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Old 26-06-2008, 07:58   #1
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On Line Retailers (e-tailers)

While trying to find the things one wants/needs for their boat, you obviously check out what you can on line. But is there any way to know if the retailer is ok? What about Consumers Marine? They seem to have good prices on several items. Does anyone have people they have been happy with for both sales and service?
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Old 26-06-2008, 08:16   #2
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I've had pretty good luck with Great Lakes Skipper and Minney's Yacht Surplus. I've found both their online stores through e-Bay.
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Old 26-06-2008, 08:22   #3
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I would say while you may find evaluations on some businesses but you can't go to one place and get one on everyone. Most of the services charge the retailer so they make money. The goal is then to suggest that the vendors they list are some how better so you should buy from them. I did a compare on Consumers Marine and found the prices not so great. Every place can beat West Marine for electronics.

I've had good luck with Dave's Marine Electronics This is a NJ company and looks similar to the site you are looking at. For the most part all these types of stores want to sell the electronics as that really is where the markup is. The only negative on these places is that you end up returning defective stuff to them and having to wait for the factory to replace it. I had to do this with Dave once. Dave is a real guy and he knows the business but he is a small operation so factory returns are more time consuming and you pay to ship stuff back. There is no service really. He does reply to email quickly and is very honest about his business. He just u[graded his web site so he must be doing a few things well.

With West Marine you haul it back to the store and walk away happy. You pay a lot extra for that service but if you want that ability then don't shop at e businesses. Even paying the reverse shipping you don't pay sales tax on a price that is far lower. With Dave if you need more than one item you can send him a note and say all the things you want and he will give you back a single package price. If you say you are ready to buy now you can get a deal sometimes better than he lists on the site for the total of each item. It has not happened on all things I've bought but several. Things that are popular you already see a pretty low price so you need a good sized order for him to move a little.
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Old 26-06-2008, 09:16   #4
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Thanks for the input. I made a list of items we need then sat in front of the computer forever with tabs open for Defender, West Marine, Landfall Navigation, etc. trying to compare prices for each item. Plus then googling the item to check with other smaller providers. Consumers Marine is one I came up with for a life raft (avon 4 person). I have looked at ebay a bit, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable buying there.
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Old 26-06-2008, 09:43   #5
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Quote:
Consumers Marine is one I came up with for a life raft (avon 4 person).
Did you get shipping and handling fees?

Life rafts that have sat in a warehouse some place may require recertification even if never used. This could be an item you want to be more careful about buying. You really want to be sure about the certification date. This would be a great item to get scammed on. The lowest price tends to gravitate in that direction. It's not normally a deeply discounted item.

Just the reputation of an on line vendor might not be enough. You might want to get assurance of a return with full refund in a reasonable short period of time so you might be able the verify the certification information upon arrival. You really are not going to be able to open it up and test it out until you really need it. The certification is all you have to go on. As I say this would be the perfect item to scam someone on since you can't really open it up and try it without having to have it professionally repacked.

Most rafts go untested until the next certification and repacking because it's the only way to really test it.
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Old 26-06-2008, 09:46   #6
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Time for a rant. West Marine and other Brick and Mortar stores charge retail prices. We need them for gotta-have-it-now purchases like life jackets for the guest's kids tomorrow, or the next size up screws, or just to play with the buttons on the latest electronics. If you go into the store, push all the buttons, spend an hour or two of the clerk's time narrowing down your choices, or learning that item "A" won't do for you but item "B" will, but then go buy it on line from a faceless web site, you are a Time Bandit. If you have the gall to come back later for help with installation or usage, you are a thief, stealing from your fellow boaters who buy stuff from that store and pay that clerk's wages.

Further: you only have to get stung once to lose what you think you're saving by shopping around. The lowest price you find on line could still be a terrible deal, if it's gray market or stolen and thus not supported by the manufacturer and not warranted. Thats why they ask you for serial numbers. Forget the argument that its got their name on it. That doesn't work in this marketplace.

I recommend that you only buy from highly rated vendors (by independent raters) who have earned no negative ratings, and assure yourself that they are factory authorized resellers. And I also recommend Jim at BOE, above. He knows his stuff, and stands behind what he has sold.
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Old 26-06-2008, 10:56   #7
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Hey, thanks for the observations. Paul, thanks for the insight on recertification. I didn't even think about them sitting around in warehouses for a long time. I have contacted the store to see if they can tell me how long the life rafts have been sitting in their warehouse and whether or not they need recertification. Also, come to find out, they actually have a brick and mortor store in NJ. I would imagine I can check with the Better Business Bureau in their area to see if they check out ok.
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