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Old     (slfxm)      Join Date: Jul 2006       07-27-2006, 6:20 AM Reply   
I'm a new poster to WW but I've been reading the forums for a long time. I'm currently in the market for a boat and, after reading several threads here, I've decided to take everyone's advice and demo as many boats as possible. Only one problem -- none of the dealers here will demo their boats. I've been to two dealerships so far and they both stated that they only demo boats that people have decided to buy. One of them made you sign a contract stating that you'd buy the boat unless something was horribly wrong with it. Is this a common occurrence? Have other people had this problem?
Old     (skibum69)      Join Date: Aug 2004       07-27-2006, 6:34 AM Reply   
Depends on the dealer and/or sales person. It does help to know what boats you are considering and would like to compare. It is also easier to get demos after you have a demo or two done and you mention your experiance on the demo.
Old    walt            07-27-2006, 6:41 AM Reply   
If You can't find dealers that will work with You I'd suggest posting in the find a third section of the forum. Find a ride on the boats that You are interested in so You can get a first hand look at them in actual use.

I also have to wonder if a call to the boat maker would help ? Tell them Your considering there boat but You can't find a dealer that will demo. Who knows maybe they could fix this with a phone call.

Good luck and welcome to WW !
Old     (alans)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-27-2006, 7:00 AM Reply   
Come to my dealership in VA, I will take you on a demo and let you wakeboard and wakesurf if you want, no strings attached. Just got in some nice trade-ins too. Your situation is typical, lots of my customers tell me that my competition are just a bunch of salesmen and don't know squat about riding.
Old     (akdoc)      Join Date: Feb 2004       07-27-2006, 7:28 AM Reply   
You should check out Talk to Lee, he is a great guy and I am sure he would give you a demo. Only problem the dealership is in Nashville.
Old     (slfxm)      Join Date: Jul 2006       07-27-2006, 8:12 AM Reply   
Thanks for the great response and good suggestions.

Alan - Colonial Heights is a long drive from Knoxville, but if I can make it up there sometime, I'll definitely drop by. It's nice to know there are some decent dealers out there.
Old     (tarpongator)      Join Date: Jan 2006       07-27-2006, 8:23 AM Reply   
How could someone spend this kind of money with out a demo? When I bought my boat in March, I went on 9 demos. Two dealers brought their boat almost two hours (one way) to my lake. One of those was on a Sunday. This is in Florida.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-27-2006, 8:26 AM Reply   
I can see running your credit, but flatly refusing to demo without a commitment to buy is ridiculous. What would the point be of demoing if you HAVE to buy it? Do "I don't like the wake all that much" or "I think this other boat is a better value" count as something horribly wrong?

Unless someone gives us the creeps, we're always glad to have someone new catch a ride with us if we're going out, and teach them how to ride or surf if they're interested. A little beer & gas money goes a long way, and you'll have fun & meet some new people.

Get a feel for what you're looking for in a boat, and then look around on the used market. There are a ton of practically new, great boats for sale by private sellers who would be glad to show it to you on the water, give you a pull with full ballast, etc. Buy used and save yourself the depreciation, and find a good local independent mechanic to do the maintenance.

On a similar note, though, I was casually looking at a used dirtbike at a dealer a few mos ago, while I was there buying some parts. The salesman knew I was just browsing since I already had a bag of parts, and I asked if they would consider $xxxx for the bike? He says he'll have to check with his boss, and whips out a receipt and starts writing on the back: "I agree to purchase this bike for $xxxx. Signed, _____________" and handed it to me to sign. I actually laughed at him, asked if this was a common practice, and then left. Like the sales mgr is SO BUSY that he can't take a moment to look up what they have in one of their used bikes unless it's a done deal. The salesman called me about 10 min later saying his boss OK'd it, let's do it, etc. YFR.
Old    ilovetrains            07-27-2006, 11:22 AM Reply   
Your profiel says you are 30, and a computer scientist. That is pretty much the demographic that most dealers go after, so I would think you look like a probable sale walking through the door.

