Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Learn with our mistakes

Our stay here in St Lucia has been good and generally without major complications. With regard to official services, nothing to point out. They been professional and always within the limits of the law. While others complained of being coerced into extra payments, we can't say the same. This has not happened with us, not even in the first request for extension of the stay.
The same can be said about the people and local businesses. In the supermarket SuperJ we had a small problem with the credit card, which in most cases refuses to work and have to have the data entered manually. In this supermarket they refused to do it!
Now with the high season we begin to see more opportunistic attempts to extract dollars from the visitors with “helpers” even in the dock inside the lagoon! We only been “robbed” in the first time we went to buy water. We were cheated and robbed in some EC dollars at the petrol station in the canal into the lagoon. We learn from the mistake and now only buy water at the marina when needed.

However, our biggest problem to day came from where we least expected, we even made a post (my last) to say good things about the same company! They did us a great service in the inspection of our liferaft but cheated us in the purchase of second-hand dinghy.
When we visited the Liferaft and Inflatable Centre at their premises on the port side of the entrance to the Rodney Bay Lagoon, we were first looking for a new dinghy. We were inclined to buy an AB 9-foot, aluminum hull. But that would be a huge hole in our finances so we asked them if they had any used in good condition. The owner, a British national living here for decades, said they had an AB 11-foot aluminum hull in in excellent condition that may fit our needs.
On the same day we went to see this dinghy and another one, with inflatable floor, that did not catch our attention. Back at the office we also talked about the possibility of replacing the tubes of our old dinghy with a Zodiac ones they had. For this we left our boat and they lent us the AB11 to use until the next day.
That night, afraid that the boat may disappear, we decided to put him on the deck of Dee. For our surprise it fitted perfectly. We thought it would be too big for the space. This further reinforced the hypothesis of choosing a second hand one because the company owner gave us his word that it was in excellent condition with no loss of air and even offered a general cosmetic work before delivering it to us. With a price around $ 2,000 (compared with about four thousand for the new small model), we decided, even if my wife was not agreeing completly, to buy again a second-hand dinghy.
We also had the concern about the outboard. Ours is short shaft and the boat needs a long shaft but after testing it a few days we saw no need to lower the stern. The day we took the boat I remember mentioning that it seemed to be little air in the tubes but the staff at the company told us it would be better to have it with little less air because of the pressure differences between day and night. After four or five days I began to notice that there was even loss of air and it was not just due to atmospheric pressure. This was referred to the company that continued to insist that it would be the temperature difference. I nodded and insisted a few more days to find that it was losing more and more every day. One day when we came from the beach, the boat was wet in the top of the tubes we noticed that one of the patches poured air, bubbling in the water.
I went back to talk to the company and they told me to take the boat to inspect the next morning. In the late afternoon I went back to see if it was repaired and was told that I had to go buy the materials to fix it because they only offered the labor!
I demanded to talk with the boss, since in the office was just a new worker that didn't know nothing about the dealings. During the conversation via telephone he denied everything he had personally said in front of my wife when we talked to decide whether we would buy new or used. Denied that he had ensured that the boat was in good condition and did not lose air, and even hinted that he might be in these conditions due to the use we gave it!
After well considering what to do, we opted not to go back to talk to them and not accept the "offer" of free labor.
But we do not want to pass up the opportunity to expose our case so that future victims can be aware when dealing with Liferaft and Inflatable Centre.
Meanwhile, we know that the other dinghy, the one with flexible bottom, has been sold and is being used by a person with sailboat here. We hope he have better luck than us.

Although we have had a good service with regard to the inspection of liferaft (possibly because it has to be endorsed by the brand), the way they treated us in relation to the dinghy force us to completely discourage the use of the services of the Liferaft and Inflatable Centre in St. Lucia because they not only deceived us but they are also agents of various brands, including being the local agent of Budget Marine, which many of us use to source parts and equipment.

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