Get all your boat's repair documents and records together and put it all in chronological order, starting with the oldest repair document first. If you are missing any, then go to the repair facility and get them to give you another copy. To be sure you have everything, ask your dealer to give you a Watercraft Warranty Repair History. It lists every thing ever done to the boat and most dealers can print it out from their computer records. Then make sure your own repair records match up with the computer printout. Where they don't, ask the dealer for that repair order so that your individual repair records are complete.
Figure Out What You Want the Manufacturer to Do
Decide what you want. Do you want a repair, a total buyback or just some of your money back? Are you willing to settle for any approach? Getting a repair or partial cash refund is the easiest thing to do. Since the federal Lemon Law has been interpreted in some states as not giving the owner the right to a buyback, it may be easier to negotiate cash or a replacement. If you want a replacement, most manufacturers will want you to pay for any difference in the price. The federal Lemon Law does not talk about that so you may have to negotiate that aspect. They sometimes will use the hour meter as a way to measure usage and use that to measure the usage charge they want you to pay, so be prepared for it. Generally, if you have a true lemon watercraft, then you are entitled to get back all your loan payments, your down payment, the value of your trade in boat, any permanent improvements you made to the boat, and make the manufacturer pay off the loan. But, it's all negotiable.
Know Your Federal Lemon Law Rights
If you have a warranty-covered defect in your boat, the federal Lemon Law says you have to give the manufacturer's dealer a reasonable chance to fix it and that they have to get it fixed within a reasonable time and a reasonable number of chances. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances. Typically it also requires a serious or significant defect that substantially affects the use or value or safety of the boat too. If your boat's defects are not serious enough, or you don't have a significant repair history of failed repair attempts, then you probably don't have a lemon boat yet. If you don't have a lemon, then keep taking your watercraft back to the dealer's repair shop until you clearly meet the definition. The better your case, the more likely you'll get the settlement you want.
Write Your Demand Letter to the Manufacturer
Over 30 years of Lemon Boat Law experience has taught us that writing a demand letter about your Lemon boat can help you get rid of your lemon watercraft. So here's a free Lemon Law Demand Letter you can use to create a customized boat manufacturer defective product letter that you can print and mail: http://ohiolemonlaw.com/complaint-form.html. This is a sample letter for a lemon car but you can easily modify it to fit a lemon watercraft case. However, don't expect the boat manufacturer to immediately buy back or replace your Lemon boat, but you can use this Lemon Law demand letter to put your case in a much stronger legal position and to start the negotiation process. Be sure you give them a deadline to answer you or you may never get a response. The deadline pushes your letter through their system.
Plan Your Counteroffer While You Wait
It will take the boat manufacturer probably 30 days or more to answer your Lemon Law Demand letter. During that time you should be planning what to do, depending on how they answer. Boat manufacturers hardly ever accept a consumer's first request for Lemon Law relief and they almost always do one of two things: (1) make a counteroffer (usually a repair offer), or (2) refuse your request completely. If you have a boat that is a true lemon, you can figure they will still try to negotiate with you. Decide just how much you are willing to give up in order to get it over and done with more quickly. Make the decision on what your "bottom line" is now, while you are waiting to hear from them, so you are ready to react quickly once you get their response. And once you decide on what your bottom line is, don't tell them what it is either. You can expect that the boat manufacturer will want to go thru at least 2 or 3 rounds of negotiating with you, to gradually get your number lower.
What to Do If Your Boat Manufacturer Ignores You
The squeaky wheel still gets the grease. Writing complaint letters to everyone you can think of may help. Include the selling dealership, the finance company who financed your boat purchase, your local TV station or newspaper consumer reporter, your local Better Business Bureau, maybe even your state's Attorney General (they generally are the ones who enforce state consumer protection laws and may help). Make it one page long and just explain what you bought, what went wrong, why the manufacturer and dealer should help you and why they say they aren't, why you think their decision is wrong, and ask for help. Don't expect much help, but send a copy of your letters to the dealer and the manufacturer every time too. The more you complain, the more likely it is they will want to do something to make you "go away." Just make sure that every letter is accurate and that you sound reasonable every time.
Why Arbitration May Not Help Much
A few boat manufacturers have a "free" mediation or arbitration process that they sometimes will tell you that you to use. In almost all cases, it is optional. Be careful about any process like that if decide to try it. Remember, someone is paying for the process and mediators and arbitrators often count on repeat business, so their loyalty may not be toward you at all. Also, the rules of the process may not entitle you to get back all of the money the law allows, so make sure you find out all the rules before you ever agree to use any process like that at all. Make sure that you don't give up your legal right to go to court later if you don't like the mediation or arbitration decision too, and make sure you have that in writing so no one tries to change it later on you.
When All Else Fails: Your Last Resort
Get a lawyer. Not just any lawyer though. The federal Lemon Law can be confusing and there are enough gray areas that boat manufacturers can still argue about what your rights are even when you think you've got clear lemon watercraft. You wouldn't use a dentist to fix your water heater, so don't use a Probate lawyer to handle a Boat Lemon Law case. The manufacturers know who the Boat Lemon Law lawyers are and they know which ones will fight them hard and which ones never go to court too. Find one that will fight for you. The federal Lemon Law says that the manufacturer is supposed to pay for you lawyer too, and that can help pay for the expense but ask about attorney fees and costs in advance to be sure. For a National List of Lemon Law Lawyers, many of whom handle lemon watercraft cases, look at this website page: http://ohiolemonlaw.com/locate-a-local-attorney.html or call your local Attorney Bar Association.
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