All started in February this year, 2011. We were browsing the internet "Boat Trader" and found a 1994 Searay boat we were interested in with Lanier Marine Liquidators. After emailing back and forth asking questions about the boat, the costs plus a trailer for the boat, we agreed on purchasing a new trailer at an agreed price with the 1994 250 EC Searay for $10 995. We continued our questioning on shipping and further costs to get boat and trailer from America to Australia. They came back with a quote of $7601.00 to which we added "NO More to Pay". That was the agreed price for shipping and insurance. We further paid $150 for a 3ft extension for the trailer and $75 to have all our paperwork posted to us. We did receive scanned copies of the invoice/receipt for our payment of $18 746.00 and boat registration and some photos of the boat and trailer. We had a budget of $20 000 which we werent going past and we let Lanier Marine Liquidators know that it was vital to get costings all up front because it would be the difference in us purchasing or not. After we made the payment through our bank into J. Shane Vaughan's Lanier Marines Liquidators account, we found out that the 1994 was in fact a 1993 boat. We continued emailing, which replies on their end were becoming less frequent and with not much to tell in regarding to where our papers were and we wanted photos of the boat once detailed and ready for shipping, which to this date, we have not received any!
We received an email from LML in early May informing us that our boat was leaving America on May 6. No date on its arrival or who it is with, only an email address, mid to late May, of the shipping agent. We sent two emails to this address before we finally received a phone call from a Jim O'Connor telling me it was in his hands and that of a Sydney Broker by the name of Zac. I responded with "Broker" we weren't informed of any brokers and why would you have a broker taking care of our boat who was in Sydney when it will be arriving in Brisbane. I was told not to worry, all is taken care of. He said he would get the paperwork from the broker and have it sent to us about importing the boat from America to Australia. I was left feeling a little confused and unsure of what procedures were needed for us to get this boat. He had an urgency in his voice when he said I needed to sign these papers and send to Canberra but he would contact us before the weekend, which was three days away. Never heard from him again. Those papers he was referring to, we have since discovered were import registration papers for the trailer which should have been done before the boat left America. To get this paperwork done, the dimensions on the trailer are needed, length, width and height and the weight mass of the trailer, none of which to this date, we have.
We had no idea of who this broker was or how to contact him, Jim of All Flags International and Shane of Lanier Marine Liquidators were not replying to any of our endless emails leading up to our boat arriving in Australia. We emailed over a 5 week period looking for answers, to which non came until one week after our boat arrived in Brisbane Port, June 30. The only reason I knew when the boat was arriving is because we got on the net and searched for Columbia Highway May 6 leaving America. The only reason we found our Sydney broker, was because we contacted K-Line and although we had no original bill of lading required to see if our boat had in fact arrived. I told them of our situation and what sort of boat it was and I was informed that boat had been consigned to Customs Cargo and they gave me a contact number.
When I contacted Customs Cargo and asked for Zac, I was informed he was on holidays and transferred to Mous who started to fill in some of our blanks. They had no paperwork, and no idea who we were, only that K-Line had been in contact informing them "boat is coming in", "boat is coming in", "boat has arrived". He too had been trying to contact Jim O'Connor of All Flags International looking for some answers.
We are into day three after the boat had arrived and Mous was giving me a bleak outlook on how bad this was all starting to look. Without the original bill of lading and without the import registration for the trailer, we couldnt get the boat or trailer out of the wharf. I was then onto Shane of Lanier Marine Liquidators leaving messages and emailing them, with no results. By day 5 I finally got through to Lanier Marine and Shane informs me that he had no messages or emails from me, that they return their calls immediately. I explained our problem of no paperwork, and not hearing from Jim and Shane said he didnt know what the problem was because he and Jim spoke every day. He would get in touch with Jim and get back to me.
Not an hour passed and we got an email from Shane stating that Jim said we owed him money and that he would not release the boat until we paid. What??? We had received no invoice, no call, no emails, nothing from Jim O'Connor of All Flags International stating this. We still didnt know how much or even where to pay this so-called outstanding money, and for what?
