I'm going to wrap this intro story up quickly just because I'm sure my co-workers are over hearing me complain about it. The gist is that my hot water heater completely broke down 11 months and three weeks after we bought it. By the time the place that we bought it from and the manufacturer could get onboard on who was responsible for the stupid thing, it was past the 12 month warranty and therefore, neither will replace it and I have been living without hot water for three weeks now. I'm certainly not a diva, but the one mile drive to my parents' house everyday is starting to get old. It's not shelling out the money to get it fixed that's my problem; it's the fact that I feel like if you make a product that comes with a warranty you should stand by it. Please tell me I'm not alone in this.
I knew I was going to write this story before my hot water heater headache but after dealing with my own warranty nightmare, I completely switched gears. I sat down and read every single pontoon manufacturer's warranty. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. I'm going to stay away from using specific company names because like everything in life, there are good and bad things about all situations.
Do Your Research
It seemed to me that companies with the best warranties on paper had the most people complaining on forums and Facebook pages about getting the companies to honor them. It's not enough to say that you will cover your product for a certain number of years. You actually have to do it! This leads me to my first piece of advice. Before you buy your new boat, look up what people are saying about their warranties online. This will give you some insight on what you can expect.
Read, Read, Read
Secondly, read the warranty yourself. Word for word. People today are being taught to accept terms and conditions on blind faith because they are so long and difficult to understand. When I was busy reading warranties, I found a couple of manufacturers say in the fine print that normal wear and tear items are excluded from the warranty. Is it just me or is this saying that if you use your boat in a normal manner and something breaks or malfunctions, the company is released from covering it? Does that make sense to anyone? If I were buying a boat that listed that in the warranty, I would make a phone call to the corporate office for clarification before the final sale.
It Might Transfer
One thing that impressed me about pontoon manufacturers was the number of companies willing to transfer the warranty to a second seller. If you're buying used, I think that feature is a great selling point. What does the fine print have to say though? Most require you to approve the transaction through an authorized dealer. Because I try and keep this column informative, I called a few different dealers to see what the process looks like. Most companies require that the seller send in a bill of sale along with the contact information of the person buying the boat. The dealership sends it into the manufacturer and within 10 to14 business days, both parties get a letter in the mail outlining the transaction. Now you know too!
Gauges And Stereos
Another thing to keep in mind is that components can be covered in a variety of ways. It makes sense that your outboard will be covered by that manufacturer while the boat would be under its parent company. But a lot of the gauges that come standard on most boats these days would have to be reported back to the original manufacturer. Here's where it gets tricky. Some pontoon manufacturers will help you get the issue taken care of while others remove themselves completely and make you go straight to the source on your own. Sigh. Nothing's simple in this world. Plus if you opt for an extended warranty on your boat, you would have to pay for an additional extended warranty on each of the components.
Don't Forget To Register
Almost every warranty requires you to register your boat with the company. Don't forget to do this or you will be out of luck. It seems like there's a wide range of responses when it comes to how much your dealer will help you. So on the off chance they don't ask you to fill out the warranty info when you buy the boat, make sure you ask them.
This story isn't meant to be depressing, so I hope you aren't discouraged. The main goal is to get you thinking so when you head to the dealership, you know what to ask. The great thing is that your boat will be an awesome addition to your family and so worth the investment. With any luck you will never even need to use your warranty. But if you do, my hope is that the company will stand behind its product. Unlike the unnamed manufacturer of my water heater.