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Old 17-01-2009, 11:39   #1
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Need advice regarding compensation for stained sails

Hey folks.

(sorry if this seems a bit off-topic, not sure where better to post this)

I'm looking for advice on how to resolve being trapped between three companies, all of whom deny any liability or responsibility for damage to my sails, yet the bottom line is that my sails were stained by some recent covers I purchased, and I am of the strong opinion that one or more of the parties involved should reimburse me for the replacement of my sails (professional cleaning them has proven unsuccessful).

At this point, I prefer not to name names, as I'm hoping for an amicable resolution without having to "shame them in public" to do the right thing. I'm hoping someone might have some ideas how to break through the apparent deadlock that I find myself in and get one or more of the companies involved to "do the right thing".

In a nutshell, I purchased sail covers from a fairly well respected and successful sailboat retailer. The covers themselves were made by another company, who also seems fairly well respected, and makes lots of canvas goods for boats, and seems to have a pretty healthy volume of business. The fabric itself used in the covers is one of the most popular brands used for that purpose.

The construction of the covers themselves was first rate. I was initially very happy with the quality of the covers. All of the canvas was a deep forest green, not their most common color, which may or may not be relevant, and special ordered (my understanding is that they were all made from the same batch of material). Unfortunately, after only just a couple of months, my sails were stained green from the covers, one mainsail one genoa (stored on roller furler). Obviously, I was not very happy about this, especially since the genoa was brand new, purchased at the same time as the covers, and from the same retailer.

(for those who may wonder, no, the staining was not mildew or anything organic, but some kind of transfer of the actual color from the covers)

I contacted the original retailer, from whom I purchased the covers (and genoa), and they instructed me to return the covers, along with the stained sails, and gave me the impression that they would compensate me for the damages. I was about to move to Finland at the time, and the boat was being shipped, so in order to ensure it left with sails, we agreed to have two new sails shipped overnight via FedEX so that they would get to me before the boat shipped, and my credit card would be charged temporarily, as a security deposit, until they received the damaged sails and defective covers. Unfortunately, after receiving the covers and stained sails (and having my $$ for the replacement sails) they claimed they made no such promise and said all they would do was pass the issue on to the manufacturer of the covers, to whom they sent the defective covers and my stained sails, and that if I liked, I could return the recently ordered replacement sails for a refund, if unpacked from their original sail bags.

Since I (like most sailors) take pride in the appearance and polish of my boat, and I didn't want stained sails, and as I felt confident that the parties involved would be fair and do the right thing, I decided to wait and see how things played out. The replacement sails are still new, unpacked, in their original sail bags.

The manufacturer of the covers sent the defective covers and stained sails onward to the fabric manufacturer for tests (which took forever) and the fabric manufacturer concluded that the staining was due to abrasion, leaving green micro-fibers embedded in the sail material, and that their fabric was not defective and that the manufacturer of the covers should have included a barrier fabric to guard against such abrasion. Whether or not that is true, and no dye transfer of any kind occurred, is beyond my abilities (and finances) to verify, so I have no choice but to take the fabric manufacturer's word for it (noting that they are hardly an objective party insofar as the results of those tests are concerned).

So back the issue goes to the manufacturer of the covers, who firmly asserts that there was nothing wrong with their construction and that they sell hundreds of those covers and never have had any problems before. The manufacturer of the covers negotiated with the fabric manufacturer to have the fabric manufacturer attempt to professionally clean the sails. Although I've asked for details of what kind of cleaning techniques were applied, no information has been forthcoming, other than the assertion that cleaning was attempted. Unfortunately, there was no reduction of any amount to the staining. They did, however, return the stained sails to me at their cost, which was commendable (though hardly fair compensation for the damaged sails).

So now I'm stuck between these three companies, all refusing to take any responsibility for the staining of my sails, nor provide any compensation for the cost of the replacement sails.

The bottom line, however, is that somehow, somewhere, something went wrong with these covers and my sails are stained green. This is a fact acknowledged by all three parties.

I've argued to all three companies that it is unacceptable for an innocent customer such as myself to be trapped between their three companies in this manner and that the cost of the replacement sails, if split three ways (or however they want to slice it) would be far less a loss for each of their companies than the full cost of replacing the sails would be for me, yet I've had no further reply from any of them.

FWIW, although I am presently in Finland, all three companies are US companies, and the damage occurred while I was living in the US (Texas), and I am a US citizen, so I presume that US/Texas law would apply, should it come to that.

What should I do?
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:02   #2
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Sue them and they will solve the issue...that's the way things seems to work out at walmart
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:10   #3
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Sue them and they will solve the issue...that's the way things seems to work out at walmart
Thanks but...

I probably should have noted this in the original post, but we're talking here about just a bit over $1000 USD total, so suing them would probably leave me poorer, even if I'm "successful". I'm looking for other options.

Still, $1K out of my pocket is a big hit, even aside from the principle of the matter.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:11   #4
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Chargeback

Ugh, what a headache. Sorry to hear you are dealing with this.

I have two thoughts on this situation:

1) The company that you did business with is the one that matters here. The deal was that you would provide them with money and they would provide you with proper sailcovers. They failed to do so, so they need to see to it that the situation is made good.

2) Why bother with any of these companies? You (smartly) used your credit card for the transaction, so talk to your credit card issuer. They're much bigger and wealthier than you are, so their negotiating position is naturally stronger. Get them to work for you. You have the ability to issue what is called a "chargeback" through your credit card provider. A chargeback essentially means that the credit card company takes the money back and gives it to you. For more details on how this works, see:
Chargebacks: What Is A Chargeback?
Chargeback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I would recommend that you use #1 first, but make it clear to whoever you speak with that if you don't get satisfaction, your next call will be to make #2 happen. Typically that gets the vendor's attention.

