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Thread: Buying a sail...do not make my mistake

  1. #1
    Contributing Member I
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    Buying a sail...do not make my mistake

    Hi, here is my story of buying a new code zero type sail formy E29: I hope it will help others to avoid mistakes I made:1. I ordered a new sail from Peak Sails North America, withthe detailed design discussions over the phone. After I fully prepaid the ordervia PayPal, as per vendor’s instruction, the vendor did not deliver the sail intime and stopped answering my emails and calls.2. After I filed the complaint with PayPal, I received somesail, w/o any specs and with the price just a fraction of the price I ordered.Finally, PayPal reimbursed the difference to me.3. The sail luff was too long, it was impossible to hoist itproperly. The vendor remained silent and I went ahead and fixed it by myself. ThenI discovered other production/design issues like wrinkles around seams,stretching luff, unstable leech etc. It was not the sail I ordered so I decidedto return it4. At the same time, the Peak Sails counsel send me a demandto pay back the reimbursement PayPal awarded me plus some extra, around $700total, accused me of “civil theft” and threatened with a lawsuit. In turn, PayPalhas confirmed I owe nothing to the vendor. This guy has ignored PayPaldocuments, my request for return, and finally put an ultimatum “you pay now orI take you to the court for not paying for the sail”. He talks about the courtin Florida and I live in CA, with no time/funds to participate in such hearingAfter some research, I believe this “sail vendor” may besome fraudulent scheme because they collect money to and send sails from somesecret party in China, and although the say they are the US business it isimpossible even to find their address, and no one answers the “customer service”phone number. Did anyone experience similar? I would appreciate any advicehow to resolve this, providing the vendor remains totally unresponsive. Iwasted time, money, have no sail, and now being blackmailed with a courtaction. As for the sail, I went to the local reputable [expensive] loft andordered new one with all local service. Dmitri

  2. #2
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Red face Yikes

    I seem to recall that this vendor has racked up a ton of complaints on other sailing forums for quite a while.

    (One positive thing is your report on PayPal assisting you. I have one of their accounts, altho I seldom use it.)

    I hope that your next new sail is a lot better!

    Take care.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

  3. #3
    Contributing Member I
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    I'm guessing that you have a written contract with Peak Sails. Read it carefully. Is there an arbitration clause? Does it provide for an award of attorneys fees to the prevailing party in the event of litigation? Does it have a forum selection clause -- i.e., the location where a lawsuit must be brought? You might consider reaching out to the Florida Attorney General's office to see if there have been other complaints or investigations against this company. If you continue to be harassed by the company's attorney, I suggest getting input from a litigation attorney near you. One option is to preemptively file suit against Peak Sail in CA state court, BUT let's hope it doesn't get to that point. You should be able to look up the company on the Florida Secretary of State website and find out the principal office location and registered agent. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Your AG works for... You...

    Quote Originally Posted by c.gustafson View Post
    I'm guessing that you have a written contract with Peak Sails. Read it carefully. Is there an arbitration clause? Does it provide for an award of attorneys fees to the prevailing party in the event of litigation? Does it have a forum selection clause -- i.e., the location where a lawsuit must be brought? You might consider reaching out to the Florida Attorney General's office to see if there have been other complaints or investigations against this company. If you continue to be harassed by the company's attorney, I suggest getting input from a litigation attorney near you. One option is to preemptively file suit against Peak Sail in CA state court, BUT let's hope it doesn't get to that point. You should be able to look up the company on the Florida Secretary of State website and find out the principal office location and registered agent. Good luck!
    Apropos of whatever...
    Couple of years ago I had to file a written complaint with our state's AG office. A home security company based on the east coast was billing us repeatedly for a dead system which they would not service. I had to end the increasing cycle of billing and my wasted phone calls, and finally my several complaining letters -- with proof-of-delivery.
    (sigh)

    After a short time our AG's office got a weak apology and a weaselly statement that it was all a misunderstanding. Right. End of problem, anyhow.

    Sum up you complaint(s) in a straightforward way, and send them a registered letter with a copy to your credit company.
    Further: Keep ALL records of phone calls (take notes) and emails and snail mails.

    The file you accumulate will become an extra-credit course in the "school of life" , unfortunately.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

  5. #5
    Contributing Member I
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    Let me 2nd Loren's excellent advice. It's important to have a written record detailing the chronology of events and all pertinent issues. And relevant photos to support your points can be critical. If you had an independent third party make an assessment of the sail, you might consider getting a written statement from that person detailing/verifying the problems with the sail --- even statements from witnesses with first-hand knowledge could be useful.

