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Be careful with your servicing

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    Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 10:50am
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I have posted about this before but quite a while back. A story I heard yesterday made me think it might be timely to post again.
Warning - long rant follows

Before Christmas one of my customers asked me to advise a friend of his whose twin diesel boat appeared to have suffered an engine failure. He was going to sell the boat after using it over the Christmas break so was gutted.  After the failure he had been to a large service agent who had told him that one engine had lost a couple of cylinders. I know the service agent involved and suggested to the owner that I get another mechanic I know and use to give a 2nd opinion as I do not particularly trust this service agent based on quite a long list of people that I know (incl me many years ago) who have had bad experiences with them. He agrees and my mechanic goes to do some tests and confirms that the diagnoses was not 100% accurate, but close enough in that the engine would need to be rebuilt. Cost him around $300 to get the confirmation and as it turns out that was 'wasted' money in this case. 

The owner gets an estimate from the service agent and I suggest that he double or triple any number he gets given as that is what often happens when using those guys. I suggest that he also gets a quote from my mechanics company which he does. 

Since this is pre Christmas and the parts need to be imported he is going to miss the Christmas break. I talk to him a couple of weeks later and he tells me that he has hired the service agent to do the work as their quote was only a little more than my mechanics quote and they say they can have it finished in Jan for him where my mechanic thought that it might take a little longer. At that point I forgot about it until someone mentioned to me in March that the boat was still sitting up on the hard. 

Travel forward to yesterday and I got the rest of the story. The circa $25,000 rebuild bill had blown out to $80,000, and Jan had become March. Not only missed the holidays but missed the remaining sales season to sell the boat as well. His $250k boat now also owes him another $80k that he will not see back. It is still a $250k boat. This guy is quite high profile and 'connected' so after some 'discussions' the service agent knocked $10k off their bill I am told. He still ended up with a $70k bill for a $25k job. I am not suggesting that the $70k was just cost over-runs for the engine rebuild, but what I believe has happened is that the service agent carried on doing lots of other work that someone going to sell a well used boat would not want to be doing as it added no value to the boat. All at NZ industry high service prices or about.

So lessons -
1) A big shop with a known brand does not mean that you are getting better or more trustworthy service. Don't be fooled by brand presence.
2) Stay completely in control of what is getting done on your boat. Do not in anyway suggest to the service agent that they are free to do anything beyond what you have specifically requested. How many people tell their mechanic - "fix anything that needs doing"?
3) Don't be scared to get 2nd opinions and challenge your bill if it looks too high.
4) Be the squeaky wheel if things are moving too slow. Stay in their ear and demand to know why you are being delayed. In this case the owner would have spent $1000's just in extra hard stand fees due to the delays let alone missing the sales season for his boat.
5) Always remember that the easiest money a shop makes is selling you new parts. They get a nice margin on the sale and the new part is warrantied by the manufacturer so no risk for them. That is why some very expensive parts are sometimes described by the service agent as 'unserviceable'. If they service it, they then have to warranty their labour vs selling you a new one for more money and with no warranty risk. Might not work for you but it sure works for them.
6) Be aware and be vigilant. Get 2nd opinions. It isn't always a safe place out there in service world and some people are definitely not looking after your best interests when their wife wants a new car or an overseas holiday....
7) If something expensive is about to be replaced, say that you want to see the old part before they remove it. Get them to justify why it needs replacing.


A few other quick examples of what can happen. A guy I know takes his 9m single engine/stern leg boat in for a service. Comes away a week later with a bill for $14k. He is almost in tears and doesn't know how to pay the bill. I suggested that he get the bill peer reviewed and challenge it but he never did. Thing was that he went in for a $1500 - $2000 service and never knew he was getting a $14k bill until it arrived. "just fix what needs doing please"

A Chinese friend of mine arranged for a friend of his boat to get serviced whilst his friend was back in China. Almost new boat with very few hours. Should have been a $2k - $3k service as it was just oil changes, anodes etc. Calls me distraught when he gets the bill for $27k. Same old scenario. I believe they guessed that he didn't know much about the boat (he is obviously a newish Chinese immigrant so easy to 'categorise') and suddenly that almost new boat needed huge amounts of parts replaced and extra service work. I went through the invoice with him and said challenge this, this this, and this etc. He got around $7k back from memory but a $3k service still cost $20k because he didn't manage it properly. But if the work could be justified by a peer review, why on earth would they give back $7k???

There's the forum member who got told he needed to buy a new $5k part. I eventually persuaded him to go and get the 'bad' part from the service agent so I could check it. Needed a $300 spot weld in a corrosion pin hole so I sent him 100m down the road to get it done. Rest of the unit was like new as I expected it should have been.

