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How to Buy the Perfect Boat
But you can’t decide which one, right? Like any other game, boat buying is won and lost in the preparation. You need to get your priorities straight, your goals clear and your ducks in a row before you begin. Apply the following principles to help you make the best decision.
“Sales pitch — or the voice of experience?”
Likewise, when you find qualified, knowledgeable salespeople, give credence to their advice. “Hear that?” mutters Jack, eavesdropping on a salesman’s best pitch. “The sales guy is trying the classic up-sell in power. The customer’s looking at a small boat with a simple 3.0-liter, but the sales guy is trying to convince him to step up to a 4.3. Is he selling, or is he advising?”
I know where he’s going. Many consumers will buy in at the low entry-level price but ultimately be disappointed with the lack of power once they add their family, gear and a year of experience to the mix. A truly good salesman will risk the quick sale in order to educate customers enough so that they may avoid a long-term mistake for short-term savings.
“If there’s a portion of the boat that doesn’t get discussed, it’s probably because the salesman knows it’s a product deficiency.”
Jack also says to pay attention to any areas your salesman avoids discussing. Noting a nearby model with the hull cloaked in black, he raises this concern: “It might be nothing, but why are they covering it up? I’d check for corrosion, or other indications that it’s been in the water. You might think you’re trying to deal on that boat, and they might have taken it out of the water to show. It could even be a customer’s.”
“What you see is what you get — except when it’s not.”
Those prices you see might not be for the exact model the price tag is affixed to. “Dealers will put base pricing to get people interested,” Jack says. “This boat may be listed at $42,000 base price, but it’s really outfitted at $65,000. That’s probably not an intentional bait and switch, but they’re certainly saying this boat costs $65,000 but you can get it a whole lot cheaper if you knock off some options.” Still, he affirms the days of true deceit are mostly long gone. “The people who are still in the game, they do it right. They sell a quality product. There’s not a lot of hiding. … It’s mostly in the way they price the product.”
“That monthly cost looks great, but will you qualify for it?”
Dealers and manufacturers have taken to affixing a low monthly cost to individual boats in large, vinyl graphics. “Problem is, that price isn’t reality for all buyers,” Jack cautions. “Some finance guy has based that on a specific term for a buyer with excellent credit.” Jack also urges buyers to consider the interest cost over long-term loans, plus the likelihood you could end up upside down in the boat for much of its life.