Paying the price for bad quality and service

A dealer in the Milwaukee market just lost a good customer and, through word of mouth, a large number of future boat sales.
The customer I refer to is a close friend of mine, whom I’ll call Chuck. Chuck has been an avid muskie fisherman since he was a boy and thus has contact with a lot of boaters.
In 2003, a Milwaukee-area dealer sold my friend a new 16-foot outboard-powered aluminum fishing boat. Chuck was thrilled with the performance of his new rig, and at his first tournament with the new boat, he came in fifth place with a 43.5-inch muskie.
But early on, Chuck noticed some problems with his new boat. The speedometer didn’t work, the rubber seal on the livewell was torn, the livewell had no plug, the passenger seat leaned to the right, the remote control wasn’t new, and the tongue jack was rusty.
Then, to Chuck’s dismay, his new boat started leaking. He had to run the bilge pump every hour to keep it dry. At the tournament, he even got up during the night to make sure the boat was pumped out.
Chuck took the boat back to the dealership and presented the list of problems. Much to his surprise, the dealer told Chuck he would have to contact the boat manufacturer himself about the leaking and other warranty problems.
When Chuck called the factory, it acknowledged that there were leaking problems, but said it would take three to four months to pick up the boat and get it repaired.
Three or four months would mean the end of the fishing season for Chuck, so he asked the Milwaukee-area dealership to put in an automatic bilge pump so he could at least finish the fishing season. It said it would have to charge him for it.
He couldn’t believe the response and attitude. Here he had purchased a brand new boat that leaked and had other problems, and the dealer was acting like it was his fault.
Chuck called the boat company, which paid to have the new bilge pump installed. During the winter, the boat was returned to the factory where the leak was fixed.
In the spring of 2004, Chuck headed to the lake, and after fishing for a while, his outboard engine overheated. He took it back to the Milwaukee dealer. The technician said the problem was the water pump and that a new water pump kit had been installed.
Chuck picked up the boat and took it to the lake for a test run. The engine overheated again, so back he went to the dealer. The technician, who was now exhibiting considerable attitude, accused my friend of getting into weeds. Chuck told the technician he had used his trolling motor to get out into deep, weedless water before he even started the outboard. The technician insisted that it was weeds and proceeded to flush out the water passages. Chuck watched the technician flush out the engine. Nothing came out, but when questioned about it, the technician got defensive and insisted it was fixed.
When Chuck headed back to the lake, he encountered the same problem. Again, he went back to the dealer. The technician, whose attitude was worsening, said he would check it out.
The next day Chuck was told the problem was in the outboard’s electronic module. A new one was installed, and my friend picked up his boat and headed to northern Wisconsin for another muskie tournament. He launched the boat, and the engine started right away. But it soon died, and he couldn’t get it re-started.
At this point, there was no way my frustrated friend would consider taking his rig back to the Milwaukee-area dealer. Instead, Chuck took the boat to another dealership where the technician determined that the previous technician had replaced only the impeller and not the damaged pump housing. A complete new water pump kit was properly installed and fully water tested by the technician.
Chuck is now a happy muskie fisherman again. But you can bet that a lot of boaters throughout Wisconsin are hearing about the bad attitude and service he received from the Milwaukee dealer. And Chuck won’t be recommending the manufacturer that makes “leaky” boats that take four months to get fixed either.
Bad quality and service cost the dealer and the boat builder a lot of future business. Don’t let this happen to your customers. It can be too costly. – Ben Sherwood

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