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Old 08-04-2015, 03:01 AM   #1
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Frustrating Experience at Oceanside Marina

This past week I motored down the So. Cal. coast from Long Beach to San Diego, Chula Vista Marina to be exact. I was searching for good marinas to overnight so as to break up the trip into two days. Oceanside looked good so I called ahead to get some information. I was told they only accepted slip reservations via US mail. Prepayment was required via check and I needed to provide a copy of my Documentation and Proof of Insurance.

HUH? U.S. Mail….ONLY? Okay, I jumped through their hoops and received a slip assignment via U.S. Mail a few days prior to departure. (So it takes at least a week to get a slip reservation!) Fast forward to the arrival day, we pull in about 1600 LT only to find our assigned slip already taken. The City of Oceanside marina personnel do NOT monitor any marine radios thus I attempted multiple cell calls to resolve the issue. After a series of holds and dropped calls I receive a secondary slip assignment and motor down only to find that slip also taken! After additional calls I’m finally directed to an end tie near a restaurant which works. I make my way to the harbor office where I’m admonished for being late as they close at 1630. I tried to explain that if my reserved slip had been open I would not have been late but all they would say is “it’s been crazy around here since the fishing has been so good.” I ask for the shower keys and am told they require a $35 deposit payable by check only. They City will refund my $$ after I return the keys which can be deposited in a night drop box or brought back to the office at 0800 the next day. What a bunch of BS! The City will take 3 months to refund my $$ and there’s no method to prove I dropped the keys in the box and I plan to depart at O-Dark Thirty. I somehow persuaded the employee that I was trustworthy enough to return the key, and she really wanted to go home, so she gave me the shower key. Guess what, the key didn’t even work!!! Luckily we accessed the showers via other boaters.

For the return trip, four days later, we originally planned to stop at Dana Point but the Admiral decided that was a bit to far so I was back on the phone with Oceanside Marina where I was again told they only accepted reservations via U.S. Mail. “Look, I was just there four nights ago. You already have the documentation you require what’s the issue?” “We require prepayment” the clerk stated. “No problem I can give you my credit card info.” To which she again told me they only accept checks. Cut to the chase….she reluctantly gave me a slip reservation and assignment and I thanked her.

I bet you know what happened next! We pulled into Oceanside Harbor the next afternoon and of course learned the Marina personnel had no record of any reservation for me, the employee that I had spoken to was off that day and I was out of luck! After a lot of discussion I was eventually assigned a side tie adjacent to the bait barge with no power, water or shower accessibility and they charged me the same as the slips with power, water etc!!

At first I thought this was a one off incident but the more I speak with other So. Cal boaters I see the overall attitude of the local marina personnel is that of disdain, apathy and you’re lucky to be in our marina! Contrast that to the PNW where you can call most marinas on the VHF and receive a friendly welcome and slip assignment. Perhaps my assessment of the So. Cal. area marina’s pervasive overall negative attitude is premature but I’m seeing a pattern here. I’d sure like to hear from others out there in my area that motor up and down the coast and desire overnight harbor accommodations.

What have been your experiences, good and bad?

P.S. Chula Vista Marina folks were pleasant and helpful but beware it's ten miles from the harbor entrance!
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:19 AM   #2
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Appalling! Everything they could mess up they did. Negative publicity well deserved.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:16 AM   #3
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I agree with Bruce.






I would suggest a call followed up by a certified mail letter to the Mayor or whatever position is highest in their food chain, detailing as you did, the actions and attitudes of their staff and management.


If there are others that are complaining, then maybe it's time to organize and flood them with letters and phone calls, until the problem is resolved.


Media is another good outlet when dealing with bureaucrats.


All the best dealing with them.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:51 AM   #4
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If you right a letter to an official, be polite and explain how the problems are a deterrent to you and your friends coming to the city. It's important to explain that vacationing boaters spend money at restaurants and other stores. Poor management practices at the marina definitely impact local business. If your going to write, a letter to the local Chamber of Commerce explaining how these policies impact local business may get more results that to a bureaucrat.

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Old 08-04-2015, 06:36 AM   #5
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I hope you are going to post your experiences on ActiveCaptain, so a very wide audience gets to hear about this.
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Old 08-04-2015, 06:37 AM   #6
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Ted makes a great point.
Polite, thorough, and professional will get you a long way with the bureaucrats, as well as the chamber of commerce. Details, names, date/time, etc. are paramount.

Noting the potential economic impact, especially given the states current economic position, certainly can't hurt.

If it's a city marina, then it's probably under the direct auspices of some city department. I would at least find the director of that department, and make them aware.
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Old 08-05-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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Many marinas have had people skip out on the reservation. Mechanical problems happen and people's minds change. Edgartown, Ma (Martha's Vineyard) you can submit a reservation request online, then get a confirmation via E-mail. They expect payment in full at the time of the reservation. Hyannis Marina (Cape Cod), you make a reservation online and they call back to collect payment information at the time of confirmation. In both cases the only way to reserve is online and they expect payment in full at the time the reservation is confirmed.

What you're describing is not uncommon. Many places request that you call to verify the day of arrival if you are going to arrive later than a specific time. This is typically around 12pm to 2 pm. If not, they can and will on a busy day give away your slip or mooring.

They have too many people skipping out on reservations, while they are turning away requests to rent the same space. I don't blame them. In most places in the US the boating season is short and they need generate enough revenue to carry them through the off season months.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:25 AM   #8
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Many marinas have had people skip out on the reservation. Mechanical problems happen and people's minds change. Edgartown, Ma (Martha's Vineyard) you can submit a reservation request online, then get a confirmation via E-mail. They expect payment in full at the time of the reservation. Hyannis Marina (Cape Cod), you make a reservation online and they call back to collect payment information at the time of confirmation. In both cases the only way to reserve is online and they expect payment in full at the time the reservation is confirmed.

