Acceptable selling practice or used boat snake oil? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 12
Acceptable selling practice or used boat snake oil?

Hi Buzzards,

I am looking for feedback about a used boat purchase that feels wrong from my perspective as the buyer. The seller seems to think he did nothing wrong. I will withhold names. Let me know what you think: is this an acceptable practice or selling snake oil?

Here is the deal: I spotted a reasonably-priced JPW Culebra for sale locally. I went to take a look and the seller seemed friendly. The boat is middle-aged with a few wear spots and the straps are suspiciously ripped / super beat-up but the boat is otherwise in decent shape. I look at the JPW serial number, and say, "it looks like a 2011, does that seem right?" He says that's about right. In other words, an 8 year old boat (this becomes important later). He says that other than the straps, the boat is in great shape. I say I will take the boat and will come back in a couple of days with the funds.

As I am driving over to pick up the boat, he sends a note that his girlfriend mentioned a slow leak in one of the thwarts. These thwarts are structurally integral to this type of frameless cat as they keep the outer tubes separate and stiff. Without stiff thwarts you are hosed. I am thinking, 'hmm, not good', but... as long as it's a slow leak I can probably fix it. I think, 'hey, it's still an 8 year old boat and has lots of life left'. I meet the seller, pay him (what I think is a reasonable price for an 8 year old cat), and leave with the boat.

I get home and inflate the boat. While inside and no weight on them, both thwarts go flat within 30 minutes and one of the tubes gets saggy. WTF?? I call up JPW to ask about the serial number and Errol says that it's not a 2011 boat, it's a 2004 boat. Say wut? I didn't even know they made Culebra's that long ago. So in other words, I bought a 16-year old boat that was sold to me as an 8-year old boat? Errol details what is a fair amount of work and effort to try and get this boat fixed up to reasonable shape. I contact the seller to tell him what's up - he agrees to pay for 1/3 of the repair and shipping costs (still increases the cost by $200 to me). I also end up replacing all the straps on the boat. The seller does not want to take the boat back - clearly he thinks he did nothing wrong.

So here's the deal: I am still ticked that I got misled by the seller. Clearly, it wasn't an 8 year old boat (and pricing was for an 8 year old boat), and it clearly had substantially more leaks than he was letting on. So my question is: Is this acceptable used raft-selling etiquette? Or should I put the pressure on the seller to take the boat back and refund the money (with the plus to him being all the redone strapping that I have put onto the boat).

Also, hypothetically, if price is the same for a repaired 16 year old Culebra and a brand new RMR Phat Cat, which would you choose? A friend of mine would like to know...

Thanks for your help setting things straight, Buzzards! As always!

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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,260
When buying used....its buyer beware. When I sell stuff... I'm usually pretty straightforward and honest with people and basically expect that its sold as-is.

If it feels like the seller knew it was a 2004 and didn't correct you...thats a bit crappy. However, its certainly possible that he didn't actually know when it was made or also had trouble deciphering the serial number. The second he started mentioning leaks and such, probably would have set off alarms for me and I would have explored further and maybe making that phone call to JPW before handing over the cash.

When buying used privately (i.e. one normal person selling to another) rather then buying used from a business... I would assume, unless you discuss it during negotiations, that once cash is handed over its yours in whatever condition you bought it. The fact that the guy is willing to chip in on some of the repairs seems like him being a nice guy and helping you out but its hard to say.

Sorry you feel like you got burned...but it feels like a "lesson learned" kinda situation to me. If it were me selling it...I probably would have been more upfront about its condition but like him would not have taken it back after you completed the deal.

