June 2007

If A Boat Could Talk, What Would It Tell You?

For 20 years now, the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau has maintained the only nationwide database of consumer complaints and safety information reported by boat owners, the U.S. Coast Guard, manufacturers, marine surveyors, and marine technicians.

“Whether you are buying a boat, trying to determine if a problem on your current boat is widespread, or just curious, we can help,” said BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau Director Caroline Ajootian.

The database contains thousands of specific reports about boats, marine engines, boating products, dealers, marinas, and related boating services as well as information about how, or whether, the companies involved responded to each complaint.

Also included are manufacturers’ defect recall notices and safety alerts published by the U.S. Coast Guard and a selection of service bulletins issued by boat builders.

The database can be searched by boat and engine make, model, year, hull number or serial number, or by the type of problem; they can also register a new problem.

To increase accuracy, BoatU.S. makes every effort to collect boat make and model information and hull and engine identification numbers. Having this data is vital because analysis often shows that problems are confined to specific models or a series of hull numbers.

Ajootian also cautioned, “We do not rate or evaluate boats, engines, marine products or services, so users should not expect to find an overall company report card. Also, boaters searching the database will most likely find reports about larger companies simply because large companies have more products on the water.

“Keep in mind that the presence — or absence — of reports is as much a reflection on market share, rather than the quality of a boat or lack of it.”

The database is located at http://www.BoatUS.com/consumer