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The dog ate my homework

Last Thursday my Blog may have seemed confusing. It certainly was to Anonymous Bob who commented with the question: “How does the title of your post relate to your actual post?”

Well, Anonymous Bob, thanks for reading and you got me! The title didn’t relate to the post. I’d like to blame it all on the old dog, but in this day of writing on a laptop and e-mailing via an air-card from anywhere, my computer “ate” one title with another blog subject.

So, going back to last Thursday’s title, OUTBOARD MODEL YEAR ELIMINATION STILL UNCOMFORTABLE, you should have been reading my observation that concern about the change by some engine builders isn’t going away with time. Most dealers continue to say they believe it serves the manufacturer’s interests to the possible detriment of dealers and their customers. There has been at least one published report of a consumer, upon learning his new outboard was actually a year old engine, refused the boat and demanded a refund. Moreover, in states where outboards are titled, there may be direct conflict with existing state law (Ohio, for example.)

Equally serious is the concern being expressed in the financial community. The National Marine Bankers Association (NMBA) has given the change a less-than-warm reception. “We have concerns,” says Flagstar Bank’s Jim Coburn who is also president of the National Marine Bankers Association. “I think it can be kind of disruptive to consumers’ easy access to F & I product. We finance units, boats, motors, trailers, based on what the birthdate of the product is. So, particularly on used [product] if we wanted to finance a boat, motor, trailer, and - say it’s three years from now - and they abolished the model year, we’re not going to really know what to value that outboard at. And when it becomes the biggest part of the financing package, it’s going to make it pretty tough,” he explained.

Specifically, Coburn predicts lenders will struggle with setting collateral values in such cases. He also acknowledges dealers are concerned about what lenders are going to do when all this actually hits. “The lenders,” says Coburn, “haven’t gotten a lot of feedback from the manufacturers, yet, as to why they are doing this. The best answer we got is they were doing it to clear out some inventory.”

The subject is on the agenda and will be discussed at the upcoming NMBA Conference slated for September 30. It is also on the agenda at the MRAA National Convention in Las Vegas, November 26-28. One thing is certain: the change will not only effect lenders and dealers, but insurers, price guides, consumers and even some state agencies. And, as NMBA and MRAA have indicated, the manufacturers that have eliminated the model year have been laying conspicuously low when it comes to any explanations or feedback!

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