Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance against a nationally-known manufacturer of fiberglass and aluminum boats for identifying used boats as new by installing incorrect hull identification numbers (HIN). Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed today in Marion Count Circuit Court is Smoker Craft Inc. of New Paris, Indiana. The company has an Oregon manufacturing plant located in Stayton.
"A boating enthusiast purchased what appeared on paper to be a new 2002 boat only to discover later that it was a 1999 boat recalled under warranty," Myers explained. "Not only was the boat older than represented but it was seized by law enforcement for an incorrect hull identification number."
In reviewing this complaint, Lane County Sheriff's Marine Enforcement deputies found the Oregon consumer had purchased what he thought was a "good deal" on a 2002 Osprey boat. The boat, described as a "scratch and dent" or "boat show" boat, was purchased from Midway Sports Center Inc. of Sweet Home.
The boat was actually a 1999 model that had been used by a Washington consumer until it was returned to the Stayton factory due to handling problems. The boat was supposedly repaired by the factory by trimming one part of the transom to fit another part and returned to the Washington boater. The customer continued to have problems with leaking and paint and so returned the boat and asked for another boat. The factory gave the consumer a new boat and as a "so-called" favor to the consumer, provided him with his old 1999 identification numbers.
The Stayton factory then attached a 2002 HIN number to the 1999 used boat and sent it to Midway, where it was sold as new to the Oregon consumer. The Oregon consumer was unaware of the deception until he noticed an older Washington registration sticker on the boat and later discovered the boat was three years old. The boat has been in custody of the Lane County Sheriff's Office for several months.
A second Assurance was filed Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court with Midway Sports Center. Although it appeared Midway was assured by the Stayton Smoker Craft factory that the boat was a 2002 model, the boat dealer failed to make additional inquiries when discovering the Washington sticker on the side of the boat. Both assurances admit no violation of law.
Under the Smoker Craft assurance, the company must provide correct HIN numbers to the Washington buyer and pay him $500 for any inconvenience. The company has offered the Oregon buyer $2,000 and a buy-back of the boat, motor and trailer plus interest on the money from the time of purchase.
Over the past five years, approximately six other boats were either returned to the Oregon factory and resold, or were given in exchange for returned boats where the boats didn't carry correct HIN at the time of sale. The company must locate those consumers, correct the HIN problem and offer those owners up to $500 for the inconvenience.
Smoker Craft also must contact 22 owners of 1999 boats to identify boats that might need adjustments to their transoms and/or motor shafts to correct possible handling problems. The company must, in the future, make sure all boats sold in the marketplace carry correct HIN in accord with state and federal laws.
Smoker Craft paid $46,000 to the Justice Department, of which $16,000 will go to the State Marine Board for its Law Enforcement Program/Marine Theft Prevention and Enforcement and $30,000 will go into the Justice Consumer Protection and Education Fund. Midway Sports Center paid Justice $1,500.
Consumers wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org