13-1-2014

Neil Caldwell | Great Britain

VALK KRUISER 1200

Feeling very positive about our overall experience.

Feeling very positive about our overall experience.

My wife and I called in to your Loosdrecht yacht haven because we were searching for a good second-hand Dutch steel cruiser.  We were pleased to find one that suited us.  On our return to the UK we made an offer via Peter van Diggle, which was accepted.  We were then sent De Valk's written agreement which we signed and returned with our 15% deposit.

With Peter's help we managed to arrange a survey which I was able to come over to attend.  Once the boat was out of the water and carefully checked we found that the hull had not been very well preserved, although the steel was still OK.  Also many bits of equipment that we assumed would be working, did not work.  Overall the survey was a disappointment to us and we began to reconsider our decision.

If we were buying the boat in the UK it would be considered reasonable for us to cancel the sale because the survey showed the boat fell significantly short of what was being promised.  However we discovered that the HISWA system in the Netherlands is much stricter and that unless the faults add up to 10% of the asking price of the boat, the buyer is committed to buy - although the seller is also committed to correcting all 'essential faults'.  We noticed that in the case of the De Valk agreement this amount is increased to 15% - we do not understand why?

Anyway, we expressed our concerns to Peter and through him the seller responded very responsibly and quickly.  Over the next few weeks he probably did more than he needed under the agreement to put things right for us.  This was a reassuring experience and I think Peter played a positive role in the negotiations, for which we are grateful.

Having finalised the purchase and taken possession of the boat we then asked the Professional Boat Care company based at the yacht haven to undertake quite a lot of additional work on the boat.  We have found it easy to communicate with Michel, who runs PBC, especially because we are able to talk with him regularly using Skype.  He had kept us informed and has sent us pictures of the work being done.

My wife and I travelled out to Loosdrecht over the New Year so we could see the boat and make some important decisions about the work being done by PBC.  On the whole we are pleased with the work that PBC has done, although we cannot finally judge its quality until the work is finished and we can check the boat when it is back in the water.  Since it has been a pleasure to work with Michel we very much hope the final results will be good.  There is still quite a lot to be done.

To summarise, our dealings have been mainly with Peter and Michel.  Both have been very friendly and helpful.  Since we speak no Dutch, their fluency in English has been essential and we really appreciate it.  Other people we have met briefly at De Valk have also been friendly and welcoming.

If De Valk want to attract more UK buyers then I think it would be good if a little more time was spent at the beginning explaining the HISWA procedure.  On balance, it seems to be a good procedure - many say it is better than the more informal approach in the UK which could give rise to disputes.  Provided everything works out well for us, we will agree with this.

The other thing which would help is training sales staff in the use of Skype, FaceTime etc.  I asked the administrator Robert if he could arrange a Skype session between us and Peter, but he said this wasn't possible.  I think these modern communications systems should be used by De Valk.  Michel of PBC is very familiar with them and it has been very useful for us because we are so far away.

Anyway, as I have said, our experience of De Valk's sales staff and PBC is good so far.  We have enjoyed dealing with both Peter and Michel in particular.  We are looking forward to seeing the boat completed and ready for us in March/April, and to feeling very positive about our overall experience. 

With kind regards, Neil Caldwell