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Old 05-03-2010, 09:47 AM
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Default Sea Tow Salvage?

After leaving my boat in a slip overnight Saturday, we took some friends out on Sunday. On the way back to the marina the boat was a dog...it wouldn't plane. So we limped back in and tied it at a slip. I then found about 8 inches of water under the deck. The bilge pump was running but it wasn't pumping out. The marina was closed and they had my trailer.

There was a Sea Tow captain about 50 feet away and I have a membership so I asked him for help. He motored over and handed me a pump to hook up to my battery told me he called the harbormaster and they were on the way to get my trailer so I could get it out of the water. He also said this wouldn't be covered under my membership and it would be expensive (I'm thinking 5-600 bucks) and without his help it would be sunk by the morning. I put the pump in the hull. After 5-10 minutes I had fixed my bilge pump the water was pumped out and 15 minutes later I'm on the trailer. Then I'm told it would be $2000 because it was a salvage and he needed a credit card. I reluctantly handed over my card, thinking I could have gone to walmart and gotten a pump for $50-100. BTW not sure where itís leaking yet, I think a live well intake hose?

I called my insurance to report the claim and the claims guy pretty much told me I'd been ripped off. I don't know if they are going to pay the claim yet. Anyone think I should dispute the charge, try to negotiate a better price? I don't mind paying for the help I got, but in all honesty my shoes never even got wet.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:56 AM
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Default If the facts are as you say? Change title to Sea Tow Pirates?

This guy sounds like a slime ball to even suggest its a salvage? You have a sea Tow membership and this is how you are treated?
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:57 AM
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Dont think you should have givn him your card. But you did, I would fight this one. Sounds rediculous!
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:57 AM
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Have you called the Sea Tow corporate offices yet? Good thing he didn't have to do any real work to help you or you may have had to mortgage the house. Out of curiousity where were you located?
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:01 AM
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Dispute the charge with your card company.
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:22 AM
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My opinion not salvage, but not covered under your sea tow membership either. Charges should have ben around $250 bucks an hour plus equiment usage. I would dispute the charge and let your insurance company deal with him.
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:46 AM
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same thing ALMOST happened to me. The Capt told us if he got the pump out it would be $2,500. We bailed out $1,500 boat out ourselves. the best part of the story is the tow boat's engine died.H20 in the fuel and I had to replace the filter for the Capt. Call your credit card co and make a dispute.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:15 AM
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He told you it was going to be expensive....and you didn't ask how much? He stuck it to you but they are also out running a boat for a living IN CASE someone needs them. They probably bill very few of the hours that they are actually on the water.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
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My opinion not salvage, but not covered under your sea tow membership either. Charges should have ben around $250 bucks an hour plus equiment usage. I would dispute the charge and let your insurance company deal with him.
Jay
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t500hps View Post
He told you it was going to be expensive....and you didn't ask how much? He stuck it to you but they are also out running a boat for a living IN CASE someone needs them. They probably bill very few of the hours that they are actually on the water.
Your exactly right. However, that does not excuse what he did. Talk about preying on someone... "Uh, Yea.. It isn't covered.. It's expensive... But, if you don't do this, your boat is gonna sink".
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:36 AM
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That sounds like you got rolled. I would dispute it. Maybe if you call the corporate office they can straighten it out it just seems a little excessive.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:38 AM
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i would deffinitly call the cc company and try and get the charge taken back. hopfully you get it resolved. dont see how pumping out a little water = 2grand
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:43 AM
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One of the main factors that defines a salvage situation is the salvor putting himself, his crew, and vessel at risk to render assistance (like going out in severe weather or ungrounding a boat from a rocky lee shore or having to deploy divers in a hazardous environment).

Handing you a pump hardly qualifies
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:04 PM
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Default I agree. This pirate needs to be shot like the rest off somali

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One of the main factors that defines a salvage situation is the salvor putting himself, his crew, and vessel at risk to render assistance (like going out in severe weather or ungrounding a boat from a rocky lee shore or having to deploy divers in a hazardous environment).

