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Learning the HARD way...
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I just received an official-looking envelope from the Maritime Documentation Center, 100 24th St W Suite 1-1028, Billings MT 59102. Inside was a letter indicating that my vessel's documentation is set to expire and that for an additional fee, this organization was willing to renew my certificate of documentation.

WOW! What a service!! Just think that I can pay this private organization $75 and fill out their form and thereby not have to pay $26 and sign the form that the USCG sends me every year.

I thought that you all should know.

(What a friggin' scam...) :hothead
 

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First time I've heard about this company. There have been many threads here and other boating forums talking about US Documentation Center in Cal charging $75.
 

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Ain't that the 'Merikan way though. Selling folks something they can do for themselves, for three times what it would cost them to do it. But hey, it is legal.
 
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Ain't that the 'Merikan way though. Selling folks something they can do for themselves, for three times what it would cost them to do it. But hey, it is legal.
It might be worth it. I've been trying to get a response from the NVDC for nearly a year. I hear nothing from them for several months, then "we couldn't read one entry on your PDF file, send it back in with this correction" I look at my copy of the PDF and it's fine, but I redo it, rescan it, send it back in. Then they go silent for another couple of months. The NVDC needs some housecleaning, or so it seems.
 

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Just so you know....these documentation service companies do not get a free pass to the front of the line. When it comes to the CG Doc Center, it is strickly, first come, first served.
 

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Just so you know....these documentation service companies do not get a free pass to the front of the line. When it comes to the CG Doc Center, it is strickly, first come, first served.
I'm sure that what you say is correct. I was saying that more out of frustration and with 'tongue in cheek.' Coincidentally, my documentation just arrived in the mail today! There's a coincidence for you. Or does the NVDC read Sailnet......

It is missing the year completed and the place built, which were on my previous documents, but at least I'm documented again!!! Now I'll be able to do that trip up to the Georgian Bay next summer.

-- Bill
Belle Voile
PSC 34
 

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Just a couple of months ago, I almost got taken by these people. I had just purchased a documented vessel, and was new to the USCG documentation process, and while doing a web search, stumbled upon their web site. So I started filing out their online form, then remembered that the previous owner had given me a copy of the USCG form in the stack of paperwork. Anyway I got the form and finished filling out the online document. When I went to figure the cost, it was over $450.00! I had seen some of the paperwork in the packet that had some prices, and so I took another look. Anyway, after looking at the "Official" USCG documents, the cost should have been a little under $100.00. Did a bit more research, and discovered a statement on the USCG site kind of warning about these types of companies. Needless to say, I deleted the online form data, printed out the USCG form, wrote the check and mailed it off. The paperwork was received buy the USCG a few days later, and now the wait starts. On one of USCG sites, there is a link to a list of the types of paperwork that is being processed, and the current date range. I checked a little while ago, and they are up to Sept 7th for transfers. My paperwork was received on Oct 6th, so its getting close. These people really should be required to put a LARGE statement on their main page stating they are not the USCG. Personally, I believe it is very deceptive.
 

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When looking for them online, I found a Newswire that was issue in Los Angeles. I suspect it's the same company we've heard of there. I have to believe there is mail fraud here, as they use naming and logos to make the recipient think it is the USCG NDC.

I suspect their (lame) argument is they actually provide a service. It may not be one that adds any value, but they do provide what they claim. I think I recall the one in CA would also provide for multi-year service, whereby they automatically renew for you each year. The user would otherwise have to do it themselves annually. Now that the USCG provides an online renewal service, this feature is no longer added value.

If they can't be taken down for mail fraud, the real fix is for the USCG to STOP forcing annual renewals for a fee. If it was free, no one could get away with ripping folks off (as easily). I say, charge what you need to charge for the initial docs, extend the renewals to 3 or 5 years and allow for the renewal to be free, if done online. Money grab bureaucrats stopped reading a few sentences ago.
 
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When looking for them online, I found a Newswire that was issue in Los Angeles. I suspect it's the same company we've heard of there. I have to believe there is mail fraud here, as they use naming and logos to make the recipient think it is the USCG NDC.

I suspect their (lame) argument is they actually provide a service. It may not be one that adds any value, but they do provide what they claim. I think I recall the one in CA would also provide for multi-year service, whereby they automatically renew for you each year. The user would otherwise have to do it themselves annually. Now that the USCG provides an online renewal service, this feature is no longer added value.

