Boat buyers become entangled in the web

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  26 Jul 2011

Boat buyers becoming tangled in the Web

As a touchy, feely kinda guy when it comes to buying anything from cars to avocados, it never ceases to amaze me how many people scan the likes of e-Bay and make big purchases sight unseen.

In the pre-GFC years my Chicago-based brother bought a $US1 million home in San Francisco over the internet, without setting foot on the new property. Australian boat buyers are now doing the same, though not always with happy outcomes.

A mate of mine bought a timber ski boat from up north that turned out to be riddled with live termites. When he asked the local shipwright what could be done, the reply was: 'Call Flick!'

Living on the edge - buying sight unseen  

In some cases we don't have a choice because there are generally fewer stock boats available for inspection at dealerships. I'd wager that a swag of boats on the Sydney International Boat Show marina this week will have been borrowed from owners.

Now, more than ever, the web is a powerful marketing aid. But have you tried buying stuff from a boat dealer's site?

It ain't easy.

Many sites have impressive homepages but soon you find out-of-date information or links leading to dead ends.

Fill out a cumbersome contact form and rarely do you get a prompt reply.

Such is the repetition and competition that it all gets confusing, and in the current climate the cattle take little spooking.

My advice to buyers is use the internet as your primary data-gathering source – work out exactly what you want, compare prices, then go and physically touch the boat before handing over the readies.

For dealers, have another look at the web and see how you can make life easier for your customers.

We look forward to seeing you at the Sydney International Boat Show this week.

You will recognise the team, all in the blue shirts with white trim, with Sail-World, Powerboat-World, MarineBusiness-World and FishingBoating-World on the left hand side.

Please say hello

Mark Rothfield

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