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Old 23-07-2008, 04:20   #1
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How do cat makers treat their customers?

On other threads we have many mentions of Cat Manufacturers simply not doing the right thing by their customers.

Just some examples:-
1. Not responding to complaints - on this forum both FP and others have been accused of not communicating back to complaints.
2. Providing boats that are much heavier than is detailed in their specs - FP have again been accused of doing just that.

In addition to the two points above I have heard first hand from customers of other cats that they have had 6 month struggles to even get a response to what are serious complaints.

As a newbie to this cat world I am not new to boat builders treating their customers with contempt but I am beginning to think that the manufacturer who actually deals with after sales properly is a rarity - am I right?
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Old 23-07-2008, 05:52   #2
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I have a PDQ 32 and even though I bought it used as a hurricane repair; the manufacturer was very helpful right until they went belly up. Even now though, the designer and one of the field techs frequent the owners group on the web and are very helpful.
Maybe being nice is why they went out of business? Shame.
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Old 23-07-2008, 06:06   #3
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I don't think you can stereotype any boat makers customer service by the type of boat they manufacture. Probably the best indicator of post sales customer service is to visit the online owners groups. If there is a lot of complaining then you'll have to decide if the boat you want is worth the potential problems as mentioned in the owners groups.
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Old 23-07-2008, 18:41   #4
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On the bright side, the economy is in pretty bad shape right now. This means that manufacturers of luxury items are going to have to step into new territory to remain in business. I would expect to start to see vendors, and manufacturers stepping up to improve their customer service in the next few years. We just came out of a seller's market. There was little incentive to be nice because people wanted to buy the products that were out there, and many people could afford it. Now that money is getting tighter, people are going to be much more selective about where they place their money.
For my part, customer service after the sale outweighs even quality of the product.
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Old 23-07-2008, 19:44   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Nui View Post
For my part, customer service after the sale outweighs even quality of the product.
At the very least, any manufacturer / dealer of any product should be overly accomodating upon FIRST contact with a customer post-sale. It just makes good business sense. If a customers first experience with trying to get a problem solved is a positive one, he's likely to be MUCH more accomodating when subsequent problems arise even when the service isn't anywhere near as stellar. You're just more likely to give em the benefit of the doubt. Of course there are customers who take things too far and act as if his business hinges on servicing their every whim in the manner of their choosing and convenient to their schedules, but those jerks are usually the exception and not the rule. Your first experiences should be made good no matter what imo.....
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Old 24-07-2008, 01:42   #6
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yes the economy is in a mess and as demand for luxury boats drop as it is doing the cost of production is actually steeply rising. Its an interesting combination because normally an economic downturn leads to lower raw material prices because of reduced demand but not this time....
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Old 24-07-2008, 02:37   #7
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Well said, Gludy. It's a real job to work out what will happen to new boat prices and choices. My bet is that they will move into the luxury market because that's the last to be affected? Used boats? I'm still looking and the prices aren't moving much and sales still seem bouyant but there's a lead time before new and used prices begin to respond to market pressures. I sure wouldn't want a gin palace power boat at the moment, or a cruisers that has to motor up wind.
My guess is that oil prices will drop a little and stabilise but I don't kow much about oil production either.
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Old 24-07-2008, 02:37   #8
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Well, it's true that the economy in overall is not in good shape. Nonetheless, for certain makes and modeles you still need to wait 6 months or so to get the boat. Gideon was saying that he's booked for two years or so. OK it's a relatively small production. But I know that FP's are selling like hell and due to the savings with the scale of economy they achieved, they don't intend the increase the prices, although oil prices went crazy. The manufacturers which are too small to play the big and the too smalls to play the big, will be squeezed and risk to run out of business. Gone the days when everybody could sell anything to anybody..
The respect to customer,on the other hand, is something that the companies should have in their culture. If they don't, whether the market shrink or not, they won't change. If we, as customers, put this on top of our list when making the purchasing decisison, they will suffer. Otherwise, why they should bother ??
I do believe that this market is still short supplied and the competition like in the car industry doesn't appear to be there. Have you ever heard of any Lagoon or FP (largest and line producers) being recalled because of something not functioning properly ??? Making lighter cars also has a cost like making a lighter boat. (special alloys and higher technologies to be used, etc) And yet have you ever heard a Honda which weights 23% more than what it was supposed to do ??


