Complaint Category: None of the Above - Product Quality Complaint Issue
Complaint: The pontoon I purchased in 2012 from Premier Marine sinks in the stern when passengers board. Navigation deteriorates significantly when fully boarded
I purchased a 2012 Premier 201 Explorer with a PTX 30" third tube February 16, 2012 from Hallberg's Marine and took delivery the first week of April 2012. The serial # is PMY 76452. I needed a triple tube pontoon to handle the large bodies of water where the cabin is located. In their literature Premier states the PTX "gives you improved buoyancy and stability even when the boat is not on plane." Unfortunately I experienced the opposite.
The PTX tube when attached to my Explorer pontoon extends the engine 2 feet from the back deck and side tubes. In other Premier pontoons in which the 30" PTX tube is standard, the side pontoons are as long the PTX tube so there is no engine extension. The standard application offers greater buoyancy in the stern than mine on my Explorer.
Another buoyancy factor is the PTX tube takes on water the more weight (passengers) are boarded. Only about 20% of the PTX tube is airtight. The rest can be filled by water through the drain holes in the back of the PTX tube. On my Explorer pontoon the PTX tube holds the gas tank below deck. In the water without anybody on board, the gas tank in the tube sits in 3" of lake water. With a full load of people on board the gas tank is close to being submerged. The rear tilt of my pontoon plays havoc with filling the tank. Air gets trapped in the tank and has to be burped out since the filler tube and vent are placed at the bottom of the tilted gas tank.
Navigating the pontoon with five or more people has its problems. When passengers board the pontoon the available seating is in the middle to the stern. The more passengers board, the more the stern and engine sink deeper into the lake. When the stern sinks the bow rises. What happens on my Explorer pontoon is the effective length of the boat goes from 19 feet to 10. Little changes at the steering wheel can make large changes in the direction of the boat. Add in some wind, and the path of the pontoon becomes erratic.
The pontoon on plane (cruising speed) is more controllable but still has its problems. On calm days it is great but on windy days (when waves start to develop white caps) it could turn dangerous. One day when two of us were boating into the wind I felt the pontoon lifting at the bow and starting to go airborne. I throttled back until I reached calmer water. I run the engine on the pontoon at level to negative trim to keep the bow in the water but it was not enough in this situation.
The PTX hull comes standard with in floor storage. Over the summer I have noticed 2 things that may be related. The hatch door in the floor is starting to rise out of the deck and the side pontoons wobble when I cross wakes. I believe the one-sided lifting strakes on the outside tubes put a lot of rotational torque on the deck and cross members. Loading and unloading forces on the tubes then to the deck & cross members probably cause the wobble and the lifting of the hatch. To regain structural integrity, aluminum I-beams should be added before and after the hatch.
I have written, emailed, and brought in my pontoon to Premier to express my concerns about my pontoon. In almost every situation I was sidelined from talking about or showing the problems I have with my Explorer PTX pontoon. I guess if Premier can't experience a problem, its not there. The crucial water test was performed on a calm day with only two passengers. Since I was not allowed to talk to the test engineer, he had no clue on what to test for. It ended up being just a waste of mine and their time.
My Explorer PTX pontoon needs the side tubes to be lengthen 2 feet to match the PTX tube and it needs more cross members around the in floor storage hatch to regain structural integrity.
Part of the character of a company is define by how they handle conflicts. I think I have my answer and it is not positive.
Business' Initial Response
We have, once again, reviewed the concerns from this customer with regards to his 2012 201 Explorer.
First of all, in May of 2012 we addressed his initial concerns. Asking him to step back and review conversations after delivery of the boat. It seems that from the onset, long before the boat was put in the water, that he have felt that he may have chosen the wrong boat for his type of boating.
He explained to us that when looking at the boats in the showroom he didn't have his glasses on and was not aware that the bow chairs were not to be occupied while underway.
Although we didn't feel this was a Premier issue, we immediately took care of the rail height issues for with custom bow rails at no cost to you. This in itself should have shown that Premier supports its' customers. The customer expressed complete satisfaction with how we handled the situation with the rails. At that time he also shared his concerns that the PTX was further aft than his expectations and he was surprised at this layout.
After explaining that this is the standard PTX configuration he seemed at ease with the situation.
Contact started again early summer with our sales department regarding this concern about the PTX length. The concerns at this point were about how difficult it was to fish from the boat, and about the construction of the swim platform versus the extended back end. Nothing was reported about performance.
After the summer of use, the spinning issue came up, and we informed the customer that we stand behind that our boats are very safe and the spinning issue has never been heard from our group.
We agreed that if he would like to arrange to bring the boat to our facility, we will definitely do a water test to assure that your combination of boat and motor has not created an issue that we have not seen to-date.
Premier Marine has an exceptional safety record and scores the highest possible scores with the AB YC (American Boat and Yacht Council) as well as the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association); we build to the highest industry standards, standards that far exceed the required Coast Guard requirements.
After returning the product to our facility our engineering department performed boat tests consistent with all requirements for NMMA and ABYC and found no issues with the craft.
We determined that any performance issues that the customer has suggested could easily be caused by improper loading and balancing for the size of the craft and motor combination that he chose. The design of the PTX tube is the best in the industry and we have found no merit in the design issues.
Again, we are sorry to hear of continued frustrations with the purchase.
We at Premier pride ourselves in the quality of our product and excellent customer service and we will do our best to address your concerns.
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The difference in opinion between Premier and I revolves around the use of the pontoon. My Explorer PTX pontoon has the suggested capacity of 12 passengers and a 125 horsepower engine. The PTX hull according to Premier's literature supplies a smooth ride and more buoyancy even when not on plane. These features - smooth ride & 12 person capacity - would work well with my boating needs up at the cabin. The cabin is only accessible by boat and I usually invite 8-10 friends up for the weekend. I could take one trip to the cabin by pontoon rather than two trips by a regular boat. The same for fishing, we all could go on the pontoon rather than in two boats.
