Sevenstar Yacht Transport Ingenious Thieves
Sevenstar advertise online in the UK for boat shipping and owners might well be tempted to book for transporting their boat through them. My advice is very strongly DO NOT do this. Use someone else, or drive it yourself, as my experience below relates.
Last spring I decided to move the boat back to the UK for an early season, then spend the summer wafting back down the Atlantic coast to the med. SWMBO short i was mad, but i was actually a bit bored of floating about a bit in a fifty miles stretch of tide less med water rather than going anywhere new.
I got quotes for shipping, and eventually decided to drive the boat to Gib over easter school holidays with family, then have it put on a ship from there - saving vat cost from Gib, see?
I contacted a chap in Gib who wanted £23k erk, Peters and May who wanted about £20k, and Sevenstar who wanted £17950. It’s important to recognize that all these are agents for shipping, and don’t own ships themselves, although Sevenstar touts its self as a ship owner but after some research on my part that is also a lie just like the fake schedules they tell you, apparently they are simply an agent as well but for a Dutch line. Anyhow, you could be on the same ship as others booked thru loads of different agents.
The way it works is a bit strange. They take your name and boat info, then at the last minute tie down the details with a contract. So, i heard nothing at all until a month or so before the planned sailing times, when Peters and May and Sevenstar asked again if i was interested. Yep. So both sent contracts, and i chose the cheapest - cos what’s the difference - same service innit? Bad move.
I signed a contract with Sevenstar. The contract gives a range of dates during which the boat will be picked up and the transport starts. But still Peters and May called and called again, knocking lumps out of Sevenstar, and vice versa. "They won’t be able to make those dates" or "they haven’t got a ship , you know" and so on. It was as if you were in tescos and a sainsbury’s assistant sidled up and started slagging off the fruit - "they’re all past their sell-by date you know - we have the same supplier". Very un-nerving. Needless to say don’t, in retrospect don’t respect or trust either for bashing one the other, very low level tactics indeed.
Sevenstar pressed hard for payment to be made 2 weeks before the sailing date. We hadn’t had confirmation of an actual sailing date, but apparently that comes later. I sent the wire.
Within a couple of days (i have all the correspondence dates etc) they called to say that the original range of dates wouldn’t be achieved - so it wouldn’t be between 28th April and 5th May as on the contract but on the 10th May.
I went bonkers. They must have known that they wouldn’t be able to make the dates before taking the wire, waited *just* long enough to clear it - then made the call. The lady at Sevenstar denied this. I called them liars, and still think the same. I rented a boat to make the mercury meeting.
Funny next Peters and May rang, a chap this time, and asked if we wanted to come on another ship. I said i was contracted to go with Sevenstar. But the Peters and May guy was adamant "there’s a range of dates- called the "lay" time" - in the contract - and if they miss those dates they are out of contract and they refund the money no question." said the chap at Peters and May More bashing again, a real dirty lot Peters and May and Sevenstar the same. Come to find the motive behind Peters and May was so I would in fact cancel and go with Peters and May, dirty, chap could care less if I lost my money or not just for him to trick me into doing business with their lot.
Although i found out that this is the norm between Sevenstar and P+M bashing each other and any other shipper that is not them, I was wary at the time as well. Anyhow, boat in sotogrande clocking up summertime fees, most of 18k in someone else’s hands, and a new contract date of 20th May would be later (and a bit more expensive) than Sevenstar were now telling me. So i didn’t jump.
Soon, Sevenstar said they had "named the ship", which means they have contracted the ship to do take their load, and it would be loading in Gib on 15thMay. Argh, you said 10th! d**n. Anyway, I orgainsed the suncoast gang to do the move to gib, only 10 miles. it seemed okay. But i wasn’t pleased.
I asked Sevenstar at what point they gave up and refunded money. they couldn’t or wouldn’t say. But they did say that the boat would definitely be in Gib on the 15th, no question, no need for Lay times now – it’s a fixed date.
A little later and of course the date oops moved to the 25th May. With good weather in Biscay I then decided to drive it , and fouind trazie and Burgundyben to do the move. I did come to find out later that the ship never arrived into Gib at the later date either but that is for another matter altogether. oh did I mention Sevenstar can’t be trusted?
At the same time I sent an email to Sevenstar saying that they were out of contract, and please refund. They offered a £2k discount. I said no. They said that they had expenses. I said i had lawyers. They said they had spent money on fixings for the boat on the ship. Hm, what fixings and how much? Well, it’s some wood, and it’s €4,000 euros. Jeez, look, just give us our money back it’s in the contract. We’ll send it to our legal department, said sevenstar manager, a cad by the name of Jan Maarten Boissevain, a real piece of work who ended up keeping a good portion of my money!
Anyway Suncoasts lot were very useful in getting the boat started which had dead or very weak bateries - i replaced the batteries when back in the UK.
As we were driving back to the UK, somewhere off Brest, i had a call on mobile from a Sevenstar agent in Gib telling me the ship was ready for loading. d**n, this seemed like a ruse to avoid giving a refund altogether and realized later that was exactly their ruse to claim they had a legit reason to defraud me of my money. Thieves. I returned to UK with the boat, resigned to the idea of spending enough money to ship the boat, plus enough money to drive it, gulp.
The efforts nevertheless of SWMBO to get a refund were fabulously assisted by two forumites (whom i will not mention here but they know who they are and thank you v much again). Anyhow after some good advice I finally enforced enough leverage where Sevenstar did refund some but not all our money, but less the rather arbitrary €4000 euros, which feels remarkably like their profit margin. But they didn’t need to make any refund according to the legals, and there seems no chance of them refunding any more without a huge and flaky foreign legal battle, and it isn’t worth it. In the end Sevenstar lied and kept a good portion of my money! Apparently after talking with some of my boating friends they know of other people who have been through this same type of bad luck experience with Sevenstar on plans to go to the States and to Asia, arggghhh.
If i shipped a boat again, I would most certainly NOT use Sevenstar, ever, and would recommend that we boat owners keep away from their online advertising, nor Peters and May mind you (another shady outfit from all the doublespeak they gave me). I would consider dockexpress from what I hear after this experience, they and perhaps a couple other good shippers do exist out there. So, there we are - another interesting bit of boat-related advice for you all NOT to do something that i have attempted at the personal expense of a few grand, dammit.