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Until recently, there have been basically two ways to buy a PWC. Purchase one brand new from a dealership, or go the used route and hope for a great deal…and a craft that doesn’t have hidden problems.
Statistics tell us that while both avenues have proven popular, a lot of people are choosing the latter path. Well over 100,000 used personal watercraft were sold in the last year; some estimate the number may go as high as 125, even 150,000. The catch, of course, is that 90% of those sales were private party. Should the craft prove a lemon, or something goes wrong soon after purchase, you’re pretty much without recourse.
As the saying goes, let the buyer beware.
Now, however, Yamaha is borrowing a page from the automotive industry and hoping to get in on some of those sales. The recently announced Yamaha Watercraft Certified Pre-Owned Program will allow dealers to sell “certified” pre-owned units, meaning they’ve been checked out, deemed to be in good condition, and should something still go unexpectedly wrong, carry a 12-month warranty to give the buyer a little peace of mind. In the event that unit was originally sold with an extended warranty (many sold at boat shows were) and still has coverage remaining, that remaining coverage will be tacked on to the 12 months. In short, customers might find themselves looking at a used PWC with 18, 24, possibly even 36 months of warranty coverage. Craft must be from the last six model years. They’re also promised to have less than 200 hours on their engines.
Obviously, Yamaha is not doing this purely for altruistic reasons. Offering certified pre-owned craft would certainly help dealers get a chunk of the private-party sales they’re currently missing out on. And chances are, some of those people coming into the dealer to check out a used machine may indeed wind up walking away with a new one. The company is also building somewhat of a following. Put someone in a used PWC now, and when they go to get the next or upgrade, chances are greater they’ll stay in the Yamaha family. And of course there are probably lots of parts and accessories that may be sold along the way.
But will any of those self-serving benefits dissuade customers from giving a dealership their business? I doubt it. I’m betting the idea of buying a used machine that’s been checked over by a dealer’s service department (Yamaha says each machine faces a 35-point inspection before it will be accepted into the program) will be appealing to that contingent of used buyers who fret over doing business with a no-name stranger that claims his PWC was well taken care of. I’m also betting the idea of a 12-month warranty on the machine will be far more appealing than the idea that, should you buy a clunker, you’re basically stuck with no real remedy. Yamaha is also able to offer attractive financing on these CPO models, as well as the opportunity to purchase additional warranty coverage.
Apparently Yamaha dealerships were clamoring for such a program. What remains to be seen is whether Sea-Doo and Kawasaki follow suit.
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