Handing you a pump hardly qualifies
He is preying on victims as a business.If this is sea tows policy then lets put them out of the pirate business. He was not saving an abandoned ship on the high seas and putting him self and his vessel in danger. That is a salvors reason for charging high rates.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:10 PM
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My understanding of "salvage" is this litmus test question:

"What would happen if help doesn't arrive ?".....In this case, looks like boat would have sunk. Why won't ins. pay ?

I think you (or yer ins. co.) might have gotten off light as if this is a "salvage" as I think it is, bill is often figured as a % of boat value.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:14 PM
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While, technically it was a salvage, since you have insurance, turn it over to your insurance company and let them fight it out with Sea Tow - it will cost you your deductible, but it is covered.
If you are a SeaTow member, you might want to write to or call Joe Frohnhoefer (631-765-3660) and let him know what one of his franchisee's is doing.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:23 PM
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In this situation you don't have much of a leg to stand on with your credit card company. They will issue a temp. credit while you go through the chargeback / dispute process, however since you gave him the card, and I assume signed authorizing the charge, you do not really have anything to dispute from that standpoint. Now if you did not sign authorizing the card to be charged, then you have a very valid credit card dispute. When you dispute a charge the merchant has so the right to respond. If he shows proof that you authorized the charge than this will not help you. You may get lucky and he not respond within 30 days timeframe, or again if you did not sign at all. In order to dispute it however, you need to claim that you do not recognize the charge. If you admit to authorizing the charge the credit card company will not help you, if you now claim you want to argue the amount for the services rendered.

I think calling seatow corp. direct and or your insurance company, is going to be your best solution. As a sea tow member I am eager to see how this works out for you. Sea tow pissed me off when they started advertising all over and on this very site for 14 months worth of membership for the price of 12 months. This seems to be only be available for new customer and not renewing customers ..... way to treat a new customer better than your loyal existing customers. I may use their competition next year just due to principal. I have another email into them .... we'll see what they say. Sorry for the rant.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:26 PM
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I am a marine claims guy. I have had the same argument with Sea Tow. Technically if it is not a tow, it is salvage work. Traditionally, courts have held that salvors are entitled to 25% of the value of the hull, after the hull has been salvaged, although I have heard arguments for 25% value prior to damage. It is not a hard and fast rule. Turn the claim over to your insurer and let them fight it out with the "salvor." Your insurer should reimburse you for what you paid. Regardless of the company, Boat US or Sea Tow, there are good guys and jerks that are unreasonable. Most of time we negotiate a settlement, after we tell them to "go pound sand"for a month of two.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:28 PM
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Boat US recommends you ask the tow company what it will cost and is it towing or salvage. They also have a form they recommend you use with all towing companies, including TowBoatUS. Seems they have had more than a few claims that were for salvage and not just towing.

Crooked opportunists are everywhere. Piracy rules the seas..
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:37 PM
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EDIT
A few years ago I blew a raw water hose and had a foot of water in the bilge- in kind of a panic (because I didn't know where it was coming from) I called Sea Tow and they prudently reminded me to shut down the engine, which I had forgotten to do.

They dispatched a guy in a small boat (don't know who he was, and wasn't the reg Tow Boat) who got to me quickly with a high volume pump, which helped empty the boat (I had only a small capacity pump on the boat- and no high water pump at that time).

The Sea Tow boat arrived a short time later, we determined it was the blown hose, and I was towed to my dock.

Guess I got lucky with a good franchise...

Here is the member agreement- it is considered salvage.
But remember- salvage costs are negotiable up front, though you're of course under duress when your boat's taking on water...like the guy had a gun to your head.

http://seatow.com/membership/memberguide.pdf

Given the ridiculous nature of the bill, and the fact that it occurred at the dock, I'd call Sea Tow Corporate...
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