Unreliable shipyards? A short guide to buying a new boat
If you think that buying a new boat is safer than purchasing a used yacht, you’re wrong.
Unfortunately, it often happens that down payments buyers put on a new boat “vaporize” and that the objet of their desire, the boat that is so fervently desired doesn’t materialize on its scheduled launch day.
It’s a nasty affair which doesn’t stop at nothing and doesn’t respect the real value of the boat purchased: superyachts and RIBs, sailboats and trawlers have all this probable, unlucky fate in common and the recent crack of Mondomarine, on which authorities are currently investigating, clearly confirms the potential, possible risk.
Recovery of yachting industry is a fact and boat sales have significantly increased both in Europe and overseas, resulting in important outcome for boatyards and yachting brands; however, it’s exactly in this general air of recovery and optimism that buyers should be more careful when buying a new boat because scams are round every corner and everyone can become an easy prey.
Fortunately, it is not so hard for buyers to understand whether the boatyard from which they’re buying their loved boat is part of that group of companies which, despite the terrible crisis of the last few years, have preserved their reliable character or, on the contrary, forms part of that crowd of “scammers” who think they can take advantage of customers, especially if unprepared.
Not talking about this aspect would be incorrect and even unfair to all those boatyards which have been building and selling boats for their own satisfaction since always and that have overcome the crisis with great difficulty, even taking losses not to disappoint their own customers.
They don’t deserve that and the competition offered by some shameless companies which don’t have the minimum criteria of financial soundness undoubtedly represents an “unfair competition” which harms both boatyards and boat owners who inevitably end up paying the price.
This is why we’ve decided to draw up a list with some precious tips to avoid scams when buying a new boat.
1) Learn to collect information from the market
Yachting market loves chatting, so please ask operators, electricians, motor engineers and competitors’ dealers for any information you need. If a boatyard is sailing in dangerous waters, it doesn’t pay its suppliers, it is always late with deliveries, this is a real danger. Gathering information is our right and should be exercised.
2) “One-off” is not synonymous with “the first boat built”
The term “one-off” (or “custom”) doesn’t mean that the boatyard is actually building the first model of a line or its first boat. This definition is often a trick sellers use to justify the fact that they have little or no experience. So, if you happen to hear this term, you should promptly ask the following question: ” how many boats have you built to date?”. Of course, some boatyards are specialized in the construction of custom or one-off boats but they are so famous that you can’t confuse them with improvisers.
3) The difference between brand and business name.
The fact that a brand has entered the market for decades doesn’t always mean that the company trading it is equally long-running. The market offers a multitude of glorious and famous brands which hide a history of bankruptcies and “changes of ownerships” which have only served to make owners lose their consistent down payments without even a picture of their much-coveted boat.
Sure, there are cases of boatyards saved by new shareholders who have fortunately succeeded in restoring their financial situation but just a look at the entity of the share capital is sufficient to distinguish between “good” and “evil”. Gathering information is therefore essential.
4) Distrust the term “bargain”
Yes, you’re lucky but, please, take your time and reflect on the real meaning of the word “bargain”. Why is that boat so affordable? Why must I close the deal today without having the time to learn about the company? How is it possible that my chance visit has resulted into such a bargain and I’m so lucky that I can take advantage from the disastrous financial situation of the former owner of this boat who can no longer afford to proceed with the boat construction? What about the boatyard? Why doesn’t it complete this construction if it is so advantageous?
Well, in all these cases, your question should be as follows: ” If it is so advantageous, why don’t you do it? Because, if a boatyard doesn’t have the money to complete a boat…well, that’s a disaster!
5) Advertising and participation to boat shows
A boatyard which doesn’t advertise and doesn’t join boat shows is not a good sign. Advertising means everything to a boat since it’s the way boatyards communicate with customers. After all, you can’t find your boat at the supermarket as well as the chances to see a new model while walking along a dock are really slim.
Serious boatyards join boat shows, they advertise, they are proud and they look forward to exhibiting their new products. The impact of advertising on general costs is not high for a company; consequently, a boatyard saving on adverting is another bad sign.
6) Boatyards are companies
Yes, it’s much easier than one could imagine. You just have to ask for some business information or a company report to know what is generally known as “scoring”, that is the capacity of the company to meet its commitments. Sure, boatyards don’t earn as much as Apple or Amazon but, if business information unveil the presence of cease-and-desist orders or, worse, bank protests, your level of concern must necessarily, and considerably, raise!
Buying a boat, a RIB, a yacht or a superyacht is not different from buying a not-floating real estate. The investment you’re about to make is proportional to your possibilities and therefore worthy of all your respect and concern. So, if a boatyard has one (or more) of the symptoms we’ve listed above, please close your heart and turn your brain on.
This way, you will be sure to enjoy the next season at sea, without spending your time and energies at a lawyer’s office in the attempt to recover your money.
And if, by chance, you have got scammed, please contact us. Our “page of hassles” is for giving voice to your problems and preventing other boat owners from falling victim to dangerous rip-offs.