Crestliner Nightmare

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by Conrad Scarry, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Conrad Scarry
    Joined: Sep 2019
    Posts: 3
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    Location: Okeechobee Florida

    Conrad Scarry New Member

    I purchased a new Crestliner VT 18 July of 2018. Long story short the hull and transom failed starting to crack/split 11 months after purchase for no apparent reason. I immediately contacted Crestliner and was told to bring it to the nearest dealer for repair which I did. Unfortunately the dealer was unable to handle the repairs and the boat was disassembled removing the motor etc and sent to the factory.

    After a couple of weeks the hull was returned to the dealer to be rigged. However before rigging the dealer contacted me and said he would feel more comfortable if I inspected the repairs before he rigged the boat. Instantly concerned I asked the dealer to send me some pictures of the repairs which I have attached before and after for your review.

    Seeing the pictures of the repairs and in shock that my concerns were accurate that something was wrong I told the dealer to hold off rigging the boat until I could follow up with Crestliner to complain which he agreed. That day I sent an email to Crestliner with my complaint that I was unhappy with the repairs and concerned that the hull is unsafe not to mention the loss in value, trade in or resale. To my surprise Crestliner didn’t respond. The following week I sent another email with no response. Frustrated that Crestliner has no customer service phone line. I sent a third email the following week and finally got a response saying.

    I apologize for not getting back to you in a timely manner. I was out all last week, and we have a Dealer event tomorrow and Thursday and will not be available. I’m trying to get to everything as fast as I can. I will try to review everything with my manager when we return.

    This was the first of several back and forth emails over the next few weeks from Crestliner and still more that 2 month later they still have done nothing to address my complaint or concerns and unfortunately still have no boat.

    Please help. Has anyone experienced a warranty issue or customer service like this? I would appreciate any opinion and input addressing my problem.

    Thank you for reading.
    CS
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I can't tell WTF is going on with those pics, but I'm not a Crestliner guy. Would help if had big pic of boat and MS Paint circle the spots in red. Does sorta seem like something just ain't right with the sheet metal in the first place, so boat would be FUBAR from the get go, and adding extra metal to one spot will likely just transfer stress to other spot and repeat problem, probably just after Warranty expires. Oh, yeah, unless you have to the contrary IN WRITING from an AUTHORIZED PERSON in their minds your Warranty Calendar is still running.

    Saving money by using "re-rated" materials has been a thing forever. Few decades ago the building lumber biz tried to bump all lumber grade ratings down about 2 notches by "retraining" the grader men. I'd bet good testing of 2015 boat's sheetmetal VS yours would reveal the cause.

    IMO what they could/should do at minimum is supply you with some Welder's Cert, a sign-off/explanation by someone with Nav-Arch credential, some paperwork on source of metal, and extend your warranty by about 3x.

    My advice: Sue in Small Claims for the FL max which is only $5000 and settle for them taking the boat back and full refund. Or sue for about 3x the cost in higher court. Sue both dealer and maker, even if dealer seems like a good guy (just the way its played, you want everyone in same room to avoid blame-game nonsense).

    Don't overthink it, just sue. That is the only way you get Customer Service these days.

    Bonus: your Court Filing will be public info, and once Big Corps like Cell Phone, Insurance, Banks, etc see you can and will sue, suddenly you will get better service across the board as if by magic! :) I'm honestly convinced Big Data puts a marker on your record that is seen whenever your account is pulled.
     
  3. Conrad Scarry
    Joined: Sep 2019
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    Location: Okeechobee Florida

    Conrad Scarry New Member

    Second pic down you can see the shape of the split which is uniform with the shape of the weld in pic 3. This weld is the entire keel from bow to stern. Something definitely is wrong with the material. I agree with you 100%.

    Unfortunately, Crestliner and the dealer are both on the same side and I am at their mercy. You wouldn’t believe the emails. They continue to kick the can down the road with no solution. I finally told the dealer to rig the boat for pickup. A. To get my boat back. B. To get him out of it. Then continue on fighting Crestliner.

    It’s just unfortunate that I need an attorney for a boat that’s less than a year old that the manufacturer couldn’t fix or replace due to clear product failure.
     
  4. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I once looked at an old Grumman Sportboat that looked like it was a toboggan for sliding down wet rocks. Huge deep dents about 4" X 1/2"+ deep, yet not a single split or hole. Only patched holes were up on undented top sides where someone shot it. What really impressed me about the dents is they were over the entire bottom on hull on both side of framing, so metal was being pulled from all directions, and the overall stretch musta been crazy numbers.

