The customer is not always right—just ask this boatyard owner

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Looking out over the Niagara River at Tonawanda’s Niawanda Park, John Mang and his fiancée Amy Woodruff can only dream of what the summer might have been like out on the water. They never got to take their boat out, because it was in the shop for repairs.

The couple got off to an early start, by turning their boat over to SP Marine in Wheatfield last November to get it winterized, but when the owner at SP Marine removed the shrink wrap in the spring, he told Mang and Woodruff the boat needed repairs.

Mang said the owner, Sean Polley gave them mixed messages, that the boat was almost ready one day, then not ready, “We had a voicemail on June 13 that it would be ready. Then maybe another one on July 1. We were getting all amped up to get our boat, we get there and no one is there again. I got my truck to pick it up and no one is around.”

Amy said, without the boat, the $874 they spent renting space at a yacht club for the summer was wasted, “A slip at the yacht club that we paid in full that remained empty all summer–a beautiful summer–and never got out on our boat.”

The day after our interview, John and Amy did finally get their boat back, but it cost them thousands of dollars more than they had been quoted.

For his part, Sean Polley said the repairs to the boat got more involved, then he had to fire his help, which left him shorthanded. Polley also said he compensated Woodruff and Mang for their rent, “I knocked $1,000 off their bill, just for their slip, and another $500 on top of that.”

A Niagara Falls boater, Ron Rhodes said when he didn’t pay immediately for work done on his boat, he made arrangements with Polley to get him the money, but got a rude awakening when he went to the marina to try his boat out.

“We go down there to use our boat, it won’t start. So now I am waiting for Sean to show up on Saturday, no show up. We sat there for hours on our boat cleaning it, getting it ready.”

Rhodes called SP Marine, and found out from a woman in the office, his boat wouldn’t start because Polley removed the new parts from his engine, “She texts us and says, you didn’t pay us right away. We went there in the middle of the night and we took parts off your boat.”

Polley said it was about respect, “He made me feel like he was not going to pay the bill, so basically I told him I was going to remove my part, I am going to install your part exactly the way it was. I explained it to him, and you could go somewhere else.”

A 1957 wooden hull boat named “Last Blast” was Charlotte Booth’s grandfather’s pride and joy. After Booth’s grandmother died, her grandfather wanted to restore the boat and take it out on the Niagara River for a last blast.

Booth and her brother gave SP Marine $8,000 as a down payment toward the $15,000 restoration project, but after seeing the boat, and replacement parts, left out in the weather and uncovered, Charlotte reported the boat stolen, and went with state police to get their property back, “It kills him not to see his boat.”

Polley said it is the boat owner’s responsibility to cover the boat, and he covered the Booths’ boat with a tarp, but it kept blowing off.

“There is a big sign right outside the door–you are supposed to bring your boat and cover it. I explained to him that he should cover it, so I went above and beyond to cover it myself.”

Booth said her family is trying to get the boat restored on their own. Her grandfather, Clyde Schulte is a World War II veteran, a member of the U.S. Army’s legendary 101st Airborne Division known as “The Screaming Eagles”.

“We want to finish the boat on our own now and get it to him, but he is 94, so I am not sure that we will have that opportunity.”

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