Premier looks at the purpose of the Explorer pontoon differently. They view it as a 4-person fishing pontoon even though the capacity plate rates it as a 12-person pontoon. Little things started to pop-up to give an indication of their mindset. The first shock was the Coast Guard warning that the front seats were illegal to sit in while cruising. This lowered the Explorer pontoons seating arrangement from 10 to 8. The worst part about losing the front seats for cruising was that the remainder of the seats were located in the center of the pontoon and back. The pontoon without passengers has an exaggerated 8-inch tilt from front to back from the deck to the water. And the below deck fuel tank sits in 3-inches of lake water which I don't approve of. Adding passengers makes the tilt even worse. I noticed when Premier tested my pontoon they only had 2 people aboard. That is one-sixth the rated capacity and half of what Premier envisions. From the test they concluded:
"We determined that any performance issues that the customer has suggested could easily be caused by improper loading and balancing for the size of the craft and the motor combination that he chose."
After I read the report from the technician/ engineer I wrote to several people at Premier asking how to properly load 10 passengers on my Explorer pontoon for safe boating. I received no response. I guess I am only to have 4 people aboard but no one had the guts to tell me.
Premier in their above response statement vaguely suggests I chose the wrong motor and I am allowing to many people aboard. First, Premier's concern with my chosen motor. I purchased a new 75 hp Yamaha 4-stroke engine for the pontoon that has a 125 hp capacity. The engine is not too big or small and fits nicely in the range. The problem is the weight of a 4-stroke Yamaha. On my Explorer the engine is cantilevered 2 feet behind the floatation of the pontoon tubes. This placement of the engine submerges half of both side tubes in the back even before the passengers are boarded. I wish there was a 125 hp engine that weighed the weight of a 23 hp engine, but there is not one in the market today. Pontoon designs should take in consideration the weight of engines available today. Second, Premier's concern with the size of the craft and loading of the passengers aboard. If having the passengers sit in the seats where they currently are positioned produces improper loading and balance then Premier should place the seats on the deck of the pontoon where proper loading and balance could be achieved. If the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturing Association) plate says the passenger capacity is 12, then Premier should have an action plan for the pontoon owners how to load and balance the passengers for safe boating operations. If safe boating can only be achieved with 4 passengers then the capacity plate and Premier's seating action plan should match that number. If I knew that my Explorer PTX pontoon could only safely board 4 passengers, then I would not of bought the pontoon. It would not fit my needs.
My suggestion to lengthen the side pontoons to 21 feet from 19 feet is a very practical - common sense - solution. The extra floatation on each back side of the pontoon would give needed buoyancy support for the engine, fuel tank, live well, battery, and passengers in their current seating arrangements. The pontoon being balance would also be easier to drive. There are a lot of positives to my suggestions and no downside scenarios. In fact this is exactly how the majority of the Premier pontoons are made with the standard PTX Hull.
The notion that I did not mention the performance issues in early May was due to the fact the pontoon was not in the water until Memorial Day Weekend. I spent several days in May installing the new front rails that weren't the same shape/ bend as the originals. Premier would not install the rails for me so I had to carefully deconstruct and reconstruct the front area. A lot or drilling, riveting and wedging to get the rails to fit. To say I was pleased with the help given by Premier for the new rails would be a mistake.
I had talked to the production manager about the rails and the problem with fishing from the pontoon with the engine 2 feet away from the deck. The rear fisherman would need a 2 foot longer rod to compensate for the distance. What I said to her was: "Why Should I own a fishing pontoon if I can't fish from it! I should of bought a different pontoon if I was not going to fish." In a letter later I stated the thing but also reitorated I still want a fishing pontoon that I can also bring people to and from the cabin.
The concept that I knew the PTX hull would push the engine 2 feet back from the deck of the pontoon is false. The specifications called for a shorter extension similar to that of the standard Explorer. I was never informed before the longer extension was made, I disagreed with the production manager that it was okay and she basically said I was stuck with it. I called the dealer about retuning the pontoon before I even put it in the water and they said they would sell it as used and I would take a financial hit.
There are a lot of other little things that are wrong - like the prop diameter & pitch and the engine's mounting position. The engine cavitates and red lines and the technician at Premier says the engine has power throttle response. It would have better throttle response if the propeller was totally in the water. Then there is the canvas violently shaking and the L-shape couch dismantling itself. Oh yah, and the outside tubes wobble when crossing other boats wakes. There are a lot of problems, but most of them I can fix. But I can't fix the wobble and sinking stern/ lack of floatation problem. I have asked Premier to fix these two problems and I will fix the rest. So far no positive response. No matter how many awards, accreditations and accolades Premier has received, they did not employ them in producing my pontoon. I just want my pontoon to be seaworthy. I need the longer 21 foot tubes and more and/or stronger cross menbers.
Business' Final Response
Premier Marine is known as a leader in quality pontoon manufacturing and has been first in our segment of the market to comply with the stringent NMMA and ABYC requirements concerning new product developments. We have received high marks, with no exceptions noted during recent US Coast Guard and NMMA inspections. We have also been ISO registered for over 7 years and have an in-depth Quality Control System in place.
His custom requests have been reviewed by our engineering department and they feel that a change is not necessary and would not change the boat performance as he suggests. The boat performs appropriately and within all testing requirements.
We strongly feel that we develop the best product in the industry and find this complaint without merit.
I respectfully need to state again that employees with the dealership and our company have repeatedly told the customer from his initial buyer's remorse on this product that he may not have found the right product for him and that a change to an alternate product may be necessary for his type of boating.
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.