    You don't need a lawyer for small claims. Its 90% bluff since there is no pre-trail discovery (in CA). I'd also contact the USCG or whatever FL "dept of boating safety" or "consumer safety", as well as NGOs.

    I don't know if its legally very diff when Crestliner sells a boat VS some kid who built something in his backyard selling on Craiglist. Others on this forum know all that jazz.

    Google says they went Bankrupt in 2019 (protection from creditors and people suing?). Also says welds and cracks in hulls are an issue.

    Again, I'd just sue in Small Claims. Just sue and THEN you will get service. They want to show up in court able to say "we sorta did the right thing". Suing in Small Claims is cheaper than spending 45 minutes on hold to Customer Service. The under $50 filling fee ALWAYS gets much more than that in concessions. Big Companies HATE being sued in Small Claims. They don't know how crazy you might be, AND they worry about their public image, so they will send TWO good management employees, and probably hire private security to watch their car etc. No joke. Plus travel, plus massive FUD and bad moral in their office for weeks prior to court date. When they call you, make sure they understand this $5000 demand is just for this one defect and their handling of it as of date of filing, and that other lawsuits may soon follow.

    Now IIRC the reason they don't weld aircraft is something about how when the weld cools it contracts and the stronger thicker weld will pull on the thin metal and can cause crack or tear. So it might not be the material, just the technique, but I guess you don't know if the rest of the boat is about to tear itself. For glass they put it in an oven to let it soften enough to relax stress but I don't think that works for thin aluminum.

    On the good side I'd guess this isn't much of a safety issue on a bass boat, since it isn't a big wide hole and you wont be in the middle of the ocean.
     
  5. Conrad Scarry
    Joined: Sep 2019
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    Location: Okeechobee Florida

    Conrad Scarry New Member

    Thank you very much for your help. I will definitely be going to small claims court route.

    One last question. Do you think the welding will cause any performance issues?
     
  6. JSL
    Joined: Nov 2012
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    Location: Delta BC

    JSL Senior Member

    If you are getting weld cracking and 'longevity' is what you consider a "performance issue"....... you got a problem.
    I have seen similar situations to yours with other brands: heard them called 'rice crispy boats'..........'snap, crackle, pop'. This can usually be attributed to poor structure design, using wrong alloy, sloppy welding, poor welding sequence, etc.
    One last note: If yours was among the first of your models or series, they may not have ironed all the bugs out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  7. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    Location: usa

    fallguy Senior Member

    You will need a professional surveyor's opinion for a court case.

    Hire one and avoid the u qualified opinions of internet fools who can't comprehend the totality of problems.

    And for God's sake... Crestliner. Sorry, but never had any love for them.

    Seriously, ask the board here for local surveyor. It will cost $300-$1000, but you basically won't have a leg to stand on otherwise.

    And. The surveyor might even say the repairs are okay.

    Or. The surveyor might say the hull is thinner than specs.
     
  8. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Have you filed a consumer complaint with the Coast Guard? If you sue and it goes to litigation the Coast Guard can do nothing to help you. I haven't been able to view the pics (bad internet connection). But if this is what the Coast Guard considers a defect that creates a substantial risk of injury or death then they can require the manufacturer to repair it. However it is rare for hull defects to be considered a substantial risk of injury or death. but it has happened. One manufacturer had to recall over 200 boats due to a hull defect. You should at least talk to the Coast Guard to see if they can help before you sue. Make sure you tell them that you have exhausted all attempts to get the manufacturer to do a decent repair.
    The number is 202-372-1077. The complaint form is on line at Consumer Safety Defect Report https://www.uscgboating.org/php-contact-form/consumer-safety-defect-report.php I handled thousands of consumer complaints while I worked for the USCG Office Of Boating Safety. Many of them were cosmetic stuff we could do nothing about but a significant number of them lead to recalls.

    The advice about getting a hull survey is right on. It will be worth the money. Make sure the surveyor has expertise in metal boats. Not all surveyors do.

    PS: the internet finally relented and let me look at the pics. I do not think the Coast Guard would consider this a defect that creates a substantial risk of injury or death. But talk to them anyway. It only cost the price of a phone call. My professional opinion (yes, I am a engineer whose specialty is boats, or was until I retired) pretty crappy repair. Serviceable but ugly. Of course I would have to say that's only from looking at the pics. You still need to get a surveyor to look at it. Photos can hide a lot of things.
     
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  9. kapnD
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: hawaii, usa

    kapnD Senior Member

    I would have refused to take the boat back, but since you have, head for the roughest water you can reach and pound the hell out of the hull to prove/disprove the repairs.
    Don’t forget to wear your PFD!
     
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  10. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    The boat definitely needs some pounding to work out other issues!
     
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