was. Confused, he called us. We suggested he skip the manufacturer, and we put him in touch with Defender's customer service. Defender sent him a replacement tank sender at no charge and said that it had informed US Marine Products about the issue.

Missing Extinguishers

After BoatUS Consumer Protection ran an alert (available at about certain Kidde fire extinguishers that were the subject of a recall, Tony Fernandino contacted Kidde to get his extinguishers replaced. Three months later, after several emails, he still didn't have them. He contacted us, and we suggested he make a phone call to Kidde's customer-service department, which told him he should have his new extinguishers in seven to 10 days. When they never came, he called us back. We contacted Kidde, which acknowledged the goof, and within a week, the new extinguishers arrived at Tony's door. 

— Published: December 2016

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