At the Helm: Using common sense can save money, aggravation — Valley Morning Star : Outdoors

3 мая 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Zodiac Cadet 260 boat


Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:02 am

We read and hear about it all of the time. Someone hires a small home repair contractor, a backyard auto or boat mechanic, plumber or electrician and gives them money up front, and that’s the last time they see them.

More often than not, when the contractor does finally complete the job, it either takes them forever to do it, or the work is incomplete or substandard. To avoid getting caught up in a bad deal like these or losing your money, here are some common sense tips you should know.

Arnold needed his old galvanized boat trailer rebuilt. The axles, hubs and springs were more rust that metal, the coupler would no longer latch down on the hitch ball, and the brakes didn’t work. Estimates from boat dealers were a couple hundred dollars higher than a guy named Ray, who was referred to him by a friend. So he decided to use him to save money.

The mechanic didn’t have a shop to do the work. His ad on Craig’s List stated that he would do all work on-site, which Arnold thought was great. After the mechanic inspected the trailer he said that he could do all of the work in a single day and that the parts would cost $1,160, which he needed up front. The labor would be another $260.

After paying the mechanic for the parts, the only problem was that he couldn’t do the work with the heavy boat still on the trailer. So, Arnold launched the boat and put it into a $25 per day slip nearby.

The parts arrived two days later and after the first day, the mechanic had barely started cutting off the old rusted bolts with his little grinder. The second day there wasn’t any more progress and the mechanic disappeared right after lunch.

Despite Arnold’s numerous phone calls to try and reach him, the same routine went on for a week, and a couple of days Ray didn’t show up at all. Seeing the slow progress Arnold loaned the mechanic his own heavy duty grinder to speed things up.

That’s when the mechanic asked for more money because the job was harder than he expected. A couple of the parts cost more than originally thought and he had forgotten to charge him sales tax. Now in a bind, Arnold had no choice but to pay him and that was the last time he saw him, his money and his grinder.

Roman’s old bay boat had seen countless fishing trips evidenced by the numerous deep scars, scratches and gouges in hull bottom. Even worse, the interior floor and decks were completely rotten. Thinking that taking his boat to a boat dealer would cost him too much, Roman elected to have the work done by an out-of-the-way fiberglass repair place that looked more like a boat graveyard.

The owner told Roman that he could completely rebuild the boat, including doing the hull, for $3,900, and that he could have it done in less than a month. After paying him up front, Roman occasionally would stop by to see how the work was progressing.

The first week looked promising because his boat had been de-rigged and gutted out down to the bare hull and stringers. But weeks turned into months and Roman’s boat never moved from where he first saw it. He confronted the owner several times, and each time there was this or that excuse and finally, after nine months Roman demanded his money back.

The owner told him that he didn’t have the money and promised again to finish the job in the next two weeks. Two weeks later Roman’s boat hadn’t been touched and he went to the local police for help, but they said that this was a civil matter and he’d have to sue.

Knowing that suing this jerk wouldn’t solve the problem and only cost him more money, Roman picked up his gutted out boat, loaded the console and motor into the back of his pickup and took it to a reputable boat builder. Roman’s boat was not only ready in about three weeks, but for about $1,000 less than he paid the original fiberglass shop that ripped him off.

Needless to say, Arnold and Roman and hundreds of other boaters have learned very expensive lessons dealing with unprofessional and often illegal boat repair shops. As Roman told me, “I didn’t use common sense, because I never would have taken my truck to a place that looked or operated like that.”

Zodiac Cadet 260 boat

To avoid being ripped off like these guys, here are a few tips.

The appearance of the repair shop and its staff is normally a good indication of the quality of work you can expect. If it looks like a dump, it probably is.

Make sure the business is reputable. Check for their business listing with the city and county, in phone books, websites and with the local BBB or Chamber of Commerce. Also, when in doubt, ask to see their business licenses, business or specialty certifications and most importantly their Texas Sales Tax Certificate.

Ask for a list of references of satisfied customers that you can contact to learn about their experience.

Except for special orders of parts or materials, never pay the entire amount up front. Only make payments as the repairs progress and leave the final amount due of at least 25 percent of the total bill.

Try to make all payments with a check, money order or credit/debit card instead of cash so that there is a verifiable paper trail.

If unforeseen extra parts, labor or expenses come up, demand in writing on the work order that all work is to cease and that you be advised before any further work is done so that there are no surprises at the end.

Lastly, use common sense. Even if a well-known, professional and reputable boat dealer, builder or repair shop is a little higher priced, it may be well worth it in the long run.


Zodiac Cadet 260 boat

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