  6. #6
    Contributing Member I
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    No contract, no address for the "vendor"

    Loren and C: thank you for your time! Great advice, however my case is a bit complicated:
    - I have pre-paid the order via PayPal as per their "estimate" and email instruction (a link), no other contract exists, further, I believe the company does not fully exist.
    - Their papers never show their address, and I could not locate it via web search, even their "counsel" ignored my request for an address
    - Somewhere in their website, buried in Qs and As, there is a mention of the Florida jurisdiction, never was mentioned during the order or in the order papers
    - I will secure expert's reports in written, I have some emails confirming the sail I got was designed/manufactured badly. (what is the use of good design if you cannot hoist a sail?)
    My problem is my time: I work 65-70 hours a week (r&d for cancer surgery) and the prospect of being forced into any litigation is scary just because I have no time. I also have no experience. I do keep all paperwork, PayPal instructed me to report to police, police brushed it off (not enough evidence of the fraud), local GA office said they do not talk to individuals, only to authorities.
    Dmitri

  7. #7
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Since the guy is in a faraway state, I'd chalk it up to Internet tuition.

    I doubt he has a lawyer on retainer, meaning he probably wrote the lawyer letter himself, or his brother-in-law did from a rehab facility.

    We live in a world of convenience and fraud. This morning there were five Paypal charges on my Visa card, $750 worth of women's beauty supplies and $750 in sneakers. Visa is sending (yet another) new card. I stopped using Paypal a couple of years ago--too much of this stuff through them, and their response is to dodge.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  8. #8
    Contributing Member I
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    A fake attorney

    Christian, you were right: I called the Florida Bar and they did not find such "attorney" name in their data base. They invited me to file a complained and also gave me the number of the Florida AG office. I wish I had time to do all this....so maybe you were also correct re the rehab facility! With all this, I also was told that they can file a lawsuit against me no matter what...

  9. #9
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    Buy from your local sail loft. It won't be the cheapest price, but you will be dealing with a local business that wants your patronage. Ullman sails in Deltaville made a fantastic sail for my Cal a few years ago. They went to my boat, took measurements and it turned out fantastic. Support local businesses when you can. Often you'll get superior product. And you have someone you can actually talk to face to face.
    Leslie Newman
    E-380 #15 "Osprey"

  10. #10
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    The internet is replete with low cost on-line “debt collection services.” When you decipher their actual offerings, they take your past due accounts list and send out a series of letters: “Friendly,” “Firm,” then “Threatening.” As near as I can make out, that’s all they do. Well gee, as a small business owner , I can just about handle that on my own. Although I have found that the ”threatening,” letters that work do invoke third parties. “Oh hey, that mean lawyer is insisting that we turn this over to the courts on xxx date, and what happens then will be out of my control, but I thought I’d reach out to you to try to keep that from happening...”
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  11. #11
    Contributing Member I
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    Leslie: this was exactly what I did, thanks!

    Toddster: yes indeed, but, in my case, I have no past due unpaid bills. Further, no collector would take a risk to misrepresent the [documented] facts of the payment I did, my situation is closer to "attorneys" operating from rehab facilities as was noted above.

    All: after the story is really over, I will update you on my new [sailing] experience I got speaking to FL agencies about this case, now I hope they will first do some job. But, as they all reiterated, even if they discover a completely fraudulent "business" they cannot prevent these "sailmakers" from filing a lawsuit... hence I continue asking for your advice what may I do in this situation. Thank you all for your time!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanaSurfer View Post
    Leslie: this was exactly what I did, thanks!

    they cannot prevent these "sailmakers" from filing a lawsuit... hence I continue asking for your advice what may I do in this situation. Thank you all for your time!
    Sorry, I missed the last sentence in your initial post.

    I suspect the company, whoever they are, is blowing smoke. Stop worrying about them. Wait to see if they do anything. It isn't enough money for them to spend that much time on. Life is too short to worry about the what if's. And if they file, get mad and fight them. If they tried to screw me I think they'd find me on their doorstep.
    Leslie Newman
    E-380 #15 "Osprey"

  13. #13
    Contributing Member I
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    I agree with Leslie's advice --- try not to worry about it and move on. My guess is that it's unlikely that "Peak Sails" will initiate a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed AND they get personal service of process made in California, then you'll have no choice but to hire an attorney to represent you. The odds are that this day will never come. Your other option -- which I do NOT suggest -- is to initiate and negotiate a settlement with a written release of claims. This would get the matter put behind you, but would you'd be paying money for a sail that you no longer have and that has caused you substantial inconvenience. Sit tight and see what happens. Could be worse --- you could be paying an attorney for a divorce and losing plenty of assets.

  14. #14
    Contributing Member I
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    Moving on

    C and Leslie: yes, you are absolutely correct and your advice (as from all who responded) is a great support to me. C, you have almost read a part of my life! I will post an update in a couple of month when the situation settles. In the meantime, local Ullman Sails are working on the new sail for me. Thank you!

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