Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: SailChecker

I didn't start Nautography with the intention of reviewing businesses related to my sailing experiences, but after my recent experience with SailChecker, I feel compelled to change that.

SailChecker is a yacht chartering service based in the UK that I have heard good things about, so it seemed natural to give them a go when booking our upcoming sailing trip to the BVI. After putting in inquiries with several charter services, SailChecker got back to me with an offer that was seemingly too good to be true: a week in early April on a 2006 Dufour 385 Grand Large for $2,000 US.

That price is not a typo.

The other offers we had gotten were closer to the $3,800 US range for older, less well-built boats. Needless to say, Sara & I jumped on the opportunity as that price was far less than we were expecting to pay.

The old saying goes that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. Alas, this was the case with our offer from SailChecker. I received an e-mail from Chris Lait, the CEO of SailChecker, apologizing profusely and explaining to me that the offer had been generated as a result of a technical glitch in one of their databases and extending me another offer. Admittedly, Sara & I were both torn about proceeding with SailChecker at this point: despite their good reputation in sailing circles, their first impression with us had not been all that impressive.

Then, something rather unexpected happened. I got a phone call from Chris. He explained to me the situation in more depth and said that he was willing to work with me to get us on a boat. We talked for a while and I told him specifically what we were looking for and he said he was certain he could help us. That phone call, not from the employee who had made a mistake, but from the CEO of the company, changed my mind. It spoke volumes about his professionalism and the lengths to which SailChecker would be willing to go to meet our needs.

We exchanged e-mails over the next few days (including negotiating a refund policy that we had been offered from another company) and finally settled on an offer. In the end, we got a much newer Dufour, a 2015 Dufour 382 Grand Large, for a price that, while understandably higher than the initial offer, was still less that the offers we had gotten from other companies for older boats. Although we're still a few months out from the trip, everything since that initial database error has been smooth sailing and I suspect it will remain that way.

Dufour 382 Grand Large, stock image


On March 21st, less than two weeks before our charter was scheduled to start, I came across a booking mistake that could very well have jeopardized our trip. Since I caught the error in advance, we were able to make the necessary adjustments and instead of a potentially ruined trip we were only inconvenienced.

I realize that this situation was caused by an error that is probably very rare. However, it is the second such rare error that I have experienced while booking the same trip with SailChecker. Both times they compensated me for the errors, and that compensation was fair and much appreciated. Although I still think very highly of SailChecker's staff because of the lengths they went to in order to do right by me, I will likely not be using SailChecker's services again in the future because, quite frankly, third chances are not something I grant lightly.