Originally Posted by BandB
Nothing about it makes me think the major problem is the stainless steel hardware. Yes, there may a little rust on it. But I think it's what is beyond the hardware, the attachment. And it takes very little rust there to spread heavily over the boat.
I would remove a couple to see what you find out. Then you might well be able to convince them to remount them if that will solve it.
As to a legal case, I know it's easy for people to say "sue" and even easy to do so in small claims. However, what you're suing under is implied merchantibility. This requires a rather heavy burden on your part to prevail.
Your first problem is that there is a written warranty which very specifically talks about hardware and about various cosmetic issues. It would be hard to say they implied no problems by selling it to you when actually they implied there could be problems by not warrantying them longer.
Second is merchantibility. To prevail in that area you have to prove that the item, in this case the boat, is not suitable to be used in the normal manner of a boat such as it. The boat is usable however. There is nothing preventing normal use.
This is most similar in nature to car paint deteriorating in fewer years than it should or fading or to gelcoat's or paint on boats fading. Fading of the color on the tubes even. But this is even smaller in nature than those things and more easily corrected in all probability. And plaintiffs don't win in those cases either. And what is the number one reason given for the car paint by the manufacturer? Salt on the roads during winter. Which complicates things further as you can't prove you took proper care. I'm not doubting you did. Just you can't prove it.
Now my recommendation then is:
1. Figure out the problem. Remove a couple and check.
2. Armed with that information then go talk to the dealer in person. Not by phone. Phone you're an object, in person you're humanized. Appeal to them for assistance.
3. If that fails go back to the manufacturer with the facts. Also telling them the dealer has examined the items and concurs with you, if in fact that's the case.
---It may be that ultimately all you're after is some labor and perhaps nuts and washers which they'd be far more likely to assist on than replacing all the stainless steel. Yes, the dealer should have wanted to do what I'm telling you to do, but take that step and I think your odds improve dramatically. Plus you might find out who is at fault in the process.
Good luck in getting it addressed.
Oh and you need to know the problem anyway, even if you litigated. In suit you have to prove the amount of the loss and damages if you win. It's not the entire cost of the boat. It could be washers and nuts or could be stainless rails, and it's labor too. But you'd have to either provide a receipt or a quotation for the cost of fixing it by a reputable business.
Great post with lots of good points.
Let me start by stating that even though it might be a good idea and approach to sue in more complicated case, this one is just not worth the time and effort.
My main goal is to find the cause, so the resolution can be addressed for long term. I don't want to just keep cleaning/polishing these cheap SS parts every week or two.
I've had very good conversation with the dealer and here are few points:
We tried thinking outside the box and discussed few other possible reasons as contributors to the issue:
1. The dinghy being covered – my response: I can't see how the cover can cause the issue as the tow-hook at the bow is always exposed and not covered, but it has the same rusting issue.
2. Diesel exhaust fumes – my response: It's an interesting idea, but my SeaLift made from Stainless Steal and it doesn't have this issue. The lift is pretty much as old as the big boat (the boat is 2005) and only rusty stains I see from SS bolts, which most likely are lower grade SS.
3. Possibility of poor bonding/bedding allowing moisture build up behind the SS parts. But the dealer made a good point that some components can't be bedded (for example steering wheel), so perhaps this might not be part of the cause here. If it’s still a contributor, then it’ll address the issue only for some parts like cleats and tow hooks.
4. Possibility of some cleaning products stored in the dink. Dealer told me a story how one time an owner had very weird rusting issue, which was eating up the SS parts, I mean physically making the parts become week to the point of breaking. As a result, it was a chemical fumes reaction from some cleaning product stored inside the dink.
This is not the answer to my puzzle, as I don’t store any cleaning products in the dink. The only item that I could think of 1 gallon spare gas can. All other items have no way to generate any fume (I’m referring to PFDs, CG items, etc.)
5. Defective batch of parts - this is also a puzzling thing b/c dealer pointed out that parts like steering wheel, tow hooks, d-ring, cleats came from different vendor. But, it's yet to be confirmed and obviously all could have been switched to lower grade SS for saving money.
6. Boat location - This is another item which I have to rule out (at least for now) due to the fact that my boat is not tied to a specific location. She spent only couple of weeks (from the time the dinghy was loaded on the lift) in Toms River before she went on the summer journey in the range of CT to MA regions. Even though her temp summer base was Stamford CT, her presents there was very limited during summer months. So, the theory of some power plant contaminating the air in the area and affecting the SS on the dinghy doesn't make much sense in my case.
The biggest clue I can see is that the boat was in salt waters of LI/Block/RI/VY and other Sounds and Bays. IMO, all of this is pointing to poor quality of SS parts, which failed to resist the true marine environment.
The dealer is willing to help me out and he asked for time to do some homework and talk to some knowledgeable people (surveyors) to get their opinion on the possible causes.
I'll keep you guys posted with the findings.