Engage in Pushback

I’ve written about this obliquely in the past, but it wasn’t until recently — remember, we live in a tiny Virginia hamlet known as a drinking town with an oyster problem, and we’re the last to hear anything of substance — that I learned a new phrase: “pushback.”

Say you buy a boat — for instance, a Grady-White powered by Yamaha, a quality rig that costs a hundred Hamiltons. Despite the cost, you want a small alcohol stove installed by the dealer. A month into ownership, the stove — heretofore untried — doesn’t work. The Grady’s aft bilge pump doesn’t work automatically. The big Yamaha four-stroke is hitting the rev limiter at 4000 rpm. If this was an Audi, you could take it to the dealer and get all the problems handled. This ain’t no Audi. Each of those problems goes to a separate manufacturer. The tech finds the stove’s shut-off/ turn-on valve procedure was never explained to the owner. Not warranty. A month ago it would have been charged to sales. Today, you get to pay for an hour’s labor. The bilge pump automatic float has a hydraulic steering cable across it. A month ago moving the cable would have been charged to the service department/rigging; now, it’s on you. The Yamaha, however, has an ECM defect that Yamaha accepts as a warranty claim. The good news is that the expensive part was covered. The bad news is that the other stuff, regardless of fair, you have to pay for. You leave the dealer’s with a foul taste in your mouth.

Two months later, the alcohol stove’s valve, which you did understand, ceases to operate, and not because of you. The steering hose that had been tie-strapped higher above the float has again dropped. The ECM strides valiantly onward. The dealer charges you. The bile rises. You take the boat somewhere else, where they charge you to re-repair the stove and float problems. They want you back in a month so they can check things, which they do, and charge you.

Then I start getting emails detailing the problems and financial shenanigans. I ask you, did you tell the dealer he could damned well fix, for no charge, what he screwed up or you were going to write each individual manufacturer and resolve payment that way? No? What did you do? You went to six other dealers and were charged by each for identical “repairs.” Would you have done that with your Audi? Pushback should have been employed at the first visit: no problem resolution save Yamaha’s was anyone’s fault other than the selling dealer’s. And you should not have paid a dime. Now all the things you were dealing with are out of the warranty range. No more coverage.

If you’d pushed back at the beginning, the dealer would have discovered it wasn’t totally operator error, and that at least the stove was warrantied. Now the stove manufacturer thinks it still doesn’t have a problem with the stove valve because no one has ever successfully filed a claim. All they’ve done is taken the problem to dealer after dealer after…

If you are charged for a repair that fails in short order, do not go to more dealers and pay them to try to fix the problem! You paid the first dealer to do the job right, and he has a moral obligation as a representative of Grady — even though none of Grady’s products failed, you still see just the Grady-White sign as you pull in the driveway — to fix it, eat the cost and smile while he’s doing it. Or you sit down at the keyboard.