Last edition we gave some bond advice and received the following report (below) about the dangers of ending up with the wrong Charter Company (not booked by us!) – not a great advertisement for the industry but still happening
Hi Charter World,
I note you briefly cover the bonding protection that all charter companies demand prior to allowing one to take the yacht at the beginning of the charter period. The following happened to us 8 – 15 September 2018, we have chartered yachts 11 times in the last 13 years.
We (4 retired guys from UK) chartered a 45 ft yacht through Seamaster Yachting a UK charter co. collecting the yacht from Sicily to visit the Aolian Islands, Seamaster sister company was Aura Yachting in Sicily to provide the yacht etc. We arrived, met director of Aura guy called Mimi, signed the documents, provided a refundable security deposit of Eu 3500. Two copies printed, one I retained – one I signed for Charter Co. retention. We inspected the yacht, paid Eu 120 extra for a dingy and outboard stored in the rear hold – not inflated, never physically inspected by us (first mistake) ready to go.
First night anchored off Volcano island, got the dingy out, impossible to inflate, pump was damaged, not correct fitting etc, the dingy was not fit for purpose. Has to use local marinas most with no facilities at a additional weeks cost approx Eu 500. if available. On Stromboli Island (an exciting active volcano) there was no means to go ashore, we could not visit the volcano, or visit the town. Had to leave due to fading light never went ashore. We spoke to Aura during the week, they agreed to refund the dingy cost when we return the yacht.
We returned to the marina early Friday as requested, member from Aura Davide could not refund the dingy cost only Mimi director could do this. The yacht was inspected, went through all items, sails, external fittings, all internal areas etc. When inspection completed Davide returned the signed Credit Card receipt for Eu 3500. Thanking us for returning the yacht so clean and tidy. We left the yacht early Sunday morning to catch our flights. No member of Aura was present.
On our return to UK we sent a email to Mimi – Aura requesting the return of Eu 120.00, due to the fact not having a usable dingy cost us extra Eu 500.00. Ignored
Instead Aura – Mimi starter to suggest there were problems on the yacht, 1 blocked toilet and 2 scratch on winch. This was several days after the yacht was inspected and we had left the yacht.
We discussed the situation (25th September) and decided not to pursue the Eu 120 dingy cost, lesson learned. On 27th September the sum of Eu 3500 was removed from my credit card account. Seamaster’s sisterB company Aura Yachting had stolen Eu 3500 = £3131.26 from my account. Aura Yachting returned both signed copies of the credit card deposit taken on arrival on 08.09.18, they had retained my credit card details on their system, 12 days after we returned the yacht, and received the deposit slips Aura made a claim for the entire deposit Eu 3500 provided. 6 weeks after returning from the charter Aura – Mimi suggests the winch needs replacing, loo needs replacing etc etc at a cost of Approx Eu 1400. No evidence has ever been provided by Aura, no photograph provided of any damage, no proof that anything was replaced. A illegal scam.
This entire debacle is lies, deceit, theft and fraud – but it happened in Sicily.
Fortunately we used a VISA credit card, a formal complaint has been made, regarding the unauthorized theft of Eu 3500 but it all takes time, effort etc. The funds have not been returned at the above date.
This is a sad damming indictment of what can happen if one happens to use an unscrupulous, deceitful, fraudulent Charter company.
I trust you will publish to contents to warn other charterers to beware