Avoid Problems at the Yard

As the height of the season leaves us in its wake, boat owners start thinking about repairs and upgrades the boat might need. Some owners have a yard they’ve been using for years, while others are looking for somewhere new. With that in mind, we decided to run some advice from the folks at BoatUS, based on its survey of its BoatUS Dispute Resolution files.

Get it in writing: Get a written estimate before work begins, and remember that it is 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.

Is there a guarantee for the work? Thirty, 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.

Take photos: It’s always good to take a few “before” time-stamped photos of your boat in the shop. Accidents do sometimes happen, and you may need before and after damage photos to show the shop damage took place and file an insurance claim.

Languish at your peril: Stay informed about repairs. While there are legitimate delays due to seasonality, parts sourcing, weather, and personnel, if you think you are getting put off, you probably are.

Inspect, inspect and inspect: 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 boat 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.