What you're describing is not uncommon...
Very true and so understandable from a business perspective; however, in this case, the City Marina appears to be stuck in the 70's, wanting to do everything by mail.

Heck, when I reserve a hotel or campsite, they always take a credit card to secure the room/site. Totally understandable. And there's always a stipulation that if a reservation is not cancelled within X hours of arrival, you may lose your reservation fee. Again, totally understandable.

But the crap they put this guy through was not only antiquated, but a huge waste of time and a major inconvenience to the boating public. Add to that the lack of customer service (or basic human respect and courtesy) on the part of the staff, and I can see why he's pissed off.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:52 AM   #9
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But the crap they put this guy through was not only antiquated, but a huge waste of time and a major inconvenience to the boating public. Add to that the lack of customer service (or basic human respect and courtesy) on the part of the staff, and I can see why he's pissed off.
When you take away the incentive of profit along with the nature of governmental bureaucracy and you're expecting something different?
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Old 08-05-2015, 12:33 PM   #10
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Shrew,
I agree that marinas will, and should reassign reserved slips if they are not accounted for in person or by phone by a certain time. That's not the issue.

My overall complaint is the marina's reservation system. To conduct all business via US Mail ONLY and prepayment with a check is obsolete, cumbersome, inefficient and is extremely restrictive for transient boaters. I should be able to call on the phone to request a reservation, provide a credit card for immediate payment and email any required documentation ie: registration, USCG documentation and proof of insurance. I can accomplish all of that on my smart phone in just a few minutes. Easy Peasy!
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:22 PM   #11
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Government workers. They should sublease to someone with a profit motive.
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Old 08-05-2015, 03:10 PM   #12
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We live 6 miles from Oceanside Marina, but we dock our boat 44 miles away in San Diego. The marina is city owned and ineptly run. On the other hand, the Oceanside Harbor Police are rated tops in Southern California.
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Old 08-05-2015, 03:28 PM   #13
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When you take away the incentive of profit along with the nature of governmental bureaucracy and you're expecting something different?
I'm afraid I don't understand?
I don't think that anyone is trying to deny the marina a profit. I'm in the private sector now, and profit is definitely a concern.

The USCG and other bureaucracies not withstanding, there's really no reason in this electronic age, that they couldn't automate the entire process.

As a matter of fact, utilizing a credit card with a cut off time to cancel, could result in additional income for the marina. If the OP cancels after the cutoff, they get to keep the default reservation fee, and at the same time, can rent the slip to the next guy that comes along. Cha-ching! :-)
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Old 08-05-2015, 03:29 PM   #14
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Government workers. They should sublease to someone with a profit motive.
Amen!
We might be better off.
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Old 08-05-2015, 05:54 PM   #15
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:58 PM   #16
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Wifey B: What is mail?

Seriously, who uses it for anything anymore. What century are they in.

I'm use to paying by card when reserving and in most cases like that because it means I have a record and I have the slip.

Now the one thing I've always learned is follow up. Don't trust anyone to not screw up. I make it sound like I'm just nicely verifying and updating them, but really I'm making sure you have it right. I do it on hotels and dinner reservations too. I've called marinas and know they didn't have a space reserved for us, but they scrambled and never admitted it, although an employee fessed up that night.

Anyone know if they have a marina management company or are they handling themselves? Sounds like they're handling and don't know what they're doing. I think they just think they're so special people will put up with it.

Calling Jeffrey. I don't even see them on AC. You have the yacht club, Jolly Roger and the fuel and mini-mart. Only one slip review and it's under the Yacht Club.

Glad we didn't go there now.
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:40 PM   #17
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When you take away the incentive of profit along with the nature of governmental bureaucracy and you're expecting something different?
Agree completely... And BTW, that registered letter to a city official. it won't be worth the paper it's written on either.
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:52 PM   #18
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Shrew,
I agree that marinas will, and should reassign reserved slips if they are not accounted for in person or by phone by a certain time. That's not the issue.

My overall complaint is the marina's reservation system. To conduct all business via US Mail ONLY and prepayment with a check is obsolete, cumbersome, inefficient and is extremely restrictive for transient boaters. I should be able to call on the phone to request a reservation, provide a credit card for immediate payment and email any required documentation ie: registration, USCG documentation and proof of insurance. I can accomplish all of that on my smart phone in just a few minutes. Easy Peasy!
I agree with you Jim. I don't think I've written a check in 5 or 6 years. Posting your experience on active captain is a good idea too.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:33 PM   #19
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Agree completely... And BTW, that registered letter to a city official. it won't be worth the paper it's written on either.
well, if you say so....
I'm still not sure where the taking away profits fits in?
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Old 08-06-2015, 03:37 AM   #20
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Chiming in as an Oceanside tenant. I have not had any problems with the harbor staff in my 3+ years in the harbor. I deal with them about once every month or two and the process has always been amiable.

As for check vs. credit card, that's a city thing. The city recently took over all of the payment processing for the harbor and I believe the city is likely responsible for the checks only policy. That doesn't excuse the lack of modern payments (i.e. plastic); just pointing out who to blame.

Oh, and in addition to the JR we have the Oceanside Broiler, Joe's Crab Shack, a small diner and a great fish & chips place. Plus a couple of taverns.
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