I worked with four seperate dealers when deciding on a boat, and not one even flinched on the issue of a demo. If the boat was in stock, it was available for a water ride. If I forgot my board, they loaned me one. One even loaned me a dry suit so we could ride on a sunny October day. That was pretty cool.

You need to find another dealer or make it clear that you expect to test drive before discussing a purchase. Let the first dealer know you are going to go out of their area to buy a boat because they would not give you a test drive.
Old     (byrd)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-27-2006, 11:31 AM Reply   
I would not buy a boat without a demo. If that is the service you are getting when they are trying to get you to be a customer, then good luck getting good service after you buy it. I always ask if they need a deposit for a demo, and if they do I stroke a check. That way they know you are serious. Cash Talks, Bull$&!# Walks...
Old    walt            07-27-2006, 11:34 AM Reply   
The dealers in My area have taken Me out for demo's knowing that there was 0 chance of Me buying so I don't understand what the deal is with Your dealers. It really doesn't look good for them IMHO.
Old     (hamkj)      Join Date: Apr 2002       07-27-2006, 11:43 AM Reply   
Don't buy anything from anyone you can't demo with. That gives you a pretty good indication how good their follow-up service will be too. When I demo a boat from a dealer, I tell them, I am bringing 4 sacks, 3 people, and we are going to demo the boat in the manner I would operate the boat on a day to day basis. That is how I know which boat will work best for me!

Also, when you buy your new boat... There is nothing wrong with swinging by those dealerships that wouldn't let you demo and thanking them for helping you find the right boat for you....

Old     (rocketman)      Join Date: Feb 2003       07-27-2006, 12:08 PM Reply   
That's funny about dealers not demoing their product. Like I'm going to just drop $25K for used, $40K - $70K for new, without even test driving the boat.

I like Kyle's advice for after you buy a boat.
Old    swass            07-27-2006, 12:15 PM Reply   
A dealer who won't demo a boat without a commitment to buy????? That's

Can you imagine walking into a car dealership to test drive a car only to be told, "I'm sorry - you'll have to buy it first"?
Old    swass            07-27-2006, 12:15 PM Reply   
A dealer who won't demo a boat without a commitment to buy????? That's

Can you imagine walking into a car dealership to test drive a car only to be told, "I'm sorry - you'll have to buy it first"?
Old     (cawakeboarder12)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-27-2006, 12:32 PM Reply   
I want to go to all these places and let me ride for free. That would be cool and I wouldn't have to buy a boat or gas. I just bring my board and let them drive me around for a couple of hours and tell them I will be back next week for the same thing and repeat that through out summer at all the dealers.
Old     (rodmcinnis)      Join Date: Sep 2002       07-27-2006, 12:42 PM Reply   
A dealers willingness to demo will depend a lot on the ease in which such a demo can take place.

If the dealer happens to be right next to a suitable body of water and they have a boat sitting at the dock then such a demo represents an hour of time and a few dollars in gas.

If the nearest lake is an hour away then a demo can easily kill an entire day for a salesman, cost gas money of the tow vehicle, launching fees, etc. You are going to have be very convincing that you are serious before they will commit to that kind of expense.

Some dealers may have an open demo day where they take a boat to the lake one weekend and demo to a group of people.

My dealer used to host a "Correct Craft Reunion" at lake a few hours away. They would always bring their latest boats out and you could get rides and even pro instruction for free.

When I actually bought my first Nautique I was able to demo it, but only after I had paid the deposit. We went to a little tiny lake about 1/2 hour from the dealer early one weekday. I could have gotten my deposit back if I really didn't like it, but at the conclusion of the demo I wrote the big check and took the boat home with me.

