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Old 17-09-2013, 17:55   #1
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Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Has anyone experienced overcharging of services (marine mechanical etc) in Australia; or has faced a situation where repairs are urgently necessary but no firm quotations are provided by marina-based or other service-providers to affect those repairs; or has experienced unscrupulous behaviour in delivering services to boat owners?
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Old 17-09-2013, 18:26   #2
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Re: Overcharging marine services Australia

Yes to the last question. Happened to friends of ours. But, is this a troll? What exactly do you want to learn?

One is not required to hire someone whose estimate is too high. Obviously, occasionally jobs take longer than predicted, and sometimes the price rises.

As to your second question where repairs are "urgently needed" do you mean an emergency haulout to avoid sinking? What are you getting at? In a situation where a vessel would sink without an emergency haulout, I don't see how an estimate for the repair could be given till the problem was correctly assessed, and one's first issue would be to keep it from sinking.

How to avoid being overcharged? Shmooze at the yacht clubs and find out who's reliable.

Ann
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Old 17-09-2013, 19:30   #3
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I have found that the fees and charges are based on what people are prepared to pay and those charges are location based. For example an annual haul out will cost over $1000 for 2 days in Sydney and there is usually a waiting list. In Tasmania I get 2 months out for that money. I deal with boat service people that are proud of their work here. I have dealt with service people in Sydney that are swamped with work, stretched to the limits and most likely spend hours in traffic getting to and from work each day. They usually give you their hourly rate but avoid completion times and quotes due to the daily juggle of priorities of workload. There is often shortcuts in their work too.
I do as much as I can myself in my own time and outsource work when the task is too much for my knowledge or tools to carry out. Even then I will use my own labour to, for example, remove the injector pump and deliver it to the workshop.
I have learnt to do almost everything on my boat as I want to be totally self sufficient when I cruise.
What is your time worth while you employ someone to work on your boat? Where can you afford to live with your boat?
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Old 17-09-2013, 20:23   #4
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

What I find is that most people are unrealistic about boat repairs 1st of buy yourself some water front property$$ Buy a lift$$ get the permits $$ build the the buildings $$ hire the people $$ live the life, how much do YOU expect in return for your investment?? or would you rather buy a really big boat and complain when it comes time for repairs!and as you know every thing on a boat takes longer and cost more than expected
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Old 17-09-2013, 22:17   #5
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

If ya can't do your own work, your at the mercy of marine yards where ever you are! Makes no diff what country your in if ya want to play ya got to pay!! We are lucky as we can and do fix ALMOST everything on our boat! and carry enough tools and spares to do that !! But haveing these spares and the great amount of tools needed to do this is very expensive!! If I had not needed these tools to make my liveing with, I can't even imagine what it would cost these days to buy them !! But it would be BIG DOLLARS!! Im sure that you could pay for a lot of work on your boat, before you would get to the amount dollars a toolkit like we carry would cost!! Not even counting the money we have in spares!! I hope you can get the work done well for a fair price! Heck 25 yrs ago OZ was the place to get stuff done !! Sounds like prices have gone up??
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Old 18-09-2013, 00:36   #6
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Every service industry has some operators who overcharge (gouge etc) and most that don't.

Then there is a supply and demand issue; big demand, low supply = higher prices; that is just the way it is - like it or not.

But mostly many folk who think the price is too high have no idea of what it is costs for the operator simply to open his doors. Apart from the obvious like rent, wages and office overheads, there is insurance, training, regulatory compliance to a zillion OH&S rules, standards and so on.

A fair price in a small port may be ridiculously cheap in a large port and vice versa.

Some jobs really can't be quoted, especially defects where most of the cost is involved in investigating the problem and the fix is then a minor component of the final price. By definition, the real fault is the last thing you check.

At the end of the day, a cruiser should be as self sufficient as they can be and always be learning more about the systems on board they don't yet fully understand. Even if this is only to help the service person with an intelligent analysis of the problem.
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Old 18-09-2013, 02:20   #7
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

I've tried to be as selective as possible about any outside work done on the boat. Sometime I've been caught out (rope round the prop...) and just had to take what was available.

I would imagine that doing a major refit in Australia would involve stratospheric prices to the extent that it would be cheaper to sell the boat to someone who could do it themselves and to take the money and buy an ex charter or American boat in pristine condition.

The only areas that I have found to be very competitive in Australia are chandlery (buy from overseas if the locals are too expensive) and tools (Some auto parts stores are very realistic in their expectations) with paint and fibreglass supplies not too bad. Local hardwoods from some of the smaller places can be a real bargain.

Getting quotes is highly desirable but if possible I'd suggest breaking down whatever work needs to be done into the smallest possible amount and being prepared to change companies and workers as necessary. My experience has been that Australian workers like to charge by the hour and don't change their approach whether the job is 40 minutes or 3 years.

