consumer affairs bermuda

Boat Repairs And Maintenances Issues

02/22/2008 | With winter winds still blowing many days of the week, the bliss of boating and swimming this May 24th holiday seems so far away to most of us. In fact, in terms of boat repair and maintenance obligations, it’s much closer than you would think.

Last year, Consumer Affairs received 60 complaints against the boat repair and maintenance industry due to consumers finding that their boats were not ready in time, and unfulfilled expectations regarding work to be completed. To avoid such problems in 2008, consider yourself warned that now is the time to start the spring pre-launch process.

Owning a boat carries with it many responsibilities, including regular maintenance, improvements and repairs, and safety checks. The first thing to do is to assess your boat’s needs. You should have a maintenance schedule for your boat already in place, based on suggestions from a marine service professional and from boating books or publications. Improvements to your boat should be planned carefully, assessing the total cost associated with the work and the time the project should take.

When choosing a marine service provider to carry out routine maintenance or improvements, factors to consider include: references, certification from trade and professional associations, experience, and costing.

To ensure your relationship with your provider works to your advantage, get a quote in writing for the cost and time involved for the project at hand, itemizing the components to the job and parts and materials needed.

Once you have agreed to the quote, sign a written contract agreeing to the terms and cost of the work. Ensure that you have a payment schedule in place, with no more than 30 percent of the total cost given at the commencement of the project.

Your rights in terms of this contract under the Supply of Services (Implied Terms) Act 2003 are that the work be completed with 1. reasonable care and skill; 2. within a reasonable time; and 3. for a reasonable charge. Should you agree to costing that you later find out is unreasonably high for the industry, but you have signed a contract to these terms, you have forfeited your right to protection under the Supply of Services Act. Thus, you must perform your due diligence by researching industry standards and local costing before you sign anything.

Despite your best efforts to protect yourself, should there be a problem, it is important to note that if you decide to withhold funds for payment of completed work, the service provider does have the right to exercise a lien on your boat in their possession for the services provided.

Your best option is to instead notify the service provider in writing of your complaints. Give the service provider an opportunity to rectify the situation in a reasonable time period. You may contact Consumer Affairs in order to file a complaint and gain the assistance of an Enforcement Officer, or if the matter is for complaints with a value of less than $25,000, file a claim with Small Claims Court.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this end, though. Take your time selecting a marine service provider and ensuring you have your paperwork in order. Most of all, start the process early this year. After all, you don’t want to be the only boat not making the raft-up this May 24th!