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The chat continued for awhile, but they seem to be ignoring me now. They deceptively claimed that "comparative information on fee schedules" is currently unavailable. They also refer to their annual fee of $75 as a one-time fee, which is also deception:

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Hi I'm not sure what the work that these scamming companies do but it is all about convenience. They charge a fee for their service so it is not definitely not deceptive!
Let's give this one a shot. Are you affiliated with this firm in any way? You've posted multiple supportive posts, with no clear description of what you find better than the USCG online form.

It would be in keeping with the lack of integrity of this firm to plant a shill. Are you?
 

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" There's a sucker born every minute" These guys have based their business model on that theory and apparently it pays off. All I've got to say is that They've got some brass monkeys.
 

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Pecunia non olet
No doubt, that is their motto.

I'm a capitalist. I believe hard work, sacrifice, skill and risk should and do pay off, if you have what it takes. This "service" is based solely on trickery. And it does stink.
 

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One more piece of deception that I noticed as I was getting ready to close the tab on my browser: Their web page's title claims to be USCG:

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Hi I'm not sure what the work that these scamming companies do but it is all about convenience. They charge a fee for their service so it is not definitely not deceptive!
Let's give this one a shot. Are you affiliated with this firm in any way? You've posted multiple supportive posts, with no clear description of what you find better than the USCG online form.

It would be in keeping with the lack of integrity of this firm to plant a shill. Are you?
Marcus, you have signed on, since I posted this question.
 

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Discussion Starter #89
I just received the following as part of an email digest from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators;

"
Official-Looking Vessel Documentation Renewal Notices

Can Lead to Confusion and Higher Costs


BoatUS advises boaters to be vigilant when renewing USCG vessel documentation
SPRINGFIELD, Va., Dec. 15, 2020 – Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters with vessels that have a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation to be wary of any letter arriving by U.S. mail offering renewal.

BoatUS advises that while the Coast Guard does send official annual renewal notices by U.S. mail, other notices being received by members are not from the Coast Guard but rather third-party companies whose name or return addresses may appear similar to that of the official U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).

BoatUS members have complained that these letters direct them to websites that may be mistaken for the actual Coast Guard NVDC located in Falling Waters, West Virginia, and appear to show a significant increase in the annual fee to renew Coast Guard documentation.

In 2017 the Coast Guard issued a bulletin that says in part:
"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/."

While third-party companies may legitimately provide services to assist with vessel documentation renewals, the Coast Guard's own renewal process is simple for most vessels and the price, $26 annually, is often much lower than what third-party services may charge. To renew, go to the Coast Guard National Documentation Center website at www.uscg.mil/nvdc and click on "instructions and forms," then "Certificate of Documentation Application for Renewal." BoatUS notes that the Coast Guard NVDC now also offers renewal options up to five years for recreational vessels only.

To be documented, a vessel must measure at least five net tons and, with the exception of certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a U.S. citizen. Boats about 27 feet in length or longer generally meet the weight requirement.

BoatUS also advises boaters who may have received mail that they believe is misleading or deceptive to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or through its website https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov.

------------------------------
Ron Sarver
Chief, Knowledge & Learning Management Systems
National Association of State Boating Law Administrators "
 

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Thanks for posting this.
To be documented, a vessel must measure at least five net tons and, with the exception of certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a U.S. citizen. Boats about 27 feet in length or longer generally meet the weight requirement.
A vessel's net tonnage (NRT) is a measure of its interior volume, not its weight. This is a common misconception, which will be further spread by this unfortunate typo in this message from USCG. The only relationship of NRT to weight is the approximate weight of cargo that the vessel can safely hold (not the weight of the vessel), since interior volume can be used to calculate the vessel's buoyancy. I believe that this is why they refer to it as tonnage, but it's actually the vessel's maximum tonnage of cargo, not tonnage of the vessel itself.

And, FWIW, my prior 25-footer (Catalina 250) met the 5 NRT requirement (using USCG's simplified tonnage calculation) due to its high freeboard and the fact that it was propelled by an outboard motor. I was surprised to discover this (since it did not meet the "at least 27 foot" criterion), and in fact it had been documented by a prior owner, though I chose to un-document it.
 
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Discussion Starter #91
Thanks for posting this.

A vessel's net tonnage (NRT) is a measure of its interior volume, not its weight. This is a common misconception, which will be further spread by this unfortunate typo in this message from USCG. The only relationship of NRT to weight is the approximate weight of cargo that the vessel can safely hold (not the weight of the vessel), since interior volume can be used to calculate the vessel's buoyancy. I believe that this is why they refer to it as tonnage, but it's actually the vessel's maximum tonnage of cargo, not tonnage of the vessel itself.

And, FWIW, my prior 25-footer (Catalina 250) met the 5 NRT requirement (using USCG's simplified tonnage calculation) due to its high freeboard and the fact that it was propelled by an outboard motor. I was surprised to discover this (since it did not meet the "at least 27 foot" criterion), and in fact it had been documented by a prior owner, though I chose to un-document it.
Without getting too far off topic; good catch! You are absolutely correct, and I am sorry that I didn't catch it.

I would ass-u-me that someone employed by Boat/US would know this, or that the "Chief, Knowledge & Learning Management Systems - National Association of State Boating Law Administrators" would catch this. But, I suppose that I assume too much.

My intent, however, was to let youze guyz know that these organizations (NASBLA and Boat/US) are also aware of this scam.
 

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Three cheers for BoatUS actually responding to it's members issues!!

However, it will take a fraud indictment to actually make it stop. The shortfall to that action is they do provide a service, for their fee. It's just unnecessary and they mislead the buyer, with their logos and names. I think the latter is more vulnerable under mail fraud statutes.
 

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This thread is always worth bumping, to avoid others from being scammed. I just received both my official NVDC renewal notice and the notice from the "Vessel Documentation Portal" on the same day. The latter is just a non-sense service, with an official looking logo. I read it for giggles and they mention they are a private firm several times now and that you are under no obligation to use them. No doubt they've had their hand slapped. Still, it's designed to look official. In fact, it looks more official than the actual official.

They still provide absolutely nothing of value that one can't do online with the USCG NVDC themselves annually. The one thing they offer is a multi-year service, but that's just them filing for you each year. If that's exciting, that's fine. I bet you don't get your prepaid fees back, if you sell your boat.
 
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Discussion Starter #94
Que @MarcusJames with a soliloquy about how great this service is "for doing all the hard work" in 5...4...3...2...
 

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Just want to relate something that happened to me. The Vessel Documentation Center (the official one) sent me an email that came to my service as being from VDC Productions. It looked like junk mail so I never opened it. A month later I called them and they told me they had sent an email and would resend it.

It is interesting that the bogus service goes out of their way to look official while the real Coast Guard agency looks like spam.
 

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Just bringing this back to the top as a reminder the real CG Doc office only charges $26 to renew. If someone wants $75, then you are dealing with a private documentation service.

It's the boat owners' choice, either spend 3-4 minutes on the Coast Guard web site and pay $26 or spend 3-4 minutes on the scammer's website and pay $75.
 

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I would add here that Postal service delays seem to be affecting documentation delivery. I filed paperwork to register my boat with USCG in December. The title was issued and mailed in early February, but did not get to me until March.
 
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