Then there's the other forum member who asked me where to buy a turbo for one of his engines. When I asked what happened to the old one he said the service agent told him that it wasn't on the engine when he dropped it off to them (engine was out of boat). I asked him if it pulled it off and he hadn't, so it obviously was on the engine. Told him that he was a big scary m**fer and he should go in and stand on their front desk demanding very loudly that they find his f'ing turbo that they had quite obviously removed from his engine without his permission. Suddenly they can find the turbo. More stuff in that story but that was the fun part of it.

Then there is the guy that got sick for a couple of years and left his twin diesel/stern leg boat sitting. Still sick but eventually able to get around he takes it in for a service so he can sell it as he is unable to work and has had to close down his business and needs the money. Says fix it so I can sell it and gets a bill for $90k+ on his ~$200k boat. I didn't see that one but for $90k+ there should have been 2 new engines and 2 new stern legs and he didn't get anything like that.

Last lesson - don't be a pussy if you feel you are getting ripped off. Get into challenging everything and ask them to justify everything item by item. Don't be intimidated or let them talk down to you trying to confuse you.

Rant over

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote REIVER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 11:08am
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AngryScum, how do they survive?
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Clifftastic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 11:36am
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Very eye opening post Tagit. Cheers.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote pjc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 11:42am
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Unfortunately "Tagit" this is a NZ or world problem with marine.Whether that from engine service inboard/outboard diesel/petrol electronics sails.Most view it as ,must be a rich prick to own a boat.Yes there a few out there say fix it and just pay the bill.never query it.

Most boat owners are in the hands of the service agents as new technology comes on the market(look at cars,open the bonnet and close again). We were discussing the exact same thing last Sunday,many owners do not know how to scrap antifoul change oil filter,totally lost the handyman/can do attitude.

The leaches,cockroaches know that and charge accordingly.
The good ones around do not advertise work in the basement and quietly get on with it,relying on word of mouth.

I know of one volvo agent,locally unless you are going to spend $20k+ dont even bother opening the door.
QMS is not WORKING
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Kevin.S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 1:16pm
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Originally posted by Tagit Tagit wrote:

There's the forum member who got told he needed to buy a new $5k part. I eventually persuaded him to go and get the 'bad' part from the service agent so I could check it. Needed a $300 spot weld in a corrosion pin hole so I sent him 100m down the road to get it done. Rest of the unit was like new as I expected it should have been.

This isn't just a marine problem, it reflects the changing mind set of so called service engineers in just about every field.  Once upon a time most service shops would have at least a lathe and probably a small machine shop to repair and refurbish parts for customers.  This approach is sadly long dead and the first thing they do if anything is faulty is to order a new one.  For some cheaper parts it's a reasonable approach, but as in this example often not.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Dream Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 1:34pm
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Yea always ask for a quote before the jobs proceeds, that way you won't get any "surprises". 

This is relevant to anything really not just marine industry.  I've been "surprised" before by non marine related stuff. Never again do i let anyone do  any work without a quote. Jackasses trying to justify their cost.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote cirrus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 3:22pm
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Would seem that some sectors of the marine industry regard their services as a licence to print money. As Dream said always insist on a quote.

Last year my FWD tow vehicle  needed a new clutch.

Got quotes. The dearest quote was nearly double that of the cheapest one. Best quote was from my local that already does all my work.

When job was complete did the bill match the quote. No it didnt. The bill was about $70 cheaper than quoted. And that was already the cheapest quote. Was a nice surprise .
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Tagit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 3:41pm
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There is a real issue in the marine world that makes true quotes hard to do. The problem is that corrosion can make so many things take double or triple the time that you expect them to. Parts that look all right from the top might suddenly look awful once you get to see them properly. Hence it is hard to get people to provide fixed quotes unless it is for a completely new engine etc. One stuck bolt that breaks off could take many hours to fix properly so a 1 hour job might suddenly take 4 hours etc. That however does not explain why so many 'quotes' end up doubling or tripling in value by the time you get your bill. It doesn't explain how a $2000 job becomes a $5000 job. Cost overruns on the labour and even occasionally parts, are not always unfair, but if you don't manage it, the guys that like to pad their bills will take advantage of you.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote fishfryer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 4:53pm
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I aloways wondered whay a 'standard' service for an E-tec 90 is $800
I have met The Brown Bomber. I am still alive
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Tagit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 5:21pm
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That seems a little high I would have thought. Haven't operated any Etecs though so not very familiar with them.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 6:12pm
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I aloways wondered whay a 'standard' service for an E-tec 90 is $800

 Because they will service everything , regardless of hrs up or time since last service...
 These are the same brand trained ppl who have acess to the full brand Service and Repair Manual which very clearly specifies when, where, how, what to inspect , what to service.
 Even then the chances are a few things will not have been done/ inspected that should have been scheduled.
 Then the discerning customer 'from hell ' comes along who has the manufactures service and repair manual...notes fuel lines not checked, few other things also.....and asks for the Trailer u bolts to be renewed..... then checks to torque when gets home.. big diff between the 25lb and speced 65 lb.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote fishfryer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 6:57pm
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it's a fuel injected two stroke. Change someplugs, change some gbox oil check some things plug in a box. ezy $800
I have met The Brown Bomber. I am still alive
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kevin.S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 8:58pm
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Originally posted by fishfryer fishfryer wrote:

