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Old 16-10-2017, 19:43   #1
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Cost to service a liferaft

Hi
We sent our life raft ( 6 person trans ocean ) off for service to a local company here in Brisbane.

The service was $695 but we have just had an invoice for $2020 AUD. They seem to have replaced every item inside the raft ( flares, rations, seasickness tablets etc etc)

This seems a huge cost. Is this normall?
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Old 16-10-2017, 20:16   #2
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

Yes. Which is why I just replaced mine. For an extra 25% I could get a new Eurovinyl raft. They are not the "best" and there are no service shops for them in the Caribbean, which is where I'm going. But for what it costs to service, I'll just replace every period.
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Old 16-10-2017, 20:22   #3
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

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Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
Yes. Which is why I just replaced mine. For an extra 25% I could get a new Eurovinyl raft. They are not the "best" and there are no service shops for them in the Caribbean, which is where I'm going. But for what it costs to service, I'll just replace every period.
We will be doing the same in future. I'm pretty hacked off. And a lot poorer..
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Old 20-10-2017, 20:12   #4
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

I had my 4 man liferaft serviced in March. The service cost about one third of what the raft cost to purchase. My philosophy is "I'm worth it". It's hard to justify being parsimonious with survival equipment.
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Old 20-10-2017, 20:31   #5
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

It's not like that everywhere. I also had my life raft serviced in Brisbane approx a year ago, crazy prices to basically unpack it, say it's OK and replace some bits and pieces, flares etc... It hurts paying that bill.
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Old 20-10-2017, 20:35   #6
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

Was a $2k service worth it? Depends what kind of quality the liferaft was in the first place, for a $2500 liferaft: likely not; for a $3k liferaft: maybe; for a $4k liferaft: almost certainly.

It looks like the service agent did not tell you the whole story upfront. Yes, often it is easier to replace, less hassles with freight/deliveries, no surprises, and at times you can sell the old one for a few hundred dollars, that is, if you believe it is ethical.
BTW, that is a whole different discussion, how good, functional is a liferaft after the 'date' expires. I believe that is in Australia 2 years.
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Old 10-11-2017, 07:09   #7
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Re: Cost to service a liferaft

I just wrote a long reply to this thread and lost it somewhere between seeing it posted and clicking the submit button. Here's the short version....I work in the life raft business and our company manufacturers many different brands of life rafts (and other life saving products). All or products meet IMO, USCG and other regulatory standards which means they are tested to extreme conditions before they are sold. To ensure the quality and reliability, we can only service your raft with the parts that proved to work and they are expensive. The price includes the quality of materials and testing they endure. Some rafts cost more than others because of the material that is used and the method of construction. DBC rafts use a composite material that stinks like vomit but have welded seams and last for many many years. Other brands use a rubber material that is glued together and lasts a long time but is subject to copperization, and will degrade if exposed to anything with copper in it. Polyurethane is another material that is used and is inexpensive. They are glued together but are very prone to glue degradation when exposed to a combination of water and temperature changes. There are lots of different rafts out there and you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, the perfect raft does not exist. They all have advantages and disadvantages.

Servicing rafts is very regulated and service technicians are liable for the work they do. We have to use OEM parts and replace expired items. This is to ensure your raft performs as if it were brand new, despite the rafts age. Depending on the age of your raft, certain tests have to be conducted to ensure its reliability. When your raft gets to ten years, you're looking at a gas inflation, hydro test of the cylinder, floor seam test, necessary additional pressure test, working pressure test, and hose blast test. As a raft ages, the material and parts become less reliable and need more testing to ensure it will work. That's about the time you need to weigh the cost of those additional tests against a new raft. When you get to that point, PLEASE talk to your service station and negotiate a good deal for yourself if you decide to buy a new raft. Our organization bends over backwards to earn your trust and business. We (and most other service stations) are more than willing to work with you. Sometimes we have to condemn a raft and we hate doing that. If your raft is condemned, you can almost always work out a good deal on a new raft for the price of servicing your old raft, or at least, close to it.

In the mean time, there are a couple of things you can do to minimize the costs of servicing. Keep your container as dry as possible. Some people pressure wash the containers and we open the raft for inspection and find a raft that is soaking wet and falling apart. Some containers have drain holes to let water and condensation out but they're plugged up or stowed up-side-down.

When your raft is serviced, it should be returned to you looking brand new. We clean your raft and container as a courtesy but some places charge a cleaning fee. Cleaning the raft is required but not the container. That's something you can negotiate. Another thing is the labels. We have to replace those ridiculously expensive labels if they are damaged or illegible. That's subjective sometimes and if you are happy with how the labels look, and the authorities can read them, then keep the old ones and save some money. Finally, talk to your service station manager about options. Some of our customers only need a raft for a short period of time. Instead of enduring the costs of owning and maintaining a raft for years, look into renting a raft for that crossing. If you choose to buy and maintain a raft, you're likely to find some savings if you talk with your service station. You can often get discounts for first time service, loyalty/repeat business, trade in (our brand for that other brand) or any other reason you come up with. Bottom line is we want you to like doing business with us.
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