The Raymarine warranty #2, bad news from powerboat.about.com
Yesterday I described a relatively small change in Raymarine’s warranty policy (arguably good for consumers), and how a vague article about it in MEJ led a few folks to think that Raymarine no longer warranties user-installed electronics, which is absolutely not true! Well, I first heard this ugly rumor from a Panbo reader cruising in Malaysia, who referred me to the astonishingly wrong online article pictured below. The author, Jim Shepard, took the overly broad first sentence of the MEJ piece, ignored all hints to the contrary, and spun a stirring fantasy about Raymarine as Corporate Evil Doer and the end of discount electronics as we know them. Somehow Shepard, who fancies himself an “an old sea dog” who speaks for “the average Joe”, even divined just how rottenly Raymarine feels about do-it-yourself customers like me and many of you: “Raymarine says they are taking this action because apparently most of us are too stupid to install our own equipment.”
Yes, I’m damned steamed up about Shepard’s Bad News piece, probably because I’m trying myself to bring some honest information about marine electronics to the Web, and this is the opposite! It’s not just factually wrong, completely wrong, it seems intent on reinforcing a prejudice that’s baloney (I think). Plus, while it’s one thing to make a mistake, even get carried away on a rant, one beauty of this digital medium is that we can fix or notate our mistakes. Oh, Shepard did publish a follow-up piece, Good News from Raymarine, and there’s even a link to it buried in the original page, but I don’t think that’s nearly good enough. The Bad News page appears high in Google search lists and will be misleading Web surfers for months to come.
I’ve corresponded with Shepard suggesting that the misinformation on the page be fixed or clearly marked, but he blew me off, suggesting that my e-mail sounded like it “was written by the PR Dept. of Raymarine”, and worse. He’s sticking to his self image as a heroic and independent old salt standing up to big corporations. What a load of crap! Shepard’s stated goal is “to separate powerboating ‘fact’ from ‘fiction’”, but, by leaving Bad News up on the Web as is, he’s actually doing boaters a disservice. Electronics are confusing enough without large paddies of misinformation laying around. If you too feel that Bad News ought to be clearly marked as bogus info, email Shepard or, better yet, the Public Editor at The New York Times Corp., which actually owns About.com. End rant!
PS: Hopefully the misspelling in Shepard’s headline tips off some readers to the profound lack of professionalism they are about to encounter. Maybe it will also help embarrass the Times enough to clean up his mess.
PPS, 4/22: Well, I don’t know if it was this rant, my (yours?) email to the Times, or what, but less than a day passed before someone corrected the spelling at Bad News and also added a “Note to readers” directing them to the Good News follow-up. That’s all good, though Shepard stills owes his readers and Raymarine an acknowledgement that the entire basis of his strongly worded editorial turned out to be untrue, and hence all the mean suppositions he derived from it are simply unsupported.