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Bumfuzzle - who''''s right?
I tend to side with the owner on this one.
Firstly, Charter Cats was, to put it very politely, extremely lethargic and sloppy about addressing some serious problems with a very new boat which they had manufactured.
As posted, the chronology of the Charter Cat email responses spans months, it is rife with lack of follow-up, poor internal communication and a seemingly wilful inablility to address the problems in a concise, logical and professional manner. They also seek to excuse their tardiness with bizarre explanations (he hasn''t seen it / our email is down / they''re at a boat show abroad / the exchange rate sucks) - apparently the only one they missed was the dog eating their email server. Though the dog excuse may be their ace in the hole.
Even I, by casually parsing the correspondence, have a pretty good grasp of what the owners are trying to convey:
1. It is a 2 1/2 year old boat which they''ve owned for about a year and a half.
2. It was surveyed in Florida, without defects being discovered at the time of survey which was about 1 year after the manufacture date.
3. Problems became apparent in Panama, and critical in NZ some few months later. So critical that it required repairs in order for them to feel comfortable to continue their voyage.
4. CC apparently has a warranty programme which shouldn''t preclude a second (or third) owner of a fairly new boat from follow-up service. Warranties usually accrue to the product not the owner.
5. And, I don''t recall anything in the owners correspondence suggesting it had been struck by lightening. And presumably, the previous owner would have had an insurance claim if that were the case. Not to mention a bit of charred glass somewhere on the boat.
In my opinion Charter Cats actions should have been first and foremost to be prompt, attentive and timely in their response.
They failed abjectly on that count.
To my thinking, a conscientious builder would have undertaken the following actions:
1. A timely response which identifies the person in the company who will be responsible for following up. And, in this era of email, being at a boat show in Miami or wherever, doesn''t excuse not making a timely response to a customer.
2. Upon ascertaining the location of the vessel, the original surveryors comments and the owners assessment of the problem, Charter Cats should have proposed a course of action. Which, IMHO, would be to nominate a local surveyor (and other experts as required) to inspect the boat.
3. And based upon those findings, a course of remedial works and compensation should be agreed upon. Or not, in which case there''s at least ground work for a negotiated settlement.
In fact, it looks like CC simply pushed the issue to the back burner, despite the owners correspondence - over months - indicating that they needed to proceed with remedial works. When the final bill was tallied, CC seemed to conjure up a lightening strike out of thin air (is if it were ever any other way) as a straw man argument to walk away from the problem. They even "wrote off" their own product for insurance purposes without ever obtaining an independent assessment of the problem - how professional is that?
The owner was naive in not seeking an independent assessment before commencing remedial works - but - as the builder and expert in these matters, CC should have had a very quick and logical response to the owners very valid concerns. And a suggested course of action for the owner to follow.
Instead, CC let events take their course rather than steer their own ship as it were. And their subsequent "lightening strike" theory makes them look like a bunch of weasels. And not terribly clever weasels to boot.
Much has been said concerning the owners inexperience and naivete in regards sailing. But, in my opinion, that is not germain to the issue of a builder refusing to stand behind his product.
Flaws in workmanship happen, but what defines a great boat builder is how they act to rectify their mistakes.
And hands up, how many out there would ever consider buying a Charter Cat after reading this sorry saga?