Now in its 6th year, BoatTEST.com’s
“Owner Boat Reviews” are gaining in popularity as more and more members check them
when doing buying research. Each week scores of altruistic members fill out the
questions that cover the boat, its engine, performance, accommodations, dealership,
factory and a number of other critical subjects of boats they own. The concept is
to provide boat buyers -- both new and used -- with valuable insights to help them
make the right buying decision about specific brands and models.
When BoatTEST started the owner reviews back in 2003 we used ratings, a la J.D.
Power. We asked owners to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, five critical areas of the
boat, and in each area we asked for several scores. This is essentially what J.
D. Power and Associates does. We quickly discovered that the scores were incredibly
close, and a fraction of one point usually separated the very best boats from the
most basic ones. The scores were not particularly meaningful, and were of absolutely
no help to a buyer entering the market, trying to sort out fact from hype.
We Wanted Insights Not Eyewash
Scores have glamour and are made to order for rankings and headlines, but in the
case of boats – which usually involve very low production numbers – personal observations
in key areas are simply more instructive, we found.
By asking open-ended questions we allow the boat owner to draw from his own experience
with a specific boat model what he thinks is meaningful. And by asking in the beginning
about the number of hours the owner has spent with the boat and where he boats,
one can quickly ascertain the experience of the reviewer. It is quite easy to separate
the neophytes from the veterans, and one can weight the advice accordingly.
Owner Reviews are NOT Edited
In the beginning, and for several years, the BoatTEST staff members personally read
every review, primarily to edit out those submitted by boat dealers puffing their
own brands. Believe it or not, we discovered that the sales manager for a major
company once filled out a glowing report about one of his own boats. (This problem
is not limited to the boating industry when it comes to owner reviews on the Internet.)
We finally realized that if the phony reviews were obvious to us, they would be
just as obvious to our discerning readers. So we stopped reading the reviews --
even to expunge foul language. (If you discover something offensive, please write
to the editor.)
Community of Serious Boat Owners
Each month over 375,000 visitors from all over the world come to BoatTEST.com looking
for information about boats. We thank the conscientious boat owners who deposit
their experiences and insights on our owner review pages so that others may benefit.