Then after lunch that same day, Mous of Customs Cargo called us to let us know that Jim had been in contact with him and that we owed Jim "a couple of grand". They couldnt even give me a fixed price. And what was this outstanding money for...because Andrew of Lanier Marine Liquidators, the salesman dealing with our boat, who was fired shortly after our boat left America, had apparently stuffed up on the boat dimensions which resulted in the costs being higher. An email was forwarded from Shane of Lanier Marine Liquidators to us stating that, at our request, the windshield had been left on which caused the extra sizing and costs to go up. This was not the case and we have the email between my husband Shayne and Andrew discussing the boat dimensions and costs. The end result to that discussion was Shayne informing Andrew to do whatever it takes to keep the price down. Andrews response was after investigating the boat, said it would not cause any further costs.
I forwarded this email onto Shane and didn't get any reply back. I called Lanier Marine Liquidators only to be placed on hold for a lengthy amount of time and then Tom got on saying Shane was away and that he was the manager and here to deal with my problem.
We forwarded 26 emails but he didnt receive them. So another day passes and we tried again to forward those emails on. In the meantime, my husband and I go off and seek legal advice. Their advice was why pay a man, referring to Jim O'Connor of All Flags International, who to this date, has not proved himself to be honest, upfront or reliable. The solicitors next questioned us whether we were prepared to lose more money with no quarantee that the boat, going by the history, would be released.
We returned home and decided to play hardball with all three companies involved with our boat. We sent Mous of Customs Cargo an email stating we wanted the boat released immediately, that we had paid for the shipping up front and if this wasnt carried out as soon as possible, we would go to the ACCC. (Australian Authorities that watch over businesses and their conduct). We also sent this email through to Lanier Marine Liquidators and All Flags International stating we would take this to the Ga Governors department and authorities if our boat was not released immediately. I informed them that we would not be held to extorsion over this boat.
Jim O'Connor of All Flags emailed us two invoices, one for $6 601.40 and the second, which is the outstanding amount, for $965 plus $45 wiring costs. Customs Cargo also replied by stating they were dropping us as clients because of the tone I used in my email to them, and that due to incurring costs with K-Line and outstanding fees with All Flags International, we pretty much were put in the too hard basket. As far as we were concerned, they weren't acting in our best interests anyway.
Have sent a further email to Jim O'Connor stating we would pay the outstanding fees if he could guarantee no further costs to us and that the boat would be released immediately and our papers to the boat to be all in order. We have had no response. That was Saturday morning, Australian time.
On Monday we still had not heard from Tom of Lanier Marine Liquidators, who was going to sort everything out, nor from Jim O'Connor of All Flags International. So we have come to the conclusion that we will not get our trailer due to no import registration papers and by the time we did do the paperwork and get it processed, which takes 3 weeks in Canberra, the fees incurred from storage would far outweigh the cost of the trailer and as for the boat, we have no paperwork, no answers from the two businessmen holding up our boat's clearance. So regrettably, feeling frustrated and angry and fed up with the whole situation, saddened by the broken dream of owning our first boat, we walk away, no boat, no trailer and $19 000 plus out of pocket. My husband Shayne has sent an email to both Tom and Jim recinding his offer to pay outstanding costs, and still we have not heard from these two.
When I last spoke to Tom demanding information on why there was a difference in the money, meaning we had paid $7601 and the first shipping invoice came to $6601.40, and the second invoice came to $965, which to me comes very close to what we had paid, so why did we have outstanding costs. Tom's response was that it cost $960 to truck the boat and trailer to the shipping yard. from Lanier Marine Liquidators yard. Thats what used up the $7601 and why we have incurred the $965 further from the shipping agent due to sizing being incorrect when first quoted. Thats their c**k-up not ours so why are we losing out.
My question is that the shipping agent Jim O'Connor would have know this when we contacted me letting me know everything was in his hands and not to worry. He had at least 5 weeks to invoice me and let me know, why wait till one week after the boat arrived in Brisbane? He would have known that the boat would start racking up fees, why do that to us. Why has he not been in contact with us to clear this up?
We have kept all our emails and invoices.