Whether a simple repair or complex job like the refit, BoatUS has some tips to
help avoid problems.
8 Ways To Avoid
Problems at the Boat Repair Shop
For over 25 years the BoatUS Consumer Protection department has
helped Boat Owners Association of The United States members resolve disputes
with repair facilities. The vast majority of shops do the job right, but
sometimes they – or boat owners – make mistakes. To see what went wrong and to
possibly learn from others, BoatUS has surveyed its BoatUS Dispute Resolution files to
identify eight trouble spots that boaters needing work done should know:
- Finding a shop: Word of mouth is
still king. Having American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) and Better
Business Bureau (BBB) certifications are also two good signs. Boaters can
also check out the BoatUS Consumer
Protection Database for complaints filed by BoatUS members.
- Get it in writing: Get a written
estimate before work begins, and remember that it is based on an
approximation of how much the job will cost. If work may go beyond the
estimated price, you can always direct the shop to obtain your authorization
before proceeding with unforeseen repairs. Remember, if it’s not in
writing, there’s no way to confirm the work was requested.
- Is there a
guarantee for the work? 30-, 60-, or 90-days are all typical. Ask
if parts and labor are included. Don’t wait until after the warranty
expires to check the repairs.
- Remove valuables: Bring small
electronics, personal items and fishing gear home.
- Take photos: It’s always good
to take a few “before” time-stamped photos of your boat in the shop (your
smart phone may have this feature built-in or there are Apps available).
Accidents do sometimes happen, and you may need before and after damage
photos to show the shop damage took place and possibly file an insurance
- Languish at your
peril: Avoid having your job pushed to the back burner by staying frequently
informed about ongoing repairs. While there are often legitimate delays
due to seasonality, parts sourcing, weather, and personnel, if you think
you are getting put off, you probably are. Cut losses and find another
shop. (Tip: For larger jobs, ask the shop to periodically email you
pictures of work in progress. It may help keep the job on schedule.)
- Inspect, inspect,
and inspect: When picking up the boat after completion of repairs, ensure each bit of
repair work matches the actual invoice. If you do have a dispute with the
final bill, you’re in better legal shape if you pay it in full, preferably
on a credit card, and then file a complaint with the shop and/or your
credit card company.
- A note about end
of season repairs: Sea trials must take place during the warranty
period, which has sometimes caused problems for BoatUS members who put
their boats away for the winter before ensuring the repairs are
satisfactory. Any open issues found in the springtime will likely come out
of the boat owner’s wallet.
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