When I bought the Super Air Nautique a couple of years later I skipped the demo as I (and more importantly, my son) had already rode behind a SAN at the reunion.
Old    swass            07-27-2006, 12:54 PM Reply   
Good point(s).
Old     (aircat)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-27-2006, 1:32 PM Reply   
I use to live in KY and traveled a lot to Knoxville with my job. When I started looking at wakeboats, I went to just about every shop in knox. I don't know what type of boat you're looking for but the guys at American Boating Center were all extremely helpful. I talked with Ryan the most, and he sells Nautiques. Also, Rusty from Knoxville watersports was very helpful as well ( Supra and Moomba Dealer) As you can see from my profile I ended up buying a Malibu and I must say that the Malibu dealer in Knoxville did not offer the best service or follow up with questions that I had. But, that could have just been my experience. I know that there are at least 5 lakes within 30 minutes from every dealer in Knoxville so they can't use that as an excuse. Anyways, good luck!
Old     (mobv)      Join Date: Jun 2002       07-27-2006, 2:41 PM Reply   
Malibu is changing Knoxville dealers for the 07 model year. Poor service?
Old     (aircat)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-27-2006, 2:49 PM Reply   
That's a good move for Malibu. Especially with the factory being so close to the dealership.
Old     (bog)      Join Date: Sep 2002       07-27-2006, 3:58 PM Reply   
the dealership I worked for basically made you give at least $1000 deposit before we would take you out. One time I had a guy and his son ready to fight me over the policy.

I can see it from the dealers perspective and the customers side too. I think the dealer shouldnt give just anyone that asks a demo but should use discretion and be able to tell the serious buyers from the free ride guys
Old     (auto)      Join Date: Aug 2002       07-27-2006, 4:42 PM Reply   
if you can test drive a m5 or porsche, you should be able to demo a boat, if not I would not buy.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-27-2006, 4:57 PM Reply   
Refundable deposit? If not, I would immediately lose interest in whatever they were selling.
Old     (fogey)      Join Date: Mar 2002       07-27-2006, 5:21 PM Reply   
Welcome to WW.

I'm in Knoxville, and I know of two or three reputable local dealers who can be talked into demos.

PM me and we can share notes. Better yet, let's go boarding. If you're at ORNL, give me a call at work.

(Message edited by fogey on July 27, 2006)
Old     (rocketman)      Join Date: Feb 2003       07-28-2006, 12:29 PM Reply   

You have a good point, but there is a difference between somebody who is freeloading rides compared to somebody who is in the market for a boat as the slfxm stated.

Reminds me of when I went to Circuit City a while back to purchase a $1000 digital camera. I did research, but wanted to verify that it would work for me. They wouldn't even put in a digital card so I could try the camera out. I went to BestBuy, and they let me try it out. Guess who lost out on} the $1500 sale with all the accessories I added too?
Old     (cawakeboarder12)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-28-2006, 12:38 PM Reply   
If someone was really wanted to buy anything and they have the money or credit to do so then sure they should get a demo. But they should at least think it would be out to have there credit check to make sure they can afford it. People have to remember buying a car and a boat was way different. Car come off the truck running boats dont. I have bought them both. You dont ask a lawyers for a free test drive and the are the biggest rip off out there besides the Gas co.
Old     (cawakeboarder12)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-28-2006, 12:43 PM Reply   
People need to go and try to demo a high in car. I went to BMW dealership with shorts and flip flops, because that is what I wear when I am off work and this guy wouldnt give me the time of day. But after I call the head guy and told him. I was coming back when I walk through the door and called me by name and the guys who didnt care to help lost out. So you need to be cool and the sales people will be cool with you. If you are a jerk then you are not going to get the best deal on what every you buy. plus david I wouldnt buy anything from CC in my town it is always best buy
Old     (jmanolinsky)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-28-2006, 12:45 PM Reply   
Wow, I didn't realize there were this many Knoxvillians here. I know Rusty and Ryan both. They will go out of their way to help you out.

Hey Jeff, I drive through ORNL almost every day. Do you ever go to Tellico?

Old     (zhendrix)      Join Date: May 2006       07-28-2006, 1:44 PM Reply   
Demo's are a must at our dealership. I use the same waterways that my customers are using and I dont want some yahoo who doesnt know what he or she is doing ruin my day off. We are the only dealership in the nation that sells Malibu and Mastercraft under the same roof so a demo often helps them decide between the 2. Plus it gets me out of the office. Don't get me wrong... I am not gonna take out a tire kicker who wants a free pull though. We require a refundable deposit and take out the specific boat you want to buy.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-28-2006, 2:35 PM Reply   
So you sell both lines, but make customers pick one boat and put a deposit on it before doing a demo? Try another boat out for comparison = another deposit?

