Dispute Mediation Program

Mediation is a method of solving problems through negotiations coordinated by a mediator or "neutral third party" - in this case, the BoatUS Consumer Protection Bureau. Both parties decide the terms of the settlement, unlike arbitration, where the decision-making process is completely in the hands of an independent panel.

Although BoatUS mediation is not binding on either party, the marine industry generally welcomes our involvement and honors settlement agreements.

To take advantage of our valuable dispute mediation service, you must be a BoatUS member.

1) If you have not already done so, we recommend filing a written complaint with the company, outlining your concerns and what steps have been taken to remedy the situation. Don't forget to let the company know what you believe would be a fair resolution: a refund, repairs, or a replacement. You can use our sample complaint letter.

2) Send us a complete written description of the problems you've encountered, along with supporting documentation such as previous complaint letters, repair invoices, contracts or marine survey reports. Be sure to include the make, model, and serial number of your boat or engine, as well as the name of the company with whom you have been dealing.

3) When we receive your complaint, we will enter your information into our complaint data base, where it will be evaluated for similarities with other complaints, and we will contact the company involved within days of receiving your correspondence. We recommend allowing companies three to four weeks to respond.

To file a complaint or report your experience with a boat, marine engine, product, or service, write to:


BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau
880 S. Pickett Street
Alexandria, VA 22304
Tel: 703-461-2856 Fax: 703-461-4674
E-mail: ConsumerProtection@BoatUS.com



Complaints most likely to be resolved involve boats or engines that are less than five years old. Product or service complaints are most likely to be resolved when you have written repair estimates or can produce written orders or receipts.

Although small claims court is sometimes an effective venue for resolving consumer disputes with local companies, in general, litigation is costly, time-consuming, and stressful - and the outcome is not a "sure thing." BoatUS does not become involved in disputes already in litigation, nor can we threaten or pursue litigation on behalf of members.

The Bureau handles complaints involving:

  • Boat and motor purchases
  • Service contracts
  • Product complaints
  • Charter companies
  • Warranties, repairs and commissioning
  • Structural defects and osmotic blisters
  • Service and billing disputes