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Richard, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 55708
Experience:  32 years of experience practicing law and a businessman.
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I signed a boat moorage contract which requires me to moor/store

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I signed a boat moorage contract which requires me to moor/store my boat with this company for a full year, including outdoor moorage in the summer and indoor storage in the winter. All well and good. I like them for summer moorage, they're very expensive for winter storage, so they sort of have you trapped. But ok...

However, then they tell you on their website (not specifically in the contract), that in order to store your boat with them in the winter, you MUST have your "boat winterization" (changing fluids, fogging cylinders, etc) done by them....and it has to be their 'Premium Service'....and they just happen to be 3x the cost of anyone else, including a good boat mechanic shop right next door that i would rather use! He costs $250, or, i could do it myself for about $40 in parts---they cost $780.

On top of that, the invoice they sent me (i haven't yet paid) also has on it PREpayment for 2 months of the indoor storage ($565), when they had simply been auto-charging my credit card on file at the beginning of each month for moorage. Why the requirement of a prepayment for storage??? In addition, also on the invoice is a request for prepayment of the RE-commission ($210), which is a service typically done and paid for in the spring when the boat is brought out of storage, but is not always necessary.

My question is, is there some illegality of them making me sign a contract for one thing, and then all of these other requirements are daisy-chained on as "part" of the original contract although they are not actually stated in the original contract? What's to stop them from adding ANYTHING on as a tether to the original contract as a "requirement" for fulfilling the contract???

I can provide the contract and the 'invoice' upon request.


Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good afternoon. One party cannot legally unilaterally change the terms of a signed contract after it has been signed. If these items were not part of your original contract, the company cannot impose them now as conditions. If they attempt to do so and do not allow you to store your boat pursuant to the terms of the contract provisions that you signed, they are in default of the contract. That gives you the right to terminate the contract and/or ask a court for both an injunction preventing them from imposing these additional charges and requirements and/or damages resulting from their default.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Thanks for the quick response. They're not so much "changing the contract" as, I believe, daisy-chaining on requirements of services, payment, etc.


Paragraph 1 of the contract is the ONLY item having to do with requirements:

SBC does hereby rent and lease to TENANT the dry storage space indicated above at SBC’s place of business at Seattle, King County, Washington commonly known as “Lake Union SkyLaunch™ operated by Seattle Boat Co.” for a term of ONE YEAR (twelve consecutive months) or commencing and ending at the time and date shown on page one.


However, when it comes time to move the boat from summer water moorage to winter storage, THAT is where they say "Oh, you MUST winterize it with us if you want to store it with us, otherwise, you pay a 4 month early termination penalty". In other words, i can choose not to use their service or store it with them over the winter, but i then must pay the 4-month penalty (early termination IS spelled out in the contract).


I believe they must store it over the winter (per the contract) but NOT require the significantly-marked-up service, OR pre-payment for storage and re-commissioning, none of which are specifically in the contract. Would you agree?

You are correct. If this requirement was not specifically referenced in the original contract, they cannot now make it a condition. Any more than you would have the right to say, yes, I agreed to winter storage, but before I do, you must pay me $400 to do so.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks. Just one more thing--I want to make sure I am making the correct conclusion and i'm still a little uncertain.


Here is the "winter storage options" on their website:


There it says:
Choose from more winter storage locations than ever before. All Winter Storage locations require winterizing services. View our Winterization Service Menu for more information.


However, it says nothing about winterization service in the contract.

Every time i have questioned it (unsure), they just say "the winterization service is required for storage", and "prepayment is required for winter storage". Although these are both on the website, they are not mentioned specifically in the contract.

I apologize for the uncertainty, but they sure do seem certain that I MUST do all of these things, per the contract for 12 months of moorage/storage, and as required by the "services/storage" listed on the website. ???



Their website language says only winterizing services does not reference their services. If this were me, I would take one of two stances...i) I would find another place to store it and inform them in writing you are terminating the contract due to their default; or ii) I would store my boat under the contract, pay the fees for storage and services required, and then file suit to recover them based on breach of contract.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Could i do this third option, just to keep it relatively easy? Tell them they're in breach for requiring all of the "extras" (including pre-payment for 2 months' storage and re-commissioning service) and that i would like to simply fulfill my contract, which is 12 months of storage, and nothing else?


In all honesty, their winter storage is also fairly expensive, so financially it would be best for me to terminate the contract for their breach and find another place to store it for the winter. But i was just thinking of the above to keep it amicable.

Yes, you can do this, but it's unlikely that they will allow you do to this without a court order. Plus, finding an alternative is usually best when things get sideways to avoid those sort of "mysterious" things going wrong with your boat.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Haha. Good point! :)


The "blue collar" guys that actually work at the boat dock on a day-to-day basis are actually really nice....there are a couple higher-ups (who were the dock workers at one time) who handle all of this contract stuff now, and they're more difficult to work with--i think partly because they just go by what they *think* is required by the company (but not the contract) and the system they go by.


Thanks for your responses!