Little arrogant there on the yahoos comment, too. You really think you're going to make a safe boater out of a wally, on a demo?
Old     (auto)      Join Date: Aug 2002       07-28-2006, 3:32 PM Reply   
damn thing sure are different in dallas, if I live in Houston, I would drive my happy ass to dallas to buy if I was told I needed a deposit to demo. Deposits, refusals, just shocking some people stay in business.

(Message edited by auto on July 28, 2006)
Old     (mjmurphy53711)      Join Date: Mar 2004       07-28-2006, 3:35 PM Reply   
fair policy is just running a credit check to prove you are "able" to buy pre demo, if anyone wont give a demo with that they are just plain stupid.
Old     (curtisco24)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-28-2006, 8:47 PM Reply   
hey man I may have a boat you might like. i live in sweetwater. let me know if you want some info.
Old     (notsobueno)      Join Date: Dec 2004       07-29-2006, 8:28 AM Reply   
"So you need to be cool and the sales people will be cool with you. If you are a jerk then you are not going to get the best deal on what every you buy."

So, the customer is never right? That is BS. Understanding that appearances are everything, but why (from your shorts and flip flop logic) would a person show up in a boat dealership wearing a suit and tie, looking to demo a boat and ride behind it? Give me a break. If a dealership makes a mistake, for whatever reason (not giving a demo, pre-judging the look of a walk in, etc) they lose the sale and that is ALWAYS the dealer's fault, not the customer's.
Old     (cawakeboarder12)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-29-2006, 9:43 AM Reply   
I was making two different points. If you come in acting like the dealer has to do this and that for you. I dont see it happening. But if you come in and tell them you are willing to do take to get a demo then. I bet the places are more than willing to take you out on a demo. Remember you cant have your cake and eat it to.
Old     (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-29-2006, 10:22 AM Reply   
Swass wrote twice , "Can you imagine walking into a car dealership to test drive a car only to be told, "I'm sorry - you'll have to buy it first"?"

That is actually very common. I was in the Chevy dealer when someone was buying a Vette convert and they had to buy it first and it was $10K over sticker. To test drive a high end sports car at the least you will have to be prequalified or be known to the dealership. IE: second car from them.

Good luck test driving a Ferrari as a walk in.
Old     (cawakeboarder12)      Join Date: Apr 2006       07-29-2006, 10:24 AM Reply   
That is what I am talking about Peter.
Old     (zhendrix)      Join Date: May 2006       07-29-2006, 10:33 AM Reply   
Shane and Trace, I think you missed where I am coming from. We sell both lines so that we can demo both lines. The deposit is good for any boat and completely refundable and is really just used to see how serious the customers are. It's not policy that we must take a deposit to demo but it's suggested. 99% of the time I just take a credit card number and dont even run it unless something were to happen. The demo's and deliveries are my favorite part of the job. It gets me out of the office and on the water where I love to be. I often use my own boat (06VLX) completely outside of the dealership for demos.

Do I think one or two demo's will turn a first time boat driver into a pro over night? No, but its better than no instruction.

Shane, we know the guys at Central Texas Watersports in Dallas and I'm know thei}r demo policy is similar to ours. We both are still in business and frankly doing just fine. Take a chill pill on the threats. If you are ever in Houston though feel free to look me up on I've got a VLX similar to yours and would be more than happy to give you a pull.
Old     (greatdane)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-29-2006, 10:55 AM Reply   
Peter, I am about to attempt to test drive the PORSCHE-CAYMAN, the CHEVY-VETTE and the BMW-Z4M. All $60K+ vehicles. It will be interesting to see how hard it will be to get behind the wheel.