For the "which boat" question... personally I would take the brand new RMR Phatcat. reality I got the Hyside Mini-Max raft for that kind of use and eventually a Hyside Thundercat with the Nexus frame since I mostly was using the Mini-Max as an oar rig by myself...but thats in a different class of boat. The Hyside paddle cat that is similar to those is pretty nice and the Hypalon rolls up tighter and easier and is generally lighter then PVC. Iits closer to the price of a new Culebra though. But yeah...between the two options you gave...Phatcat for sure. Brand new, has a 5 year warranty and a business that will backup their workmanship and they are both intended for the same use. Jacks does amazing work too...but its only gonna be a refresh and I doubt it will come with much more then a guarantee on the repairs they did and not the whole boat.

Might be worth exploring where the leaks are and repairing it yourself. Most of the time its not bad unless its around where some seams are.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 223
Sounds to me like you didn’t do your due diligence and let yourself get taken by a less than upstanding seller.

Always soap test a used raft before handing over cash. Always. If it’s a good boat, piece of mind. Good enough, a tool to negotiate price. Bad, a fine time to walk away with no regrets.

And after the owner of RMR showed up here on the buzz and came off like a dbag, I have a tough time steering people that way anymore though. Just my .02.

These days though, I’ve really given up on the used game and just recommend buying new. If you gotta save for awhile then that sucks but it’s such a good headache free, long term investment it’s worth it, imho.

Sorry you got a lemon, too. Been there after buying used online.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #4
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,753
It is possible to buy a used anything and get a decent deal
nothing is guaranteed, you take your chances and do a lot of checks

like Griz, I have had bad experiences on both selling gear (getting paid)
and buying (seller not giving all the facts)

Again, like Griz, I now just save till I got the money and buy new usually looking for year end clearance deals from the manufacturer.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #5
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Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,238
Sucks you got a bad deal. Buy a used raft without blowing it up and checking it out thoroughly, its hard to blame anyone else. That said, it does sound like the seller wasn't fully straightforward, which is why you have to cover you bases. People suck sometimes.

New phat cat with a 5 year warranty or old culebra (even if it held air) with busted out straps and noticeable wear for the same price? Seems like a no brainer unless you really wanted the ability to break it into pieces and fly or hike deep with it.
zach baird
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #6
Definite maybe
Weld county, Colorado
Paddling Since: 0001
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 579
If the seller didnt provide beer then he is not a boater. All boat sales need beer.
"It is fun to have fun but you have to know how"---The Cat In The Hat
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
Boise, ID
Paddling Since: '99
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 287
He said '11 "sounds about right" and he told you it leaked before you gave him cash. I could see a little lee-way on the age...either one of you could have verified with JPW before finalizing the deal. And he may of not honestly known or doesn't think the age of a boat matters as much as it might. I have a Maravia pushing 18 years and I feel it's as good as a five year old boat. If I were to sell it which I won't, I would tell you it's an 18 year old boat though.

If someone told me a boat leaked before I handed over cash, I'd want to know how bad it leaked for myself as definitions of slow leaks can be different for different people.

If I were the seller, I would have taken the boat back and feel bad once I saw how bad it leaked and might be a little embarrassed to have sold it to you in that condition if my girlfriend said it leaked a little and leaked the way you are saying it does. Or, I would have asked how much the repair was going to be and then decide if I wanted to pay for some of all of the repair. If you wanted more than I was willing to pay, I would have then taken the boat back. Really, I wouldn't sell a boat to someone until they saw it inflated. And if my GF called and said it leaked a little, I'd want to see how much before letting you take it.

I think were mistakes made by both sides on this one.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #8
laramie, wy
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 80
Seems like a good time to learn how to patch. Find the pinholes, fix them up - Good as new. maybe see if seller has matching patch material. If you have to buy material and glue, it will cost significantly less than 200.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #9
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 286
Bottom line: Don't buy a boat you don't inflate. Always bring an inflator to a sale.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #10
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
Bazzaro, Free
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Posts: 1,608
Originally Posted by NoCo View Post
If the seller didnt provide beer then he is not a boater. All boat sales need beer.
If it's a warm Modelo you're good to go, if Its a cold IPA?? RUN!
Switching to mgtow saved 100% on thot insurance...
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