The journey begins . . . here.
Neither of us slept that night and by the morning we both reached the conclusion that since we didn’t have an agreement, it would be best to go on the Boat Show and at least have a chance of selling. My husband sent an e-mail to all the directors and the sales agent indicating our wishes. To which we never got a response.
What we didn’t know – is the buyer had already paid the full amount for our boat over to H2O. They had not insisted on these repairs, nor expected us to pay for all of them. They were completely bewildered that we were no longer interested in selling to them and came to speak to us in person the next morning.
Once my husband and the buyers got chatting we realised what we were hearing from H2O and what the buyers were saying – was not the same thing. Since both my husband and the buyers were keen to finalise the sale, they agreed between them, what repairs were necessary and who was responsible.
A figure of around €500 seemed about right. All H2O had to do, was get quotes and details as to how they would effect these repairs. At the next meeting to close the deal, the H2O quote for all the repairs was between €4000 – €5000.
A simple solution to the gas outlet would have been little 8cm x 8cm metal plate cover. Yet H2O were suggesting cutting into the steel and welding it closed costing around €800. They also wanted to withhold the entire value of their quotes for the repairs – from payment to us.
H2O actually admitted using the highest possible amount. And – the most expensive manner in which to quote for the repairs. And that’s not all – H2O wanted to withold even more money from the sale of the boat – for repairs they had done. My better half had been asking them for a latest statement countless times to no avail. And now the prospect of him not paying was yet another excuse to withhold even more money.
He has never once not paid a bill. He does always check them. He has found duplications on his bill from H2O. They were removed when he queried them – but it has happened.
My husband accused H2O of trying to maximise the sale for profit at every point. Whereupon the person from H2O handling the sale said we were welcome to find someone else to do the repairs.
So let’s unpack this. There is another boatyard/agent called Blanchard in St-Jean-de-Losne who are perpetually full and don’t even reply to e-mails or calls. They look after their customer base and do not take on any outsider work.
The guy we were dealing with knew full well that our boat was up on stilts in an H2O boatyard. The likelihood of any other non-H2O engineer working on our boat was unlikely. H2O have a monopoly on boat sales and repairs at a very busy waterways juncture in a tiny little town. There was no-one else we could turn to.
Our options were – going back into the water – and somewhere else. At great expense. It was the end of the boating season. Most boatyards were already full. And many waterways had closed due to low water levels. Let’s be honest – we had our backs right up against a wall. And the person we were dealing with at H2O knew it. Not a nice feeling.
Both my better half and the seller knew what they wanted and had to push for it. My husband said he would accept €1000 off the price and no more. A whole new agreement had to be drawn up. And the conclusion of the sale dragged on yet another day. The following morning the deal was signed and the new owners came to have another look at the boat. I admit I got tearfull all over again.
Selling a boat is as difficult as selling a home. It’s traumatic. We were climbing up a ladder to get to the boat which was up on the hard. We had no toilet. Our Happy Place was a mass of boxes to take, things to be tossed and cleaning stuff. If only we had been treated better it might have been less stressful.
Stepping back from this experience I made a decision to put what happened to us out in the public domain. H2O have a brilliant webpage with glowing reviews. When we were looking for a place to winter coming down from the Netherlands in 2015, it seemed a no-brainer.
Alarm bells started ringing for us when we spoke to other people on the waterways. There are people who have good things to say about them. But an overwhleming number of people did not view H2O in a good light. Someone had been writing derogatory comments in the locks near Piepape when we first made our way to Burgundy. H2O = voleurs. We didn’t even know what that meant.
We have since put this experience behind us. And choose to remember the happy days on our beloved boat. The new owners sent us pics of Shangri la with new awanings and she is loved.