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Old 24-07-2008, 02:49   #9
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Used boat prices are a bit like house prices here in the UK - when demand falls the owners cannot accept it and just keep their houses on the market at above market price.

The power boat market over here is facing a fuel bill of some $14 USA per gallon or more after this November and the last time I filled up my car (cheaper fuel than the Marina) I paid $13 a gallon. So the MoBo market is very badly hit - buyers who want boats are playing the waiting game. However the general downturn is also effecting sailing boat sales.

There is a lag before all this fully catches up with the used boat market and sellers start to accept they have got to sell allbeit at what they consider a very low price.

The waiting lists for new models mean little. The waiting list in the pipeline with manufacturers has come from demand before the downturn/crunch. What they should be looking at is the new order rate after the crunch - I think that will be alarming.
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Old 24-07-2008, 05:36   #10
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Wow, at $14 per gallon the power boat market must be dead. Problem is how do you sell if you have one? Maybe move it to Amsterdam and us it as a house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gludy View Post
Used boat prices are a bit like house prices here in the UK - when demand falls the owners cannot accept it and just keep their houses on the market at above market price.

The power boat market over here is facing a fuel bill of some $14 USA per gallon or more after this November and the last time I filled up my car (cheaper fuel than the Marina) I paid $13 a gallon. So the MoBo market is very badly hit - buyers who want boats are playing the waiting game. However the general downturn is also effecting sailing boat sales.

There is a lag before all this fully catches up with the used boat market and sellers start to accept they have got to sell allbeit at what they consider a very low price.

The waiting lists for new models mean little. The waiting list in the pipeline with manufacturers has come from demand before the downturn/crunch. What they should be looking at is the new order rate after the crunch - I think that will be alarming.
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Old 24-07-2008, 05:56   #11
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Gludy
I have purchased a new FP last year (Mahe 36). So I have first hand experience with FP. I have found that you need a broker that is customer focused and can deal with FP.
I had problems with the boat and every one of them has been addressed by FP thru my Broker. I will tell you that I've tried to send emails direct to FP and don't get answers back from them except once and they answered my English email with a French response!
So pick your agent well, make sure they have someone at FP to track things down for you, and check on thier reputation for after sales support.

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Old 24-07-2008, 09:01   #12
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Economic trouble tends to sneak up on manufacturers, big or small. When they find themselves in a cash crunch, they can see no way out but to sell more product, and divert all resources to bringing more money in. Customer support, and warranty support generate no income, and goodwill won't pay suppliers. So if you want the best customer support, you should stick with the best funded builders. But how do you know?
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Old 24-07-2008, 18:41   #13
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To answer your initial question, while proper customer service in the sailing catamaran industry may be a rarity, I doubt that you'll find many Manta owners complaining of a lack of customer service or factory responsiveness. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that Manta has the best (or at least one of the best) reputations in the industry for its relationship with its customers. And from personal experience, I will say that they have consistently gone above and beyond my expectations when I've needed their help.
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Old 26-07-2008, 02:59   #14
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I am now a catamaran builder but this was not always the case.
I have had dealings with 3 different cat builders and there after sales service
The first cat I purchased was made by Maxim catamarans and the service was good , problems where addressed within the warranty period without having to ask twice.
When the warranty period was over the service still remained but at a cost.
The second cat I purchased from South Africa was a ( unfortunately ) Wildcat 350
Service and or warranty was non existent and if one boat needed this it was the Wildcat or any charter cats product.
Fortunately they do not exist anymore.
My third cat purchased from South Africa was the best experience regarding service and warranty.
This was a St Francis 48 Purchased in 2002 and delivered in 2003 service and warranty
is the best possible
Duncan Lethbridge , is the type of person that hates it if problems arise and he will do anything within his power to get and keep satisfied customers.
Even after the warranty period is over he continues to treat every problem as a warranty issue.
This is how it should be .
we have had some problems , not major ones but every one was taken care of in a satisfactory manner.
I wish that all boat builders treated their customers in the same way, he actually makes you feel like you are the only customer and always when a problem arises he is fast in addressing this and fixes it in a pleasant way.
Greetings

Gideon
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Old 26-07-2008, 07:13   #15
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You have to understand that most boat builders are only half a step ahead of their creditors, and warranty issues may drive them under. Even the high end yards are not immune, especially on custom work:

Catamaran central to boatyard bankruptcy - The Connecticut Post Online
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