Regarding boats, I tested every boat on my radar before buying. MC from Copes. CC from Central Valley. BU from Ulitimate. Plus, many IOs (Cobalt, SeaRay, SeaSwirl) before I learned to change my sights to a "real" tow-boat. I ended up with my BU VLX and I am pretty happy with my decision considering the fact that I knew nothing about boats or wakeboarding in the year 2000.
Old     (kempogoju_ross)      Join Date: Jul 2006       07-29-2006, 10:56 AM Reply   
My advice would be if a dealer will not give you a demo when you plan to spend 50-85k than Buy from elswhere.
Old     (auto)      Join Date: Aug 2002       07-29-2006, 11:54 AM Reply   
well zach i have never seen it at WSA, which is the dealer in Dallas not CTWS, and I think I know the guys pretty wellNo threats, just facts, I don't mind a credit check, but I am not paying for a demo, simple.
Old     (zhendrix)      Join Date: May 2006       07-29-2006, 2:21 PM Reply   
Shane...Yea I meant CTWS in Austin and WSA in dallas, goof on my part.

Im sorry if I misconstrued your first comments as being threats. The part about, "driving your happy ass to dallas" and "shocking how some people stay in business" just seemed a little harsh as a comeback to what I had previously said. Agree to Disagree I guess.
Old     (notsobueno)      Join Date: Dec 2004       07-29-2006, 7:21 PM Reply   
There is a HUGE difference between buying a Ferrari and buying a wakeboard boat. Sorry.
Old     (bigbird1031)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-29-2006, 8:32 PM Reply   
if you are in college station texas and want to test drive a mc x2 send me an email
Old     (slfxm)      Join Date: Jul 2006       07-30-2006, 7:38 PM Reply   
A couple of people have mentioned that the dealership could run a credit check to see if you can buy the boat. My understanding was that a credit check just tells how well you've kept up paying bills, etc. I didn't think it had any information regarding pay, assets, etc. so it wouldn't really tell the dealer if you could "afford" the boat. Am I wrong on this? Also, I was under the impression that it's illegal to run a credit check without consent.

I found one dealer who was more willing to demo, but I've been surprised at how unwilling they are for the most part. I understand the argument about high-dollar sports cars, etc. But it seems to me that if you want to sell a product(especially expensive products), you have to let the customer try it out first. Also, I would imagine that joy-riding is probably more prevalent with inexpensive sports cars (Mustangs, GTO's, etc) than with Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I've never had any problem test-driving any of those sports cars before (Mustangs and GTO's, not Ferraris).

(Message edited by slfxm on July 30, 2006)
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-31-2006, 6:05 AM Reply   
"My understanding was that a credit check just tells how well you've kept up paying bills, etc. I didn't think it had any information regarding pay, assets, etc. so it wouldn't really tell the dealer if you could "afford" the boat. Am I wrong on this?"

You are correct but why does the dealer care if you can afford a boat? The dealer is interested in getting you financed and/or getting their cash in hand. The bank is who cares if you can afford it. The bank only looks at your credit score because if you have good credit in the first place then you're not likely to try to finance a boat you can't afford.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-31-2006, 6:58 AM Reply   
Credit checks are a good indication of how smart you are with your money. If you have great credit, but can't afford a boat, you're probably not going to be boat shopping in the first place.

I mentioned running credit in my first post, and I think that would be a totally fair policy.
Old     (acurtis_ttu)      Join Date: May 2004       07-31-2006, 8:33 AM Reply   
Dante, re-read what your wrote? That doesn't make sense.
"You are correct but why does the dealer care if you can afford a boat? The dealer is interested in getting you financed and/or getting their cash in hand.The bank is who cares if you can afford it"

The dealership cares if you can afford it.....they want you to buy the boat. If you don't have the credit score to qualify for the boat they are wasting their time. Unless of course you walk in with a blank check...but I'm sure someone would make that known.
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-31-2006, 8:58 AM Reply   
"That doesn't make sense."

It does make sense. You're just proceeding from a false presumption. Getting financed is not the equivalent of being able to afford something. If it were, a lot of rent to own places would be out of business and there would probably be no such thing as a stated income mortgage.

"they want you to buy the boat." Or someone to buy the boat for you. It doesn't really matter to the dealer but since the bank does most of the buying, the dealer prizes what the bank thinks of you.

"If you don't have the credit score to qualify for the boat they are wasting their time."

I never said they weren't.


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