There are good workers out there who may be prepared to charge a weekly rate on a big job but they could take some finding and references would need to be checked.
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Old 18-09-2013, 04:24   #8
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

I looked at a job the other day, for a heart surgeon. He didn't like the price I quoted and asked if I could do better.

I can't remember the last time I went to a doctor and received a discount just for asking. I have asked before, not because I am a cheapskate like he was, but because I simply couldn't afford the urgently needed repairs. Go figure.
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Old 18-09-2013, 05:11   #9
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One of the biggest problems is not so much the price, its been getting trades to just turn up!

Been waiting 10 days now for a Yanmar mechanic to turn up or even get back to me with a quote.
Fixed it my self now and will do the oilchange myself since i have no chance of getting it done as 10 days in they are a no show.
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Old 18-09-2013, 05:20   #10
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pirate Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Went into a chandlers in Darwin after a gas regulator/sensor... they did not have one but if I went in the following day they could supply me with one...
Next day I went in and was given the item... an RV device along with a bill for $37.50 + $95.00 labour charge...
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Old 18-09-2013, 05:51   #11
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Did you pay that price?
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Old 18-09-2013, 06:18   #12
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pirate Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Hell yes.... it had been a nightmare delivery and we needed something better than an electric hotplate to cook on for the last leg to Perth... and seeing as the prices for tobacco and beer were horrendous figured it was the 'Australian Way'... and when I got to Perth the 1st impression was re-enforced...

Then I met the better 95% of OZ...
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Old 21-09-2013, 20:04   #13
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Hello fellow boaters,

Some very interesting replies to my request for comment on overcharging for marine services. My situation was that I needed to remove a Perkins 4.107 from a classic yacht in southern Queensland for assessment for rebuild but the main issue was a defective Thames hydraulic gearbox. I was directed to a marine mechanic operating from a leading marina, on advice from a friend. The competency of the mechanic was, I was told, above question. Labour rate was $75 an hour before GST. The job was: strip the gearbox and assess condition (2-3 hours on advice of the UK box specialist); strip the Perkins for rebuild (about 8-12 hours maximum). The engine had been prepared for lift by myself, requiring only local crane. This was done in my absence as I was away on business. No firm quotation was provided for the preliminary work but verbally times were discussed as above. While abroad I received an invoice for over $5,000, which included lift from the boat ($900); bead-blasting parts ($300) and a large list of "jobs" that could not be substantiated. The invoice stated that no further work would be carried out until payment was made. I had bought an overhaul kit from the USA and asked for quotations for the engine machining (crank etc) and injectors/pump servicing. The firm refused to provide any pricing. On my return I took charge of the outsourced work as I strongly suspected possible collusion on pricing with outsourced suppliers. Because of my intervention and a request for a price to complete the rebuild +/- 10% the mechanic refused to respond to the written request and then intimidated me and threatened to "put the engine in a box", demanding "10 grand" for the total job, stating that I could go elsewhere if I were unhappy. Because of the relatively isolated location and time of year I could not obtain another mechanic; others contacted declined to take on a half-completed job. The estimated time to complete rebuild, attach the new gearbox supplied by me and test the engine was 12 hours max. The final bill, with no itemisation or substantiation of fees, with all parts and fees for outsourced work paid by me, was $3,750. Independent analysis of the job put total fees at no more than $4,000, with all parts supplied. The marina in question was contacted about the conduct of their tenant but effectively took little interest in my request to ensure that ethical and fair behaviour be applied to clients. The Office of Fair Trading in Queensland investigated the matter but secured no satisfactory response, including on the need to provide estimation of costs and to fully itemise and substantiate costs, as required under national consumer law. I am an independent person on this yacht and have the tools and expertise to tackle most jobs. In my case it was placing trust in a recommended person to charge reasonably. Before placing the work with the mechanic I had requested by email a quotation for this same job, from another locality. The mechanic declined to provide a cost. My conclusion is that there is an assumption by marine mechanics in particular that boat owners, having possession of such an expensive toy, can be relieved of as much cash as they can successfully con. Ken
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Old 21-09-2013, 21:13   #14
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

Ken,

By your account is certainly does seem like you got the raw end of the prawn.

I note you were away (aboard) and I guess that gave them some license to further screw you. The only lesson I can see here is that one has to be ever watchful and be on the spot to keep on top of such situations.

I am sorry this happened to you especially as Southern Queensland was my old stamping grounds and wasn't always bad (IIRC).

Hopefully your next experience will be better.
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Old 21-09-2013, 21:14   #15
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Re: Overcharging Marine Services Australia

BTW, welcome aboard and let's hope you will have positive things to post about soon
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