If they can't be taken down for mail fraud, the real fix is for the USCG to STOP forcing annual renewals for a fee. If it was free, no one could get away with ripping folks off (as easily). I say, charge what you need to charge for the initial docs, extend the renewals to 3 or 5 years and allow for the renewal to be free, if done online. Money grab bureaucrats stopped reading a few sentences ago.

Yes, they will be happy to renew for you for the 5 years....for $375. Or you can do it every year yourself for $130.
Is this fraud? I'm sure they had a battery of attorneys to go over everything to make sure they are on the (barely) legal side of the law.

Intentionally misleading? Absolutely. Their business model totally depends of boaters thinking they are dealing with the actual CG. And they do a very good job making boaters think that.

Best way to stop this...spread the word.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #10

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #11
Now that the USCG provides an online renewal service, this feature is no longer added value.
Can you provide a link?

My search on "uscg documentation renewal" brings me back to these same slimeballs; 'maritimedocumentation.us'
 

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Can you provide a link?

My search on "uscg documentation renewal" brings me back to these same slimeballs; 'maritimedocumentation.us'
I believe this is the site for online renewal.

National Vessel Documentation Center

Only US DOD organizations can have a top level domain of .mil. So, make sure that the TLD is .mil and you should be fine.

-- Bill
Belle Voile
PSC 34
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Following that link, I cannot find an online web registration form (has the government heard of e-commerce?), but I did find this (emphasis mine);
Third Party Awareness
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 06/14/2017 02:40 PM EDT
The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC), located in Falling Waters, West Virginia, is the only entity authorized to issue Certificates of Documentation (CODs), Form CG-1270, valid for a period of one year from date of issuance. This document is required for vessels engaged in Commercial trade and is optional for vessels five net tons and over engaged in recreational use/activities.

Persons interested in conducting business directly with NVDC should visit the official Coast Guard website at: National Vessel Documentation Center

The NVDC is aware that there are commercial entities that offer to manage the certification/renewal process on behalf of vessel owners for a fee. The Coast Guard does not endorse any of these companies, and the companies do not operate on behalf of the Coast Guard in any way. Any fees charged or agreements offered by such companies are in no way associated with the NVDC certification process. In addition, these companies are not authorized to issue any form of documentation, including travel letters and/or permits that authorize operation of ANY vessel. Customer complaints can be made through the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) website at https://www.ftc.gov/

To obtain official forms, visit the USCG NVDC website or contact NVDC at (800) 799-8362 or (304) 271-2400. Phone hours are 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; phones are not manned on Thursdays. Application packages and documents eligible for filing (in .pdf format) can be e-mailed to [email protected] or faxed to (304) 271-2405. COD Renewal requests (Form CG-1280) are accepted via [email protected] with credit card payment of $26.00 via Form CG-7042.

The following products may be ordered online: Renewals (Form CG-1280), Late Renewals (Form CG-1280), Abstract of Title (Form CG-7043) and Certified Copy of COD (Form CG-7043) requests. From the main page, follow the “Order Products Online” link.

The Fee Schedule can be found here: http://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/instr/fee sch.pdf

Users are encouraged to register to receive notices and updates via e-mail by utilizing NVDC’s email subscription service. From the main page, follow the "Subscribe to NVDC Information" link. Please report any issues to the NVDC Webmaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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Thanks...

It's not exactly 'Amazon.com'
Totally agree...but it's not rocket science either. I didn't do a lengthy search, but I think there is a more friendly, Amazon type link on the CG website. When you get your reminder letter from the CG (which comes about a week after the scam people), seems they give you the link to go to.
I admit I got scammed into paying the $75 this past spring, but seems that in previous years, it was pretty simple.
 

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Thanks...

I get that the process looks something like this; fill out a form to pay, and then fill out another form and email it (with a pdf of the receipt) to the NVDC. It's not exactly 'Amazon.com'
I don’t recall having to mail anything. You put your doc number in the form, pay your vig and wait.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yes, that's it. From the link I posted, in the left sidebar there is a link for "Order Products Online." One of the sub-links is "Renewal." Those links redirect to the link you posted.

-- Bill
Belle Voile
PSC 34
That seems to be the ticket! Let's see if they deliver :)
 

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Their online form asks for your social security number now. I went all the way through the application process, got to the $450 and said, that's not right, and exited out. Of course, now they have my soc number, my address, my vessel number, because I clicked next on everything....ugh. I'm filing a complaint just to cover my butt if my identity ends up stolen. I know better, too - I should have looked more carefully at the web address. Beware.
 
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