Good luck!
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:15   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickS View Post
Thanks but...

I probably should have noted this in the original post, but we're talking here about just a bit over $1000 USD total, so suing them would probably leave me poorer, even if I'm "successful". I'm looking for other options.

Still, $1K out of my pocket is a big hit, even aside from the principle of the matter.
Patrick this is not necessarily true because attorneys are not allowed in small claims court. Its you against the defendant only.

The person who sold you the product is the person that is responsible.

You need to file a claim is small claims court. Attorneys are generally not allowed in small claims, therefore the price to you is very minimal. In small claims it will be your evidence against the defendants evidence with a judge making the decision.

From what you say, I think you have a good case.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:23   #6
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Originally Posted by hotdogs View Post
Ugh, what a headache. Sorry to hear you are dealing with this.

I have two thoughts on this situation:

1) The company that you did business with is the one that matters here. The deal was that you would provide them with money and they would provide you with proper sailcovers. They failed to do so, so they need to see to it that the situation is made good.
The original retailer did refund my money for the covers, and they consider the matter settled as far as they are concerned.

Quote:

2) Why bother with any of these companies? You (smartly) used your credit card for the transaction, so talk to your credit card issuer. They're much bigger and wealthier than you are, so their negotiating position is naturally stronger. Get them to work for you. You have the ability to issue what is called a "chargeback" through your credit card provider. A chargeback essentially means that the credit card company takes the money back and gives it to you. For more details on how this works, see:
Chargebacks: What Is A Chargeback?
Chargeback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I would recommend that you use #1 first, but make it clear to whoever you speak with that if you don't get satisfaction, your next call will be to make #2 happen. Typically that gets the vendor's attention.
Unfortunately, the original discussions were by phone not email, so as far as "the paper trail" is concerned, the charges for the replacement sails were legit -- and they also have offered to take back and refund those sails, in original condition, so the card company is not going to take any action.

The issue remains the compensation for the stained sails.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:30   #7
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So you went out and bought new sails before the issue was resolved?
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:31   #8
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Patrick this is not necessarily true because attorneys are not allowed in small claims court. Its you against the defendant only.

The person who sold you the product is the person that is responsible.

You need to file a claim is small claims court. Attorneys are generally not allowed in small claims, therefore the price to you is very minimal. In small claims it will be your evidence against the defendants evidence with a judge making the decision.

From what you say, I think you have a good case.
Well, I'll keep that option in mind. Though being on the other side of the Atlantic makes that a bit of a challenge. The cost of travel, etc. (I presume I couldn't make my case remotely) would probably exceed the amount involved.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:32   #9
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So you went out and bought new sails before the issue was resolved?
Yes, though it was based on the understanding that the charge would be credited back as soon as the stained sails were recieved (and thus, the damage confirmed by the retailer).

The new sails were in fact from the very same retailer (as was the stained genoa) so it's not like I went and bought sails from somewhere else.

Still, probably a bit naiive of me...
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:34   #10
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My vote is for small claims court.
Name all three or go at them one at a time.
But you are going to have to be in Texas for that stuff.
Did you make notes while on the phone?
I have learned to do that with all calls nowdays.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:37   #11
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Well, I'll keep that option in mind. Though being on the other side of the Atlantic makes that a bit of a challenge. The cost of travel, etc. (I presume I couldn't make my case remotely) would probably exceed the amount involved.
You can assign someone to represent you in small claims court and it does not need to be an expensive attorney.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:38   #12
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Well, I'll keep that option in mind. Though being on the other side of the Atlantic makes that a bit of a challenge. The cost of travel, etc. (I presume I couldn't make my case remotely) would probably exceed the amount involved.
Also, since the retailer has refunded my money for the covers themselves, they claim that the staining is a warranty issue with either the cover manufacturer or the fabric manufacturer, so not sure how far I'd get pursuing just the retailer.
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Old 17-01-2009, 12:42   #13
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It sounds like you have made more than diligent efforts to obtain justifiable redress, so name them here now! Then e-mail a transcript of all this thread direct to the CEO of the company you bought the things from, (not the minions you have been dealing with so far). Tell him unless he sorts it out to your satisfaction you will post it on other forums, and sailing magazines as well.
If that does not bring a positive response pursue a charge back on your card.
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Old 17-01-2009, 13:41   #14
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I don't think the mods will allow any names to be named here.

GO directly to the top...don't pull any punches.

Being in the Marine Industry....we have a "harbor telegraph" that works real well...y'know about how "bad news travels fast"
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Old 17-01-2009, 13:51   #15
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Well, I'll keep that option in mind. Though being on the other side of the Atlantic makes that a bit of a challenge. The cost of travel, etc. (I presume I couldn't make my case remotely) would probably exceed the amount involved.
Quote:
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I don't think the mods will allow any names to be named here.

GO directly to the top...don't pull any punches.

Being in the Marine Industry....we have a "harbor telegraph" that works real well...y'know about how "bad news travels fast"
Well, the owner of both the retailer and the manufacturer of the covers are involved, as is one of the main customer relations managers of the fabric manufacturer, so it's pretty much at the top already.

What is puzzling is that the facts of the case are irrefutable, that the sails are stained by the covers/fabric in question, and one would think that given the amount of compensation in question, all three companies have much more to lose from bad PR than from simply doing the right thing and covering the cost of the new sails, should I simply decide to share the facts of my experience with my fellow sailors, and the identities of their companies, as a "let the buyer beware" lesson (and I assume that simply sharing the facts of this experience does not constitute "slander" in any way, etc.) and in any case, I have plenty of statements from all three parties affirming the facts about the stained sails.

It seems that these hard times are showing which companies have real integrity and which do not...
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