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When a Boat is a Lemon

Boating season is very short in New England, and recreational boaters want to spend as much time on the water as possible during the summer months. So, it can be very frustrating when a boat is being subjected to multiple repairs. Fortunately, consumers do have some options when they purchase a boat that turns out to be a lemon.

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New boats will usually include a warranty from the manufacturer. Additionally, there is usually an implied warranty included in a sale by a marine dealer who regularly sells boats or other vessels. Manufacturers or dealers that provide a warranty are responsible to make repairs if there is a defect that is covered by that warranty.

The consumer should give the manufacturer or dealer prompt notice of any problems that might come up. It is recommended that the boat owner keep a written record of the dates that problems occurred, the nature of the problems, and the conversations that they have with the manufacturer or dealer about the problems. Consumers should give the dealer a detailed list of problems, and they should keep a copy for themselves so that they have a record of the information that was provided.

Consumers should give the manufacturer or dealer a reasonable opportunity to make necessary repairs before they speak with a lawyer. Although the Connecticut Lemon Law does not apply to dealerships, a court might look to the requirements of that law in determining what might be a reasonable amount of time to fix a problem. If a defect has not been fixed after four repair attempts, or if the boat has been out of service for 30 days or more because of all repairs, it may be time to consult with an attorney.

Although each case is different, possible remedies can include canceling the sale and seeking a refund. Consumers may also be able to recover damages for the loss of use of their boat. And, federal law provides that the manufacturer or dealer might be responsible to pay the consumer's attorney's fees.

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