Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Scam Afloat?

Perhaps you know this story already.

Like every good boat owner, we always keep our United States Coast Guard documentation up to date, and we always take care of it while we are back in Denver for our tax season shore leave. This year was no different. Or so we thought.

After searching Google for 'coast', 'guard', and 'documentation', we were directed to a new website: uscgdocumentation.us. Here's a screen shot.

Looks official, doesn't it?

It's not. Not in the slightest.

We thought this was the USCG website with a new interface, or at least someone they hired to process requests. It is neither of those things. This website is a processor that can, somehow, process requests for a boat owner, and their fee is $75.00 per request instead of the $26.00 we were used to paying. We figured they had to up the cost to cover increased costs and decreased budgets. Turns out that not only is this not in any way endorsed by the Coast Guard, it is, according to a representative from the real Coast Guard Documentation Center, not something they can do anything about.

To make it worse, they're sloppy at their job. How do we know this? They sent us the wrong documentation in the first place. We ended up with the docs for a 70 ton commercial boat in North Carolina.

Here's the kicker -- They are very unscrupulous in their behavior. When I communicated with them via their chat function, he/she got very pissy with me for bringing this up to them. They did end up fixing things (they sent me my correct doc via email) but it was a wholly unpleasant experience ... not to mention substantially more expensive.

Here's the gist of the matter.

uscgdocumentation.us is not affiliated with the USCG in any way. If you have a problem the USCG cannot help you. You have to deal with uscgdocumentation.us directly.
Our experience was that they were sloppy and rude.
They are 300% more expensive than going through the real USCG documentation online service:  https://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/. Note: When you do renew through uscg.mil, you are redirected to pay.gov to actually pay for your request. This is legitimate.

So, a word to the wise is enough.



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