Sea Trial Etiquette
<HTML><P>We recently contacted a sailboat manufacturer asking for a factory tour and sea trial of a boat that we're considering buying. We're still pretty new at this game, but when they said they'd need $200 for the sea trial we were surprised. Is that standard in the industry?<BR><BR><STRONG>Jon Shattuck responds:<BR></STRONG>Thank you for your query; it's actually a common concern with new boat buyers. Just to give you an overview, boat builder/dealer/broker sea trial policies run the full gamut. While some larger new boat builders and dealers are able to offer free boat rides to interested parties, many builders/dealers/brokers allow sea trials only after a written purchase agreement is negotiated.<BR><BR>When I was a rookie broker, one of my customers asked if he could sail a prospective boat before making an offer. Our brokerage manager at the time emphatically stated "no free boat rides!"<BR><BR>After stubbornly providing a couple sea trials sans purchase agreements, I quickly learned why he made that statement—I went for some fun boat rides, but got no offers. After that, I began to respond to such requests by repeating the company line of "we do not allow sea trials unless the boat is under contract," and almost always a contact was written up, price and terms were negotiated, a sea trial took place, and often a survey, and the boat was sold.<BR><BR>The odds are that the builder you've been talking with shares similar concerns, and the fee he is requiring is a form of a qualifier which he will use to cover his company's costs and efforts should your choose not to order that boat from them.<BR><BR>If you're serious about buying this boat, my suggestion is either ask that this fee be deducted from the purchase if and when you order a new boat from them, or, better yet, make an offer subject to a sea trial. Best of luck to you.<BR><BR></P></HTML>
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