Boat in shop for nearly 3 years; Sarasota couple wants money back

Better Call Behnken

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Vickie and Johnny Smalls bought a boat with dreams of fun. But it’s been sitting at a boat repair shop for nearly three years, and they are fed up.

“I built boats for 30 years and I had two boats and never put one in the water so that’s what I wanted to do,” Johnny Smalls said. “I wanted to go out, me and my brothers, fish and have a good time.”

The boat has been sitting at SRQ Marine since January 2019.

“It’s like one day you’re driving down the road and go, ‘Oh, you own a boat!” Vickie Smalls said.

Johnny and Vickie say the boat was supposed to get maintenance but the shop kept finding things wrong.

“I just kept writing checks and hoping that it would end,” Vickie Smalls said.

Now, $8,500 later, they say they just get excuses. So they turned to Better Call Behnken for answers.

SRQ Marine owner Richard Allen says he takes responsibility but said some boat repairs take a long time, especially during the pandemic.

“This is mainly a subcontractor thing but this is my responsibility,” Allen said. “I take responsibility for it.”

“We took the motor out which means pulling the outdrive out and got the motor to where it was running,” he added. “Where the motor sits on boat on stringers, those stringers were rotten.”

The bottom line: Allen claims he’s a few weeks away from completing the boat …but he said he’s willing to give a full refund. That’s something the Smalls say they now want.

“With my boat building experience, I feel like he should know that I know what’s going on,” Johnny Smalls said. “I know what’s going on because I’ve built boats from the inside out and I know it doesn’t take all that long.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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