Bad experiences with products or services

Pantaenius Marine Insurance
Yuve Marine, Vuda Marina, Fiji
International Paints 'Brightside'
Westpac bank
Teva sandals


Pantaenius Marine Insurance

I have been disappointed with this firm. I held insurance over Ocean Child with Pantaenius Marine for two years, without making a claim, or in fact having any substantial need to contact them. HOWEVER in December 2015 they sent me an email stating that my insurance would be cancelled as of January 29, 2016 (the end of the current insurance period). No explanation!  I emailed back asking for an explanation, to which they replied that their underwriter "had declined to renew your cover". They refused to supply any further explanation. I asked a friend in the industry ... he suggested that they had an unwritten policy not to cover steel boats more than 20 years old.  So... if you want a company who respects your need for explanations of their actions, DON'T go to Pantaenius.


Yuve Marine, yacht services, Vuda Marina, Fiji

Before I arrived in Fiji I had the impression that yacht services here would be relatively cheap compared with New Zealand or Australia, and of comparable quality.

I recently (10 August 2015) had a repair done on an outboard motor which had ingested sea water. The repair, which I understand took the Yuve Marine mechanic three hours, fixed the problem. But in my view it was VERY expensive. The charge for this work (labour only, no parts) was $FJ 420, which is equivalent to $NZ 280. That's MORE than the cost of three hours in a NZ repair shop... my last job in NZ was done at $NZ 80 per hour. FOOTNOTE ADDED LATER - I raised this issue with the manager of Yuve Marine, who agreed to do a small welding job on my stainless steel bimini for free... so in the end I was happy.

I had other repairs done by Yacht Help, another firm servicing yachts in boat Vuda and Denarau. While the work wasn't perfect the first time around, in the end I has happy with the quality of the job done, and the price was reasonable. The third firm operating here at Vuda and Denarau is Baobab Marine. I haven't used them so far, partly because their quotes are rather high, and partly because they no longer do painting on steel boats.

So... if you are thinking that yacht repairs in Fiji will be better value than in AU or NZ, think again. You may be very disappointed.


Akzonobel International Paints "Brightside"

I have a sailing friend who said to me "Brightside was a defective product, and should never have been marketed in the Southern Hemisphere". I certainly agree with him, and I have found other sailors too with bad experiences.

Here is a typical experience:

I painted 'Alida" with International Brightside. I went to a great deal of trouble preparing the hull and we rolled and brushed it on. It looked great for one year, ordinary the next and started peeling off after that. I was very disappointed in the paint and regretted not spending a little extra for a two pack product.
Hans van Tuil.

Ocean Child's deck was painted with International Brightside in 2008. The deck had an existing single-pack enamel, in a soft yellow colour. This was partly over-painted with International Pre-Koat, then with two coats of Brightside Snow White. An anti-skid product was applied to most of the deck during this painting.

Only three years later, in 2011, I noticed patches of Brightside were flaking and exposing the underlying yellow.

This deterioration became rapidly worse, and made it impossible to harvest rainwater falling on the deck, as the large quantities of tiny pieces of paint clogged the filters in my water system. In 2013 I started planning a trip to some of the islands in the South Pacific where freshwater is difficult to obtain, and so in 2014 I commenced the removal of the Brightside paint which had been so carefully applied in 2008 (in the mistaken belief it was a high quality product).

I contacted International Paints, and Brett, the local NZ representative, paid me a visit. While not admitting any financial liability, Brett said that Brightside is now only marketed in the Northern Hemisphere, where ultraviolet deterioration is less of a problem than in Australia or New Zealand. He was guarded in his comments, but agreed that Brightside does not weather well. I got the impression he has been instructed not to admit liability. I believe Akzonobel is well aware of the defect in Brightside - presumably even in the northern hemisphere extra UV stabilizing agents have now been added.

My advice to anyone, anywhere, is "don't use International Brightside".

Akzonoble, the parent company for International Paints, do not present themselves as an impressive, or even competent company. Consider this: in their paint range, they use the same colour name for different colours! That's confusing. In spite of being a Dutch company, they can't work out the international symbol for "litre"! That's stupid - even a child can ask Mr Google. And they have spelling mistakes in their product brochures! What does that say about their quality control?

Would you trust a company like this? Hopefully they've got some good chemists in their organisation somewhere... but there are lots of good paint companies around. If you're based in New Zealand, I recommend trying Resene products. I have heard good reports too about Jotun products.


Westpac Bank

I have used Westpac in Australia for many years and I've been happy with their services - up until my trip to New Zealand. In spite of the fact that the same company operates in both Australia and NZ, the two divisions appear to make no attempt to communicate or provide cohesive customer service. How's that for customer focus?  If I go to a NZ branch, asking for assess to my Australian account, they send me out the door to the ATM! And, even worse, they charge like a wounded bull. 

I had assumed, as you might, that the cheapest way of getting my Australian funds was to go to a NZ Westpac ATM. Not true! It turns out that if I withdraw my funds through a third-party ATM (where you would expect an extra fee) it is actually CHEAPER!

Moreover, every time I use my Westpac credit card for an overseas transaction, I get charged an "international transaction fee" of around 3%, as well as the currency conversion costs. This is just a rip-off. There are other banks who don't charge this fee (Citibank for example) so why does Westpac?  Pure and simple greed is my answer.


Teva sandals

When a cruising sailor buys a product, they don't mind paying more if quality is at stake. I bought these Teva sandals believing them to be well made. However, after numerous immersions in water (getting in and out of the dinghy, for example) they started to come apart.

Teva do have a return policy/process, but it requires me to mail them back to the USA, with a copy of the original receipt. Like most cruisers, storage space is limited, and one can't keep everything. I don't have the receipt. These are clearly Teva sandals, and clearly defective, but there's no way I can get redress. What I want is a quality product, I don't want to have to return it, but if I do I want a company keen to stand by their product. I've come across several other sailors with the same experience of Teva. Teva is NOT a quality product.