I aloways wondered whay a 'standard' service for an E-tec 90 is $800

That does seem a lot, quite a bit more than I pay for my annual service on a 115hp 4 stroke.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote ofthesea Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 9:02pm
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I'd like to add to this rant but its not about the service agent, it's the customer that was the problem. So often people ask experts for advice and then go off and ignore that advice. I feel sorry for Tagit.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Tagit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 9:50pm
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ofthesea - I don't have any issue if people don't want to listen. You offer advice and then they make their decisions. No skin off my nose other than I hate to see the rogues ripping them off get away with it because it just reinforces that they can continue to do it. 
A couple of the forum members I helped in the stories above were 'educating' for me and lead to my comments above about not being intimidated and challenging things. 
One forum guy (the $5k part story) was sitting in my office telling me about this huge quote he had just got for what was meant to be a simple repair. When I suggested he go get the part for me to look at he was basically too intimidated by the service shop to get it. I had to abuse/bully him into go and getting the damn part and that saved him ~$5k. The guy didn't have a lot of money so I was struggling with how he wouldn't challenge what was happening.
The other forum guy was the missing turbo guy. This was a guy that you didn't want to meet in a dark alley. A genuinely scary tough guy with some scary history. Personally however I never had an issue with him and we got on fine on the occasions we bumped into each other which was a few tomes per year. He could be good company. Possibly better before the top came off the Whisky bottle but I never saw that dark side of him. He caught up to me with his lost turbo story when I was under lots of pressure trying desperately to get a boat fixed and off the hardstand on time. I had already spent a fair bit of time helping him with advice, and here he was falling into a bloody hole that could have been avoided. When he started wimping about how they couldn't find the damn turbo I quite literally told him what a pussy he was being and how he was a big scary m'fkr and needed to behave like one in their damn shop front. Still makes me smile to think about that one. Just glad he didn't take exception to what was for me a rather 'expressive' outburst of frustration LOL. Did however reinforce to me how out of their depth even normally confident people can feel when the shops try to beat down on them.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote fishfryer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 10:13pm
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Originally posted by Kevin.S Kevin.S wrote:

Originally posted by fishfryer fishfryer wrote:

I aloways wondered whay a 'standard' service for an E-tec 90 is $800

That does seem a lot, quite a bit more than I pay for my annual service on a 115hp 4 stroke.

Add to that the thiongs they find 'wrong'. 
I have met The Brown Bomber. I am still alive
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote bazza Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 10:18pm
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Perhaps this topic warrants a stand alone place in the "Sticky" section on a similar basis of "Charter operators" with much the same provisos .. ie only reports of good service or experiences, to prevent the risk of any malicious misuse.
Raising a teenager can be likened to trying to nail jelly to a tree !!!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Apex Predator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Apr 2018 at 10:20am
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Nice Thread Dave. So here are some of the guys I have found to provide excellent service, good value and know what they are talking about;
- Advice - Dave Morrow (Tagit)
- Exhaust fabrication, s/s elbows etc - Ryan Clark, engineer, Waiuku.
- Fibreglass marine mufflers - Marine Exhausts Whitford (Brent)
- Marine Engineer shafts, struts, cutlass bearings etc - Craftmaster Marine (Gordon)
- Marine engineer (mechanical/transmissions) - Shoreline Marine (Mark)
- Transmission work (couplings) Moon Engineering Avondale (James)
- Anodes Chalmers Marine Albany (Allen)


PM if you want the contact #'s


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Hookedline&sinker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Apr 2018 at 9:20pm
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Good idea Bazza. As a relative newbie, it would help to know who you can/can't trust. I spent $700 on a trailer derust and paint. This includes bearing buddies added. It was only some parts that needed work and barely 12 months later, the same parts look like they need the same work again. And i religiously wash down after each trip.. will never go back. Located near great north road.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote bazza Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Apr 2018 at 6:56am
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Originally posted by Hookedline&sinker Hookedline&sinker wrote:

Good idea Bazza. As a relative newbie, it would help to know who you can/can't trust. I spent $700 on a trailer derust and paint. This includes bearing buddies added. It was only some parts that needed work and barely 12 months later, the same parts look like they need the same work again. And i religiously wash down after each trip.. will never go back. Located near great north road.
 
Reckon most of us have had similar unfortunate experiences, hence as you say, would be a good idea if there was a sticky thread where we could report on where we have had positive results & by whom.
 
Obviously as with the charter thread, naming or identifying operators where services have proven unsatisfactory, would need to be screened or blocked to prevent the possibility of malicious misuse.
Raising a teenager can be likened to trying to nail jelly to a tree !!!
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